Jul 012014

With Anime Expo 2014 kicking off this weekend, legions of fans are converging on Los Angeles. As diverse as convention-goers may be, there are a few personalities you’re almost guaranteed to come across. From the awesome to the awkward, the first-timers to the grizzled veterans, here are five encounters to expect over the course of the weekend.


The Line Buddy

The first two rules of conventions are “Yes, there’s a line” and “No, this isn’t the back of it.” You and thousands of like-minded fans have all descended upon the same place at the same time, and you all want to do the same things. Is it any wonder you have to line up for anything worth doing?

Luckily, the silver lining of this dark cloud is the line buddy. When you spend half an hour standing in one spot, you’re eventually going to end up talking with the people next to you. The shared misery of interminable wait times creates a bond between con-goers that mimics the ties between war veterans. By the time the screening/panel/entire freakin’ convention starts, you’ll have gone from exchanging pleasantries to asking the guy in front of you to be your first child’s godfather. All right, that may be an exaggeration, but you get my point.


The Doppelgangers of Everyone You Know

Long lines aren’t the only inevitable consequence of gathering scores of anime fans under a single roof. As you wander the crowded halls, you’ll start to find yourself staring at random strangers with a baffled look on your face. Your brain will swear up and down that you just passed you best friend from middle school, or that your high school crush just walked by in a group of RWBY cosplayers. What’s going on?

While we all might be unique snowflakes, the fact is that many people look alike. Assemble a convention’s worth of humans, and some are bound to resemble your past and present friends and enemies. Running into anime con doppelgangers is a weird experience, but not nearly as neuron-snapping as meeting…


Someone You Actually Know

As the weekend wears on, you eventually grow numb to the doppelganger phenomenon. No, that’s not your English professor selling used manga. No, that’s not your cousin in Doctor Who cosplay. No, that’s not… wait, that IS the tall guy from freshman orientation! What’s he doing here? Was he always an anime fan? More importantly, what was his name again?

Random encounters with people you know can range from painfully awkward to mind-bendingly awesome depending on the individual. Mostly they average out to a half-hearted wave and a brief conversation about what you’ve both been up to since that one time you met. Just remember to look on the bright side: they probably don’t remember your name either.


The Leaning Tower of Freebies

People make some really entertaining mistakes at their first conventions, but none is funnier than the person who gets “free stuff fever” and eagerly takes every single piece of merch that’s being handed out. Eventually, he or she is reduced to an unbalanced, exhausted mess, desperately trying to stuff one more rolled-up poster into a tote bag. (The tote bag was also free.)

There’s a wealth of keychains, flyers, posters, lanyards, and more to be had at most anime conventions. Some are awesome and will fill you with happiness, while others are useless trinkets promoting some product or website that you’ve never heard of. At some point, it’s important to learn the difference, lest you become a leaning tower of freebies.


The People-Watching “Journalist”

Look at that smug guy, reclining on a bench while he scribbles nonsense in his fancy notebook. With his boring haircut and his geek-reference polo shirt, he’s clearly trying to fit in while still dressing to impress all the industry folks. What a useless, dumb… oh, wait, that’s me. I’m staring at my reflection in a window. Damn it all.

Yes, I’ll be at this year’s Anime Expo and will spend most of my time taking illegible notes at industry panels. You’ll probably mistake me for that annoying guy from your day job, but I promise I’m not quite as bad as he is. Just be careful: you might end up in my next article.


Kawaii Overthink is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime and manga on Twitter. Check back every Wednesday for new articles.