By: Liz Turner
I had no intention of going to Anime USA. I hadn’t worked on any costumes for it or even looked at the guest list before getting a message on the Monday before asking me if I wanted to go. I realized that (despite being a fulltime grad student) I didn’t have anything to do this weekend, so I might as well join my friends. Someone had backed out at the last minute but they still needed someone to round out the room so it wouldn’t be too expensive. I immediately began a mad dash trying to get everything together to go (which did involve me waiting outside for the bank to open at 9am so I could cash my paycheck and still make the 9:10 bus to campus).
Coming up with a costume lineup was the hardest. I cosplay mostly from comic books or movies, and I am sad to say that my anime repertoire is very limited as far as costumes. It’s not that I’m not into the genre. I have several in the works, but I just hadn’t been prepared for a con so soon. I ended up compromising and packing half comic book character cosplays and half cosplays more relevant to the convention. All my worry appeared to be for naught as when I arrived, I realized that while the majority of costumes were anime-related, there were costumes from every nerd genre imaginable.
In a lot of ways, I’ve only really experienced cons on a small, local level or at a huge level such as Dragon*Con. Anime USA was my first in-between con. I got to experience a taste of con nightlife for the first time, though the costume ball was far too hilariously high school dance-like for us to stay long. I also experienced weeaboos, unsupervised teenagers, and creepers for the first time. The Maid Café and the Host Club offered reasonably priced con food with a great atmosphere.
Browsing the dealers’ room made me realize that all my favorite anime shows are apparently rather obscure, but I did get a good feel for what is popular now. I added several shows to my must watch list, and I admit that I’m already partway down that list. Thankfully popular doesn’t always mean overrated.
What I enjoyed most about the con was being able to hang out with my friends. I moved to the area very recently and was worried about meeting people. Having the D20 Girls as a sort of automatic group of friends has been a lifesaver, and sharing a tiny hotel room with four other people is a great way to become close. Whether it was bonding over how much we missed our cats (despite having a great time) or having to do cosplay quick-changes in front of each other, you can’t help but bond. I even got to meet new D20 Girls that I’d never met before, and several group cosplay ideas took form over the weekend, with the con as inspiration.
Reading posts about AUSA this year, it would appear that many people were disappointed. I guess I had no expectations for the con to live up to, so there wasn’t a way for me to be disappointed in the first place. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that any con experience is only what you make it. If you spend it with good friends you might just have the best unexpected journey you’ve ever had.