Twelve Days #10: Conventions and Their Appeal

Hey everyone, welcome to the third to last day of the twelve days posts. Today I wanted to speak more along the lines of why I like conventions so much. Yes I already have my panels post and how much I enjoy them, but I’ve been going to cons for a MUCH longer time than I’ve been running panels so I think I’d like to focus on just the convention aspect. As I’m not sure which girl would best represent my love of cons, have a randomly selected one (or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to post a Victorique pic).

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So like I mentioned in my previous article my first convention was a Katsucon on a Sunday. This was back when it was in Washington, D.C., so I had to take the metro with my mom to get there cause I was like 14 years old and had exactly 0 idea what I was doing. It wasn’t a really fun experience to see everything being cleaned up and only get to do a few things thanks to the time limits.

After that unfortunate first experience though my uncle was nice enough to start taking me to conventions. I still have fond memories of my first Otakon when I was about 15 or 16 and he enjoyed them as well because he liked taking pictures and there was a LOT to take pictures of. It continued like that for a while, with my uncle taking me to a few cons, until I had my own flow of money and some friends to share hotel rooms with. Or, if it was close enough, I’d ask for rides from family or friends to get to the con each day.

My interests kind of all switched up too when it came to conventions; my first few I obviously went to almost no panels. Just the experience of being there was amazing. Being around all of these people who had a common interest and were openly expressing it was something special to me. Anime is still not “mainstream” so conventions are something that I think many people see as a haven where they can be open with their tastes and, you know, TALK to other people about it as opposed to coming off looking like they’re enjoying kids shows.

Anyway. My first few conventions I was more than okay with looking around, seeing cosplayers, playing video games, looking at the dealer’s hall, and filling my day that way. But of course you can only do that so many times before your interests start to wander elsewhere. Slowly I started making time to go to more and more panels. I began to realize what I was into and what panels appealed to me.

Heck, now looking back, some of my best experiences come from going to panels. Getting a bunch of English VAs to read Go the Fuck to Sleep to a room full of 400 people. Doing it AGAIN the next year. Meeting new friends from recognizing them at panels. And so on and so forth. Of course now my best experiences come from my own panels but that’s what you make of it and I try to put a bit of effort into my panels.

Even so, panels can’t always fill the time of three days. There are still points where there are no good panels and I’ve walked through the dealer’s hall several times to no avail. Thankfully I can still find enjoyment in taking pictures of cosplayers or playing video games. I even remember making a few friends at the host club cafe at Anime USA one year because I was wearing a Fakku shirt and because I had common interests in anime with them.

So yeah, in the end I understand the burnout of conventions to some people who don’t get as into it. It’s nice to experience once or twice for some people and then they don’t go again because of the time involved, the cost, or their uninterest. But I could never see myself giving up on conventions. They feel like a three day vacation where I’m surrounded by my biggest hobby and all of its fans. I’m able to present panels and attend them to learn about things I might never come across in another way. And it’s a good excuse to hang out with friends I might not have seen in a while.

If any of you haven’t been to a convention I encourage you to at least try it once, maybe a smaller one if you don’t like crowds so much. Hopefully this summer everything will be set for me to go to the biggest convention in the US, Anime Expo, and then maybe next winter I’ll be able to go to Comiket if I manage to achieve my plans to go to Japan. So as usual thanks for reading, see you tomorrow 😀

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