Attending an anime convention isn’t a necessary part of being an anime fan. I think that you can call yourself a “real” anime fan as long as you watch anime. Period. Full stop.
There is something fun, though, about belonging to the anime fan community. Anime-watching is a mostly solitary activity and since humans are social beings, we find ways to get around this by connecting with other people who watch and share our enthusiasm for the same shows. The world wide web facilitates this need to connect through various fora: message boards, anime blogs, Twitter, deviantART or pixiv, etc. But for those willing (and able) to take the need for community to the next level, anime and other fan conventions are the logical progression.
I moved apartments earlier this summer, and in the interest of paring down my possessions, I decided to throw away things that did not have an immediate use. These con badges were part of the chopping block. I did decide to photograph them and now, I’m even writing about them. Just because I don’t have the physical item anymore doesn’t mean I don’t have the memories, which I’m sharing with you right now…
Otakon 2002 – My first anime convention and my first fan convention. My best friend Karol called me up one evening (she was living in Boston at the time) and she asked me if I wanted to join her and her boyfriend (now husband) to this “anime thing” in Baltimore. He and his co-workers were going together as a small group and she didn’t want to be the only female. I think she remembered that I was obsessed with Sailor Moon during freshman year of college (I KNOW, SO SAD) and that’s why I got dragged along.
Even back then, I remember long lines, sweating profusely in the humidity of a Baltimore summer, and the long walks back and forth, up and down the BCC. I was so impressed by the cosplayers, by all the merchandise in the dealer’s room, by all the people who were here and loved anime as much as I did. I was such a newb.
Shoujocon 2003 - I remember not enjoying this con so much since it was all the way up in Rye, NY that year and getting up there from Queens was a major production. It was possibly the first time that I found about yaoi fangirls and how scary they could be when collected in a small viewing room. It was surreal walking into a viewing of Gravitation where every single person in there knew the dialogue and songs already…and most of them looked fourteen! I also remember the panels sucking A LOT.
Otakon 2004 – At this point, I was becoming an expert at this anime convention business. I booked a room with friends and we spent a lot of time actually hanging out more than watching anime, which was what I used to do in prior conventions. I think this was the year of the L’arc~en~Ciel concert, which was fun but could’ve been better organized for the non-BNFs like us. Fullmetal Alchemist was my favorite anime at the time — as you can obviously see — and this was when I found out about the porny goodness of doujinshi.
The last anime convention that I attended was Fanime in 2009. I’m even surprised that I made it out there, considering that I really didn’t care about anime, much less the fandom, at the time. I think I just wanted to see my friend who lived out west, and possibly see the beauty that is San Jose, CA.
I definitely would like to attend another convention, so we’ll see…
Fanstuff Friday documents the fun and unexpected things that fans create and cherish in honor of their favorite anime and manga.