Anime Weekend Atlanta had its 20th anniversary last weekend with a weekend long celebration of everything Anime. There were panels, terrific cosplay, great anime voice acting and musical guests (There was practically a concert going on somewhere in the convention just about all the time), a huge Dealers Room with an equally large Artists Alley, special event sites like the Imperial Maid Cafe, numerous video rooms with Anime streaming, and an impressive, free to read, Manga Library that was open 24/7 during the convention. It was a fun weekend and you can check out the highlights of the convention after the jump!
AWA 2014 was held at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta Ga. a very nice convention venue attached to the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, the convention host hotel. Registration, while the line remained packed until late Saturday, moved at a brisk pace and handled the expected 20,000 attendance quite well. The convention staff was helpful and very diplomatic in handling any of the usual convention situations that pop up, one staff feature I thoroughly used and enjoyed were the strategically placed Information & Help Booths throughout the convention site. Staffed by Anime Weekend Atlanta volunteers, they helped convention goers with directions and any other questions that always seem to pop up once you hit the convention floor.
The Dealers room was well laid out, the overall space was large and those planning the event allowed for large walk paths between the aisles so that even when the convention reached its peak attendance on Saturday, one could move around.
One of my biggest complaints about this years Dragon Con was the size of the dealers rooms (There were two floors worth) where there was very little aisle room to move. Once you went in you were basically stuck in a long human chain that slowly, painfully, wormed its way around the dealers tables.
Artists Alley was right next door and set up in the same format. At the back of Artists Alley though was a group of Food Trucks and a large seating area. Grabbing a quick bite and getting right back to the convention was never an issue, between the Food Trucks and the Cobb Galleria’s Food Court, it was very easy to get something without having to leave the convention area.
There were the usual dealers tables one might expect to find a AWA, plenty of DVD, Manga, statues, knickknacks, costumes, weapon props, wigs, big cuddle pillows and all the other fun Anime centered merchandize.
There were a number of really interesting tables in both the dealer’s room and the Artists alley and I’d like to highlight a few outstanding tables. First up is Wonderland Creations and table partner Designs by Shilen They had a great selection of hats and those fantastically nerdy pillows.
Next is Wind Goddess Studio with a table full of these wonderful 3D dragon wall and desk art:
RaptorArt Studio hand paints ties with your favorite nerdy themes:
Tiny Top Hats had a huge selection of, you guessed it, tiny top hats:
The Breadcat table was fun and a local Atlanta artist:
Later the first day while I was looking for a panel room I stumbled across the Anime Weekend Atlanta Manga Library.
This room really blew me away. It’s a terrific idea and convention perk that other conventions should pick up. Convention attendees could browse the available manga, checking out some of those Manga’s recommended by friends, without having to shell out big bucks only to find out that they really didn’t like it. Heck, they could sit here and read the entire series if they wanted.
I talked a bit with the AWA Manga Library Director Elizabeth Soldwish and she explained that this impressive Manga collection has been built entirely on donations from Anime Weekend Atlanta & Manga fans. The room is staffed and available 24/7 during the convention weekend. Anyone wanting to donate can contact the AWA Manga Library at firstname.lastname@example.org, they’d be happy to discuss how to add your donation to the library.
The AWA Imperial Maid Cafe entered its seventh year at Anime Weekend Atlanta. As the convention packet says:
Learn to indulge. Enjoy the finer side of the convention for the afternoon.
Imperial Maid Cafe guests spend 45 minutes with their maid and server, playing games and enjoying desserts and drinks. It’s a very Japanese/Anime thing to do and looked like a lot of fun.
Of course an Anime convention wouldn’t be much fun without a bunch of Anime Cosplay and there was plenty at this years AWA. This is just a taste, there’s enough pictures in my camera for two additional Cosplay only posts that will be up later this week.