Anime conventions aren’t about the guests, bands, contests, merch, or even cosplay. They’re about relationships.
While the festivities are the impetus behind bringing otaku together, serving up event after event as fun offerings for these sometimes massive gatherings, the communal aspects of conventions are what matter the most to the majority of con-goers.
It’s funny how I sometimes forget that, even while attending A-Kon 31, one of this country’s largest anime conventions. Meeting at the Irving Convention Center in the DFW area this past weekend, con-goers flocked to the event for the first time since 2019. To prepare, Joseph (my Instagram partner) and I spent considerable time preparing for interviews, meetings, panels, and other events we hoped to cover.
Things started well, as I sat with Japanese cosplayer Hikari Green, who has a fascinating story about moving from working in the field of investments to having a career as a cosplayer. She usually cosplays male roles because of her height and self-described “male face.” Hikari is fairly unique among Japanese cosplayers because of her command of English, developed through her business experience, and is thus often invited to attend international events such as A-Kon.
But for a variety of reasons, few of the other opportunities we had hoped for materialized. Joseph will attest that I complained a bit about it, but thankfully, I didn’t tumble too far down the bitterness tunnel. Instead, I was rescued from that “woe is me” mantra by the very thing I had forgotten I was here for: the relationships.
Though A-Kon acted as ground central for meeting up with people, it wasn’t the only place where I was able to gather with friends and colleagues. After all, with Crunchyroll’s new studio located in the metroplex, DFW is a bit like the Hollywood of anime production in the U.S. I arranged some visits with friends in the industry, and the meals we had, including one that randomly came together one evening, resulted in interesting and encouraging conversations—the kind that help people bond.
Returning to the convention itself, I ran into a friend who recalled that we first met at this same convention some ten years prior. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, but it was so natural to chat in person again. I could say similar things about running into another old-time aniblogger friend who surprised/didn’t surprise me by his cosplay choice:
I also wanted to reconnect with a lot of our cosplay friends, those who helped us with various projects in the past. WiFi issues in the convention space made doing so difficult, but instead, I reached out to others and began developing new relationships. And at the end of the (strenuous and long con) day, making those connections is what excites me most about attending conventions. It’s these intangible things, developing out of nothingness, that put me on cloud nine.
I think it’s the same for most of those in attendance. I know plenty of people are there for some specific reason, like attending a concert or procuring an autograph, but the roaming pairs and packs of con-goers, laughing and making memories in a loud, vivacious manner, told me these were not the only reasons. They, too, were here to enjoy each other’s company in a place uniquely made for them.
And after three long years, despite the limitations, shortcomings, and disappointments, it seems that A-Kon 31 delivered precisely because of that: it delivered because of the people. After all, where else would otaku want to be other than surrounded by anything and everything anime, and most importantly, in the company of one another?
Check out these photos that we (mostly Joseph) took at the con, and please give the cosplayers a follow if you’re so inclined. I’m sure they would appreciate your support!