And I have returned. Another year, another magnificent Nekocon. Since first attending in 2007, I have grown to love this con for it's small size, amazing location, and intimate atmosphere, and this year did not disappoint. Making this year's Nekocon even sweeter is the fact that it comes towards the end of what will go down in history as "the con year", where I went to 9 conventions, met hundreds of people, took in almost a thousand questionnaires and learned even more about the convention culture that I so love to ascribe myself to. Whereas in previous years, I went for the escape and to spend time with my core group of con buddies, in the past 12 months (the project was actually born at Neko 2008) I have broadened my horizons greatly, made many new friends, strengthened bonds with old ones, and gained a newfound appreciation both for the attendees and the administration. This is not the last con of the year, nor the last con I will ever attend, but it will go down as quite possibly the best, and for that I am happy.
One thing that has come up time and again in my research is that people attend these cons more for friends and socialization than for anything else. I don't have the exact figures down in front of me at the moment (still tabulating the raw data into stats), but I can infer just on what ive seen so far that the majority of attendees view socializing as the main reason they go to conventions. Panels are nice, especially good ones that give the participants a chance to interact and contribute. Cosplay is extremely fun, and the vendors rooms are always packed, but when it comes down to the main reasons why these are attended, it always comes down to friends and having a good time. Conventions started as a way for fans of anime to interact with each other and make new friends they would never have met outside the con. Many of these con friendships continue from year to year, often facilitated by the internet, an are just as strong as any other, because they are based in mutual love, and above all, mutual culture. I feel that the reason con friendships are so powerful is because unlike fandom of a sports team, or schoolyard chums, anime fans ascribe themselves to a full fledged culture that gives them a sense of depth they would not have found otherwise. Some might go so far as to say it is like a cult or religion, and yes, the bonds forged through the conventions can be just as strong and lend just as much depth to the participants as that (there are anime religions, apparently. I encountered one this weekend).
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
My mythology panel went wonderfully, I want to thank everyone who was a part of it. Standing room for a lot of people, and the contributions were amazing. I now find myself with maybe a dozen new anime to look up, and incorporate into the next panel I give. And if any of my participants are reading this, yes I will be posting my notes over the course of the next few weeks, thrice a week as I do now. I wouldn't want to overload any readers with too much information.
Expect a formal, blow by blow con report Thursday.