This past weekend amongst the bustle of Atlanta, Georgia, you would have found the streets being swarmed with what appeared to be a circus.
People of every shape and size in costumes ranging from simple to elaborate could be seen walking the streets surrounding the Waverly Hotel and Cobb Galleria as the 20th Annual Anime Weekend Atlanta, commonly known as AWA.
Most people have heard of Dragon Con, AWA’s big-sister convention, which took place earlier this past month, but for those unfamiliar with the convention circuit, Anime Weekend Atlanta is the second biggest convention Georgia has to offer, being placed within the top ten cons in North America.
Conventions are where fans of all genres come together to meet industry guests, buy top of the line merchandise, attend concerts, compete in costume competitions, and mingle with fellow con goers in a range of events and interests.
Walking the halls of the convention floors, be prepared to see anything from Darth Vader of the Star Wars franchise arm-wresting with Goku of Dragon Ball Z to Captain America doing Gangnam Style amongst the crowds.
For someone who is unfamiliar with AWA, it has plenty to offer such as a variety of events, including: video rooms, dealer’s room, costume contest, panels, workshops, an artist alley, fan run photo shoots, and a formal ball.
The biggest crowd gatherers are the panels where big name guests such as voice actors for major shows have a chance to talk to fans and answer questions, and the formal ball where con-goers dress to the nine’s in black tie attire and dance the night away to the songs of a live string quartet.
Cosplay, or dressing up, is encouraged. Aside from the cosplayers, there are plenty of photographers, artists, performers, and fans who find themselves at home in the halls of the Cobb Convention Center every year.
For this con attendee, AWA is a fantastic experience for all those whom I’ve been able to introduce it to. This being my sixth year in attendance, this weekend held a lot of opportunities that only happen once a year.
Having spent weeks making costumes, ordering wigs, and putting together props, cosplaying has easily become a big part of the annual con experience. Photo shoots lead fans to dress as their favorite characters as well as competitions for those in search of cash prizes.
First timer and member of Jacksonville State University’s Fan Club, Mary Lackey, had a lot to say about her first time at Anime Weekend Atlanta. “This was my first time at AWA and to tell the truth, I was a little nervous about the crowds. It wasn’t a problem, however, because my worries were washed away by all of the cosplayers! The costumes were breathtaking and really did my nerd heart proud to see all the dedication put into them. I also loved the Dealer’s [merchandise] Room! Talk about heaven!”
Alex McFry, sophomore at JSU, returned to attend Anime Weekend Atlanta a second time around after experiencing the convention for the first time for himself last year.
When asked about what he expected before his first trip he had stated, “I’m a bit afraid of the whole ‘Trekkie’ stereotype, but I’m looking forward to seeing all of the people dressed up and the variety there.” Now he has quickly found himself joining the masses annually.
If you want to give something different a try, look up local conventions held near you.
Conventions can range in theme whether they be anime, video game, or sci-fi oriented, but all range of fan genres are encouraged and appreciated.
The atmospheres are friendly and the sights are something far more than you have ever expected to see. As many con-goers advise, “don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!”