Friday, Aug. 22, 2008-Worthington, Ohio 8:11p.m.
While the time and place might seem a little on the "dated" side (considering this is 2012) that date rings truer to me now than it ever did back then. I was only 13 years old and in the 8th grade when I made the purchase of what we con-goers call "pre-registration" tickets; it doesn't usually cost you all that much to get inside the anime conventions-it's what you do with yourself once you're inside that is completely up to you. Being as young as I was, I hadn't the faintest idea what I was getting myself into when I got there; I spent the entire summer before studying myself up on convention customs, what to look out for, what to do, what not to do, what to take pictures of, how to be open to panels, how to be susceptive to criticism on cosplay (a cross between role-playing and costuming), as you can see, the list went on and on. In the honesty of it all: I had never even ATTENDED an anime convention or even knew what cosplayingwas until right before it all happened-my summer vacation consisted of the countless hours I dedicated to watching Youtube videos on conventions and how they played out. This gave me more insight as an anime fan on how to react in the midst of it all and what the convention experience was all about in the realms of it all. What I quickly learned was, each time one is to step inside that atmosphere, it's more personal than anything and varies each time you attend. some choose the anime convention traveling lifestyle to meet new people-while there are others who might use it to express themselves in ways they never thought possible; I personally chose the anime convention life out of the love for anime the culture as a whole. It's the attendance inside the convention that brings out even the shyest of people; even if the hype of an anime convention lasts about three or four days. Looking back on how unfamiliar I was with the convention scene, I think about how it wasn't anything I had expected it to be; however I made the commitment to go in with an open mind and be willing to expect the unexpected, and that is exactly what I did!
Once the first year of convention attending was over, I was quickly anticipated the coming year in which I would attend yet again another great convention with many warm & new memories to be made! It was in these early years that I would document the lifestyles of anime fans like myself & find out what it is they so deeply loved about the convention the way I did; it didn't take long to find out what we all had in common and how we all began to share the love in a unifying way. This was something we learned to express in a very discreet way, while still making it obvious to let those around us know we were always welcome and at home in an anime convention no matter where we were-it carries a couple of steps further depending how long you've been attending the convention or what sort of experiences you've had as a whole.
I speak for every anime fan when I say anime cons are the true home to all who feel un-welcome elsewhere! There is nothing more exciting than to see a new face in the community and watching their return the following year and being accepted among the people as one of their own; anime fans and those into a cult following culture like anime know that when it comes down to what is socially acceptable and what isn't-there isn't room for prejudice and social division amongst us for the simple fact that we know we can't be accepted in the real world A harsh reality that we all have to face on every last day of a convention when we are packing up our new memories and waving goodbye to the new friends we have made in our own little world of fun and un-interruption
Jumping ahead to August 24th 2012, I step back into the anime convention world for the fifth year in my life and the resilience I first learned to embrace has yet to leave my side. Each year becomes more and more of a growing pace for me as I mature in the community and welcome those that were once like me: unaware of what was to happen, attending without any expectations, being open and susceptive to the things I would see and again, this list goes on. They aren't too afraid of what is to happen, but they are afraid of how it will wear on them later. Most of the time, the anime convention scene looks pretty good on just about anybody-so, for anyone out there who thinks that maybe this isn't for you or that you will never be accepted amongst the social acceptances in the world I tell you to look no further than the anime community.
There are a great many people in your shoes who feel the same way; give it a couple of years and I guarantee you that once you've gotten a taste of what's to be expected at an anime convention, you will never want to go back!
Take it from somebody who's been attending convention since she was 13 years old and just completed her 11th one