[Top 10] Best Anime Conventions in the U.S.

Top ten U.S. Anime Conventions, best U.S. Anime conventions
With more Sailor Scouts than you can shake a stick at

What makes a good anime convention?

Anime conventions are a great chance to find new friends, to explore new fandoms, and to experience how bad over a thousand geeks in one place can smell.  The best of these cons can leave you wishing that they'd never end.  Here's my list of the top ten anime conventions in the U.S.

10. Otakon

Otakon's 2020 costume contest

One of the biggest anime conventions in the east, the Washington DC-based Otakon has been going strong since the mid 1990s and going strong ever since.  Otakon gets a place on this list because it had more guests, in both the anime and the music industry than any other convention I've seen.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Otakon is run by fans for fans, using volunteers for the non-profit organization Otakorp

⦁    Their annual Pokemon tournament, the Portable Kaiju Super Battle League, has been run for over three years

⦁    Otakon is celebrating indie game developers by creating an area to showcase independently produced games

⦁    You can learn to sew plushies, paint, and other new skills at workshops and the Otakon Makerspace

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Otakon/

9. Anime Expo

Some cool cosplays

If you're in Los Angeles in the summer, Anime Expo (or AX for short) is  worth looking into.  It is one of, if not the biggest anime conventions in the U.S., and it was founded not just to celebrate anime, but Japanese culture and art.  This dedication to its roots earns it a spot here.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    AX takes an academic look at anime and manga with the AX Anime and Manga Studies Symposium

⦁    AX offers portfolio review sessions for aspiring artists to get feedback on their work

⦁    Want to play on that old system that nobody else has?  The E-gaming area has TVs set up so that you can bring and set up your console from home

⦁    If you need advice on how to make a better cosplay, the Cosplay Sempais are right next to the cosplay repair shop

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/animeexpo

8. Sakura-Con

Set in sweet Seattle

The Pacific Northwest's oldest anime convention, Sakura-Con is another non-profit "by fans for fans" volunteer-run con.  Sakura-Con's appeal comes from its programming, covering all aspects of fandom and the anime industry

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Sakura-Con offers the Wired Rooms, the largest gaming space in the Pacific Northwest, for gaming of all types

⦁    If you're into making models, you can build a mini-mecha at the Mecha Modeling Room, and maybe even win a prize for it

⦁    The Obake Bash dance has over a dozen bands, so you can show off your cool (and maybe some not so cool) dance moves

⦁    If you're into really, really obscure trivia, try the Extremely Hard Take-Home Anime Quiz.  It's so hard, it starts three weeks before the convention

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SakuraCon/

7. Anime Central

The party's just getting started

Anime Central, also known as ACen, has been happening only a short drive from Chicago since 1998.  It's on this list because of its focus on the animation industry.  t was founded by the Midwest Animation Promotion Society.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Want to cut loose and dance your cares away?  The Soap Bubble is the oldest anime dance party in the U.S.  Guess you really can't stop the beat!

⦁    Kit's Kids Club offers hands-on and off panels designed to teach any 14-year-old and under who's accompanied by an adult about Japan, cosplay, and geekiness

⦁    The video programming offers multiple rooms for different genres, including shojo, shonen, dubbed anime, and fan-made videos.

⦁    ACen has cosplay meet-ups for over 50 different fandoms, from AKB0048 to Zombie Land Saga

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimeCentral/

6. Anime Weekend Atlanta

Fashion, cosplay, and pumpkins.  What's not to love?

Anime Weekend Atlanta (or AWA for short) is known for being one of the best places to watch anime music videos, which is my favorite thing to do at cons.  That gives it a spot here.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Always into setting trends, AWA has been running their fashion show since 2018.  They also offer the Fashion Tea Party where con-goers can ask questions and interact with the designers and models

⦁    Anyone can participate in anime music video editing through the Video Art Thunderdome.  This multi-editor project "allows attendees an opportunity to compete in a true community event with and against friends at the convention"

⦁    You can get to know your favorite characters better through the Ask an Anime Character event

⦁    The Starlight Idol Festival is a chance for anyone who can sing and dance to take the stage

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/awacon/

5. Fanimecon

Some of Fanimecon's fabulous fans

Fanimecon, based in San Jose, is billed as "Northern California’s largest anime convention".  It offers a broad range of gaming, anime, and cosplay events, as well as panels celebrating and educating in Japanese fashion.  The cosplay events are what give Fanimecon its awesomeness.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    The Cosplay Photo Scavenger Hunt is a chance to win prizes by finding certain cosplayers and taking pictures of them, with permission of course

⦁    If you wanted to play video games but didn't have space to pack your controller, you can rent not only a controller but games to play

⦁    All singers are encouraged to take part in the Karaoke contests, including the Ultimate Karaoke Fighting Championship

⦁    Want to see more indie games?  Fanimecon's got you covered with their indie games section where you can take a closer look at developing and finished games

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FanimeCon

4. A-Kon

Cosplay and fish.  Double the awesome

A-Kon takes place in Dallas, lasting four days.  It's North America's longest-running anime convention, starting in 1990, and including a huge list of guests who have been there.  Dozens of voice actors, industry people, singers, and bands earn A-Kon the spot on this list.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    The Cold Read pits guest voice actors against a script they've never seen before.  Expect lots of laughs

⦁    If you have some extra money to spare or are feeling charitable, you can buy a ticket to the Charity Banquet with the Stars.  You can meet the guests, and maybe win prizes

⦁    A-Kon offers many video game tournaments for popular games with prizes

⦁    Want to show off the awesome costume?  Try the Cosplay Contests.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectAKon

3. Youmacon

A Halloween party for anime lovers

Michigan's largest anime convention, Youmacon has a horror-inspired theme because of its name which comes from the Japanese word for "demon" or "ghost" and because of its timing, taking place around Halloween.  The spooky four-day convention will send chills down your spine.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    The Youma Idol contest gives twelve lucky people a chance to show off their Japanese singing skills.

⦁    Want to find some anime-related gear?  With a 150,000 square foot dealer room, you'll find some

⦁    Youmacon offers live performances by national bands and guest musicians

⦁    There are rooms for table-top gaming as well as video gaming

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/youmacon

2. Anime Matsuri

One might say it's out of this world

Hailing from Houston, Anime Matsuri not only focuses on Japanese anime and popular culture, it also has a car showcase.  Who wouldn't want to get behind these sweet wheels?  In addition to cars, Anime Matsuri has a lot more to offer.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Anime Matsuri hosts the official Godzilla store.  Now you can own your very own Godzilla plushie

⦁    Want to eat in style?  Enjoy some delicious food at the Maid and Butler cafes

⦁    Try your hand at being a model by applying for the Anime Matsuri Fashion Show

⦁    You can see some of the best Japanese and Korean pop singers perform in concert

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimeMatsuri/

1. Anime Boston

Just be careful when you drive there, you might find yourself dodging the T.A.R.D.I.S.

Okay, I'm biased towards Anime Boston.  Not only was it my first anime con, but it was also my first big one.  AB started in 2003, and my only regret is not going for the first two years.  I've been going every year since.

What's awesome about this event:

⦁    Anime Boston has a theme for each year and revolves its programming around it.  Shogun, sports, heroes, and retro have all been themes in past years

⦁    If you're feeling heroic, AB runs a blood drive every year.  It's for a good cause!

⦁    Anime Unscripted, based off the improv TV show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" puts four of the voice-acting guests into some very ludicrous situations

⦁    The Cosplay Death Match is a popularity contest where the winner is chosen through the audience's cheering.  Expect to see a lot of awesome interactions between the participants

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimeBoston

And there you have it, my top ten anime conventions.  I hope you enjoyed reading this.

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