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Cosplay in COVID-Times: From IRL to Virtual

COVID-19 put a damper on the world of cosplaying and conventions in 2020 — but many of these communities have found ways to keep the spirit alive through the magic of the internet. 

San Diego Comic Con 2017 Cosplay
Photo: @vthreepio

Most years, conventions would be filled with cosplayers and fans alike showing up to experience their favorite characters in real life. Cosplayers spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars and countless hours perfecting their costumes for these conventions to show their enthusiasm for the culture. 

This year, many conventions were postponed or canceled, shifting these large gatherings of fans to bedrooms and living rooms across the world.

Dozens of virtual events have already taken place this summer, including Comic-Con, which went virtual after previously announcing that it was canceled April 17.

Virtual platforms provided hangouts and panels where cosplayers were able to show off their creations, express their shared interests, and talk about  current events within the community. 

For many, the ability to have social contact with fellow cosplayers and enthusiasts has helped stave off loneliness during lockdown. For others, it opened doors to those who would not have had the opportunity to experience anything like these conventions. 

Under normal circumstances, some fans would not have been able to travel due to budget or access issues, but virtual conventions give people all over an opportunity to experience the fun.

Want to join in on the fun? Here are some upcoming virtual events:

Ramencon

“Ramencon was built by anime fans for anime fans. We get a lot of our ideas from the fans. We want you to feel that this is your convention.”

When/Where: Sept. 25-27; South Bend, IN

Website

Senshi Con

“Senshi Con is an annual convention that caters to enthusiasts of Asian culture, animation, graphic novels, and gaming held in Anchorage, AK.”

When/Where: Sept. 25-27; Anchorage, AK

Website

KimiKon

“We aim to service and celebrate our local talents as well as showcasing international ones, by creating an outlet of expression for them through the next big convention in Toronto, KimiKon!”

When/Where: Sept. 26-27; Ontario, CA

Website

Queen City AniFest

“Queen City AniFest is a single-day convention held to celebrate anime, games, all things nerdy in Regina and the surrounding area.”

When/Where: Oct. 3; Saskatchewan, CA

Website

Super Dimension Convention

“Originally known as ‘MacrossWorld Convention’, Super Dimension Convention (SDCon) is the largest gathering of Macross fans in North America!”

When/Where: Oct. 3; Torrance, CA

Website

Pop Culture Convention

“Pop Culture Con is a convention that brings together the talents and passion of local fans and businesses; created to be a safe place where people can come and geek out either as an attendee, guest, or volunteer. A convention that local fans can call their own.”

When/Where: Oct. 9-10; Provo, UT

Website

Tsubasacon

“Tsubasacon is West Virginia’s first Anime, Gaming and Cosplay convention.”

When/Where: Oct. 8-10; Charleston, WV

Website

Bakuretsu Con

“Bakuretsu Con is Vermont’s premiere anime convention! Our family-friendly event draws approximately 600 attendees, and is sponsored by The Anime Society of Vermont, a public, non-profit organization whose primary mission is to promote cultural awareness and diversity through the celebration of anime and manga.”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Colchester, VT 

Website

Animatic Con

“Animatic Con started in March of 2015 with the idea of delivering to the fandoms across the U.S. a convention that was fun, and had a higher purpose. After much consideration and discussion, we decided that we wanted to help raise funds for Autism, and with that we wanted to create a convention that welcomed people with limitations, and accommodate to their needs.”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Cincinnati, OH

Website

Anime Banzai

“Presented by UAP, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, this three-day weekend is filled with anime, manga, gaming, Asian culture, guests, panels, games, contests, kids’ events, viewing rooms, an Artist’s Alley, an Exhibitor’s Hall, silent auctions for various charities, two dances, and so much more.”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Layton, UT

Website

Anime Fusion

“Anime Fusion is truly a convention for all ages, with many family-friendly activities along with 18+ restricted programming for the older crowd. With our family discount options, it’s the perfect place for parents and children to share their love of anime and games. Our nightlife features dances and room parties, and the daytime hours are filled with panels and activities.”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Plymouth, MN

Website

AnimeCon Arkansas 

“Join us for a magical celebration of fandoms, geeky stuff, animation, art, music, and everything else beautiful!”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Little Rock, AK

Website

Another Anime Convention

“Another Anime Convention is a run by people who love Japanese culture especially Japanese animation. It is a place for fans to gather in New Hampshire for a three day convention to enjoy events, special guest’s and other media that celebrate aspects of Japanese culture.”

When/Where: Oct. 16-18; Westford, MA

Website

YumeconUSA

“YumeCon staff aspires to create a more intimate con experience than what you might find at a large scale convention. Enjoy cosplay, gaming, panels, and a maid cafe in a friendly environment.”

When/Where: Oct. 17; Palo Alto, CA

Website

Kantaicon

“Kantaicon is an anime event that will be held on Oct 24th, 2020 at the AAF Tank Museum. Vendors and Artists will be selling their wares and cosplay is encouraged!”

When/Where: Oct. 24; Danville, VA

Website

Anime Weekend Atlanta

“AWA has been recognized as one of the most popular Japanese Animation conventions in the United States, and one of the top ten attended anime conventions in North America. In 2016, over 28,000 people attended the event.”

When/Where: Oct. 29 – Nov. 1; Atlanta, GA

Website

Youmacon

“Youmacon is a celebration of Japanese animation, videogames, popular culture and costuming, and its influence on our own culture over the past few decades.”

When/Where: Oct. 29 – Nov. 1; Detroit, MI

Website

Banzaicon

“While Banzaicon is a Japanese anime convention, we offer a wide variety of programming options by diverse members of the community throughout the course of the weekend which include our costume contest, dances, events and discussions featuring anime industry guests, game shows, and a wealth of educational seminars and workshops about not only anime, but manga, video games and aspects of Japanese culture as well.”

When/Where: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1; Columbia, SC

Website

DerpyCon

“DerpyCon is New Jersey’s Anime, Gaming, Sci-Fi, and Comic Convention, bringing every nerdy genre under one roof.”

When/Where: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1; New Brunswick, NJ

Website

Lumi-Con

“LUMI-CON is a Florida Halloween Convention based off Animation, Video Games, Cosplay and Interactive events!!”

When/Where: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1; Tampa, FL

Website

Oni-Con

“Oni-Con offers many things to do such as: anime viewing rooms, a manga lounge, table top and card gaming, an arcade, concerts, contests, dances, demonstrations, a masquerade and various panels.”

When/Where: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1; Galveston, TX

Website

Anime Festival Orlando

“Anime Festival Orlando has earned the title of “Florida’s Favorite Anime Convention” as well as being voted one of the “Top 10 Things To Do In Orlando” by DK Publishing’s Travel Guide.”

When/Where: Nov. 6-8; Orlando, FL

Website

Anime Nebraskon

“Anime NebrasKon is Nebraska’s longest running Anime Convention! Our mission is to connect all people and community through Japanese animation and pop culture with education and activity.”

When/Where: Nov. 6-8; Omaha, NE

Website

NekoCon

“NekoCon is Virginia’s oldest and longest running anime convention. Spanning nearly two decades, NekoCon is dedicated to bringing you the finest in entertainment from the world of anime, educating it’s attendees on Japanese culture, and expanding horizons with new and innovative programming.”

When/Where: Nov. 6-8; Hampton, VA

Website

Anime Iwai

“With a decade on convention experience behind us, we have both learned a lot about how to run a convention and seen the changes that have taken place within the con community over the years. We are proud to have contributed this labor of love to a community and a culture that has provided us entertainment, insight, and so much more.”

When/Where: Nov. 13-15; Fort Lauderdale, FL

Website

SNAFU Con

“Sierra Nevada Anime Fans Unite Convention (SNAFU Con) is a collaborative effort of local anime, game, comic-book, and science-fiction fans. Our goal is to provide a convention that will benefit both the producers within the local area and community at large. The primary goal is to connect local fans to each other as well as producers and retailers, allowing them to interact with their customers in a fun and relaxed setting.”

When/Where: Nov. 13-15; Reno, NV

Website

J-1 Con

“Are you a fan of animation, cosplay, gaming (tabletop, card and console), artists, vendors, panels, and live music? You’ve come to the right convention! You can enjoy all of that here, for a GREAT PRICE!”

When/Where: Nov. 14-15; Atlantic City, NJ

Website

Anime NYC

“Anime NYC is New York City’s anime convention! A showcase of the best of Japanese pop culture in the biggest city in America, Anime NYC brings anime fans and publishers together for three days of unique exhibits, exclusive screenings, extensive panels, and appearances by some of the biggest creators in Japan”

When/Where: Nov. 20-22; New York City, New York

Website

Con-Nichiwa

“Con-Nichiwa is the largest anime convention in Tucson Arizona with attendance reaching over 2,000 yearly.”

When/Where: Nov. 20-22; Tucson, AZ

Website

Sin City Anime

“Our mission is to create and orchestrate an anime convention focused on three values. Entertainment, Inclusion, and Guest Hospitality.”

When/Where: Nov. 20-22; Las Vegas, NV 

Website

Pacific Media Expo

“Pacific Media Expo is a new generation of convention for a new generation of fans! PMX brings the cutting edge of Asian entertainment to America, whether it is the newest anime from Japan, the hottest bands from the Pacific Rim, the latest street fashion from Harajuku, or the most disturbing horror films from Asia.”

When/Where: Nov. 21-22; Pasadena, CA

Website

Anime Pasadena

“Now in our 3rd year, we are creating an awesome 2 day event with a focus on Anime, Cosplay and Nerd Culture in Pasadena, California.”

When/Where: Nov. 28-29; Pasadena, CA

Website

Holiday Matsuri

“Holiday Matsuri is a multi-genre convention that brings the members of our community together during the holidays to have fun and give back!”

When/Where: Dec. 18-20; Orlando, FL

Website

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