Project A-Kon 25…. COMPLETE.

10 years ago I went to a little anime convention in Dallas, TX called A-Kon along with my boss, his wife, and a coworker cosplaying as the crew of Cowboy Bebop.  In 2003 and 2004, anime was known in the US, but really getting into the fandom with anime and manga had previously required one to find sites online with fan subs and translations.  I’m proud to say that I worked at Waldenbooks in the Parks Mall in Arlington, TX that contributed to part of the shift in the industry.

My boss, Stephen, was interested in the published manga and would special order a few issues for himself on a fairly regular basis. Some series he would special order just to read them on lunch break and then put them on the shelf to sell.  He actually did this enough that he started getting a few random titles in our regular shipments.  He decided to focus this effort and started ordering a handful of issues at a time from different titles for the store.  With that, he pushed the snowball down the mountain.  Within a few months we had a complete section for manga of about five or six shelves.  Over the course of the next year it grew to two small bays, then four.  In a couple more years, it consisted of half the wall from the cash register to the back of the store and manga was always neck and neck with Romance for the #1 selling category in the store month after month.  We were the top selling manga store in the company and the entire company was getting pushed to sell manga.  Not that this was isolated to our store.  Other book stores were starting to carry manga, but we were ahead of the pack and reaping the benefits of what I now like to consider the US Manga-boom of the early 2000s.

Jump ahead to 10 years later and the manga boom has subsided, manga publishers have gone out of business, the market has shied away from the over-saturation in the US and we’re getting ready to repeat the cycle where online fan subs and translations may be the best way to get certain titles.  Sword Art Online for $120 for half the show?  Log Horizon light novels may never be translated to English?  With essentially Funimation being the only real powerhouse bringing anime to America, we could go towards a dry spell of getting quality over here.  There’s benefits to this as the American market won’t accept a flood of just anything while manga is more widespread in Japan, so theoretically we would get more of the proven, quality, titles here over time.  On the other hand…we’re still waiting for the final volume of Hellsing Ultimate.

While the market has pulled back from the abundance of anime and manga, the fandom certainly hasn’t gone away.  A-Kon 25 was big as ever, packing into the Hilton Anatole.  I haven’t seen an official attendance for this year yet, but last year was over 22,000 people – more than double the attendance when I first went.

So how did the folks at Project A-Kon do for their big 25th Anniversary?  Quite well, I think.  Registration was moved to a different room and the hallway outside the Artist Alley/Dealer room area was kept open and clear, which alleviated a huge bottle neck and a huge frustration for convention goers from last year.  The dealers room and artist alley felt more open, which was nice.  My only complaint about the set up was a purchased pass to the convention was required for Artist’s Alley, which has never been required in the past 10 years I’ve been going.  Since starving artists are, well, starving artists, I always liked the fact that people could show up to the convention and see all the cosplayers and support web comics and artists without paying to attend convention events.

The swag bag you get with your registration, provided by Glitch Gaming Apparel, includes advertising inserts, your badge, the program, and a printed schedule.  I got ad inserts for Date Alive, Plano Martial Arts Academy (free trial lesson, any style), and the now-often-seen insert from The Devil’s Panties as well as one for Online Community Colleges.org.  I also got issue #3 of Bendis and Maleev’s Scarlet, which is also standard for the convention to get a random comic book in the bag.

As always, I attended some panels on web comics and writing hosted with creators from webcomics such as Star Crossed Destiny and Star Power.  I picked up Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt from the Funimation booth for a great price, which is admittedly fairly rare at any convention.  I also bought a couple of bokken and two wakizashi for display, an art commission, and an item for a friend’s Christmas gift.  Added a few anime to my list of things to watch, of course, as well.

But of course the highlight of A-Kon, and many conventions these days, is the cosplay.

Attack on Titan was one of the most popular cosplay

Attack on Titan was one of the most popular cosplay.

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To be fair, they do make pretty awesome costumes.

Of course, everyone spots the pretty ladies in cosplay. Here's Yoko from Gurren Lagann

Of course, everyone spots the pretty ladies in cosplay. Here’s Yoko from Gurren Lagann.

Video Game cosplays are often seen, with Mega Man here.

Video Game cosplays are often seen, with Mega Man here.

 

However, this Rocket Raccoon from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and comics) standing about 5 feet tall was my favorite.

However, this Rocket Raccoon from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and comics) standing about 5 feet tall was my favorite.

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