What’s the difference between Comic Cons and Anime conventions?

You know, given that I cover Anime conventions pretty extensively, I’m surprised that I haven’t talked about the differences they have with comic conventions. I did talk about it briefly in my Anime convention guide. But I didn’t do a full article about it. So this is the perfect opportunity to learn the differences between Anime conventions and comic cons.

If you haven’t been to either, you might think they’re the exact same; big buildings full of attendees, spend your money in the dealer’s room, attend panels, etc. But let me tell you as someone who has attended both for several years; they really are completely different! So if you’re trying to decide which one to go to, then stick around. This article will be for you! I’ve been to many comic conventions such as Fan Expo Canada, Dragon Con and MCM London Comic Con. As for Anime conventions, I lost count! But some of the ones I’ve been to: Anime Central, Anime North and Otakuthon. So I think it’s safe to say I have real-world experiences with both. 🙂

In this post, I’ll go over the differences between comic cons and Anime conventions. I’ll show you the similarities and how to decide which one is right for you (maybe both of them are). I’ve been to both many times, so I’ll give you a firsthand account of what it’s like.

Without further ado let’s get started!

A quick summary of conventions

Let’s start with defining what a convention is. If you’ve never been to an Anime or comic convention before, they aren’t that much different from a “regular” convention. Both Anime and Comic conventions are usually large-scale events that happen on a weekend where people get together to celebrate Anime or Comic book culture. You’ll have a variety of events such as panels, cosplay contests, celebrities, dealer’s rooms, and more.

Both Anime and Comic conventions have been super popular for the past 10-20 years, and they only get bigger and bigger. And it makes sense why. They’re usually a fun and safe place to enjoy yourself and celebrate geek culture, as well as a great place to meet with your friends and new people.

Now, they may be called Anime convention or comic convention, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an Anime lover or comic book collector in order to enjoy them. I myself am not really into comic characters (at least not yet), but I still have a fun time at comic cons cause I really enjoy the atmosphere and people there. Likewise, I have a lot of other friends who aren’t into Anime but they always have a good time at Anime conventions anyways, cause they’re just awesome. So don’t be fooled, you can enjoy both Anime and Comic cons and you don’t have to be a hardcore Otaku or geek!

Alright, now that I explained how Comic cons and Anime conventions work, let’s go over some of the similarities.

Similarities between Anime conventions and comic cons

I want to start with similarities first as it’ll be easier to show you the differences afterward. Alright, the commonalities:

  • Both feature a wide variety of programming. Whether it’s the Masquerade (i.e. cosplay contest), panels, Q&As and game shows, you’ll find that there is a lot to do at Anime and comic cons. You’ll have a full schedule of activities and panels throughout the weekend. The programming is why they are both so popular and why people spend good money to attend cons.
  • They both have a dealer’s room. You will find at Anime and Comic conventions that there will be a dealer’s room for you to buy stuff. It wouldn’t be quite the same if you couldn’t buy some cool stuff like figurines, comic books, video games, posters and more.
  • Both heavily feature cosplaying! Whether you attend an Anime convention or comic con, you’ll be seeing a lot of cosplayers inside. After all, cosplayers plan months in advance to wear their new costume at a convention. So whether you’re a cosplayer yourself, or someone who enjoys seeing wonderful costumes, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see some great cosplays.
  • Both can be crowded and expensive. If you’re going to the biggest and most popular Anime conventions and comic cons, you can expect both to have huge crowds and cost a lot of money. As fan conventions continue to become more mainstream and popular, they will continue to attract more attendees, meaning more crowds and busier hallways. For example, New York Comic Con has over 200,000 attendees showing up each year! Back in the day, I would say that Anime conventions were a lot cheaper in terms of hotel lodging and badge price. But I’m seeing now that Anime convention badges are getting up there with comic con badges. A 3-day pass can easily go for near or over $100 USD now, for both comic cons and Anime conventions. P.S. If you want to know the biggest Anime and comic conventions in the U.S., click here for the list of biggest Anime cons in the U.S. and click here for the biggest American comic cons.

Okay, so that’s just some of the similarities between the two. Now let’s go over the differences.

Differences between Anime conventions and comic cons

Marth cosplay
Me posing for a photo at an Anime convention inside a big hotel. Photo by OOC Photography.

The celebrities are much bigger and more prominent at comic cons.

There is no doubt about it; comic conventions feature the biggest and most well-known celebrities. Whether it’s movie stars, voice actors or directors, you’ll find all sorts of celebrities being featured at comic conventions. Some of the celebrities I’ve seen at comic cons: Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Denis Lawson, Jessica Nigri and much much more.

While Anime conventions do have their fair share of big celebrities, the guest list is nothing compared to what comic conventions have. The most you’ll see at an Anime convention is a VA from an Anime or a Jpop artist. So if you’re into meeting and greeting big name celebrities, then comic cons will be more up your alley. Which leads me to my next point…

Comic cons are generally more expensive.

Don’t get me wrong; both Anime and comic conventions can be expensive as mentioned earlier. But from my experience and what I’ve seen, comic cons will drain your wallet faster. This is especially true if you want to meet celebrities and get their autographs. Oh yes, getting a photo and signature from them ain’t gonna be free!

At one convention, you had to pay $100 for an autograph, and another $100 for a photo with a celebrity. So on top of the admission fee for a badge, as well as potential lodging/hotel costs, you’ll also have to spend extra to see your favorite celebrities. You could be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at a comic con.

At Anime conventions, I find a lot of the costs are included in the admission fee and the badge tends to be cheaper than a badge for a comic convention. So if you plan on attending a comic con, expect to pay more.

The hours for Anime conventions and comic cons are much different.

Okay this is one major difference between Anime cons and comic cons. Comic cons have much more limited hours. While they open relatively early around 10 a.m., they also close pretty early around 7-8 p.m. For a night owl like me, that’s way too early and one thing I personally don’t like about comic cons. Not only does it leave you with nothing to do in the evening, but I feel it also adds to the crowded congestion at comic cons because everyone is trying to make the most out of the limited hours available.

Meanwhile, Anime conventions are quite the opposite. Most Anime cons stay open very late, giving you more time to take part in the activities. In fact, some Anime conventions (usually the larger ones) are 24 hours! This means you can play video games or watch videos in a panel room all night long. This mostly applies to Anime conventions in North America. It’s awesome how the hours at an Anime conventions go so late. I feel it justifies getting a hotel room for the Anime con, as you can head to sleep after staying out late. Whereas for a comic con, you can just head home since the convention closes early anyway.

Comic cons feel more corporate

This doesn’t apply to all comic conventions. But in my experience, it definitely felt like when I attended a comic con, it was about maximizing profit margins. Whether it’s charging for everything (early entry tickets, autographs, external events) or having a ton of sponsors, comic conventions can feel a lot more corporate.

In contrast, a lot of Anime conventions feel like run by fans, for fans. It makes sense because some Anime cons are not-for-profit and their main goal in mind is the satisfaction of attendees, not maximizing the profits. I think it helps that a lot of Anime conventions have some of their events take place in hotels, which makes the con feel more down-to-earth, whereas comic cons take place in big convention building which feels more commercialized/trade show vibes.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money. If you put a good show out there, you deserve all the money that people pay for. I only bring this point up because for some of you guys, you may be turned off by the corporate feel of comic conventions. Again, not all comic cons are like this. For example, Dragon Con is a long-running comic con that’s always been not for profit, and I certainly felt that vibe when I was there.

The Comic con dealer’s room is usually much larger

While I’ve been to Anime conventions with pretty big dealer rooms, I will say the ones at comic cons are usually much bigger! At Fam Expo Canada for example, the dealer’s room is enormous, taking up the entire showroom floor. When I also went to Dragon Con, the dealer’s room was multiple stories high! There is just so much going on in the dealer’s room at comic cons. I would argue that the dealer’s room inside comic cons IS the main attraction. I find most people hangout in the dealer’s room in there.

When it comes to dealer’s rooms at Anime conventions, while they are a big deal and a lot of products are sold there, it’s not the main attraction. There are so many other things happening at an Anime con, the dealer’s room is just one part of it. Which leads me to my next point…

There are a lot more things to do at an Anime convention

When it comes to programming and activities, there is way more stuff to do at an Anime convention than a comic con. Whereas a comic convention tends to focus on the celebrities and dealer’s room, an Anime convention has all sorts of things going on, including:

  • Game shows
  • Video game room
  • Panels
  • Q&A with various guests
  • Tabletop gaming
  • Cosplay photoshoots
  • Video rooms showcasing Anime stuff
  • Concerts and performances
  • Dozens and dozens of panels happening every single hour of the convention
  • Late night dance party
  • Manga room

I myself rarely ever get bored at Anime conventions because there is so much to do! Sometimes I have to take a break because of all the activities you take part in, it gets exhausting. I can’t say the same for most comic conventions; I can easily see everything within an hour, give or take.

Again, it’s all about your preferences. But in general, just know that Anime conventions will offer a lot more programming than comic conventions.

Alright, I believe that covers the essential differences between the two. Let’s talk about another topic.

Which is better? Anime conventions or comic conventions?

Which one is better you ask? I say it depends on what you’re looking for.

If you want big name guests and want to buy more stuff…or you’re more into comic book fandom, then Comic cons are more suited for you. But while Anime conventions generally have less guests and slightly fewer vendors, they offer far more activities, social interaction and longer hours. Generally, you would only spend the daytime at a Comic Con, and do something else in the evening. But at Anime convention, you can spend the entire weekend there with a hotel nearby and still not see or do everything.

It’s definitely no secret that I prefer Anime cons over comic cons for these reasons! Maybe I’m just a Weeb, or I prefer to have a lot more activities to take part in. Or I’m not really into the celebrities or comic fandom that much. But to each their own. You may prefer the big showrooms and celebrities of Comic Cons over the Otaku activities at Anime cons!


You don’t have to choose between Anime and comic conventions. Why not go to both? 🙂

I hope you found this post about the differences between comic cons and Anime conventions useful! As you can see, both have a lot to offer and you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other. For me, I choose both.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to me.

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