OTAKUKON 2023: Zimbabwe’s First Anime Convention

OTAKUKON, the first ever Anime, Manga and gaming convention in Zimbabwe is finally coming to Zimbabwe on the 22nd of December at Jam Tree. OTAKUKON is also the first Anime convention from Africa to be registered with Animecons.com, which serves as the largest database of anime conventions in the world with over 20,000 cons listed.

You can watch the trailer to the upcoming convention here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LlMwKCpGgw

Early this year an organization called Otaku Konnect came through and hosted the first anime and manga focused event in Zimbabwe and it was insanely fun. The event that they called Anime, Merch & Nakama was about exactly that: an anime watch party that featured several anime merch stalls and was a great meeting place for Otaku. It was then that they made a commitment to give as an experience most anime fans have only dreamt of, a full day convention.

Anime is a term used to describe Japanese animation, often drawn in a particular style while manga are Japanese comics, black and white with great storylines. While these two things have long been associated with shut-ins and introverts, the community has been growing and not just in Zimbabwe. Worldwide, conventions themed around anime have become big events with some enthusiasts travelling thousands of kilometers annually to attend some of the favourite conventions.

This year alone, OTAKUKON have already hosted 3 half day mini-conventions at Green Screen drive through cinema which is located on the Jam Tree grounds. The events have followed a largely similar theme: movie, merchandise, gaming and socializing. This has given local anime fans a chance to bond over new anime releases and watch them together. 

Event Details

  • Date: Friday 22 December 2023
  • Time: 10am to 6pm
  • Location: The Jam Tree, Mount pleasant (Green Screen Drive in cinema)

Tickets: Phase 1: 28 August to 30 September

  • Cosplay $5
  • Standard advance $5
  • SuperFan $10 (Comes with a goodie bag)

Phase 2: 1 October – 15 December

  • Cosplay $5
  • Standard advance $8
  • SuperFan $15 (Comes with a goodie bag)
  • Entrance on the day of the event will be $10. Purchasing the advance tickets is a great way to secure attendance at discounts of as much as 50%.

While the events themselves are still relatively small, with the largest crowd in attendance being just over 250, the OTAKUKON team are excited to see more and more attendees and anime fans are exposed to this event. The events have largely been created as community events set aside to grow different elements of the otaku community. These include: cosplay, gaming, art and comic book writing, and merchandise.


Cosplay has long been seen as possibly the best part of such events. This is when attendees dress up as fictional characters from anime, manga and games. Cosplay is a big deal because it allows attendees to be expressive and cosplay is the perfect conversation starter as different fandoms will always tend to start discussions with cosplayers around the characters or their universes. 

The first Anime, Merch and Nakama (AMN1) had 10 cosplayers compete for the best cosplay prize of the day ($50) and a total of 15 individuals came to the event in actual cosplay. The event also saw the emergence of CosplayZW, a collective that takes professional photos of attendees in cosplay with the shared goal of growing cosplaying in Zimbabwe. The following AMN events saw cosplay attendance grow to over 45 and competing cosplayers grow to a peak of 22. These have felt like amazing numbers given that the events were taking place at two month intervals.

For the full day convention. The Cosplay element is expected to grow to 3 times it’s current size. According to the founder and event director, Archie Moyo, OTAKUKON 2023 will have 3 different cosplay categories for the competitions. “We noticed a growth in cosplay and realized we had to differentiate the competition segments to allow cosplay to grow more. The first segment we are introducing is that of self-made craft cosplays. These being cosplays made by the competitors (up to 80%) with a traceable workflow. Through partners of OTAKUKON we are also introducing a cosplay prize for the best cosplay of a character designed by a Zimbabwe comic book artist. The goal here is to increase appreciation of the amazing characters and stories that Zimbabwean artists have been creating and to hopefully increase readership and demand for local comics and stories. This category has a sponsored USD $100 cash prize. The final category is that of casual cosplayers. Often, when self made cosplays are on the rise, it is easy for other forms of cosplay to be disregarded. We wanted all forms of cosplay to be appreciated.” With that being said, it will be exciting to see all the costumes that will be worn to this amazing event.


The first AMN event saw OTAKUKON play host to just 4 anime merch sellers: Otaku Peddler, Animaniac ZW, New Leaf and Anime Junkies. At the time, these were the most visible anime merch suppliers in Zimbabwe with items ranging from keychains and rings to hoodies. Attendees were treated to items priced as low as $2 to as high as $30, making for an exciting variety of items. With the following events, the merchant number grew to to 6 and then to 8 at AMN2 and AMN3 respectively. Some of the merchants were newly launched while others were resuscitated suppliers. All this meant for more items for attendees. 

OTAKUKON 2023 will look to have similar or slightly higher numbers of merchants in attendance, although the focus is not so much on quantity as it is on variety and quality. The objective being to ensure that attendees can all leave with memorabilia from an amazing event. The growth in attendance for OTAKUKON events has also made the merchandise space more exciting, with sellers forced to order more variety items and provide budget friendly items as well as some really cool collectors items. While most of the merch stalls are readily available online or physically (like Animaniac Zw and Aniweebs who have shops in the Harare CBD), the anime convention provides a rare occurrence where all the anime merch you could want is in one location. Get you tote bags and wallets ready to splurge on more than a few items at the next event.

Art and Comic Books

Very few local enthusiasts are exposed to art and comic books by locals; with some having no idea that there are stories written and drawn by Zimbabwean artists. OTAKUKON is happy to have been home to experienced artists like Bill Masuku and AfroTokyo, famed for Captain South Africa and the Kalabash anthology respectively. We have also provided a space for artists like TariArt, Rogue Comics and Artaloweart.

In a partnership with Bill Masuku, OTAKUKON was able to launch our first comic book competition, challenging local artists to come up with a 12 page comic in the action or sport genres. This desire to see local stories get drawn and read more has seen a second iteration of this competition come into being. This time, artists have been challenged to draw a 24 page story in the food or cooking genre. Interested artists can register on the OTAKUKON website before the 15th of October 2023.


Gaming is another significant part of otaku culture. While it was initially introduced to OTAKUKON events as a socializing tool, the team soon noticed that a lot of people were keen to play competitively. This gave birth to the OTAKUKON eSports program, a gaming league that is created to run monthly for four different games. Gamers who desire to play competitive against some of the best players locally register with the for the esports program to ensure that they are invited to all invitational tournaments where gamers can get points. 

The aim of the program is to provide competitive gaming throughout the calendar year and then invite players to a big showdown at the end of the year. This year, this showdown will be at the full day convention!

A Fun Day for Everyone

The idea behind the full day convention is to provide the convention and festival experience to attendees. While the activities, events and full lineups for the day will be release periodically as we draw closer to the event that is 3 and a half months away, it is safe to say it will cater for everyone. The team is excited to create an environment where otaku of all ages can come and have fun, combining an otaku festival with an all round fun family day. 

The best way to get comprehensive updates is to follow Otaku Konnect on their social media platforms so that you don’t miss a beat. This is also especially if you’re keen on winning tickets to the event as well.

Tik Tok – https://www.tiktok.com/@otakukonnect

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/otakukonnect 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/otakukonnect/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/OtakuKonnect 

2 thoughts on “OTAKUKON 2023: Zimbabwe’s First Anime Convention”

  1. Pingback: Comic Book and Manga Community in Zimbabwe: Growing it - OTAKUKON Anime Convention Zimbabwe

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