Anime conventions 2021! I wanted to make this post to update you guys on what’s happening in the 2021 convention scene so far, and how some of you guys have felt about returning to cons.
Will cons happen in 2021?
Because attending Anime conventions is likely one of the riskier activities, I honestly thought we wouldn’t see cons happening until later this year at the earliest, 2022 more likely. But here we are; instead of seeing them cancelled or postponed, they’re actually happening. So it’s safe to say that Anime conventions 2021 – they have returned!
A couple of weekends ago, Ikkicon took place in Austin, Texas. And as we speak, one of the biggest conventions – Colossalcon – took place just this weekend. There are tons of other conventions happening in the near future, including:
- Colossalcon in Sandusky, Ohio
- Anime Midwest in Rosemont, Illinois
- Connichi in Kassel, Germany
- Anime Matsuri in Houston, Texas
- Anime Weekend Atlanta and Dragon Con
- Megacon Orlando
- Otakon in Washington, DC
- Fan Expo in Toronto, Canada
- Holiday Matsuri in Orlando, Florida
(thanks to Animecons.com for providing the list)
So have things changed with cons? Definitely. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
New safety protocols
Some of these protocols have included, or will include:
- Reducing capacity by not selling as many tickets for the con
- Chairs in the panel room are 6 feet apart from each other for social distancing
- Masks being required in most or all areas of a convention space
- Larger rooms for social distancing
- One-way traffic while walking in the convention hallways
- More frequent sanitization of rooms and areas
- This one is interesting – Contactless photos of cosplayers (i.e. no photos touching or being beside the cosplayer). It’s pretty similar to how you can’t hug or take a photo beside your favorite Disney mascot at Disney World
- Some conventions are offering virtual passes to enjoy the con online, for those who prefer not to attend in-person
I’d expect these safety protocols to stick around for a long time, some even permanently.
I spoke to Ryan from AnimeCon.org, an organization that runs several conventions in the U.S, such as Anime Midwest and AniMinneapolis. Here’s what he had to say:
“We have already held AniMinneapolis this year and it went very well. Attendees are very receptive to mask wearing and social distancing. Anime fans are just excited to have events back again! It has been a lot of work for our team to ensure we have plenty of extra masks, sanitizer, and things like that, but these things have helped keep attendees safe and that is our number one priority. Anime Midwest in Chicago is enforcing masks for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status.”Ryan from AnimeCon.org
Convention entry requirements
Convention entry requirements haven’t been universal from what I’ve observed. The only convention I know so far that also requires proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter is Queen City Anime Convention in Charlotte. Pretty much all conventions that are happening so far this year will require you to wear a mask. Other than that, I’ve found that entry requirements have been different for each con. It makes sense, since the situation is always changing.
Far less attendees at the convention
This could change as the situation gets better. But as of right now, cons are MUCH quieter than they were pre-pandemic. It could be a combination of things, such as congoers being hesitant to return (more on this below) and organizers selling fewer badges.
You certainly won’t have the same experience as you did pre-pandemic
“I think conventions will start to return to normal slowly, but for a while people should expect some changes like requiring masks and limitations on attendance to bigger events. I think the most important experiences of cosplaying with friends and shopping anime vendors will be pretty similar to the pre-COVID era.” – Ryan from AnimeCon.orgRyan from AnimeCon.org
As far as I’m concerned, things are going to be wonky for a little bit as con organizers navigate running an Anime convention post-pandemic. I’m sure the organizers are spending a lot of their budget on implementing health and cleaning procedures. You won’t see as many panels as you used to. Cons might shutdown earlier to allow more time for cleaning. International travel is still very restricted, so you may not see your favorite guests from Japan or other overseas countries for a while. And not all events/activities will be available right away. For example, there won’t be a rave or formal dance ball during Anime Midwest 2021 because of the close-contact nature of these activities.
It’s all going to be confusing and stressful while trying to keep each other safe and having fun at the same time. The cons in 2021 will determine how things will run in the future.
It’s okay to be hesitant about attending a con right now
I’m tempted (to attend Anime conventions), even if I’m vaccinated. (But) you’re not fully protected from the virus, just protected from getting the symptoms that would put you in the hospital. I know there is a con that will be happening in August in my state. I want to go, but I won’t. I don’t feel 100% safe to attend large events.A cosplayer friend of mine who lives in the United States
Is now the right time to start attending Anime conventions again? That’s a question for you to decide and just know that whichever decision you choose, you’re not alone.
There are tons of people who are definitely eager to hit up cons again. I know a few who are already making cosplay plans for some of the cons that are happening later this year.
But there are also lots of you guys that are waiting it out until it’s completely safe to attend cons again.
When Fan Expo Canada announced a smaller edition of their annual convention in October, I wouldn’t say the response was COMPLETELY negative…but lukewarm at best. There was a lot of hesitancy and scepticism whether it would be safe or doable to hold even a smaller comic con in Toronto sometime this year, with 25,000 tickets being sold. Here in Toronto, things have been pretty bad with the pandemic for the past few months, so that may have a part to play with the hesitancy.
Anime conventions 2021 – Senpai Survey Results!
I myself did an informal poll in my cosplay group on Facebook and on my Instagram, asking if you guys would head back to a convention this year. A lot of people in my Toronto said “No,” while lots of you on my IG said “Yes.”
I will say the poll might be skewed a bit. It is an informal poll after all! On my Instagram, I have a lot of international followers (mostly American), and the situation outside of Canada may be more favourable to hold conventions than here in the North, where we are still dealing with a 3rd wave. And again, my cosplay group on Facebook is based in Toronto, and we’ve been in lockdown for a very long time.
On the other hand, I have a friend here in Toronto who is ready and excited to attend Anime conventions again. He told me that being fully vaccinated has helped reassure his safety attending cons. He also mentioned that mental health is important for him, and he has the right to go back to an Anime con at this time. He’s actually moving to the United States shortly, so it won’t be long until he gets his con experience again!
Summary of Anime conventions in 2021
I’m definitely curious to see how these Anime conventions will run in 2021. We can only hope that attendees can have fun at cons again safely without any issues. I’m also hoping we can safely transition back to the ways things were pre-pandemic, but that could take a while. I’m definitely keeping my eyes out on Anime conventions and seeing how things are. If anything interesting or informative comes up, I will share with you guys on this blog. 🙂
How do you guys feel about cons happening again? Will you be attending them? Or staying away from them for the time being? Let me know in the comments!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!