Anime Con Survival Guide

I was recently looking through some old con photos I hadn’t seen for years when I came to the realization that I have been cosplaying for almost 9 years now. I remember my first anime convention like it was yesterday. Many Irish cosplayers would remember this convention from years ago, Eirtakon 2010 in Dublin City University. I remember the nerves I felt as I walked into the anime convention for the first time with my sister, filled with awe at all of the great cosplayers that filled the building, hoping I would have a good time and I did. I had such a great time and I’ve been going to cons ever since.

However, I did make some mistakes during my first time there that I learned later on in my con going experience. So I decided to give you my Top Ten Tips to help you survive an Anime Convention. Be it your first con or your 51st con, I think I’ve got the tips for you to know what to do there while still having fun. If you have your own tips you would like to share, don’t forget to comment on them. Also be sure to like the post if you like this and go follow the Guild of Nerds on Facebook and Instagram.

So here are my top 10 tips to survive an anime convention.

  1. 10. Make sure you have panels you want to go to.

Whether or not you purchased your ticket online, you should always look up the schedule to see what panels you want to go to during the con, It’s great to spend time with friends at the con. However, it’s good to find a panel that could help you in some way. Whether it be to help you improve your cosplay abilities or meet your favourite voice actor, it’s always good to find something new and fun to do. From finding a new hobby like origami or finally entering the cosplay masquerade, you are sure to find something new and exciting to do.

rite voice actor, it’s always good to find something new and fun to do. From finding a new hobby like origami or finally entering the cosplay masquerade, you are sure to find something new and exciting to do.

9. Don’t suffer for the Art of Cosplay.

I know, I know. You want to cosplay as that super cool character that you’ve spent months on to make it just right. However, knowing from experience, cosplay can get super uncomfortable and sweaty and just in general not so pleasant. Be it a full suit of armor or a leotard/bodysuit, it will get harder to walk around the con in. If you want to cosplay this character, go for it.

I don’t want to stop you from doing a cosplay that you love. However, please be aware that you will get uncomfortable walking through the con. So for your own comfort and longevity of your time both in the costume and at the con, either try and find a costume that you feel comfy in, bring comfy clothes so you can change later on or be aware that you might feel uncomfortable walking around.

8. Pack a day bag with essentials.

I have found with going to a con that you NEED to bring a bag with you. I know how tedious it can be to carry it around when you have a full costume on but honestly, you will thank yourself for bringing one. In my con bag, I bring:

  • A bottle of water and snacks.
  • A cheap sewing kit to patch up a cosplay in need.
  • Plasters or bandages if I get hurt.
  • A notebook to get signatures.
  • Makeup to touch up if needed.
  • Spare clothes and shoes for after the con.
  • My documents to get my ticket.
  • Medicine and tissues.
  • Phone charger as you phone WILL die if you don’t have one with you. (I know far too well from experience)
  • A foldable bag for items bought at the con that wont fit into the day bag.
  • Camera with added stands if you are a vlogger or like to capture awesome cosplayers in action.

And:

  • A fan to cool you down.

This is for my big Hufflepuff rucksack so I have enough space to put things together. So if you have a smaller bag you might bring less than I do but do try and bring the majority of the things on the list. I always keep my phone and wallet on my person as I don’t feel safe leaving them in my bag. You might feel safer leaving it in your bag but it’s really up to you.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for photos.

As a cosplayer, I know I like to get asked for photos as it shows that people appreciate the hard work I put into my cosplay. Cosplayers like myself take months getting the cosplay just right to go to a convention. And even though the costume may not be a million percent exact, we still put a lot of effort into it and feel honoured that people recognise the work we put into it.

This also goes for if you recognise someone from online and are their fan. Since I’m on Tik Tok, I get recognised by a few people and I cannot stress it enough to come say hi and ask for photos. I love meeting people who like my content and it makes my day knowing that.

However, if you do want photos, be respectful to the cosplayer. If a cosplayer says no to a photo, don’t force them to. It make them uncomfortable and you to look like a bad person. Think of it like this. If someone was acting that way to you and you had said no, how would you feel? And would you want other people to feel that way? As Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding once kindly spelled it out for us, it’s all about “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”.

6. Cosplay Is Not Consent.

This is a phrase thrown around a lot in the cosplay and anime convention community however it really stands true. There are men and women harassing male and female cosplayers over how they look and for the most part they think it’s okay to touch them inappropriately or get photos without their consent. It would not fly if it happened on the streets so why would it fly in a convention? I know how exciting it is to see someone in a Bowsette from Mario cosplay or a Haru from Free cosplay but there is a human in that costume. But don’t go up to someone and touch them without asking and letting them say yes. I cannot stress this enough how important consent is. It is a basic human right that needs to be respected. Only when they say “yes you can” is that ok. If they say “no” or “sorry but no. I don’t like that kind of thing.” take their answer as gospel. They really do mean no. To be honest, it’s all about respect and common decency. I reiterate from the last slot on the list, it’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

5. SHOWER/BATHE.

Not many people that go to a con will actually follow this crucial rule for a con. YOU NEED TO WASH YOURSELF. You will get sweaty from the con and will start stinking up. So either before the con or when you get back from the con but still have the next day to go to it again, have a shower or bath. You can even shower twice a day if your hotel is literally a minuet walk from the convention. I don’t really care which one you do but please just wash. Throughout the day you can use a bit of deodorant or body spray to get you by until the end of the con. But whatever you do, don’t use it as a replacement of a shower because let me tell you, it’s really not. Moral of the story is, just wash yourself. It will do you and the rest of the con the world of good.

4. Make time for food.

Food. It’s what keeps us alive. Some people eat too much of it (including myself), and others eat too little of it. Cosplayers and con goers, no matter how much they would eat outside of a con eat too little if they ever manage to eat at all. Even though I eat a lot normally, I will eat very little if I do at all. I end up contemplating whether I should go to that panel I really wanted to go to or eat. One is filled with sweaty nerds talking about nerdy things, the other is the thing I need to survive and give me energy for the rest of the day and without it will make me grouchy. However there are some times where I do actually eat (I know right? A cosplayer eating at a con? Unheard of.) but my diet is mainly overpriced chicken goujons and chips that they serve at the con itself and a snack I brought with me. It is that or going outside of the con building and venturing into the known unknown that is civilisation and I’m in full cosplay. Nah, I’m good.

3. Don’t buy the first thing you see as soon as you get into the convention.

What I mean by this is that if you buy something you see as soon as you get to the con, one or two of these things might happen:

  • You will buy it and then see it again somewhere else at the lower price.
  • You will blow your entire budget on that one thing.

Or:

  • You buy it and then realise you already have that item that was quite expensive both times.

This almost happened to me at my first con but my sister, who had been to a few cons before, told me not to. She told me to walk around the Traders Hall and Artist’s Alley at least twice before buying anything. Once to see what’s there, twice to notice things that weren’t there before and third to actually buy an item if it has still been in your mind during the previous laps around. That’s how I know what to buy. Not to mention, before I go to the con, I take a photo of my room and look at them while I’m there so I know I already have that item. There has been one time where I bought something at the first table I saw it at and realised that two stalls down, it was there for less than what I had bought it for. And at a con, from what I am aware of, there are no returns. It’s like the pop up Halloween shops, no refunds and no returns. However, if there is something that you see and someone else has paid for it but left it there for a while, some places take commissions. So to be on the safe side, ask if they do and they will give you all the information that you need.

2. Take care of yourself physically and mentally

What I mean about this is that after the con is over you will get either or both the Post Con Blues or Con Sickness. Post Con Blue is the equivalent of waking up from a CRAZY night out with a severe hang over to the point where you actually can’t move and realising it’s Monday which means you have to go to work. It’s that kind of feeling but multiplied. The con is over and you have to return to society again until the next con which, if you were like me and went to 2 cons in a span of a week, wont be very long.

Con Sickness, however, is far more severe because you are actually sick with a virus of some sort. And this can range from the common cold to something as severe as tonsillitis. And, ladies and gentlemen, I actually got the latter from being at a con. I got tonsillitis after being at a Comic Con in Spring. I had an amazing time at the con but a few days later, my tonsils were the size of two walnuts and I couldn’t leave my house for 2-3 weeks which felt like a month at least. No one could come into the house that didn’t live with me and I couldn’t go outside so I ended up getting cabin fever. I honestly blame myself as I had not been careful with taking care of myself that weekend. So please take care of yourselves, kids. It’s hard out here for a con goer after an anime convention.

1. Have fun.

You are at the con for a reason. No matter what the reason is, the common ground that all con-goers share is that we are here to have fun. We’ve travelled all around the world to get to this con. We’ve spent a lot of money on tickets, cosplay, accommodation, food, and transport. We are at this con so we can have a good time with our friends, family, loved ones and complete strangers. We’re meeting our favorite actors and voice actors, seeing your con friends again, making new con friends, maybe meeting the love of your life (what happened to me), meeting your favorite artist and so much more. Sure, you spent 3-4 of your rent money on being here but now that you are here, be yourself, respect others and have a good time on me.

An outsider who knows nothing about anime conventions and cosplaying looking in at us will not understand us and will judge us for our lifestyle. But all you need to do is not let them get to you. You are a fantastic, awesome and beautiful person. You are creative, you are fun, you are smart and you matter. An anime convention is meant to be a safe space for all con goers. If you feel unsafe by someone outside or even in the convention, we will all have your back and make sure you feel safe again. We will make sure you get back to either your hotel or bus stop safely and will remind you that at an anime convention, you are free to be yourself and that you are loved.  

Thank you so much for reading this list. I owe a lot to going to anime conventions and cosplaying. I met loads of friends and even the love of my life. If I hadn’t started cosplaying or going to anime conventions 9 years ago, not only would I not have met the most amazing people that are still a huge part of my life or would be writing for the Guild of Nerds, I think I would be an entirely different person.

However, this list was just what I think you need to know to survive an anime convention. I may have missed out on a few things. So if you have a tip to help newbies and veterans alike, comment them down below. And if you have an idea on what you would like us to do next, comment them too. And don’t forget to go follow the Guild of Nerds on Instagram and Facebook.And have a wonderfully Nerdy day.