Anime conventions (cons) vary. Each has their own distinct style, purpose, and branding focus. Dreamcon focuses on the anime community by having BIPOC content creators and voice actors. Attendees looking for a safe space and networking opportunities should feel comfortable attending. Anime Expo and Crunchyroll Expo focus on the industry. Fans have the opportunity to attend panels where they hear directly from creators, and receive sneak peeks and announcements. Metrocon is focused on creating an experience for anime fans to meet others, engage with special guests, and browse a stacked panel lineup for mingling, information, cosplay help, and more. Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA) centers on its nightlife and socializing. Those looking to party and make friends with fans who share the same interests are in their element at AWA. Throughout October 27, 2022-October 30, 2022, Hubtaku attended AWA to celebrate anime culture with fellow fans, and give readers the rundown.
Which Type of Con is AWA?
AWA is an anime con, first and foremost. Fans will see cosplays, and all special guests and panels will revolve around anime and manga. Foreign animation or storytelling, such as webtoons, are included, but anime is the main focus. AWA is also a con for adults. From the time doors open on Thursday, the convention hall never closes. AWA is a 24-hour con with late night panels, events, and activities being exclusive to attendees ages 18 and up. The dress code is liberal, which should be taken into consideration if an adult intends to bring a child. Alcoholic beverages are plentiful, with a bar in the main lobby where attendees congregate once the exhibit hall closes for the day. AWA in the morning and afternoon is very different from AWA in the evening. Attendees can expect to find different activities depending on the time of day they choose to arrive.
AWA possesses a large cast of special guests. Not only are there voice actors and cosplayers, but also popular and well known musicians and anime directors. There was not a voice actor at AWA that fans probably have not heard of. Attendees have the chance to speak with them, ask questions, and receive autographs. Eager fans can also catch music artists as they perform live in the main convention hall.
Booths with large selections of items and goods to choose from are plentiful in the exhibit hall. Whether attendees need an item to finish their cosplay, want prints of their favorite characters, or desire a new plush or figure, fans can find whatever they need from vendors. Digital artists and authors fans know and follow on social media are in attendance to sign comics and prints. Toward the back of the hall, fans can marvel at cars with intricate anime and comic designs. The exhibit hall is one of AWA’s strongest attractions.
Once the sun sets and the exhibit hall closes, AWA attendees congregate in the lobby of the hotel and party. Music plays, thanks to personal speakers fans brought with them, while some dance and drink. Adult-themed panels continue to run during this time, including a hentai watch party, a burlesque party, a cosplay showcase for ages 18+, and other events not suitable for young audiences. AWA’s nightlife really shines for partygoers.
AWA’s Pros and Cons
AWA was about making friends, linking up, and, in some cases, shooting your shot! Fans went on dates, hung out with other anime friends they made, and went to parties because of the style and structure of the panels. Focus was not on information or special guests, but on having a good time and providing entertaining activities for attendees. If fans are looking for this type of atmosphere, AWA is the perfect con to attend.
Despite having a large number of special guests, panels for fans to speak with them were sparse. Opportunities were only possible at the Voice Actor Roundtable, or Ask a Voice Actor panel. In addition, panels featuring other special guests were limited. Opportunities for intimate or detailed conversations between fans and guests were not present. Panels essentially served as mixers to meet other anime fans who share an interest in the topic. AWA may not be the con for fans who want to experience panels and meet special guests.
Overall, AWA may be best for mingling and getting to know people. While fun can be had attending main events or meeting special guests, AWA focuses on the opportunity to spend time enjoying anime culture with those alike.
Hubtaku thanks everyone at Anime Weekend Atlanta for offering their insight and experience to help put this review together. Thank you for reading, and for making Hubtaku your Otaku Hub.
(Editing by Kristina Forst)