What It Felt Like Joining an Anime Convention for The First Time in a Long Time

If there’s one thing I learned about Cosplay Carnival 2022, it’s that fandoms will come together, have fun, and celebrate all things anime despite any situation. I’m not gonna lie, the anime convention was quite chaotic — long lines, overcrowding, suffocating heat, and the underwhelming set-up of it all. To put it simply, it was… dreadful. But did I hate it? No, I wouldn’t say that. A bit maybe, but not really. In fact, I managed to have a lot of fun because it was the people’s cheerful energies that really brought my spirits up. (I was one of the early people who lined up.) When I started seeing cosplayers and attendees fawning over each other, when I noticed how beautiful and funny the costumes were — I couldn’t help but join in as well.

Never mind my shyness, I went in and asked for lots of pictures and lots of merch shopping! By the end of the anime convention, I was overwhelmed with fangirl emotions. It’s already been weeks since Cosplay Carnival 2022but wow, looking back at everyone’s shared photos on the official event and page is a lot of fun.

On the first day of the event, I was overwhelmed by the crowd! It has apparently been over two years since the last convention, so you could really see how many attendees were excited for this one. There were so many fandoms present, but the one that I recognized a lot ( and I mean A LOT) were the Genshin Impact characters. There was an abundance of Raiden Shoguns, Zhonglis, Klees, Ayatos, Yae Mikos, Kazuhas, and my favorite, the bard, Venti! Some had the Holy Lyre or a ukulele but I kid you not, the one I was most amused by was the one carrying this whole crate/case of beer. There was also a Venti cosplayer being wheeled around in a wheelchair like a meme.

While other guys and gals asked for all sorts of poses from these awesome cosplayers (step on me, 50/50 pulls, the couple poses, etc), I had a request to pat a “best boy” Gorou cosplayer on his head and touch his fluffy tail. Yup, hands down, one of my favorite moments in the event.

Gorou (Dee), Rimuru (reborntsuna), Shion (Girlie D.), Shuna (Black Hime), Veldora (MajestyGold), Benimaru (Dhone Austria )

After watching the cosplay rom-com My Dress-Up Darling last season, I’ve grown to have so much respect and appreciation for cosplayers, as well as communities as a whole. I remember in episode 1 that Marin said, “Cosplay lets you show how much you adore your faves with everything you’ve got…. the ultimate expression of love!” In episode 9 Gojo also said, “The best thing about cosplay is that you can be anything you want.” Totally enjoyable, right?

I ended up telling mostly everyone I put in costume about how pretty or cool they looked. As an introverted anime/manga/Genshin fan who hasn’t socialized in years, this anime convention was a lot to take in. I couldn’t exactly translate my thoughts well, so I did what I knew best — making incomprehensible fangirl noises and random arm movements. (I am very grateful for my outing companions, as well as Kirby, for being with me throughout.)

Incidentally, there were plenty of Marin cosplays too. There was also a Rengoku-san (Demon Slayer), and yes, I went over to him and cried my feels. Shinigami and Death the Kid (Soul Eater), Chuya and Dazai ( Bungo Stray Dogs), Asuka and Rei (Neon Genesis Evangelion, cosplay by Jem Coser) the Forger Family (Spy x Family), the entire Tempest gang ( That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime), and so much more characters were present! It was such a jam-packed place with all my favorites, and my nerves and excitement were all over the place. Not to mention, I had to fangirl silently when I saw some of the spicy cosplays too. I was so overwhelmed that I also forgot to ask for some of their socials, which I’m bummed about now.

To tell you the truth, my main motivation for going through this difficult two-day journey was only one thing — acquiring as much anime merchandise as I could. They say money can’t buy happiness, but to me, that’s obviously wrong because it can get me merch! Fanart, keychains, art prints, shirts, and a Rimuru blanket—all of them gave me joy. In the end, I got really broke. As Zhongli would say and I quote, “In terms of Mora, we have no Mora.”

Aside from my merch and cosplay endeavors, there were also events happening on the stage of the anime convention. I didn’t really know what was going on, but it is undeniable that the attendees were very enthusiastic and passionate. There were also a bunch of people who carried a lot of plushies, which I discovered were from a live auction. I also, later on, saw photos of the karaoke and dances which looked like a lot of fun. I only wish I had seen some of it, or even a glimpse of the special guest, Plant Lily.

Genshin Cosplayers at Cosplay Carnival 2022
“Genshin” Cosplay Carnival photos by Riz Matthew Fernando (top) and chinitahime (bottom)

You know, at the end of it all, the cosplay Carnival 2022 was a lot of fun. Yes, it was not managed well on its opening, but still, I kudos to the organizers for doing their best and keeping the enthusiastic energies up. The second day was handled much better, especially with the extra rooms. I’m so glad that the attendees, despite all the frustrations, managed to enjoy the convention however they could. A lot of people helped, made each other happy, and were overall very kind to one another. (There was even a cosplay repair medic who helped fix broken props and stuff!)

This created a sense of community and compassion among everyone. In the end, that’s what anime conventions mean at their core. It’s a celebration of love for our favorite characters. It may be fiction but the emotions they evoke are just as real. These stories have affected or changed our individual lives in one way or another. I’m really happy that I was able to join and be part of this event. Yes, it was tiring, and yes, I may have bought too many merch and stickers, but I have no regrets. It made me happy and I hope others feel the same way too. I’m already excited about joining the next one very soon.

As I end this writing, I can’t help but remember another quote from My Dress-Up Darling episode 5. Marin said, “It was amazing being around people who do what they love. I got stoked just being there. You know, it can be a hobby or whatever, but I just adore people who do what they love and have a good time. They have this sparkle, you know?“ Joining a big event like this seems scary, but I assure you, when you meet people who share the same passion as you, it will be all worth it.

Cosplay Carnival 2022
Top left photo by chinitahime, Bottom left photo with Cosplay Repair Guy, Zelda and Link cosplay by Ayinvui

Special thanks to Riz Matthew Fernando, chinitahime, and naixworks for the photos. A big thank you again to all the cosplayers, exhibitors, artists, and everyone else who made this event a fun one!

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