Giant blowup Charizard from Hamacon

Your First Anime Convention

In many ways an anime con is like any other fandom con. Check out my tips for Your First Con, which covers getting to the con and enjoying your time there.

Elements of an Anime Con

Artist Alley
An expo area dedicated to artist selling their work. Pieces include drawings, paintings, pixels, accessories, and handmade items. It is like a local Etsy with an anime filter.

Dealer Room
An area for vendors selling anime, manga, and Japanese related items. If you don’t have a local shop that caters to the fandom it can be an eye opening experience to see all the merch in one place.

Cosplay Contest
Cosplay is a big part of anime conventions, and it doesn’t limit itself to anime and manga characters. The cosplay contest is the best way to see the best costumes fans have created. Some contests involve short sketches.

Panels tend to focus on anime/manga/Japanese topics. Special guests usually have a panel or two. There may be 18+ panels with adult content, which involve an ID check to get in.

Video Room
Even the smallest anime con will have a room doing nothing but showing anime. The larger cons run several rooms, some themed. These are great for checking out a new series or when you need a break.

AMVs (anime music videos) are fan created combinations of anime video and music. AMV contests are common, some cons have dedicated AMV space.

Maid Cafe
An extra cost event with food and drinks, based on maid cafes in Japan. Maids and butlers serve the tables and make you feel like a master or princess. Think of it as interactive dinner theater.

Tabletop Gaming
Anime and gaming go together a lot more than you may think. A tabletop gaming area has a game library, where you check out a game and play with others. Tabletop competitions might also be available.

Video Gaming
Video gaming is as common in Japan as the U.S., and they are a fast growing segment of anime cons. Expect to see several console stations, often with popular multiplayer games. You could check out an original NES, play some Smash Bros, and marvel at the DDR experts. Competitions are also common with sign ups open to any attendee.

Regular karaoke, but in front of a larger crowd.

Musical guests from anime related or other geeky bands.

A Saturday night dance or rave, sometimes at an extra cost. If you’re planing to go back to the con the next day don’t over do it. Keep any drinking at the buzzed level, not drunk. Also be safe, don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.

Cosplay Edict

“Cosplay is not consent” is a phrase you may hear. It is a statement against harassing cosplayers, which happens more than many know.

  • Cosplayers are fans doing what they love. They are also people and should be treated as such.
  • If you want a picture just ask, they’ll probably be fine with it.
    • If they say no don’t take it personally, they have con stuff to do, too.
    • If they are eating/resting leave them be.
    • Don’t block a hallway taking pictures, step aside or use a designated space.
    • You can ask for a pose, but be reasonable and respectful. No “fan service” shots.
    • Take 2-3 pics to ensure you get a good one.
    • It is good form to show them the photo.
  • If you want a selfie, and they agree, avoid having hover hands. Put an arm around them, bend the elbow, and grasp their shoulder (costume permitting). If that makes you uncomfortable then keep your hands by your side or in front of you.
  • Compliment their work, not their looks.
The Dealer Room

There will be a lot of nice merch available in the Dealer Room, but keep your budget and next month’s bills in mind. It is easy to get carried away, especially at your first big con.

Check Your Spending

  • Is the item an exclusive or rare? If not it may be available online for the same price, or even less. If so you don’t have to decide then and there.
  • Do you need it? Okay, well you don’t need any of it. Does it call to you and you must have it?
  • Don’t blow your budget before seeing Artist Alley. Those items are rare, if not unique, and may be your best opportunity to get something you didn’t know you wanted.

Do All Your Shopping On the Same Day

  • Pick a day to hit both the Dealer Room and Artist Alley. If you get everything in one go you can drop it off in the car or hotel room without having to make several trips. Or make that your backpack carrying day.


  • Most vendors will be open to negotiations. But keep in mind they paid for their space and are there to make a profit.
  • If buying several things find a vendor with a lot of them and try for a bundled deal.
  • Sunday is the best day for deals. Vendors will be aware of everything they have to pack up and send home.
  • Offering cash helps. Most vendors take credit cards, but there are processing fees. With cash they’ll be more willing to come down a few percent points.
  • Negotiating takes two. You have to open and make counter offers.
  • Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes a deal can’t be had, that’s how it is. Thank them and move on.
The Fandom

The anime/manga fandom has some unique properties, for several reasons. It involves an immersion into Japanese culture. It isn’t as mainstream as other fandoms, though the gap is closing. For some they may not know other fans back home and suddenly they are surrounded by like minded peers. The content attracts a younger audience. Protagonists, as often as not, are under 18. And the current anime wave in the West started in the 1990s. Sci-Fi and comics have been going strong for decades before that. Expect some of the younger attendees to be there without a parent.

Creativity is strong within the community. Look at how much con content is fan driven. The AMV room is full of fan creations. As is the Artist Alley. Not to mention the cosplay. The con itself may be 100% fan driven.

Unfortunately anime con attendees do have a bad rep, as well. A few fans get very excited at cons, to the detriment of those around them. There’s “glomping,” where someone runs up to, and excitedly hugs, someone else. It doesn’t always happen with warning or consent and some cons have banned it. These are not the norm, but do happen.

Fandom Slang

AMV – Anime Music Video

Anime – Animation from Japan.

Baka – Dummy, idiot, stupid.

Cameko – A cosplay photographer.

Chibi – Something, usually a character, made small and cute.

Doujinshi – Fan made manga.

Ecchi – Contains sexual themes without being explicit.

Fan Service – Up-skirt and cleavage shots in anime/manga.

Harem – Genre where the protagonist is surrounded by many members of the opposite sex who tend to be attracted to them.

Hentai – Direct translation is “pervert” or “perversion.” The Western use is often for anime/manga porn.

Itai – Ouch!

J-Pop – Japanese pop music, often used in anime theme songs.

K-Pop – Korean pop music.

Kawaii – Cute

LARP – Live Action Role Playing

Manga – Japanese comic, traditionally black and white. Read from right to left.

Masque – A short cosplay skit.

Mecha – Genre involving robots.

Nani? – What?

Otaku – Hardcore anime/manga fan. It comes from the Japanese word, which means being such a fan (of whatever) that you have no social or love life.

Shoujo – Girls, used to differentiate among the intended audience.

Shounen – Boys, used to differentiate among the intended audience.

Waifu – A character from anime, manga, or video game that one is attracted to and/or considers as a significant other. It is at a level where lusting after the character is disrespectful.

Weeaboo – A non-Japanese person who denounces their own culture in favor of Japan’s. Much of their experience with the language and culture comes from anime.

Yaoi – Genre involving male/male romantic relationships.

Yuri – Genre involving female/female romantic relationships.