If you're an anime fan and you've never been to a large anime convention, then you've gotta go! It's the experience of a lifetime. Last summer, I went to my first anime convention, Otakon, during the 4th of July weekend, with a whole bunch of people from CJAS. Otakon is one of the largest anime conventions on the East Coast. The largest one on the West Coast is Anime Expo.
Anyway, we started out from New York City, early in the morning, and went to Baltimore, the site of Otakon last year (and this year). We checked into the hotel, which was right next to the convention center, and immediately went to register. Most of us had pre-registered, so we just had to pick up our IDs and the program and schedule for the convention, and we were on our way.
We started planning out our trip right away: what we wanted to watch, where we wanted to go, where we wanted to eat. There were six showing rooms which showed anime all day long. You're given a schedule of all the showings and activities, and it's just mind-boggling sometimes trying to fit everything into your schedule. If you want to take a break from watching anime, you can go into the art room (which displays artwork by fans), or the dealer's room (where you can buy merchandise), or to any of the workshops they hold, or you can walk around outside and take in the sites of Baltimore. Some other fun activities include cos-play, where people with (usually) homemade costumes put on skits, the music video contest, dances, and karaoke. There are also guests from Japan at the conventions: creators, directors, character designers, composers, and such figures.
I'd have to say that my favorite part of the entire trip was watching anime and going to the dealer's room. I felt like a child going into a toy store or a candy store. You walk around and it's overwhelming how many kinds of anime merchandise there are, and it's incredible that such a huge difference exists between how much you want to buy, and how little money you have. There is something for everybody, and you have to watch how much money you spend. Buying stuff can become expensive, so it's good to save up some money as well. At the end, it's really rewarding when you acquire that new model or wall scroll or plush doll to add to your collection. Me, I like to collect pencil boards and playing cards. As for watching anime, it really makes you appreciate watching anime on a big screen with a lot of people because it's more fun to share the laughter or the suspense with someone who shares your appreciation for anime.
If you ever want to go to a convention, it's best to go with friends. Plan ahead, save some money, watch anime, and have fun. Otakon lasts for three days, and admission to the entire three days costs $45, but if you register before 5/27, it's $40. For more information on Otakon, go to their website, www.otakon.com. Anime Expo's website is www.anime-expo.org.