Best Anime Conventions and Cosplay

Anime Conventions

An anime convention is a gathering or event that is primarily focused on Japanese culture, manga and anime. Commonly, the anime convention is a multi-day event hosted at hotel, college campus or convention center. It features a variety of panels and activities, with a larger number of attendees who participate in cosplay than other fan conventions? types. Anime conventions are used as a vehicle for anime industry, in which distributors, publishers and studios represent anime related releases.

Anime Convention

What is Cosplay?

The word ?Cosplay? is a contraction of ?costume play?. Cosplay is a performance art with participants called cosplayers. Cosplayers wear fashion accessories and costumes to represent specific characters. They often interact to create their own subculture and the broader use of ?cosplay? as a term applies to costumed role-playing of any kind in venues apart from stage. Any entity which lends to dramatic interpretation might be taken up as a subject. It is not uncommon to see genders switched. Anime and manga, cartoons, comic books and videogames, as well as live-action films and TV series are among the favourite sources.

Cosplay of Attack On Titan

History of Anime Conventions

The history of anime conventions is long and varied. The original Comiket, that is mostly based on d?jinshi (fan published manga), began in 1975 with about 700 people in Tokyo. Nowadays, Comiket attracts more than a half million fans. Japanese anime conventions are sponsored by publishing companies or studios and are used as platforms for brand new releases. Convention officials at such venues like AnimeJapan have been attempting to reach overseas manga otaku, in addition to Japan.

Anime conventions started appearing in the United States in early 1980s. Project A-Kon was the first to start in 1990. It is reckoned the first anime convention in the U.S., though this fact is disputed. It is also considered that the ?devoted to Japanese animation? YamatoCon convention was first held in Dallas Texas in 1983. Ever after, a wealth of anime conventions have appeared in multiple states. Since the initial anime convention that brought in a few hundred anime fans, anime conventions have increased in popularity. AnimeCon, held in San Jose CA 1991, is famous as the first to break the 1,000 attendance mark. AnimeCon was also the first anime convention to receive support from Japanese and American production studios. The largest anime convention in North America, Anime Expo, has been organized in California since 1992. In 2015 it attracted nearly 90,500 people.

Anime conventions in diverse locations, such as Europe, started to take off during the Mid-1990s. In 1994 a 1-day anime convention, AUKcon, was held in London, chaired by Helen McCarthy. Salon del Manga de Barcelona, which was held for the first time in Barcelona in 1995, is also among the largest conventions in Europe. Japan Expo, held in Paris, is the biggest European convention. It is also the world?s largest outside Japan. Anime conventions eventually spread to Australia during the late 1990s. Manifest was the first one, held in 1998.

Which are the best Anime Conventions?

Anime Expo

Anime Expo ConventionToday the largest project managed by SPJA (Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation), Anime Expo (abbreviated AX), is an annual anime convention held at Los Angeles Convention Center. It has been historically held as a 4-day event on July 4th weekend. Anime Expo has dramatically grown in numbers and is currently the largest manga and anime convention in North America. It is the 2nd longest running convention (following A-kon, Texas) starting 1992.

Famous large events include the Anime Music Video Contest, AX Fashion Show, Battle of the Bands, Concerts, and Masquerade. Anime Expo lasts 24 hours and offers tabletop gaming rooms, all night video programming, late-night dances and open-mic Karaoke held in the late evening and early morning hours. A lot of the attendees cosplay, and there are plenty of gatherings for fans of different manga and anime series.

Famous for the ability to bring popular guests to America for concerts and panels, Anime Expo has been the gathering site of many U.S. premieres of bands, shows and movies. Anime Expo is an anime convention held in LA, California organized by the non-profit SPJA. With rare exceptions, it is traditionally held on July?s first weekend, which typically coincides with 4th of July, and lasts for 4 days.


Otakon ConventionOtakon is a 3-day annual anime convention held during July or August at Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore (the Inner Harbor district of Maryland) between 1999-2016. As of 2017, Otakon is held at Walter E.Washington Convention Center, Washington D.C. This anime convention is focused on East Asian popular culture (music, cinema, manga and anime) and its fandom. ?Otakon? is a portmanteau derived from the Japanese word otaku (people with obsessive interests, generally the manga and anime fans) and ?convention?. Otakon is among the longest-running such conventions in the U.S. and as of 2016 is the 5th largest anime convention in North America.

Anime Central

Anime Central ConventionAnime Central (abbreviated ACen) is an annual 3-day anime convention which is held during April or May at Hyatt Regency O?Hare & Donald E.Stephens Convention Center (Rosemont, Illinois). As of 2016 this anime convention is the 3rd largest in North America. Anime Central is organized by MAPS (Midwest Animation Promotion Society).

Anime Central was organized in 1998 as a consequence of the lack of anime events in Central United States. During the convention guest Robert DeJesus got married by ordained minister, guest Jan Scott-Frazier. A couple of cosplay weddings were held in 2012 at the convention, along with Hyatt needing evacuation due to fire alarm. In 2014 Anime Central hosted the US Finals for the World Cosplay Summit.

Typically, Anime Central offers artist alley, concerts, dealer?s room, gaming (role play, video, table top, arcade, trading card) formal ball, masquerade, karaoke, panels, autograph sessions, Q&As and anime viewing rooms.


A-Kon ConventionA-Kon, formerly Project: A-Kon, is an annual  3-day anime convention held in Fort Worth, Texas on the first weekend of June. A-Kon was held for the first time in 1990 with only 380 attendants. A-Kon is the longest running national anime convention in North America. As of 2016 it is also the 2nd largest anime convention in North America.

While the focus of A-Kon is centered on anime fans and screenings of films and TV series, a variety of other activities take place encompassing different segments of Japanese and geek pop culture. These include panels with American artists and authors, tabletop gaming room, console gaming room, martial arts demonstrations, scavenger hunts, art show, cosplay, and concerts by SteamPunk and Japanese bands.

Anime Boston

Anime Boston ConventionAnime Boston is a 3-day annual convention held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA under the supervision of New England Anime Society. The focus of the convention is to promote Japanese comics, animation and pop-culture.

The Anime Boston convention has been a cornerstone of North East Anime Convention circuit since the inaugural event held in April, 2003. While the main focus has always been put on Japanese comics and animation, Anime Boston expanded to include various aspects of Japan?s pop-culture: live-action Japanese media, J-Rock and J-Pop. They have also immersed into Japanese traditional culture and history, thus encouraging fans to develop a perspective that is more well-rounded.

This anime convention features a number of events including an anime music video contest, artists? alley, art show, masquerade, karaoke, video programming rooms, video games, game shows, LARP and RPGs.


Sakura-Con ConventionSakura-Con is a 3-day anime convention held annually during March or April at Washington State Convention & Trade Center (Seattle, Washington). Traditionally held over Easter weekend, the convention is the largest anime event in the Northwest and the 9th largest anime convention in North America as of 2016. It typically offers anime music video contests, anime game shows, artist alley, art show, fashion show, cosplay contest, cosplay chess, exhibitors hall, dances, raves, Japanese cultural arts and presentations (tea ceremonies, kendama play, kabuki performances, aikido demonstrations, kendo swordsmanship, taiko drumming).

Anime Weekend Atlanta

Anime Weekend Atlanta ConventionAnime Weekend Atlanta (abbreviated AWA) is an annual 4-day anime convention held at Cobb Galleria and Renaissance Waverly Hotel during the last weekend of September. This event is a special family-friendly celebration of Japanese manga (comics), anime (animation) and cosplay (costume-play). AWA was organized for the first time in 1994, and the first convention was held in 1995. Ever since, Anime Weekend Atlanta has been recognized as one of the United States? most well known Japanese Animation conventions, as well as one of the top 10 attended North American anime conventions.

Anime Matsuri

Anime Matsuri ConventionAnime Matsuri is a Japanese culture, anime and related arts convention held annually in Houston, Texas. Whether it is music, art, fashion, anime, cosplay, or collectibles, they?ve got it. Anime Matsuri strive to bring the greatest and latest from Japan?s animation studios, concert stages and catwalks, over to the United States? own backyard. The inaugural event of Anime Matsuri began in 2007 and since then, the convention has grown to more than 30,000 attendants. Currently, Anime Matsuri is the 8th largest North American anime convention. It is proud to promote Japanese culture via fan based workshops and panels, Japanese Concerts, Japanese style Car Show, Gaming, Maid Cafe, and the biggest Japanese Fashion Show held in the U.S.


Youmacon ConventionYoumacon is a famous culture event that is similar to most of the ?Comic Cons?. Instead of focusing upon comic books, the convention is a celebration of Japan?s popular culture and its influence on United States? culture during the past decades. Common themes of Youmacon include Video Games, Anime (Japanese animation), Japanese style artwork and comics, as well as the rising internet culture which is influenced by all of the above. The event brings a colourful all-ages mixture of celebrity guest panels, live musical performances and interactive events to Downtown Detroit. Wearing costumes (?Cosplay?) is very popular with Youmacon attendants.

San Japan

San Japan ConventionSan Japan is an annual Japanese anime convention held in San Antonio, Texas. Originally, it was intended to debut in July 2007 as a 3-day convention. However, it had to be postponed for an additional year because of issues with the host location. This event is the first major anime convention of San Antonio and has developed into the biggest fan-oriented Japanese convention in the city. A lot of people credit the San Japan convention with forcing open the doors for pop-culture conventions in Alamo City, including Alamo City Comic Con (founded in 2013 and one of the biggest and fastest growing anime conventions in the country).