by Alex McPhail (Alex has also written about her love for anime here)
Imagine being surrounded by thousands of people who all share a similar interest and love as you. This is exactly how I spent a recent weekend of mine. I attended the anime convention Anime Detour in Bloomington, MN which was attended by 6,217 people, and I am here to share with you what it is like to attend such a convention!
I attended as a member of the Cosplay Club here on campus, which is a club dedicated to the craft of cosplay, which is short for costume play. Essentially, we dress up in costume as characters from anime, video games, TV shows, etc. Each semester our club attends a convention as a group, and this was our spring convention.
Before even going to the convention, I had to prepare my costumes. For this convention I wore costumes that I had done in the past with one simple new costume. The biggest thing I had to do before the convention was style a wig for a character. Wig styling can be a very time consuming process. This wig started out with long bangs, to which I cut down (first picture) and then styled with the help of my boyfriend (second picture). This process altogether took close to 4 hours, but the end result is near perfect!
Now the Friday of the convention had finally come! Once the car was packed we were on our way to the convention. The drive to the convention was very quick and full of lots of excitement. We spent the car ride listening to anime openings, and what better past time for the car ride is there than to read manga?
Once we got there we got into our hotel room, which was huge! The hotel we stayed at has renovated since I was last at this con two years ago and the rooms are so nice now. Our room had two beds and a couch, and there was easily enough floor space that we could’ve fit 8 people comfortably in the room (although we only had 6 so we had plenty of room).
We were the first to get to the hotel of our group staying in the room so we went off to the con by ourselves to check out the con center and do a quick walk through the Artist Alley and Dealers Room. I soon had to go back to the room and get into my costume for the night. Friday night I wore my Cyber Umi cosplay, which is one of the outfits of the characters from the idol anime/phone game, Love Live. This costume is kind of a pain to get into but the lights on the costume make it a lot of fun to wear!
After a photoshoot, all of my roommates had finally arrived, so once they got ready we all headed over to the con. We did some more walking around to check out the area and also went to a couple room parties. Room parties are parties hosted by convention guests in hotel rooms. Some room parties serve alcohol and imitate rave parties and others have themes and do other fun things, such as giving out free cotton candy!
Our group ended up going back to the room with the intention to go back to the con after changing out of our costumes, but we ended up just staying in the room, ordering pizza, and playing some Gamecube games, including Mario Party (spoiler: I lost).
Onwards to Saturday! My boyfriend and I got up a bit early to go check out the Artist Alley. An Artist Alley is a space where artists can sell merchandise of their art, including prints, buttons, lanyards, stickers, keychains, plushies, and more. Most cons have their Artist Alley in the same space as the Dealer’s Hall, but Detour has them separate which is super nice. Detour also has a lot of amazing artists attend and I always really look forward to taking my time to go through this space!
I didn’t end up getting much this time because I’m trying to be pickier with what I buy from cons, but I had a lot of fun looking at all of the amazing art! Afterwards we stopped in the Dealer’s Hall quick so I could pick up a figure that caught my eye the day before. The Dealer’s Hall is a space where vendors will sell official merchandise from anime, video games, etc., including figures, keychains, posters, manga, DVDs, and so much more.
We headed back to the room to change into our costumes for the afternoon. We met up with a small group of friends from the cosplay club that were cosplaying from the same show, and then we headed off to a photoshoot. Many photographers will attend cons and schedule half hour to hour long photoshoots with cosplayers, usually paid but other times for free. Some cons don’t offer much for locations to shoot, but it’s still a nice way to get some photos back of the costumes that you wear.
After the photoshoot, we met up with our roommates at the con and just hung out for a bit. We ended up going to a room party that was serving waffles and taking donations for Child’s Play. It was great to be able to contribute to the group, who ended up raising $2,420 for the charity! The waffles were also super delicious and they had lots of toppings out (including spray cheese?? not sure how that’d be on waffles but it was there).
During this time we also went to the Game Room and played some games there. There’s both a video game room and a board game room at most conventions. Detour’s board game room was on the 22nd floor of the hotel, so we never made our way up there, but we did check out the video game room! The quality of a video game room depends on what games are there. Detour had a nice variety, including standard console games plus DDR and other arcade game machines.
After this my group headed to the Artist Alley while I went back to the room to take a nap. Once they returned we chilled for a bit longer before heading out to dinner at TGI Fridays. During dinner, we decided that we wanted to go to a karaoke place nearby later in the night, so once that was set up, the rest of the group stayed in the room after dinner while my boyfriend and I went back to the con to check out some more room parties. We went to one room that had a bunch of old Nintendo games set up to play where we played Mario Kart 64 (very poorly). We also went to a room hosted by some of our friends from the cosplay club where they had set up a bar and were dressed up as characters from the anime Death Parade, which was what their room’s theme was.
Once we were back our group headed out for karaoke! It led to a late night (we were there until 2 or so) but it was so much fun! We managed to find some anime openings that we attempted to sing along to, as well as songs from the game Sonic Battle Adventure 2, which was completely wild.
After getting back, I headed to bed right away. The rest of my room was up talking until 5 in the morning but I was completely out. Sunday morning soon arrived, and it was time to pack up, but not before getting into my final costume for the weekend. On Sunday I wore a simple costume that I put together myself, which was an alternate outfit for the character Chidori from the anime Kiznaiver. After checking out of the hotel room we didn’t do too much. We went to our one panel for the weekend, which was an arts and crafts panel. Attendees volunteer to host panels which run from morning until late at night. Panels can cover a wide variety of things, such as autograph signings by con guests to attendees talking about shows, or doing truth or dare panels dressed up as characters and acting as them. They’re a lot of fun to attend, I always wish I put more time towards attending them.
We soon all headed home from the convention. It’s always hard to go home after a convention, with many attendees experiencing “post-con depression”, which is just feelings of sadness after a convention. It’s a fun weekend of being surrounded by friends and people who share similar interests and hobbies as you. Cons aren’t always the cheapest to attend, and a lot of work goes into preparing for them as well as the costumes if you choose to wear some, but it is such a fun time and I love getting to experience these events with my closest friends!