When attending anime/manga/pop culture conventions, is there any guidance or any good manners I need to observe? Is there something specific I need to observe, or is it just like the other "normal" conventions? For example, when you meet with a cosplayer or meet and greet with your favorite author, should we get hyped up, or do we have to have a poker face?
The etiquette shouldn't differ much, if at all, between cons. But here's just a short checklist for you.
Be sure to respect the rules. Most conventions have a set of rules on their websites, more often even several. Take for example the dutch animecon which has general house rules and recording/photography rules. Most of these are updated every year, so be sure to re-read them before you visit again.
Some special events, such as concerts might also feature a special subset of rules. These often can be found on the events website, or will be told at the beginning of such a show.
Besides those, there are some good practices:
- Don't take pictures of cosplayers without asking.
They try hard to look and act like their character, and often have special poses which make their characters look better/more appealing. Taking pictures without asking could annoy and sometimes even anger them. So be sure to ask them if it is OK first!
- If handed props, be gentle.
In some occasions, for example if you asked, you might be handed props to feel. Those props may look like sturdy broad swords, but are often not made to be swung around. Be gentle and careful, they put a lot of time in those things
- Free hug signs don't equal free grope signs.
Often you will see guys and girls alike walk around with a "free hug sign". When hugging said people, keep your hands level. No butt squeezes, no groping. (Yes, these things actually happen.) Also be sure to show your intention to hug them! Hugging them without them expecting it could end painfully for you.
- Don't randomly hug, grab, or touch people.
Although this is often considered normal practice, at cons this somehow seems to be forgotten quite often. Just don't do it; keep it fun for everybody.
- Don't be too pushy.
If people tell you to back off, back off. You may be very enthusiastic and happy, but some people might not like such behavior. And if they tell you so, just stop.
- Unsure? Ask first!
If for whatever reason you are uncertain about rules or behaviour, you can always ask the convention grounds about it through an email. Or once on-site you can always ask the staff/gofers of said con.
Besides that, you are free to enjoy the conventions as you wish. No need for poker faces, but being too excited can be a bother to people as well. Just try to maintain some common sense throughout all the excitement.
One rule that is heavily emphasized at the cons I've been to is:
please, please, please
Observe basic hygiene practises
Conventions can smell really, really bad:
- Lots of people --> Heat to enduce sweat
- Lots of costumes made of unbreathable material --> Sweaty cosplayers
- Close proximity of seats --> Your nose being close to the sweat.
- Anime fans and general geek culture aren't known for great hygiene --> unwashed beards, clothes, etc.
- Some venues do not have air conditioning
Hygiene doesn't start at the venue - If you are taking public transport, you may end up squished against a wall under another con-goers armpit (I speak from experience).
Some conventions will actually kick you out if you smell too bad (although, I'm sure if it is a medical reason it is okay).
If you wash each morning of the convention (don't be tempted to skip) and bring some deodorant, you should be fine.
Eat healthily and enjoy the con.
Of the things that I've done when attending conventions:
Cosplay doesn't mean consent. I realize that's more catch-termy than anything else, but it translates to something very simple; just because someone's dressed up for the event doesn't mean that they want or have to take a picture with you. Some conventions even have specific areas for this to take place; should you want to get a picture anyway, see if they're going to make their way to that area and arrange a time to meet with them there instead.
Be mindful of where you are on the convention floor, and avoid stopping in the middle of it. This is especially true of larger conventions, but if you stop in the middle of the floor to look at a particular artist or particular thing, you run the risk of someone running into or tripping over you, which would be an undesirable experience for everyone involved. It's good to have a healthy interest in the stuff around you, but please be sure to pull off to the side and look at it, instead of stopping right in the middle of ped traffic.
Don't be a jerk. Artists, actors, mangaka and creators alike are all people, and should be treated with some level of respect and courtesy. Don't get upset if the thing you want is sold out, and don't decide to pitch a fit right in the middle of the shops because you felt like their prices are too high. Most importantly, if you're meeting them in person, please don't act any other way than with how you'd want someone to act if you met them in person. This means, you can't complain about how long it took for them to get there to meet you, and you can't make unreasonable demands of them just because you're a paying customer.
If you're ever confused, read the site/ask information. The site usually posts what's acceptable months in advance for cosplayers, and what they expect of guests, so it's important to be peruse this listing. Additionally, this can provide guidelines/rules for expected con behavior, which has to be observed for everyone to be safe. Failure to do so can and often will result in you being moved to the back of the line or removed from the convention floor.