The evolution of an anime convention attendee

I went to my first Katsucon eight years ago, in 2009.

I was 22, still in college. I had no idea that my boyfriend would one day be my husband. I was covering Katsucon for the school paper, and every single aspect of it felt newsworthy to me.

Fast forward to last year, when I didn’t even go. Last year I wrote about the range of emotions I felt when I sat out on Katsucon, an annual staple in my life for years and years.

I think this is a problem every otaku runs into as they age. After a few years, the novelty starts to wear off. A convention feels less like one big party and more like a somewhat-functional machine, as you begin to notice the volunteers and organizational structure. And as I got older, I began to see myself more in the administrators than in the attendees.

Because the attendees look basically the same as when I starting going eight years ago; fresh-faced college kids for whom the novelty of Katsucon definitely hasn’t worn off.

So what do you do when the novelty is gone? Give yourself a reason to be there.

This year was one of my better Katsucon experiences, because I had a role to play. John and I submitted three Gundam-themed panels, and two were accepted. On Saturday and Sunday morning, we were on stage, giving a presentation to attendees.

It made me realize that what I’ve really wanted for years is a reason to be at Katsucon. In 2015 I filled it with spending—John and I bought so much pricey Gunpla in the dealer’s room that we probably set back our saving for our Japan trip by six months. Having a purpose was what compelled me to get to Katsucon even though I’d broken my foot the day before—I had promised to be there as a journalist, and luckily I had John to wheel me around.

Now, I think I’ve found a role that works for me. Eight years ago, everything was so new and strange that I never would have imagined being a panelist. But now I think this is what I’ll do from now on. It feels like giving back.

A month from now, I’ll be at Anime Boston, a con I’ve never second-guessed attending. You guessed it—it’s because I’ve attended as a volunteer ever since my very first visit. The cost of a plane ticket is nothing to the feeling of helping contribute to such a fantastic event. I’m glad that I can help contribute to the magic of the con for starry-eyed first-timers.

Last year I wrote that I was worried about changing, about what it meant for me as a fan if I no longer enjoyed cons. But this year I realized change isn’t necessarily bad. I’d simply grown into a different role.

Top photo by Pat. Photos of Katsucon scenery by me.