Animecon Dhaka 2022: Mirai is still in its infancy but the entire otaku community can rival any of the crowds from Comicon.
If anything the claim can be made that the anime community is even more hardcore. The convention is a heaven for cosplayers. Cosplaying is halloween with extra steps but allows you to become a sort of a selfie-celebrity at events such as these.
The itinerary for the day was jam packed with karaoke, cosplay and gaming competitions, anime quizzes, dance performances and live music.
The lines snaked out of the halloween hall on the fifth floor of Jamuna Future Park and the venue was packed with bodies. Fridays are usually empty during daylight hours in the city, but every 2D enthusiast seemed to have congregated for this event. There was a photo studio corner right next to the greenroom for fans and cosplayers alike to commemorate the event in photo form.
Every anime based brand you can find on Daraz, all the major and trusted ones at least, had stalls and kiosks selling mostly t-shirts and japanese-adjacent apparel. QRIO, 1Stop Merchandise, Fansthetic, Kawaii Shop BD and dozens of other stalls were also selling prints, collectibles, stationery and manga. You could get a notepad and a Vol 1 manga of any of the major anime IPs for a steal at only Tk 500 total. Items were flying off of stalls, business was booming.
Even though the crowds were objectively too much to deal with and moving about the convention hall felt very much like being a polio patient in a breakdance competition; there were still pockets of respectful spaces were total strangers waited their turn to take pictures with cosplayers and I personally never saw one person ruin another's photograph without apologising or walking around the line of sight.
The organisers of Animecon should not be afraid to dream a little bit bigger. They can most certainly go for a bigger space to convene the next instalment of the event and even reach out to some experienced and bigger names when it comes to models, emcees and performers. Head organisers Oly Shahriar Hasan and Wakil Ahmed partnered with 2GO, Bangladesh association of cosplayers and Dhaka Comicon to bring about the event. Alongside their management team of Ariful Hoque, Shahriar Shafin and Taslima Akhter and many others, the collective is already gearing up for their next event: Animecon Chattrogram.
Even though the infamous and rightfully attributed "Anime was a mistake" quote by Hayayo Miyazaki has permeated the mainstream consciousness, so has Anime, most people are already under their Genjutsu and those who aren't soon will be. Attack on Titan is an anime popular enough to become one of the biggest trending hashtags on Twitter, more and more celebrities talk about their love for anime. Anime is mainstream now and the organisers of the event could benefit immensely from embracing that narrative.
The event was mostly for teenagers and there were quite a few confused adult (chaperone) faces in the throngs of people, who were confronted with a hyper-specific subculture that, to them, made no sense at first blush. Anime maids, it was anime maids that were confusing the adults. One parent was thinking "Why is my daughter idolising a kaajer bedi?" I could see it on her face.
The otaku community for some reason gets a bad rap due to a hyper-vocal minority online. What I saw was a bunch of introverts who ditched that particular personality trait for 12-hours to come together and formed spontaneous friendships and bonds over shared interests.
The community doesn't have a gatekeeping attitude like most other fandoms and there was almost no toxicity or lack of mutual respect as is the norm for huge events like this. I did however accidentally confess that I watch dubbed anime and was expeditiously chased out by foam-katana-wielding, naruto-running otakus who were demanding I commit ceremonial seppuku (a form of taking one's own life that was considered honourable among the feudal Japanese samurai class). A seven out of ten event, I would definitely visit again.