The topic for this weeks post is going to be conventions! Yatta! In this post when I refer to conventions I am talking about anime conventions. Not ComicCon. I will go into my issues with that convention later in a different post. This post will be talking about anime and Japanese pop culture conventions. This post will go into some general information about conventions (cons for short) and what there is to do at these conventions. I will go into more detail about different aspect of cons in later posts. The reason that I am going into cons in this post is due to the fact that I just went to a con with a group of friends that work here at Japanpopculturehq.com this past weekend and wanted to talk about it while it is fresh in my mind.
Lets start with the simplest question there is. What is a Anime Convention? An anime convention is a gathering place of people who enjoy Japanese pop culture. At the convention these people are able to meet with other fans and people from the industry, learn more about the topics that they are interested in, purchase products that are hard to find here in the states, and have a good time. There are these kinds of conventions all over the world but we will mainly be focusing on the ones that take place here in the states and maybe Canada. So what is there to do at a con? While each convention is different and may offer more activities than others they all will have some basic things to do.
Firstly there are the panels. Panels are discussions and forums about different topics related to Japanese pop culture. These topics can include detailed information about an anime or a type of anime. Some are even places where you can meet with different VAs and other industry people and ask them your questions. Panels are a great way to learn more about what you enjoy and maybe even find new things to enjoy. A friend of mine named Nick told me that his advice for panels are to go to as many as you can because you never know what you will find out and learn. He also gave me some great examples of panels that he went too where at first glance he had no interest in the topic but ended up finding things that he liked and them.
The next activity that I will go into will be the gaming activity. Gaming at a Con can be split into two different types. These types are electronic gaming and tabletop gaming. Electronic gaming is when the con will have computers and TVs setup with all kinds of retro and imported games. Sometimes they will also have Big machines with games like DDR and the like. The con will setup different tournaments that the visitors can enter and test their skills. Tabletop gaming consists of a room full of tables where visitors can play different trading card games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. They will also have games that you can rent and play with your friends. This is a great room to just sit and talk to different people who are playing. The people normally in this room are friendly and are willing to teach as long as they are not right in the middle of a tournament. The room is open to anyone who wants to come in and even just watch the games being played. The con will also setup tournaments for these games as well. This does not mean that you can only play the games that they supply or are having tournaments in. Feel free to bring your deck and find someone to play against.
These first two activities take place in rooms where you are sitting most of the time. The next activity is one where you will be walking a lot. This activity is COSPLAY! Cosplay is you dress up like your favorite character and o to the con as the character. The convention will have different activities for the people that are cosplaying and those that want to interact with the cosplayers. These activities include a contest, cosplay chess, masquerade, and photography. The photography activity is where people go around and take pictures ether with or of the cosplayers. The majority of cosplayers go to the convention with the intent of having their photo taken so are receptive of people doing it. This does not mean that you should not be courteous towards them and ask before you take their picture and of course say thanks afterwords. In later posts I will have more tips for taking pictures of cosplayers.
Dealer room / Artist alley:
The last activity that I will be covering in this post is the dealer room and artist alley. The dealer room is an area where organizations that sell different Japanese pop culture related products set up booths and sell their wares. This is a great place to look for products that are hard to get normally. These can include figures, artbooks, posters, stuffed dolls, and much more. I have talked to people that save up thousands of dollars just to spend in the dealer room getting rare items that they are looking for. I recommend spending some time going booth by booth checking out what they have. This room can get crowded so be prepared to have to push your way in. It is not something that I enjoy but there are times you have to do it. The artist alley is similar to the dealer room but with artists. The artists setup their own tables and sell their artwork to visitors to the con. Many times the artists will also take commissions at the convention and draw something right there for you to take home. Commissions are really nice because if you find an artist with a style that you really like you can have them draw your fav character from a series. This is a great way to get some art and also support the local artist community.
In later posts I will go into more details about conventions that are held around the world. If you take one thing away from this post I hope that it is that Cons are a great place to meet others that share the same interests as you do while also getting some items that are hard to get. Even if you go to a con by your self take pictures of cosplay, sit in on panels, and talk to people while you are waiting around. you will find that you are far less alone than you thought you were.
All images taken by: Nathen