Atlanta is known as the nerdiest city in America and with good reason! One of those reasons is Anime Weekend Atlanta. Lots of incredible guests and events make AWA a safe haven for fans of Japanese culture of all ages while still including exciting and mature content to keep older fans entertained. This year the largest anime convention in the southeast had attendees eager to see both new and returning guests beloved in the anime community. This year is the last time it will be held at the end of September as they are now moving to Halloween dates for at least the next few years. Let’s take a look at what makes this con so special!
|Website:||https://awa-con.com/||When it Established:||1995|
|Length of event:|
4 days (Thursday-Sunday)
|Place/Location:|| The Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Convention Center in Smyrna, Georgia|
Pre-reg for all 4 days is $50, which rises to $70 at the door.
|Hotels:|| There are 6 hotels under a mile away from the convention and the Renaissances Waverly is the host hotel. It’s the most expensive of the closest options but at about $180 a night, it’s not a terrible price to pay to have a room just feet away from drinks and 24-hour paneling.|
The Sheraton Suites is a bit cheaper and connected the con by a sky bridge. Located close to the Cumberland Mall, it does provide more eating options if you don’t want to stray too far from your hotel.
The AWA website provides a handy chart with different things to consider for hotels in the area such as distance, prices, and deposits!
Company/Event Message for Fans/Attendees
AWA has three goals in hosting its events:
Provide a venue for fans of Japanese Animation and Manga to come together in a festive environment.
Educate people about the history and culture surrounding Anime and Manga by hosting guests from the industry.
Learn about Japanese culture through animation and comics.
What to Expect
Expect dang near anything and everything related to Japanese culture. AWA pays attention to fads in Japan as well as trends in America to meet the interests of attendees. Popular musical guests, voice actors, directors, producers, designers, and cosplayers show off their skills and expertise in a variety of shows and panels. While there may be the occasional western-media panel, most panels and events are done in relation to anime whether it be the formal ball, concerts, or burlesque show. While a family-minded con during the day, things get laxer once night falls. It’s easy to purchase anime-themed adult beverages in the lobby of the Waverly and a variety of 18+ panels make up the night-time programming.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
Camera – with all the different events and guests, you’ll want to snag a few pictures to preserve those precious memories! The outside areas are also great for photo-ops for you or a friend’s cosplay.
Dance clothes – The formal ball has a strict formal attire dress code that you MUST adhere to if you want to attend. Formal cosplay is allowed for those who want to be fancy and in character at the same time. While the dances/raves do not have a dress code (aside from no exposed genitals) make sure you wear something comfy for dancing!! It can get hot and crowded between 11pm-3am.
Japanese brand fashion – This is good to wear during AWA’s fashion show so you can be a stylish audience member or to the fashion event held on Sundays. This event changes year-to-year but you must be wearing appropriate Japanese fashion depending on that year’s guests. Considering Japanese designers can also be seen in the dealer’s room or at autograph sessions, it’s handy to have to for face-to-face meetings!
ID – This will be necessary for the many cocktail stations in the lobby of the Waverly and for any hentai or 18+ panels you’d like to attend (providing, of course, you’re of age in either case!)
Money – AWA has a few additionally ticketed events like the Kuma Kuma Maid Café and VIP events for certain guests.
Your best attitude – There are a number of events where attendees have a chance to interact such as photo shoots, the formal ball, and AWA 21+ Mixer. In order to make the most of these occasions, don’t forget your social graces!
What to do While There / What is Available
The Kuma Kuma Maid Café is where you can find cute girls who will entertain you while serving you delicious desserts and drinks. A few of the maids sing and dance as well about once every 30 minutes while you enjoy conversation and games with your table’s designated maid.
If you want a short reprieve from the dress code, Cosplay After Dark is a fun environment where you can see a lot more than you would otherwise! Models submit applications for the panel (though the determining factors are just having a body and being on time) and can either perform a skit or just show off their stuff as long as female nipples and genitals remain covered. As a member of the audience, you can make requests of the models within certain guidelines after everyone’s completed their walks.
The Cosplay Galleria shows off some of the most intricate and beautiful cosplay creations. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, information on techniques, or just want to see some stunning costumes, it makes for a visually-appealing break from the hustle-and-bustle of the con.
Ever wanted to talk to your favorite anime characters? At the Ask an Anime Character panel, you can do just that! Voice actors answer questions from the audience (mostly) in character but add a bit of their own insight and humor to the mix to create a unique and personal experience every year.
Concerts are one of the biggest draws to AWA as they bring in various guests from alternative rock bands to idols. One of the most impressive musical guests this year was the musician, actor, and activist Miyavi. With concerts Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday there are plenty of opportunities for rocking out.
While some anime conventions’ version of a formal ball is playing anime themes and encouraging con guests to dress up, AWA takes it seriously. If you’re willing to spend the extra money, you’re in for an incredibly regal night. Beautiful backdrops and an official photographer help capture your gown or suit. The dress code is STRICTLY enforced but cosplay is heavily encouraged. Elegance meets anime with a live quartet playing appropriately anime-related music you can tango or waltz to. Don’t be shy if you’re not already a dancing master. There’s a beginner lesson earlier in the day and several staff members working during the ball to get you out on the floor.
Can’t get enough music and dancing? The Saturday Night Dance has popular DJs that will help you party the night away. It takes place in a huge room so there’s plenty of space to dance without touching people if you hang out more towards the middle or back.
The fashion show at AWA has way more than just a certain brand showing off their clothes. Expect music and guests models to add even more energy to an already incredible lineup of Japanese and anime or Japanese street fashion inspired designers.
Idol fans will appreciate the sheer amount of idol-related events and programming AWA offers. The Starlight Idol Festival welcomes singers and dancers to perform in a two-hour event. This year, the addition of Kira Kira Pop had a small stage in the lower level of the Galleria where idols were performing from about 10 am to 10 pm! In all events, wotagei and cheering are highly encouraged as the audience plays an important role in the events too. Idol group Starmarie also had their own concert on Saturday and picture opportunities throughout the weekend.
Since there is always a huge number of anime and video game guests, there’s usually a lot of cosplay reflecting the work of those guests. With signings, panels, and photo opportunities, there’s a good chance you’ll get to show someone you admire that you’re a fan! The hotel also has some beautiful, flowery areas to take pictures in so it’s a good place to get photos of your latest cosplays. You can expect to find a number of famous cosplayers both local and from around the world and there are several booths in the Dealer’s Room that have cosplays and/or wigs for sale should inspiration strike you suddenly.
If you’re an avid anime fan in Atlanta, this is the one convention you won’t want to miss. With 24-hour programming, various events mixed with anime themes, numerous returning and new voice actors, and musical acts involved with our favorite anime, there’s so much to love. Get active, get social, and get nerdy with Anime Weekend Atlanta.