So to continue a trend I’ve done for the last few years now I’m doing another convention rankings. Now last year I only went to three conventions as a result of the pandemic and Matsuricon which won 2018 and 2019 didn’t happen so a new winner was crowned in 2020, Anime Impulse. Now neither of these events happened in 2021 so we will see a new winner for this year which had a lot more events and I got to go to quite a few conventions I’ve grown really attached to as well as some new ones that I’ve grown to enjoy.
Cincinnati Comic Expo
This is the first repeat event of this as I went to this convention back in 2019. Now honestly I didn’t love this event back then and it placed last on that year’s list too, but this year it happened on my birthday, and being close to home it was an easy opportunity to go to a convention for the first time on that day. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t much better than it was in 2019. It’s not that this is a bad event in any way it’s just there were ways to improve literally every aspect of this convention. Parking was tedious, panels weren’t the easiest to find due to lack of signage, and vendors were not organized in a way to make shopping easy. I did greatly enjoy the John Barrowman panel which was easily the best part of the day and getting to hang out with Colorworld a bit, but I also saw Colorworld at four different conventions and John Barrowman at three.
Soda City Comic-Con
This is not only the first new event on the list but the first convention I’ve been to in South Carolina and I have family down there so it was interesting to do an event and see some of them. Now I did enjoy my time at this convention but its size was a factor since it was pretty small. Everything was done really well and we wound up getting done with everything we wanted to do at this event really quickly. Overall it was a lot of fun but sadly all of the voice actor guests had to cancel attending on Sunday due to a flight issue. Now, this is, of course, no fault of the convention but it also meant that we didn’t have a reason to go back on Sunday so we just went home. I like this event but it’s clearly one of those events that I’m only going to consider if they have someone I’m really wanting to meet.
The first event we went to in 2021, Collective Con was a rather fun event and well organized. Most of what I have to say here is really the same as Soda City except the guests were able to stay all weekend. What makes this convention come out a little bit ahead is the fact that it’s 20 minutes from the beach so we got to have a nice beach trip while we went to the con. Fun fact it’s also the event where the hotel staff was super generous to us because we were patient and kind to them which made for a really great evening.
Smokey Mountain Fan Fest
I actually did go to this event in 2020 but where it was a super small event there wasn’t actually enough to talk about for a full-on review. I was at this convention for about 20 minutes in 2020 so while it was fun I really didn’t have content to create for it. 2021 was a different story as they had a bigger venue, more guests, and had all of the elements that you would commonly find in conventions. I had a great time at this event, shopping was easy, guests were great and easy to get to and the charity auction was a whole lot of fun. It does have some hiccups such as the nearby hotels are way too expensive, $300+ a night, so while this event is surrounded by amazing attractions that price is simply too high for the size the event is currently so until that changes I’m not going to go for more than one day. The only other negative and it is a small critic was that we weren’t sure when to enter the room for our photo op and wasted a few minutes not knowing we could enter. With it being the cons 2nd year it was rather impressive though.
Huntsville Comic and Pop Culture Expo
This event we sort of planned last minute because it had some people that my wife wanted to see. The convention was well organized, in fact, one of the most organized conventions I’ve ever seen. Signage was all over the place so you weren’t getting lost and the staff did a lot of tours and took questions on Facebook so any information you needed was very readily available. If you follow my Twitter you’ll see pictures of me and a big Snorlax plushy from time to time, this is where it came from. We also stumbled upon a buffalo chicken festival while we were there and had a lot of chicken. It was a fun event and we’re actually going back next year because 2022 already has people that my wife really wants to see. The only complaint I had was that if you weren’t parking at the host hotel it was hard to find parking. The parking we found on Saturday was blocked off Sunday for some reason.
My Hero Con/Alabama Comic-Con
So this was the first time I went to two conventions at once as both of these events decided to fuse for this year into one massive event. Again I had a great time. Panels were fun, vendors were fun to shop at and I even found some cool Fire Emblem merch and the guest list was impressive. I got to meet some awesome voice actors and go to another John Barrowman panel. I did find it being tedious to actually go to this event though. Because a sporting event was happening nearby at the same time parking was an absolute nightmare. Luckily I decided to reserve parking in advance but the directions to the parking spot took you to the wrong location so many people were confused as to where they were going. My friend, who went in a separate vehicle, flat out couldn’t find the spot she reserved and found parking elsewhere. Going to this event Sunday was a much easier experience. The only other complaint and this is minor is that the pathway to get to the entrance was done in a pretty weird fashion so it took a while to actually enter the convention.
Indy Pop Con
This was the first convention that we went to in Indiana and it’s been on my list of events to attend for a little while now. Luckily everything lined up for us to go to it in 2021. I feel like I’m going to say this a lot but the organization was great here. Guests were easy to find and get autographs from and vendors were spacious and easy to shop at. I actually don’t have anything really to critic this convention about.
Lexington Toy and Comic-Con
I guess you can say this convention is the old faithful of the conventions that I go to as I think this is my fifth time going to this convention and it’s wound up on almost every convention list I’ve done so far, except 2020. I’ve only ever had one year where I said anything negative about this event and this year I only have positive things to say. It was fun, the guest list was great and the new layout made everything so easy to find that it was practically effortless. A great improvement for an already fun event.
The Hero Con
So for the first time since Anime NYC, I flew to another convention that was happening during their first year. Now I was honestly nervous because my experience at Anime NYC, while resolved, left me anxious about the idea of spending a lot of money to attend an event that was brand new. This convention was pretty small but everything was easy to do and it had some people really high up on my list of people that I wanted to meet. Now normally due to this event’s size it would by default go lower on the list as smaller cons tend to have less to offer than the bigger ones and while everything is easy to do I also spend less time at them but this one had a few exceptions. The first is the fact that it helped resolve my concerns about first-year events which is a really big deal. The second is the hotel which was pricey but it was a beautiful room with a breathtaking view. I got some of the best pictures of the year thanks to this convention. Finally, everything ran so smoothly that I just stayed and really took my time at this event which is hard to do at most conventions even the smaller ones. So this convention was a winner.
Another repeat event that I’ve gone to a few times, Yama con is just a lot of fun to go to. Now normally this event is really organized, but this year they tried something new with the autographs which did fail pretty badly, but the staff worked hard to fix that as much as possible. The convention was still a lot of fun, panels were great, shopping was great and because it has easy access to the Island in Pigeon Forge it was so easy to do a lot in the span of one weekend. Now it did have the autograph hiccup and the weather was terrible, which is no fault of the con but it does affect my experience because the Island is one of the factors that motivate me to attend this event and we just couldn’t spend as much time there because of the weather. With that being said another amazing year and I’ve already made plans to go back in 2022.
Anime Weekend Atlanta
Now it’s been a while but I finally returned to this event. Overall it was fun and it had the biggest haul of autographs that I got all year which was really fun for a collector like myself. Plus most guests signed an item for free so it was really budget-friendly till I spent all the money I saved on Fire Emblem merch in the vendors. The only real downside was that the vendors around artist alley were a bit cramped so shopping got really tough at times and we really weren’t motivated to go through the entire vendor’s hall because of it.
That makes Megacon Orlando the winner of this year’s conventions. Megacon has always been an event that I’ve enjoyed and this year was no different. Sadly it was dealing with a massive amount of guest cancellations but even after all that it still offered an event that was incredibly entertaining and had so much to do. It’s just a shame our flight home was canceled and I had to re-book an earlier flight causing us to lose a whole day in Orlando.
So overall it was really hard to make this list as most of the conventions were just a lot of fun to go to. It ultimately just came down to how much each convention offered because for most of these events that was the only factor that was significantly different from convention to convention. Most of the events had some issue or another that made things a little difficult but at the end of the day, none of them actually prevented us from doing everything we wanted to do at these events.
Next year though will probably look a little bit different as we are going back to a convention in California. Sadly we won’t be able to do Anime Impulse next year but we are going to AVOX and because we are staying a week in Los Angeles and the convention has 150 guests we are saving up for this one which will likely mean fewer cons less year or at the very least no other cons that require us to fly or drive over 6 hours to get to.