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.
Atlanta is a city of fan conventions, and we just had one of the biggest and best in the country in Dragon Con. Atlanta fans know that Dragon Con is followed by a series of great conventions that help to keep fandoms engaged as the convention season comes to an end. For Otaku, Anime Fans, that convention is Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA). But, AWA is more than a local convention for Atlanta Fans, it is one of the largest regional Anime Conventions and one of the oldest and most successful conventions of its type in America. More than that, Anime Weekend Atlanta is a place to explore Anime and have fun!
Founded in 1995, Anime Weekend Atlanta had traveled to a lot of locations before finding its current home in the Cobb Galleria Center, just north of Atlanta in the Vinings area of Cobb County. The location incorporates the convention center itself, and the adjoined hotel, Renaissance Waverly. Sure, AWA started with just one conference room, but it has expanded mightily as attendance swelled to 25,107 in 2015.
Anime Weekend Atlanta distinguishes itself by keeping its focus strictly on Anime. While many of the guests at AWA this year have diverse backgrounds including American animation and videogaming, Anime dominates the programming.
Gaming, of course, is an important part of AWA, and has grown as the convention has grown. Video gaming continues to feature the best in console gaming, while the analog gaming presents a wide range of games including “tabletop board games, card games, social games, CCG Tournaments and various RolePlaying Games [RPGs].” I would also expect a LARP or two be happening though, even if they are not part of official programming.
One of the things that makes AWA unique is the Anime Weekend Atlanta Fashion Show. This event doesn’t cover costuming, but rather representations of Japanese Street fashion as interpreted by convention goers. This is a juried event and contestants must apply by mid-August. A high water of Elegant Gothic Lolita community in the Southeast, this event grows in popularity every year.
Costuming! A huge part of AWA is Costuming. Costumers and cosplayers come from around the country to show off their best Anime costuming at AWA. While most of the costuming at AWA celebrates Anime, that is not the whole story. Twenty-four hours a day you will be able to enjoy and take pictures of fantastic costuming covering everything from Ghostbusters to Inayashu to Speed Racer, and all sorts of costumes in between! Remember to bring your camera, but also be polite when requesting a picture from a cosplayer.
AWA has a full guest list this year including: Curtis Arnott, Johnny Yong Bosch, Metamorphose, Sandy Fox, Scott Frerichs, Todd Haberkorn, Lex Lang, Vic Mignogna, Vedetta Marie, and Sarah Anne Williams. These guest will be available in panels and events, as well as many of them signing autographs for their fans for a small fee! Programming at AWA promises to continue a long tradition of being entertaining and enlightening! Apart from the Anime Rooms, Video Art Track (VAT), and gaming rooms, there are panels covering nearly every aspect of Anime, Japanese Culture, and costuming.
Needless to say I am excited about Anime Weekend Atlanta this year! There so much more I more I can talk about! Music and parties! Dealers room and artist alley! Costume Contests and demonstrations! Come join me at AWA to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about!