Anime Weekend Atlanta 8 - Sept 27-29, 2002

Anime Weekend Atlanta 8 - Sept 27-29, 2002

Already in its eighth year, AWA delivers a healthy portion of anime, manga, and video gaming to an increasingly hungry audience. To the uninitiated, it would appear to be a place for outrageous costuming fans to gather. Strangely, that is not too far from the truth. People spent thousands of dollars on toys, candy, and music. I only scored around $40 worth of merchandise, far less than previous cons, but then I'm becoming a more refined shopper. After all, how many posters will you buy you can't fit on your wall?

The Good

One of the biggest attractions to Atlanta is its somewhat centralized locale and experienced staffing. But then, that could also be considered its weakness given the fact that most roads leading there were under construction and even sites like Map Quest and Yahoo were way off on the directions because of the airport construction. All things considered, it wasn't too bad. I thought the size of the venue was also appropriate, though crowds were the norm around the elevators.

Guests were readily available to adoring fans, as were an army of assistance working the dealer room. Speaking of which, there was a nice selection this year of merchandise ranging from Kimonos ( some of which were discounted up to 50% on Sunday) to DVDs ( also marked down 50% on Sunday ). It was interesting to hear college-age attendees openly discussing the benefits of using the internet to download fansubs and mp3 versions of the newest songs. It will become increasingly harder for vendors of anime goods to keep up as the internet growth rate outpaces them. It's awfully hard to place an order for an out-of-stock item such as the music from Kingdom Hearts PS2 game, whenever I find it already posted to one of my favorite newsgroups upon my return from AWA. I ended up spending most of my piggy bank on outdated Japanese Animation magazines for $2.50 each. That was a great find.

Here's some links to other sites with AWA8 pictures:

I Cosplay
Fan's View

The Bad

Unfortunately, AWA seems to be notorious for having issues with cosplayers. This year was no exception. Those of us who spent many, many hours working on a prop to go with our costume, were slightly disturbed to find that all weapons or things that could be used as a weapon were banned from the convention floor. PLEASE - I'd be more worried about the person who conceals a weapon, rather than a harmless cosplayer. Most of us are more concerned with our prop breaking than mortally wounding someone. Fortunately, AWA9 will be in a new location so there you go.

The judging this year seemed to be much improved over previous years. The fact they split up the pre-judging times to give people a choice for being judged was helpful. The fashion show and award ceremony however left something to be desired. There are always logistics involved whenever you've got over 140 tired cosplayers standing around backstage. The biggest disappointment was with the people MC'ing the event. I get the impression they neither like cosplayers, nor the job of announcing. The 2 individuals made negative comments about cosplayers during their catwalk and were generally more concerned with what witty remark they could make rather than making people feel good about being there. NOTE TO FUTURE COORDINATOR - GET SOMEONE WHO HAS COSPLAYED BEFORE TO BE THE MC. The names on the awards must also include the full name of the cosplayer AND the character they portrayed. That will avoid humiliation of someone wrongly announced as a winner.

One final note - and this one is for audio ops. PUT SPEAKERS BACKSTAGE SO EVERYONE CAN HEAR. Enough said.

In Conclusion

Will I go back to AWA? That remains to be seen. They do have a new location planned so hopefully the cost of travel and hotel will be better. Having skilled cosplay coordinators on hand will also be important in attracting returning cosplayers. I'm thinking about checking out Dragon*Con next time I get the urge to go to Georgia.