By Taylor L. Smith
Conventions are a great way for people with any sort of special interest or hobby to meet and connect with others with the same or similar special interests or hobbies. When someone chooses to attend a convention, they ultimately choose to get out of their comfort zone to make friends and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. Conventions cater to a wide array of interests, from dolls, comic books, cooking, gardening, camping, and more. Some conventions are dedicated to specific television and book series with devoted followings, such as “Doctor Who” or “Star Wars,” for example.
But what is anime? To put it simply, anime is a genre of media that encompasses all Japanese animated works, including 2D and 3D animated TV shows, movies, music videos, and video games made in Japan or by Japanese creators. Fans often incorporate other aspects of Japanese pop culture into their interest and celebration of anime. This can include graphic novels, known as “manga,” digital music-making programs like Vocaloid, popular snacks and drinks such as Pocky and Boba, as well as clothing, ranging from street fashion to traditional cultural attire. Additionally, the anime scene welcomes many non-Japanese subcultures and media that fit in very well with the anime scene. A few examples of shows popular within the anime fanbase include “Teen Titans” (2003), “Avatar: The Last Air Bender,” and even the French TV show “Miraculous Ladybug!”
The topic of anime is an incredibly popular one, and it shows. While anime Conbini Mart had a smaller turnout, other anime conventions boast much larger attendance. Anime STL, for instance, is an incredibly popular convention in the area, typically occurring in the spring, often during a late April weekend. This convention has hosted thousands of guests. In fact, according to Anime STL’s organizers, over 8,000 individuals attended the convention in 2023.
Many people express a desire to attend a convention, but individuals are often nervous about these events for various reasons, from crowd-related anxiety to the cost of the events. Conventions of any kind can be nerve-wracking for first timers and veterans alike.
This is what makes Anime Conbini Mart stand out from the rest of the convention scene. Anime Conbini Mart is a recurring convention that offers a taste of the convention experience without the fear of excessive costs and crowds. In 2023, Conbini Mart was held at the St. Charles Convention Center on Oct 14, in St. Charles Missouri. It has also been held in early summer at the same location in the past. It can be thought of as a compressed or miniaturized convention. You won’t find many autograph sessions with your favorite actors or illustrators, nor large groups of cosplayers attending panels. However, what you will find is the heart of many conventions, the dealers’ hall.
Conbini Mart provides a platform for local artists to sell their wares to the public and connect with a broader fanbase. You can find a wide variety of items in various formats, from adorable jewelry to customized costume accessories, handmade plushies to anime-themed clothing, and even original designs for merchandise like notebooks, sticker pads, and art prints. Additionally, the St. Louis Writers Guild has made appearances at Conbini Mart, further expanding the horizons of those attending the event. The next convention is scheduled for Oct. 12 and 13, 2024, at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri.
Despite being smaller than most conventions in the area, Anime Conbini Mart is a wonderful event that offers the convention experience without the stresses of full-sized events. It is a relatively new event, and its growth is something to look forward to. Here’s to hoping that this event continues to expand in the future, allowing more talented local artists and vendors to make their debut at this event.