4 Tips for First-Time Anime Convention Attendees

Introduction to Anime Conventions

With Otakukon on the horizon, we thought it would be important to talk to you and give tips for first-time anime convention attendees. For those who do not know, Otakukon is Zimbabwe’s first anime and Japanese pop culture-centered convention. With the first convention planned for August 2023, Otaku Konnect, the organization behind Otakukon has planned smaller bi-monthly events. These are meant to grow the anime community in Zimbabwe by offering more events and meeting points while helping commercialize related businesses.

Anime conventions are events or gatherings with a primary focus on anime, manga, and Japanese culture. They offer various activities such as panels, workshops, contests, and anime screenings. These events have become popular since the 1980s and have grown to attract thousands of attendees. Participants at these events have the opportunity to interact with guests such as industry figures, artists, and performers. The largest anime convention in North America is Anime Expo, which in 2015 attracted approximately 90,500 people. In Africa, one of the biggest Anime Conventions is Comic Con Africa which hosts over 10,000 attendees over 4 days. These conventions provide an opportunity for anime enthusiasts to meet fellow fans, engage with Japanese pop culture, and participate in team building activities for families and friends.

Attending your first convention can be terribly overwhelming. This is especially so if you do not plan enough and leave everything to the last minute. Time is one resource that’s finite, so if you don’t plan ahead you will fail to do some of the things you wanna do

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

  • Research the convention beforehand. Knowing the kind of event you are attending and the people you will spend your day with is important. It’s good to be sure that you are aligned with the event you are attending.
  • Make a schedule of panels, events, and activities you want to attend. If the event has multiple events running concurrently or if events are not too closely spaced, it may be important to plan your itinerary. Knowing what you will want to achieve ahead of time will help you stay ahead of the curve. It’s very easy to get distracted in Artist alley or in the game centre and end up missing out on other events you would otherwise enjoy.
  • Check the weather and dress accordingly. We can’t stress this enough, you need to be ready for accurate weather. Depending on the parking set up and how big the event space you are in is, you may not be able to pop between your car and the centre if you decide to leave some things there. On the other hand, carrying a whole lot of luggage within the convention can make the whole event a whole lot less fun.
  • Pack a bag with essentials like water, snacks, and a phone charger. This will help you avoid queues at food and refreshment centres. The phone charge is because you will likely be taking a tonne of photos on the day, you need the battery.

Tip 2: Cosplay Considerations for a First-Time Anime Convention Attendee

  • Decide whether you want to cosplay or not
  • If you do, choose a character and plan your costume well in advance
  • Make sure your costume is comfortable and appropriate for the convention
  • Bring a repair kit for any last-minute fixes
Cosplay as a first time anime convention attendee in Zimbabwe
Cosplayers at Otaku Konnect’s first event: Anime, Merch & Nakama in April 2023. Photography by Cosplay Photography Zw

Tip 3: Budget Wisely for Your First Time at an Anime Convention

  • Set a budget for the convention and stick to it
  • Plan for food, transportation, and souvenirs
  • Consider bringing cash, as some vendors may not accept credit cards

Tip 4: Be Social

  • Attend panels and events with like-minded fans
  • Strike up conversations with people in line or at booths
  • Take photos with cosplayers and share them on social media
  • Don’t be afraid to approach guests or content creators who you like.

Conclusion

Ultimately, you need to have fun and planning is a very key element when it comes to ensuring you have a good time. Whether you are planning how to spend your time there or other elements you cannot control like the weather, it is important to have done it. Don’t be afraid to show up in cosplay, it’s a great way to start conversations with new people who like the show or character you cosplay. While money cannot buy happiness, budgeting for an event like this will make sure you leave with no regrets. Usually you have more than a month to plan and know how much you may need.

Your first time may not be perfect. There will definitely be some lessons in there but you will have fun I am sure. Remember, conventions are really all about meeting new people with similar interests and learn more about anime and manga, and have a memorable experience. We cannot wait to see you at Otakukon 2023, Zimbabwe’s first anime and manga convention. Let us know how you found these tips for first time attendees. Did we leave anything out, keen to get additional tips from you.

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