Many people in the American Midwest convention circuit think of Ryan Kopf and his cons with disdain. Kopf has made a rather infamous name for himself over the past few years through sexual assault allegations, suing bloggers, and threatening vendors.
Despite such controversy, Midwestern congoers will often find themselves at a “Kopf con” at some point whether they’re aware of it or not. His convention group, AnimeCon.org, includes both large and small conventions across middle America such as AniMinneapolis, Anime-Zap!, and Con+Alt+Delete.
The largest and most well-known Kopf con is Anime Midwest. Held every July in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Anime Midwest has grown over recent years to include about 15,000 attendees. Anime Midwest boasts many unique perks, such as free autographs and a “ConSweet” that offers attendees unlimited ramen, rice, and soda. Its guest list grows more impressive each year, with various overseas guests and covering a wide range of fandoms–this year included Deadlift Lolita, Steam Powered Giraffe, Studio TRIGGER, MAPPA, and Misako Aoki, just to name a few. With all of these features, it’s understandable why Anime Midwest keeps becoming more popular despite its con chair’s unsavory reputation.
Personally, I am a bit disgruntled that I had a fantastic time at Anime Midwest this year. I wanted to hate it, I really did–but I just couldn’t. It was one of the best cons I’ve been to in recent memory, particularly because the con’s size and variety of programming. In my opinion, the size of the convention fit the convention center perfectly this year.
Although there was a big-con atmosphere, there wasn’t any big-con crowding, traffic, or lines. I hardly experienced a wait, even for more popular events, and when I did, the lines moved quickly. I picked up my badge in less than five minutes on Friday afternoon (practically unheard of). The programming was also phenomenal; as someone who often finds herself bored at cons, there was no shortage of unique and fun programming at Anime Midwest. The panel offerings included a date auction, lolita fashion show, burlesque shows, and many Q&As with industry guests. There was literally always something to do.
One major gripe I had with Anime Midwest was that it was generally hard to find staff or get information. The program book lacked a full map of the convention center and failed to note the locations of events. Even worse, I rarely spotted a wandering staff member or info desk that I could ask for help at. I often noticed convention center staff (rather than Anime Midwest volunteers) doing badge checks, which is pretty unusual. The staff shortage may have been due to the fact that a disproportionate amount of manpower was allocated to keeping ConSweet stocked and maintained. All the staff I did get to interact with, however, were helpful and polite.
Shoot us a comment with your thoughts on Anime Midwest or Ryan Kopf–and here’s to hoping I don’t get sued.
*NOTE: Anime Midwest is NOT the same convention as Anime Central, although both are held at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.*