Name any type of popular entertainment, and most likely there’s a convention for it. These conventions, or cons, are in every corner of the globe, and every year they get more and more popular.
Common types of cons include gaming cons, anime cons and comic cons. The difference between anime and comic cons comes down to their focus. Anime cons deal with anime and manga – Japanese cartoons and comics – while comic cons focus on Western media including comics, comic-based movies and TV shows. Anime Expo and Anime Central are the most popular anime cons, while the biggest comic con by far is the San Diego Comic Con, which last year had almost 50,000 attendees.
Despite their differences, anime and comic fans enjoy both types of cons, so all cons will try to appeal to a wide variety of interests. Anime, video games, comics and even Internet culture are found at almost every con imaginable, and there’s always something for someone at any con you can think of.
Common to all cons is cosplay, short for “costume play,” where people dress up as fictional characters and iconic celebrities. They walk around cons and pose for pictures, and meet up with others dressed as characters from the same series for organized photo shoots. These cosplayers even enter competitions, where they’re awarded for their craftsmanship and character likeness.
Besides cosplaying, the main attractions of cons are panels. These panels discuss various topics such as movie, show or comic news and feature popular writers and actors as guests. The guests will often head panels and have autograph sessions for their adoring fans, rewarding them for coming out to see them. Popular TV shows and movies are also screened at panels, with screenings ranging from existing films or episodes to large-scale premieres of brand new films and shows.
But there’s more to cons then just cosplaying and panels. Cons bring together dealers of items that are otherwise hard to find, such as rare comics, DVD’s and collectibles. At anime cons, items imported from Japan are common and are very popular. Most cons also have an “artists’ alley” where artists sell their wares, ranging from prints and pins of popular characters to clothing, key chains and other handmade objects. Concerts and raves are getting more popular at anime cons, and areas for video and tabletop games are always popular at regular comic cons.
All of these activities are so enjoyable that you don’t even have to be a comics or anime fan to have fun. Going to a con is a genuine experience, and as more cons sprout up in the U.S. they provide access to a subculture that allows anyone to explore their interests and make new friends.