From meeting cosplayers to wandering the artist alley, this is a look at the common ways we get into anime series at a convention.
How We Get Into an Anime at a Convention
Back in October 2022, I compiled a list of the various ways through which we are commonly introduced to anime or manga series. During the process, I noticed that a significant portion of these methods involved attending anime conventions. Consequently, I made the decision to reserve the description of the anime convention experience exclusively for this article.
With Anime Expo just around the corner, I want to explore the ways fans get into a series at an anime convention. It’s important to note that this list is not intended as a ranking but rather a compilation of common ways through which individuals have discovered anime or manga series. Additionally, as someone who frequents numerous conventions, I will also be including some examples based on my personal experiences.
This scenario is quite common at larger or major anime conventions. When a distributor aims to generate awareness for their upcoming series, they often invest heavily in marketing at the convention. The venue becomes saturated with promotional materials that range from eye-catching banners to enticing free merchandise. It’s hard to miss the series-related cutouts scattered throughout the convention space and trailers for the shows play relentlessly. Additionally, you may come across advertisements for the series in guidebooks or even on your convention lanyard. Few may go the extra mile to promote their series by featuring an itasha-wrapped Lamborghini (aka a Weeborghini).
You will see this all the time at major events like Anime Expo or Anime NYC. This rarely works for me since I attend these events as media so I’ve gotten all the press releases weeks in advance. Nonetheless, there are still moments when the marketing convinces me to give a series a watch-through. One rare example of this is when I decided to give Dr. Stone a watch thanks to all the marketing during Anime Expo 2019.
Vendor / Artist Recommendation
Receiving recommendations from vendors or artists at conventions typically occurs in two ways. One way is when you make a purchase and they might offer recommendations for merchandise from another series you’re unfamiliar with. The other is you might come across a cool figurine or artwork and you ask about it. This results in the vendor eagerly providing you with a summary of the series and why they would recommend it.
I have lost track of how many times this has happened to me. However Initial D, Lucky Star, and Berserk are the first that come to mind. Most recently, a friend of mine got into Bocchi the Rock after seeing some fan art during FanimeCon 2023.
Cosplayers / Cosplay Gatherings
This is most likely how many of us will learn about a new anime at a convention. We see someone with an amazing cosplay so we ask to get a photo with them. Or you might stumble upon a cosplay gathering and are wowed by everyone’s character or design. Regardless, we next ask who they’re cosplaying and what series is the character from. In no time, we look it up on Crunchyroll or Netflix or try to find the manga on the Viz Media app.
There have been countless series I got into after meeting a few cosplayers. My Hero Academia and JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure are the best examples of works I got into because of cosplayers. I even became familiar with Chainsaw Man long before the anime premiered thanks to the cosplayers.
A Voice Performer is a Special Guest
The presence of a voice performer is integral to the convention experience, serving as a key attraction throughout the event. These guests dedicate the weekend to interacting with fans and promoting their upcoming projects. The mere presence of these guests can be a compelling reason for attendees to explore their body of work. Additionally, the opportunity to meet them in person may spark curiosity and encourage fans to delve into the guest’s defining series. Furthermore, attending a guest’s Q&A session can pique interest in their upcoming series.
The most obvious example for me is that I got into One Punch Man after attending a Q&A session with Max Mittelman during Kraken Con 2016. This was a series I’d heard about in passing but decided to give it a chance after walking into that event.
Not every panel at an anime convention is going to be an industry hosted or focused. There are panels hosted by local fan clubs, published experts, or popular YouTubers/bloggers. These individuals are deeply passionate about specific series or genres and eagerly share their knowledge with fellow attendees. Attending such panels provides a unique opportunity to be introduced to new series or gain a nuanced perspective on familiar ones. Their enthusiasm and expertise contribute to a rich and diverse convention experience, allowing fans to broaden their understanding and appreciation of anime and manga.
I credit a panel on horror anime and manga at Kraken Con 2016 for single-handedly introducing me to Parasyte: The Maxim, Another, and the works of Junji Ito. It’s also not uncommon to credit Bad Hentai at Fanime for introducing me to some of the weirdest titles.
What anime sparked your interest during a weekend at a convention? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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