So you just recently started watching more anime and decided to jump into the deep end and attend an anime convention?… You FOOL! What are you thinking?! Do you know how many references are going to fly over your head?!… Fear not though. I am here to give you some tips and tricks on how to make the best of your experience at an anime convention if you’re new to anime, conventions or all of the above. Let the education commence!
1- Make a Schedule
Large conventions like Anime Expo will have countless panels, events, signings and screenings all going on at the same time. It’s important to know when and where you need to get to the right hall, room or in some cases a completely separate building. Make sure you have a map that shows the location of each main hall. Most conventions will have layout maps on their respective websites. Sometimes there will be multiple events that overlap. Decide what interests you the most or what fits best with other planned events. You might have to leave some activities early to get to the next, so watch the clock for when you need to move on. The convention website will post all major activities, but sometimes scheduled events will change times or locations so make sure to verify daily events with the appropriate staff. The respective booth staff for that particular company that is… NOT the main staff that ushers you around because they will know nothing about the events at the con. Get to your events early because there will be a line already forming by the time you get there. Most importantly, make sure to schedule time to eat and rest.
2- Know Where to Go for Ticketed Events
There are plenty of experiences that will require a specific ticket to attend on top of your access badge for the convention. Some autograph sessions will be run by the convention and others will be done by specific companies at their booths in the exhibition or main hall. For example, tickets for the Dragon Ball Super autograph session were handed out at the Funimation Booth as soon as the exhibition hall opened on the day of the signings. Know when and where these tickets will be handed out. Some tickets are available before the convention even opens for the day. Tickets for those will go fast as many people will line up like they’re prepping for Black Friday. Other tickets will be available as soon as the convention hall opens at either the convention stands or at a company’s respective booth. Go to these lines first thing or you will not get access to those closed events. Celebrities will only have so much time to do signings so make sure you know the specific information for the autograph session you want to attend.
3- Look for Deals, Exclusives and Free Stuff
Every convention will have a main floor. Anime Expo refers to their’s as the Exhibition hall. This is where companies will hand out free merchandise and sell convention exclusives. Lines will form for limited edition items as soon as the main floor opens so know where the booth your looking for is ahead of time. Convention exclusives sell out quickly so if you want collectibles, look for those on the first day. Mystery boxes are all the rage nowadays and as expected, mystery boxes are rampant at cons now. From companies like Lootcrate and Akibento to small companies that threw boxes together just for the con, there will be an endless sea of mysterious goodies to choose from. Just be aware that you will have to carry whatever you buy around with you so the giant mystery boxes might not be the best thing if you don’t have a car or hotel close. Make sure to look of prices for items before you buy them. Just because it’s a convention does not mean vendors are selling items for less. In many cases they try to up the price, so educate yourself on reasonable values. It’s best to set a budget and stick to it. That will limit your spending to only the best quality items you come across.
4- Down Time
Just because you need to rest doesn’t mean you have to miss out on what’s going on at the convention. If you need to rest, find a room that has an event that is less popular. There won’t be any line to wait and it’ll have nice seats and air conditioning. So while you relax, you can still enjoy what’s going on around you. One particularly fantastic option to do just this is finding a room that is screening Anime Music Videos. I am new to AMV’s myself, but they are a great source to learn about more anime that you might not have known about. The room will be dimly lit so feel free to kick back, relax and enjoy some great action sequences paired with thrilling music. This will also give you an idea of what other anime franchises you might want to get into.
Anime Expo was an incredible experience even though I am just barely branching out into anime. If you are thinking about diving into this world, I would strongly suggest attending a convention. You will learn so much, meet new people and have a better idea of what shows to watch next. Be on the lookout for Anime Expo next year, because you’re not going to want to miss it.