Your local Con is right around the corner and you don’t have anyone to go with… Bummer… or is it? Most folks think you have to have a big group to enjoy an anime convention, but the truth is you can have fun at a Con all by yourself! No, seriously, I mean it! Going solo to an anime convention can be just as fun as going with a group of people; in fact, it might even be more enjoyable for some people.
But, how? I mean, isn’t the point of a Con to have fun with other people? How can you do that if you go alone? Well, that’s where this list comes in handy! I’ve gone to anime conventions both with a group and by myself and both scenarios have their pros and cons. Since most people are familiar with the ups and downs of the group Con experience, I didn’t want to rehash the same old information over again. Instead, here are 10 Pro Tips for having an enjoyable Solo Con experience!
Pro Tip 1: Make a Rough Plan
If you’re planning on attending an anime convention alone, there is one thing you absolutely must do before anything else: make a plan. I know it sounds simple enough, but I cannot stress how important it is to have a plan in place before you attend your local anime convention, whether you’re going with a group or solo. Having a rough idea of the panels and events you want to see is essential for a stress-free con experience. Most cons even post their schedules online in advance, so you can get a pretty good idea of times and dates for the events you want to check out. Some cons even use the Guidebook app, where you can add specific events and panels to a personalized schedule. It even sends out reminders a few minutes before each event starts so you have time to go from between panels.
*Also try hitting up the con early (like the Thursday before) to map out where some of your big ticket panels and events are taking place… Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on a panel because you got lost.
Pro Tip 2: Pack The Essentials
Do not go to a con empty handed! Let me say that again for the people on their phone in the back: DO NOT GO TO A CON EMPTY HANDED! Get you a medium-sized backpack or side bag and make sure you have these essentials:
- A map of the Con
- Chargers for ALL essential electronic devices
- At least 2 bottles of water
- Your phone
- Deodorant (trust me on this one)
- Money for food and merch
- Headphones for when you want to zone out
- A jacket
Pro Tip 3: Wear Your Coolest Otaku Garb
This is the time to bust out all your super cool graphic tees and merch! Bring that cute ita-bag with all your super cool pins and plushies! Wear that Pokemon Trainer hat that’s sitting in the back of your closet collecting dust. And the great thing about cons is that practically EVERYONE will be wearing their otaku finest too. So bring out your headbands, cat ears, tails, unironic graphic tees, team jackets, belts… you name it! This is the time to let your otaku spirit shine through and who knows, you may even make a new friend who happens to like the same character or show as you.
*Also super Pro Tip: wear comfortable shoes. You are going to be on your feet a lot.
Pro Tip 4: You Can Do What You Want
The best thing about going solo to an anime convention is that you don’t have to coordinate with a group! We’ve all been there: one friend wants to check out the Dealers Room, another wants to see the Cosplay Fashion Show, and another wants to get food… It can be a mess having to juggle everyone’s plans, but when you go alone, you’re beholden to no one but yourself! The sky’s the limit! If you don’t like a panel you’re sitting in, LEAVE! Wanna check out a pop-up photoshoot? Go right ahead, no one is stopping you! Need a food break? Make a pit-stop at the ramen shop across the street! You are free to follow your own whims!
Pro Tip 5: Make Friends With People in Line
Everyone knows that if you go to an anime convention, lines are inevitable. There will literally be a line for everything from the bathroom and food stalls to panels and just getting your badge! You will spend the bulk of your time in line for something, so why not make the most of it? Chat with the people around you! I mean, you can assume that you and your line mates have at least one thing in common since you’re all in line for the same event, right? Strike up a conversation, or if you’re like me, stealthily join in on one going on nearby. I’ve actually met some really cool people in line, some I’m still pretty cool with too. So, don’t just stand (or sit) there like a bump on a log, make a new Con friend!
*Conversation Tips: Talk about the upcoming panel, ask if they’re from the area, comment on their cool shirt, or if they’re playing a game, ask what they’re playing.
Pro Tip 6: Chat it Up With Vendors
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one, since you’re probably already planning to go to the Artist Alley and the Dealers Room anyway: why not engage with the vendors? Strike up a conversation! Ask them about their merch, their art, or what inspires them. Most of the vendors (especially independent sellers) love talking with their customers. At Otakon a few years ago, I had a great conversation with an artist selling merch for my OTP and we spent a good 30 minutes talking about how great the ship was and how it was a shame that there wasn’t more merch at the Con. At the same con, I chatted with an artist selling prints for super cheap (like under $2) and she threw in a few extra prints for free! Reach out and strike up a conversation!
Pro Tip 7: Explore the Con
Honestly, just wander around the con during your downtime. Get a feel for the venue and the various events going on. Take photos with Cosplayers you like. Don’t just lock yourself down to your schedule; get out there and explore all the neat things the Con has to offer. Folks are there to have fun, so you’re sure to discover something unexpected around every corner!
Pro Tip 8: Document Your Solo Journey
Okay, so this tip is optional, but there is something to be said about sharing your Con experience on social media. Live-tweet panels! Post pictures of your favorite cosplays on Twitter! Snap your random stuff you see around the Con! Do a Live of one of the Industry Panels! Share your Con experience with all of your online friends and followers!
Pro Tip 9: Put Yourself Out There
It’s all on the label with this one. Go out and strut your stuff, join in on some more hands-on panel activities, like karaoke, quiz shows, and talent shows! Don’t just sit and let your moment pass you by! Besides, it’s not like you know anyone in the crowd.
Pro Tip 10: Have Fun
Now, this is the most important tip! Cons are supposed to be fun, so don’t get bogged down with planning and schedules to the point that you forget to enjoy your Con experience! An anime convention is a place where you can get together with other people who like the same things you do and get the most up-to-date industry news. So have fun, explore, mingle, buy way too much merch… Enjoy your Con experience!!
Anime conventions are your chance to show your appreciation for the media you love, so make the most of your time! Whether you’re going with a big group or by yourself, these 10 Pro Tips are sure to help you have the best Anime Con experience! So, have fun, make new friends, and explore all your next Con has to offer!
As always, this isn’t an end-all list. Share with us here at MANGA.TOKYO some of your Pro Tips for enjoying an Anime Convention! What are some things you guys do to make the most of the experience? Do you prefer to go with a group or are you a solo Con goer?