Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The States with the Most Anime Conventions

Have you ever wondered which states have the most anime conventions? Are there certain regions where otaku culture is highly concentrated? Which states have the most conventions serving the largest number of anime fans? Using data from and other public sources, I've made an attempt to answer those questions. (Disclaimer: This is an informal analysis, not a formal peer-reviewed study)

To create the ranking, I simply used the list found here: Anime conventions in the USA in 2016

I used 2016 since it's a full year's worth of recent data. I excluded conventions that were postponed or canceled. Washington DC, while not a state, is included on these lists.

The top 25 states, ranked by number of anime conventions

California and Florida are the clear winners.

The bottom 25 states (plus Washington DC) ranked by number of anime conventions

Near the bottom of the list, you'll find several states with only 1 convention in 2016, but Wyoming isn't even on the list, the only state without an anime convention in 2016.

California and Florida are not huge surprises, since they are #1 and #3 in the US in terms of population; you'd expect a lot of events in those states. So, what happens we look at each state, ranked by anime cons per capita?

Ranking: States with the most anime cons per person

[not pictured: Alaska (14) and Hawaii (46)]

The picture changes quite a bit, with South and North Dakota jumping to the top of the list, followed by Tennessee and Maine. Florida is still up there, but California with its much larger population lags significantly.

Ranking: States with the most anime cons per square mile

What if we look for states with the most conventions per square mile? Washington DC (not a state, but close enough) is at #1 followed by New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland. Florida manages to stay pretty high at #5.

This is all well and good, but the rankings presented thus far don't really answer one of our primary questions: Which states have the most conventions serving the largest number of anime fans?

In that case, it doesn't make sense to overemphasize anime cons per capita or anime cons per square mile in states which have very few people in it. We want to find out where there are a lot of cons serving a high volume of people. So, let's look at the same data above, but filter the lists by population.

When you look at the states with the most anime cons, they are also the states with the most people, with two exceptions: Tennessee had 15 cons, but only 6.65 million people, compared to New York which had 14 cons and 19.7 million people. Michigan has 9.9 million people, but only had 6 anime cons in 2016.

Here's what it looks like when we calculate state rankings for anime cons per capita, but only focusing on the top 10 states by population:

Populous states with the most anime conventions per capita

Now, Florida is #1 and Ohio is #2. California and Texas, with 36 and 23 cons in 2016 respectively, are not in the top 5 due to their high populations. Florida cons are more spread out than Ohio cons, so there are more events in Florida with overlapping dates. When we only count events with unique dates (assuming no one is likely to attend two conventions in the same day), Ohio actually edges out Florida in this metric (anime cons per capita).

We can apply the same population filter to our state rankings for anime cons per square mile:

Populous states with the most anime conventions per square mile

Florida and Ohio come out on top again!

What does all this mean?

First of all, to interact with this data and apply your own filters, you can visit the dashboard I created:

Secondly, we obviously need to talk about Florida and Ohio. That there are a lot of conventions in Florida is perhaps less surprising, given that Florida is the #2 tourist destination in the US after California. Ohio, on the other hand, is #12 on that list.

Note: It's not just anime conventions. The same people who made also made . Using fan convention data in general, I created some visualizations to examine that. Based on the same type of analysis, Florida and Ohio come out on top there as well (across multiple flavors of fandom, not just anime).

Personal Perspective

To date, I've been to 51 cons in 5 states (California, Maryland, Ohio, Georgia, and New York), but mostly in California where I live, and mostly repeat visits to the same few conventions.

I've had the honor of being a repeat guest at Anime Punch: Armageddicon in Columbus, Ohio. I remember a staffer I spoke to telling me about all the conventions she went to in Ohio, either as an attendee or as con staff. It was hard to believe there were so many, but the data doesn't lie.

I've never been to Florida, but I am acquainted with the folks from the Anime World Order podcast who are from there. I'll leave it to them (and others) to tell us about the particulars of anime fandom in that state.

I do know that both states have old school anime cred, Florida being the birthplace of JACO - the Japanese Animation Club of Orlando - home of JACOsub, one of the earliest pieces of fansubbing software. Ohio is home to the venerable OSU anime club, formerly known as "Animate". Ohio State servers were the original home of the Anime Web Turnpike. Going back even further, it's where the Venice FTP anime-manga archive was first hosted.

I've been to Ohio for Anime Punch 7 times, not enough to really get to know Ohio fans, but the scene there was unique and I really enjoyed it. It gave me a much stronger appreciation for small cons. I've been to Anime Expo, Otakon, and San Diego Comic-Con plenty of times, and they're great, but the energy and enthusiasm of a lot of small cons out there is something to be experienced, and Ohio has plenty of them. You might say: some people attend a few big cons as special events; others attend a lot of smaller cons as a lifestyle.

Ohio has been called the nerdiest state (a badge of honor, in my opinion): people in Ohio apparently visit libraries more often than people in other states. Maybe there's a connection between reading/library-going and anime fandom, but that's another study for another day.

I have fond memories of con-going in Ohio. Someone invite me to Florida so I can get a measure of fandom in the Sunshine State!