For all you newbies out there, a Japanese Anime Convention or "con" for short, is a large gathering of anime, manga and gaming fans.
Anime conventions can range from a group of 100 people to 5000 people, and have an array of activities to do. From manga libraries, gaming rooms, cosplay panels, dealer rooms, host cafes, and guest speakers; such as voice actors, artists, and writers. So no matter what your interests are regarding anime, you'll always find something to do!
For anyone who has never been to an anime con before, the experience can be both exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I personally experienced this range of emotion at my first con.
This list is meant to help ANY first time convention goer, or anyone who has already gone but has had less fun than they wanted. Trust me when I say, these rules will REALLY help if followed. Both me and my mom are veteran con goers and live by them. They have served us well and I hope they can do the same for you.
1) Always pre-register. This way it will cost less money and you won't have to wait in the very long registration lines.
2) Never, under any condition, wear a fuzzy costume. Even if you're going to the Arctic circle. Don't wear a fuzzy animal suit or anything remotely thick because you will be sticky and miserable.
3) Always wear proper foot wear. That means no platform shoes, 6-inch heels, flip-flops, or custom made anime shoes. I say custom made shoes because you will get them with more than enough time to break them in, but not want to for fear of nicking, scuffing, or stepping in something gross while wearing them. Breaking in new shoes at a convention is like submitting yourself to torture. So unless you like your feet bleeding and sore, wear comfortable shoes that you have already broken in. Sneakers, school shoes, boots...anything that you know is comfortable for many hours and lots of miles.
4) Okay, I know we all want to look exactly like our favorite character, even if they have blue hair down to their feet; but if you can avoid it, don't wear a wig. Not unless it's winter and you are accustomed to wearing wigs. Try picking a character with your color hair or dying it if you are comfortable with that, or maybe buying some hair extensions from a place that sells them. That's how I avoid wearing them.
5) Always dress for the season and venue. If it's the middle of summer, do not pick a character with three overcoats like Ed from Full Metal Alchemist or Fai from Tsubasa Chronicles. Just the same, if you are in Canada during winter, don't dress in a skimpy outfit like Yuko from Gurren Lagann or Black Rock Shooter. I experienced this once, and never again will I wear three coats in the middle of summer.
6) Remember to bring the little things like a small first aid kit, some band-aids, Advil, Tums, and maybe even a small sewing kit just in case an accident happens. Also a healthy snack and water--not just candy or junk, but some food that is really nourishing. We always bring peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and granola bars. Plus it is good to know that the prices for food at conventions are pretty steep, so be advised.
7) No big swords or accessories. Unless you are going straight to a contest or are going to a section where you want your picture to be taken, ditch the swords in your car or motel room. Try picking characters that have smaller weapons or sheathes for the swords, so you are not poking anyone's eyes out or dragging a 6-foot sword behind you all day like an albatross. Plus you have to have ALL weapons checked by convention Security and get their OKAY to keep them. So if going with smaller weapons, go with wood because it's more light weight and Security will be able to tell that immediately.
You should also know this, if you buy a sword while at the convention, you are not allowed to start using it. You must go put it in your car or hotel room right away. And they strictly enforce this with employees at the entrance and exit points.
8) If you want an autograph get in the lines at least one-hour in advance, and maybe even one and a half hours, depending on how large the con is. If you do not get there on time, they will turn you away because they actually have a cut-off point for how many people they will let in the line.
9) Get all your shopping done on Friday. They run out of things very quickly and Saturday it is wall-to-wall people. Also, bring cash and ask if a vendor takes debit. You don't want to be spending what little cash you have on you in a store that takes debit cards. And don't forget, just because you can buy a figure cheaper online, doesn't mean you're not getting a bootleg. In person you can see what you are getting, and conventions have the rule of NO BOOTLEGS. Plus online you will be charged shipping, which adds to the cost of any item.
10) Make lists for everything. I know it sounds stupid, but this will really help. You will end up NOT forgetting things that you may have forgotten. Things like cosplay accessories, medications, snacks, cameras, directions, registration papers, or even just the list of what you want to buy. I have anywhere from 2-3 lists every year, and more than once it has stopped me from forgetting something.
That about sums it up, but here is my last suggestion, look up con videos online and that will give you a better feel for how busy it is.
Hue Hue Anime Reviews is a great site to learn about new animes and old. It is a little different from most anime review blogs in that it reviews entire series (not episodes), and it NEVER does spoilers. It gives detailed age ratings as to WHY something receives a certain age rating. It is also child friendly and encourages young newcomers to the world of Japanese anime.