Since Anime Midwest’s debut in 2011, many con-goers have been comparing it to other conventions, local to Rosemont. But really, the past few years have shown Anime Midwest as its own, much broader convention type.
Anime Midwest; as in the name, the convention brought out a number amount of enthusiasts dressing up and even acting in character, ranging from bit and pieces due to being new to cosplay all the way to towering, detail-oriented seasonal cosplays. There was also a surplus of family oriented cosplays. It seemed that this could very well be because the convention is more affordable for families than other conventions in the area.
A lot of regional con-goers argue that Anime Midwest has become more of a pop culture geek con. Amongst the numerous otakus was a handful of Lolita, sci-fi, horror, and steam punk, more so than is usually expected. Guests such as mossbadger and Baby the Stars shine Bright have also been bringing in more Lolita fans. The variety of musical guests ranged from nerdcore rappers and geeky cover bands, such as YT Cracker and The Pillowcases and went as far as featuring steam punk inspired bands V is for Villain and Steam Powered Giraffe. V is for Villain and Steam Powered Giraffe have been reoccurring musical guests for Anime Midwest, and with that Anime Midwest had become more popular with the steam punk subculture.
Billy West was probably the biggest guest at Anime Midwest that had everything to do with pop-culture and nothing to do with anime, but he could not have had a warmer welcome. Other guest included famous voice actors Chuck Huber and Eric Stuart and of course the ever popular Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian.
Like most anime conventions, there is still the basic allure of collectables and trinkets for otaku to collect that they wouldn’t find at their local card and toy shops. Those in the dealer’s room browsed excitedly searching for their fandoms. Those whom approached the booth to discover what we’re about (D20 Girls Project) were timid mostly, although would hold enthused conversations when really intrigued or found their fandom, as previously mentioned, amongst the items the Illinois girls created for sale. There were also many goods geared toward not only fantasy and sci-fi, but also leather gear or wear. There were vendors that carried empty glass potions, goggles, satchels and dragons that wrapped around your shoulders.
The panels were just as surprising as the vendors and guests. A quick look at the panels showed just as much variety. There were these really cool swap meet panels that were probably the most painless way to trade an exchange cosplays, props and wigs. There was even a Lolita specific one a few hours later for those Lolita who had brought things to trade.
A few panels that really stood out were the It Gets Better, Understanding Autism in the Anime Community, Plus Sized Cosplay, and Feminism and Fandom’s. I actually went to the Plus Sized Cosplay panel for tips on how to better my cosplays but instead I left with tips to how to better accept myself. One of the things that really got to me is when the speaker made a comment saying how she only knew how to exist when she was wanted. She went on to say a few things about how she learned to love herself and she read a poem about acceptance that left the panel room quiet. There were so many wonderful panels about acceptance that I would have never thought would be at an anime convention. But as one speaker put it, there are three reasons anime conventions needed panels like them.
A Con Sweet room was situated and filled with free soda, ramen, and rice. For dessert, there was a maid café at your service. Unfortunately, we missed Dante’s Fabulous Date Auction and the formal dance but there’s always next year. Anime Midwest is such a delightful con to attend and I look forward to next year as well as seeing everyone else, whether attending or working it, make it great.