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 AnimeCons.com 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 AnimeCons.com also made FanCons.com . 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!

11 comments:

  1. I'm about to blow your mind: Michigan had over twice the amount of anime conventions in 2016 than are listed at animecons.com
    I can't verify that this may also be the case in some other states or not, but I am happy to fill you in on the missing data in the Mitten.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kip,

    Thanks for the feedback. The analysis is only as good as the data source!

    AnimeCons.com focuses on events with (some minimum amount of) anime programming. Perhaps some of the other Michigan events you're aware of are listed on FanCons.com. You'll find this list is more inclusive: http://fancons.com/events/state.shtml/MI202016016

    The lists on FanCons.com are larger (for all states, most likely). For future work, I may use that to expand my analysis to cover fan conventions in general.

    If you know of events in Michigan not listed on the page linked above, you can submit the info here: http://fancons.com/events/update/new.shtml (I presume that will update both FanCons.com and AnimeCons.com). If you see events listed on FanCons.com but not AnimeCons.com which really ought to be listed on the latter as well, you should contact the owner of AnimeCons.com

    thanks,
    Lawrence

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've helped to submit quite a few cons to animecons.com in the past, and while I'm happy to be contributing because I also use this site as a database to research conventions, I feel there gets to be a point where the administration should also provide some research legwork. There are some conventions that have happened yearly and weren't listed last year.

      I can assure you, however, the conventions I'm thinking of were 100% anime or Japanese pop-culture targeted and not Western or general pop. One of the requirements to list at animecons.com (or fancons.com) is to have a real website and not a Facebook or blog hosted site which, sadly, excludes some of these events from being posted, even though they do draw a sizable attendance. I feel steering away from domain hosted websites is sort of a new trend for conventions. In this day and age of social media connectiveness, it is possible the kinds of consumers who attend certain conventions may only need an event page or a fan page to subscribe to without the need for a website intermediary, from which to gather information.

      Delete
    2. Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

      I haven't thought about the "real website" policy long enough to have a strong opinion on whether it's good or bad. At some point, as the internet continues to evolve, the policy will have to change as well. Whether it should change now or later, I don't know. If you can't change their mind, maybe there's a need for some additional/competing databases.

      Regarding the analysis, as long as the policy is applied consistently across all states & regions, I suspect that including all the events that don't have "real websites" will not change the overall rankings much.

      I don't know enough about AnimeCons.com to speak about the challenges of keeping it up to date. Maybe they need more staff, volunteer or otherwise.

      Delete
  3. I forgot to mention, using data from FanCons.com, Michigan does slightly better in the "Populous states with the most conventions per capita" metric: 8th place instead of 10th place.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey there! Florida con goer here- and my goodness we have so many conventions- almost one for every week!

    Here's some insider info-
    The con community is so over saturated. Because there are so many cons- smaller cons find it harder to start up and end up closing down.

    Also something: the community is TOXIC!!! I havent been to an out of state con, so I cant speak from my personal experience, but I've heard it's like night and day.
    Cosplay has turned into a popularity contest over here and since we go so often- it is no longer magical and people have become hardened to it.

    There is so much drama. Everyone has become closely knit- but in a clique sort of way.

    We have the most cons- but it's not a good thing.
    Quality over quantity ammiright?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope it's not so bad for everyone in Florida, but I've heard similar comments from others. Anyone have a different perspective on Florida cons?

      Delete
    2. Nope, Graffiti 2D has the community here defined perfectly. "This world is...rotten."
      As someone with 3 Northeast cons, 5 FL cons, 1 GA con, and 1 AL con (with repeated visits to some annual cons it's a total of over a dozen cons for me), I recommend that the FL cons get avoided as much as possible. The people running them are just as toxic as the community that is attending them. I've heard of entire casts of people being blacklisted at cons simply for partaking in shows at other conventions; the same con that blacklisted people also purposefully moved their con date to the same weekend as another con in their city to attempt to run that other con out of business; at a different con, one owner said to a the face of a young woman who was being harassed that she wasn't being harrased, she was just looking for attention (in other words, she was in an attention grabbing outfit and therefore had to be an attention seeker and not someone being legitimately harrassed...yeah... this con is run in a hockey rink and they serve alcoholic beverages left and right, so the guys are kinda known to get wasted and harass women at this thing, skimpy cosplay wearers, pretty women, and girls under 18 are all in danger there). Also, cosplay competitions are easily rigged. The girlfriend of a judge once entered a competition and won a prize despite a minimum of 5 other cosplays being better constructed and more faithful to their characters than her. The girl sat behind the judge during judging and whispered lies to the judges about what went on backstage to ensure that they voted for her. These are the people running the cons. These are just small examples of what goes on in the community. I could go on about things that happen in the community itself, but then I'd have to write a novel.

      Delete
  5. I am from southwest Ohio.. I'd like to know where all these anime fans and cons are.. most people here look at me like I have 3 heads if I mention anime. I go to Kissimee, FL every year for the Florida Anime Experience con, which is a bit smaller than the other cons, and more concentrated on anime and Japanese culture as opposed to the whole comic fandom etc. Look up the name on FB, they are powered by Green Mustard Entertainment, and are affiliated with Wasabi con as well somehow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vicki,

      Thanks for commenting!

      I don't know if any of these are close to you, but here's the 2017 list of anime cons in Ohio: http://animecons.com/events/state.shtml/OH202017017

      -Lawrence

      Delete
    2. Interestingly enough, the folks that run Florida Anime Experience also run anime for Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH. (In case you're interested.)

      Delete