Anime Weekend Atlanta 2021 Review: A Long Awaited Return

So this isn’t the first time I’ve gone to Anime Weekend Atlanta; however, it has been a while as the last time I went was way back in 2017. Now I had an awesome time back then and always wanted to go back but usually I would either have my sights set on cons with different guests or just didn’t have the time to go; however, this year everything lined up rather well and I finally got to return to an event I really enjoyed.

Guests:

The guest list was as impressive as it was the last time I went with people like Alejandro Saab, Khoi Dao, and Laura Stahl. So I had quite a few people that I really wanted to get. What surprised me was that they completely revamped how they did the autograph lines so I was not as prepared to get autographs as I thought I was. This, of course, made me worried at first because with anime cons guests sign for a very limited time which means once that time expires then you have to try again the next day and usually in these cases a subset of the line gets turned away due to time constraints. That wound up not being the case, at least on Friday, because the lines were not incredibly long and they moved rather quickly. Plus all of the actors I wanted to see started their autographs way early which helped me greatly in getting all the signatures I want in one go. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the guests had a one-item free policy that they had back in 2017. With so many people going up on autograph prices I haven’t seen a free autograph since Anime Impulse. I went to this convention planning to spend a lot of money on signatures since I was going for about six or seven but wound up only paying for one autograph. Overall the guest lists were good, the lines weren’t stressful and the prices were very reasonable.

Vendors:

The choice of vendors was amazing. First of all, they had Colorworld so naturally, I had to stop by and say hi and I got my wife a metal print in the process. Also, remember that money I saved on autographs? I spent it on Fire Emblem merch at some of the vendors and got some really cool stuff. The selection was just amazing and I couldn’t be happier with it. Now I will say the layout had issues. The artist alley section was especially cramped as the booths were closer together than in sections outside of artist alley and I mean the walkway space was noticeably different. I would say the distance between the rows of booths was maybe 1.5 times bigger at the vendors than they were at artist alley, but it was so crowded that this is just a rough estimate. I was only there on Friday and was expecting a low crowd to make this part easier but it was just so tough to walk around the artists that after a couple of rows I kind of just gave up. I then went to the vendors and did have a much easier time moving around which made it easier to find stuff like the booth with the Fire Emblem merch but even then space was limited and I wound up not wanting to shop at all of the vendors. Great selection just too cramped for me to want to go through all of the rows.

Panels:

The list of panels was amazing in fact you could argue that the biggest problem was that there were too many options. There was a lot to choose from. Numerous interactive panels, q and a sessions, concerts, games the possibilities were endless. I went to a couple of panels and really had a great time.

App:

The app was very useful in this case. They had a profile on an app called Socio which made it very easy to really plan out a schedule ahead of time and it had a handy map which made it easy to find everything. The only issue was that a massive amount of space at the convention had no access to the internet so sometimes the app was kind of useless. I do wish there was an easier way to get internet other than the hotel side of the convention because it would have made things like planning and navigation a bit easier.

Overall my opinion of this event hasn’t changed. I still think it’s an amazing event with so much to do. The guests were amazing and I found them to be very easy to get to for prices cheaper than most conventions. I would love to see better management of the vendor space especially at artist ally because it got cramped there, but that’s really my only downside and it’s something that you find at a lot of events so it’s not like I’m not used to it. I plan on going back to this event and I hope I don’t wind up taking another four years to do so.

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