Established Anime Convention Returns to Cobb Galleria
In 2007 my youngest daughter asked me to help her make a costume and take her to Anime Weekend Atlanta. We whipped up cosplay for her favorite Anime at the time, Fruits Basket, and we headed for a one day adventure to AWA. We found a warm and accepting crowd of folks with similar interests and had a blast. The next year, we returned to volunteer at AWA and found it bigger and more wonderful. My daughter has since moved on from most Anime and doesn’t get a chance to go to AWA, but I have kept the tradition alive. It’s still a place for me to meet some of amazing people and share in the celebration of Anime. This year I will be returning to AWA not as a father, but as a fan and a reporter. And, let me tell you…there is a lot to be excited about for at this year’s event.
Now you might be a parent taking a child to AWA for the first time, and this guide should help you to acclimate and enjoy the convention, even if you don’t know anything about Anime!
1 – Be ready for new words and abbreviations! Kawaii is cute, Anime is from Animation, cosplay is wearing a costume and being really into it. Or Cosplay is a costume. Guests are celebrities and members are attendees. There is a lot more words you might need to lear, and we explain a few in this article…but not all! Jargon is common everywhere people meet for a common purpose, and AWA is no exception.
2 – Celebrities, performers, and experts are called Guests: Guests are brought into a convention make it more interesting and to allow fans to meet some of the creators behind favorite anime. Many voice actors will be attending AWA including Sarah Williams from Kill La Kill, Sword Art Online, Madoka Magica and so much more and Vic Mignogna from Fullmetal Alchemist, Dragon Ball Z, Ouran High School, Naruto Shippuden, and others. Other guests include musicians, cosplayers, and artists. These are just a few of the guess out of over twenty guests. Some guests will be providing autographs for a small fee.
3 – The schedule at AWA include panels and events nearly continuously 24 Hours a Day! Panels can range from three or four fans discussing an obscure Anime from the 1960s to three of four guests talking about how young fans can break into voice acting. Events can include costume contests, the formal ball, an awards ceremony and so much more! Use the AWA app and the AWA schedule to help you plan out what you and your children will do.
4 – Costuming is prevalent at AWA, and is sometimes called Cosplay: First off…you don’t have to wear a costume to enjoy cosplay. Many parents find that just following their children and looking at the craftsmanship of the costumers is just plain fun. You will see costumes representing all of the popular Animes, as well as some obscure ones! Don’t be surprised if you see popular film or TV franchises represented such as Star Wars, Star Track, or Archer.
5 – Expect a big Shopping Area! The Vending Area is a good place to shop: That may sound like a tautology, but for the parent of a Anime Fan, the vending area at a Anime Convention is a good place to find ideal purchases to meet the desires of an demanding young Oktaku (that’s the term for an Anime Fan). I confess that I purchased a japanese outfit from AWA!
6 – The Artist Alley supports local and small business, and is so Kawaii! I have made many friends in the Artist Alley of AWA, and you will too! The artist alley is filled with two basic types of people: artists drawing characters on commission and artisans selling crafts related to Anime. These crafts people put a lot of time and effort into their work and do their best to create products you or your child will enjoy!
7 – There are rooms showing anime 24 hours a day! This is a great way to bond with your child and discover new Anime. I recommend using it during those times of the day when everyone needs to slow down a little. These rooms are refreshing and a personal favorite of mine.
8 – Anime Music Videos are called AMVs and can be found in the VAT Room. Editors and creators take popular (or obscure songs) in one hand and clips from various Anime properties in another. They merge these together into the transformative art known as “AMVs.” While not all AMVs are appropriate for all ages, AWA makes sure the ones show during the day and evening are all ages. The Video Art Track shows the AMVs.
9 – Conventions are an Immersive Experience: When you arrive at AWA, you will find that you are inside AWA and that you forget that life goes on outside the convention. This is great for having a good time and being in the moment, but remember that you need to pace yourself with your panel and event selections. Keep an eye on the clock and also pay attention to making sure you eat/drink at reasonable times and keep your children fed.
10 – Parking Disappears Quickly! Come early, be dropped off, or be willing to walk. Maybe the convention won’t be this blunt, but I have found the past few years that taking ride-sharing, or being dropped off by a friend works well. Other wise, remember that AWA becomes more popular and parking decks fill up early!
11 – Keep an open mind and remember conventions are about Inclusion! You may be a nerdy dad or mom…you might not be. If you are taking a child to a convention and you have never been, keep an open mind. AWA is aware that many of their attendees are children and do what they can to provide a wide range of events and panels to cater to younger needs. You will meet people who might seem odd to you, and you may be quick to judge them. Conventions are places of acceptance of those who are actively involved in fandom, and I encourage you to encourage your kids to also be accepting.