Note: This is merely my prediction of the convention scene based on my seven or so odd years of experience a member of the anime and sci-fi convention scene. As such, these predictions may not hold weight. Please do not hold it against me if my theories or predictions aren’t right in 2022.
Browsing through the East Coast convention group “Casual Uncensored Congoers Kindred Society”, I encountered an interesting question asked by the administrator of the group. He asked how do we see the convention scene changing within the next five years. He then followed up with if we think American voice actors will still remain as the dominate guests, if cosplay remain a money generating commodity, and if there will be new content featured at conventions based on upcoming new ideas and trends.
Replying with my thoughts, I stated that I don’t care if people make money off cosplaying/cosfame (while realizing that bubble will burst). I also predicted that the type of guests that we will see a shift from voice actors to social media personalities, cosplay guests, etc. As I typed, I started to deeply think about the future. Things will change in five years; I have no doubt about it. Personally, I believe we are starting to see this new change of the future today. With social media growing each day, it’s easier than ever before to communicate with fellow fans – as well as the ability for content creators to showcase their talents and gain attention.
Cosplaying and attending conventions are both niche hobbies. As niches, it’s natural for the two to evolve and change overtime. What changes do I personally think hold for the future of these hobbies? Well, let’s talk about it!
PART 1: The Current Scene
We cannot discuss the future without addressing the present, and how it’ll shape the upcoming years. From what I’ve noticed, the current state of the convention scene is run by four major elements: Social media (the umbrella for both cosplay and personality fame), money (such as businesses and corporations), the mainstream (such as the “nerdy is cool” trend” and the general convention public and corporate influences. As stated earlier, I could care less if people attempt to make money through social media and cosplay. You should take advantage of both cosplay and social media – as it’s a useful tool to fill your bank account (if you’re smart and work smart – not hard)
If you have to do a lewd cosplay version of Reimu from the Touhou series to get a stack, go for it. If you have to perform goofy acts as Deadpool at a convention for your social media platforms, go for it. Money and fame attract people. Attention follows the money. The Money pays attention. I’m sure you heard the story of the Japanese cosplayer who claimed that she made over $100,000 in a course of two days during the Japanese anime convention Comiket a few years back. I bet you that many are attempting to emulate her success once that report came out.
The fastest route for some (mainly female cosplayers, blessed with great generics) to make big bucks is through lewd cosplayers: a rather controversial career path within the cosplay community. If done right, a lewd cosplayer could easily make $10,000~$13,000 a month through Pateron, sales, etc. Sex sells and people are buying. There are some (mostly jealous, insecure women and beta male virgins) who believe that lewd cosplayers are ruining the community. They think that the focus should be on cosplayers who have craftsmanship skills – not tits and ass. Non-lewd cosplayers are vocal about their hatred for sexy cosplayers. It doesn’t help that most of these sexy cosplayers are involved with some form of controversy – which will slowly ruin the image of this trend if not taken care of.
Assuming if these controversial lewd cosplayers and cosfame people continue to generate controversy (and if people stay in their jealous, hating feelings), then I can see this trend’s bubble bursting. Too many people will enter this bubble in hopes to make it big. While sex sells and attention pays out, you still need a great (and marketable) personality and brand. Jessica Nigir, whom some consider to be one of the founders of the lewd cosplay trend in the West, still makes money – despite she doesn’t do lewd cosplays as often as she used to; Thanks to her brand.
With the “nerdy is cool” trend, there’s an increase of attendance from those who may not be true nerds. With nerd culture and hobbies becoming more acceptable each day, people are hopping on the bandwagon to take advantage of it. More people (may they be real nerd or not can be ignored here) means more money for conventions – especially for conventions who’re profit. Corporations are taking notice; therefore, they want in through sponsorships. This leads to conventions becoming corporate. This isn’t necessary evil, but one must understand that few may not accept the idea of larger conventions going corporate.
From my personal research and experiences, the general convention and cosplay public community is divided on the upcoming changes. There are some who view the corporate changes, the (lewd) cosplayers who cosplay for money, and conventions going corporate as great things for the scene. Opposite, the old-school nerds are fighting against these changes in hopes that it won’t ruin and “corrupt” the traditional, imitate homely feel of conventions they’re used to (and thus, will be driven out). They refuse to accept the fact that things change. Will the corporatization of conventions become a problem within the next five years? We must wait and see then.
Discussing the future is impossible without addressing the present. Lewd cosplays and social media personalities are cosplaiyng for the money. Nerd culture is slowly becoming accepted in the mainstream. Fans fear that the convention spirit will be lost overtime, while some see this as a great idea. Or there may not be any changes. Only time will tell us in the future.
Part 2: The Future of the Scene.
The trends of today will influence the trends of tomorrow.. We’re seeing the seeds of the future planted today. With the advent of easier access to information on anime series , fans can research creators and artists of their favorite series effortlessly (thanks to the Sakuga community providing comprehensive information on these creators). Because of this, I predict that these creators will become the main guests for conventions. Now note that larger conventions such as Anime Central and Anime Expo were ahead with this, but mid-size conventions will follow suite once they increase their budget to emulate this.
Social media has impacted this new era. Like it or not, social media personalities/”celebs” are becoming more known – so much that they’re too are becoming guest of honor. Digibro – the prolific (and infamous) anime vlogger was a guest at Anime Expo 2017. Veteran Dragon Ball historian YouTuber Geekdom 101 is hosting his own convention (KamehaCon). Social Media is the superior choice for content creators in this community to become known. The more you’re known (because of your content), the more likely one could become a guest at conventions.
Social media has also created the lewd and non-lewd cosplay money boom. As with any major boom, this bubble will burst Once that happens, I imagine the following scenarios:
1. The majority will be out of work and money. They’ll be too scared to make a move and give up.
- The minority will take advantage of the bubble burst (as well as a few others). They will work harder and smarter to stay relevant and make money during this time. Think Amazon during the Dot Com bubble burst and how they survived it through smarter tactics.
It will be a hard time for the cosfame people to recover and find work during this burst. But the smart ones will rise. Besides, sex sells. People love seeing their waifus being lewd up by a sexy woman. The bubble will recover and the trend will start anew.
Larger conventions will become corporate. They will increase prices on badges and will become stricter to appeal to a boarder consumer. The possibility of these conventions losing their homely, fan feel is high. But do not dread! If there’s a positive to this then it’s the fact that these corporate conventions will have more money to bring in bigger names from the industry. Not every convention will go with the corporate flow. Smaller cons will still have their welcoming, personal home-like vibe and will refuse to do this.
Finally, we will see the end of the norimes who are bandwagon “nerds”. I see them out once either nerd culture becomes a part of everyday culture. They will stop caring after this. You already know that this will make the gatekeeping elitist nerds happy: seeing the normies whom once bullied them for liking anime out of their nerd club. Do I think this will bring us back to the old, golden days of the conventions? Possibly not.
Trends come and they go. The cosfame trend bubble will burst. We’re seeing upcoming social media personalities as big guests. Trust me: Do not sleep on them – social media is the new television. Conventions will become cooperate, and some will lose their classic fan feel. And the norimes who were on that fake nerd shit? They will go away.
Part 3: What Will Remain?
Tupac famously said that “some things will never change”.
We can say this about the convention community. Despite this community changing every day, (for better or for worse), there are some accepts that will never change. Humans are social creatures who thrive to connect with others. Conventions will always be a place for fellow nerds to come together. With that said, this also brings in drama. Drama will never end. People will always start shit and bring their beef to the conventions. Smaller and mid-size conventions will refuse to grow big and corporate. Those conventions will remind fan run. There will always be those who want to cosplay because they love to: not because they want money or fame. Opposite to that, cosfame and lewd cosplay will be hot; given that sex sells and people love money and will seek to gain it by any means in this capitalistic society.
Finally, what will remain are the various guests of the industry ranging from voice actors, online personalities, artists, creators, and so forth. We appreciate the people who gave life to our favorite characters through their vocal talents. We give much respect to the personalities who sit in front of a camera and passionately analyze their favorite series. We will continue to celebrate our favorite creators whom dedicated their lives and time to create such marvelous creations. Our love for these creators will never change.
Our love for this hobby is forever.
It’s interesting to speak about the future of the convention scene as we’re seeing the changes of the present impacting the unseen future. Currently, the cosfame appears to be a dominating force with the prize of money behind it. Larger conventions becoming corporate seem unavoidable, but some already saw this coming and accepted this. The unseen future reveals that social media stars of nerd culture could become major guests; as they’re growing ever popular. Change can be either scary or great – some will embrace it and work with it., Others will attempt to fight against the change and either become successful, or lose.
YouTuber’s illacertus’s states this about change in his animation summary of Robert Green’s book The 48 Laws of Power, and this is my closing statement:
Don’t fight change. When you catch yourself in the futile attempt to resists a new order, remind yourself that did you not only missed the opportunity to predict it, but to adapt to it in time.
You have to be anti-fragile.