Monday, May 23, 2011

Midwest Anime and Manga Convention

Party on the way to the ConThis past weekend the kids and I attended the Midwest Anime and Manga Convention, otherwise known as ACen, located in Rosemont, IL. One weekend each May this event takes over not only the Donald E. Stephens Convention center and Hyatt Regency O’Hare, but also includes programming at the Hilton, Doubletree, and Embassy Suites. We were staying about a half a mile down the road at the Hotel Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare.  A very nice hotel I recommend it to anyone coming into town.  However, next year we're going to try and  get a room a little closer to the programing locations.  With the massive numbers of attendees that come to this event it can be very difficult to get a room at any of the nearby hotels too. ACen is by far the largest Anime gathering in the Midwest Region, ACen is three packed full days of costumed fun.

Katie & King Mickey“As part of its mission, ACen brings fans together with guests from the Japanese and US sectors of the anime and manga industry, as well as gaming, cinema, and Asian culture personalities. The event includes a huge exhibit hall, a massive video game room, concerts, dances, educational panels and workshops, premiere screenings, autograph sessions, 24-hour video rooms, children’s programing, tabletop gaming and much, much more!”

This was my first year attending ACen with my kids and I was overwhelmed with the size and scope of the convention. I was very please to see Disney well represented in the Cosplay community (“Cosplay is short for “costume play,” where individuals create or have made costumes of their favorite anime characters and wear them to the convention. Cosplayers are creative and are proud of their work, and it’s common to see many of them walking the halls during an anime convention.”) The Disney crowd came out in mass wearing everything from Kingdom Hearts costumes to Princesses and Pirates.
Disney Princesses
A Mad Tea Party

I talked to several cosplayers that were in Disney attire and out to have fun with the family. This Aladin and Tink were family and seemed to be having a great time mingling with princesses and pirates alike. The detail they put into their costumes was great, and Aladin was joined for the day by Abu.
Aladin The Cutest Tink!

My oldest daughter was Cosplaying from her favorite Mob Anime this year, but Kirk and Katie went as Disney kids from the anime style Kingdom Hearts video games. Kingdom Hearts has a big fan base at the Midwest Anime Convention and we attended a meet up of folks dressed in fashion and characters from all of the Kingdom Harts games. Heroes and Villains mixed and mingled while admiring each other’s costuming skills and detail, while about all things Kingdom Hearts. Some of the kids even spend the entire weekend in character, and all of them have fun.
Kingdom Hearts Meet
Kingdom Hearts Meet

Katie & DuffyACen had a full schedule of children's programming for kids 14 and under as well. There were ample arts and crafts, video games, parties, and entertainment to make the younger set happy in an age appropriate manner. Katie entered a Teddy Bear Cosplay contest, she made her Duffy a costume to accent her own. He was a "Heartless" from Kingdom Hearts.

Though the love of Anime transcends all age groups and we saw people from about age 3 to 63, the attendees of the convention largely seemed to be about 16 to 26 years old. Attendees cover a broad range of interests and fun quirky personalities on display. It was a great adventure with my kids and I encourage parents to let their children explore this world of Anime, however it’s important to know that this convention is like a small city that pops up for one weekend, and many things can happen. Not all of the Anime genres are child friendly, and parents need to be aware.  It's a great time, and the people watching is spectacular.  The kids had fun and made many new friends with similar interests in games, manga, and anime that they will continue to keep in contact with and look forward to meeting up with next year.  It's a fun hobby for the kids to have, and an amazing weekend, however, I encourage any parent to attend conventions like ACen with their children, and not just let them go on their own.


  1. We might want to suggest that the kids buy Moo cards for next ACen. That way, they can try to keep in touch with the interesting ppl that they meet.

  2. Sounds like an interesting weekend.