Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Conventional" views

Well, I'll be honest this is a post that's been long overdue.

As some of you may know, Mark, Nik and I were at Youmacon back in November to get some material and impression of the show for "The Honeycomb Hideout". For those that don't know it, Youmacon is Metro-Detroit's premier anime convention, truthfully it's likely one of the fastest growing anime conventions in the country. And as if the journey getting there wasn't interesting enough (just ask Mark and Nik LOL), actually being there was another thing entirely.

Now, this wasn't my first time being at Youmacon and it's always been a cool and interesting convention, but it was the first time that it was held at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit and I've gotta admit, it doesn't need to be anywhere else for this year. For those of you that have never been to an anime convention, they differ greatly from comic book conventions. There's an entirely different atmosphere that can't be denied; things are extremely loose (sometimes that also applies to the dress code for cosplayer's sake, it is an anime con after all), very friendly and pretty much bursting with enthusiasm.

We got the chance to talk to numerous attendees while we were there and, even though the day was winding down, the energy was still high. Not only that, but one of the coolest aspects of it is the kind of attention that it gives Detroit because there were anime fans from various parts of the country attending (exact locations elude me at the moment, but trust me, there were a lot) and all of them were shocked at how cool the city really was. They didn't believe the hype or buy the bad rap that Detroit always seems to get from the rest of the country.

Checking the Youmacon web page today, I see that they're having the show at the Renaissance Center again this year which is a great decision but they're also extending it to the Cobo Center as well. Kinda crazy but something tells me that they aren't going to have much difficulty filling both venues, considering that Youmacon's attendance in November actually beat out Detroit's Super Bowl attendance record. If that doesn't speak for it, I don't know what will.

Now, the interesting thing about meeting all of the different types at Youmacon, you could see the sprinklings of Sci-Fi and comic book fans in the crowds as well. This prompted me to inquire many attendees about whether or not they do read comics (american comic, not just manga, but I was surprised at the number of manga readers too, smaller than I thought it'd be) and I was a little surprised at how many actually did (that number was bigger than I thought it'd be).

Anyway, with the advent of conventions springing up that actually do blend the variety of fandoms in counter culture (Sci-Fi, Comics, Anime and Horror would be considered the figure heads), I'm curious to see how their numbers would stack up against Youmacon and other anime conventions. But surprisingly, certain other observations were brought to my attention as well and having been a convention-goer for over 15 years now, I'm shocked that I didn't realize it myself.

With comic book conventions, while there is an emphasis on fun (as there should be), there's also this sobering level of seriousness that tends to permeate comic con atmospheres. It's not a bad thing necessarily, but it's definitely different than what you'd find at an anime convention. I have a lot of fun at both, and personally, I don't quite see why the shows tend to be so different from each other. Some might say that it has to do with the significant age-gaps within the audience as well as the collector-centric nature of comics culture, but that's a discussion for another time.

Either way, with the wealth of conventions that the Metro-Detroit area has to offer throughout the year, there's plenty for everybody, ranging from Motor City Comic Con in the summer to Detroit Fanfare and Youmacon in the fall. So do yourself a favor and do a quick google search and find out when the next bit of fun kicks off! -Joe

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