I’ve been a fan of anime since the days when “AstroBoy” was first broadcast in the US. Of course, I didn’t know it was anime at the time, and it wasn’t until a couple of decades later that I found out. When I got seriously into anime and manga back in the late 90’s, I learned that just like the old days of “Star Trek” and science fiction fandom, there was a whole host of fans of “Japanimation”. The Washington DC area is fortunate in having not one, but three anime conventions in the immediate area, and more scattered not far up and down the East Coast. The big kahuna is Otakon, which is also the longest-running around here. For the past 10 years or so, the attendance has easily exceeded 20,000 fans over 3 days.
Much anime is watched, the dealer’s room has booths and tables from hundreds of dealers of anime, manga, and other Japanese paraphernalia, and thousands of people dress in costumes of characters from obscure to iconic. They also have many panels discussing aspects of fandom and of Japanese culture. I’m planning to attend a few panels on Japanese language and translation, and also catch a few episodes of both new and classic anime. There will be hundreds of artists showing off and selling their work, both anime and manga related, but also many webcomic artists hawking their sites with “merch.”
Basically, a great time will be had by all, but if you happen to wander into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor this weekend, don’t be frightened by the people in weird get-ups. Most of them will probably be Orioles fans! ^__^