What are con-nanigans? It’s a compound of “convention” and “shenanigans,” and con-nanigans occur at—you guessed it—conventions. This past Saturday, I partook in a round of con-nanigans at Anime Central (or ACen). And boy, was it an experience!
In my neck of the woods, there are three big conventions to attend: C2E2, Wizard World Chicago, and Anime Central. I’ve known about ACen for years, and knew friends who would make the pilgrimage up to Rosemont, IL, just to attend. It’s kind of a big deal here. This was actually my first time attending an anime convention, so it was a completely new experience for me. But now the Trifecta is complete.
While I feel completely comfortable attending conventions, I felt like I was stepping into a time warp; in high school, I was heavily involved in the anime community. But anime has always been prominent in my life–even in childhood. I would stay up late on Saturday nights just to watch Dragonball Z. Shows like Sailor Moon and Pokémon captured my attention during the 90s. When I was in middle school and high school, my main anime squeezes were Bleach, Naruto, Samurai Champloo, and D. Grey Man. Stepping into an all-anime atmosphere like ACen made me feel like I was a teenager again.
This was also the first convention I attended where I didn’t cosplay. Because I decided somewhat last minute to attend the convention, I didn’t have time to pull together a cosplay. I decided to do a Bulma casual cosplay, and made a shirt fit for the character. So, for the first time, I got to see a convention as a Muggle.
I arrived at ACen in the morning, when the foot traffic was relatively low. After buying my badge, I made my way to the main Show Floor, which was in the actual convention center. There were booths for every known anime studio, from VIZ Media to Amiplex, with Artist Alley just an aisle away. The rest of the Show Floor was the Exhibit Floor (a.k.a. the Dealers Room, I later found out), and the signings area behind all of the hub-bub, shrouded by curtains. Since I arrived before my friends, I decided to roam the Show Floor. What struck me most was the sprawling variety of the merchandise sold at ACen. There was literally a booth for every interest: on one side would be a booth that sold cute alligator plush toys, and on the other was a booth that sold body pillows with naked anime ladies on them. The variety of cosplay I saw at ACen was just as varied. Of course, there were tons of anime and gaming cosplays, but I saw several Star Wars cosplays and comic book characters roaming around. Hey, its not a convention until you see someone as Deadpool or Harley Quinn.
Later on, I found out that ACen is not a contained convention; since the venue is attached to the neighboring Hyatt Regency, events were happening at the hotel. It’s almost as if the entire downtown area of Rosemont transformed into an anime mecca. Even if you weren’t staying at the Hyatt, you could still hang out in the lobby in full cosplay, interacting with fellow con-goers. This was something I had never seen before at a convention. I had actually been to this convention center before for Wizard World. While there, I never experienced the same level of electricity that I encountered at ACen.
But, despite this electricity, I still felt like an outsider. Not only was I dressed like a Muggle, I was also somewhat older than most of the con-goers. Additionally, I have not been involved in the anime fandom for years, so I felt like I was behind on the times. Though I did meet people who were around my age–including my friends–I felt out of the loop. Thankfully, the great majority of people who attend conventions are incredibly nice. Many of the dealers and artists were more than willing to chat with me, and the cosplayers I encountered were cheerful when I asked for their picture. I even got to talk shop with some cosplayers I had met previously at C2E2. That was perhaps my favorite part of the whole day.
Though didn’t stay to see the after-hour festivities, the convention as a whole was quite enjoyable. I even got some Neko Atsume art pieces to add to my growing Cat Wall. So, I would say that the day was a success!
I love partaking in con-nanigans, so I’m glad that I attended. I will say, though, that were I more involved in the community still, I might have appreciated ACen more. But, when looking at the convention as a whole, I will say that it’s something that has to be seen to be believed. The coolest part about conventions is seeing the passion of fans, and diving head-first into that world. If you’re used to that world, then it truly is Nerd Prom. Will I go back to Anime Central? Perhaps. Did I have a great time? Absolutely!
Have you ever been to an anime convention? Did you enjoy it? Let’s nerd out in the comments below!
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