January 2, 2006

Largest anime conventions of 2005

by Patrick Delahanty

The growth of anime conventions continued throughout 2005. More and more conventions popped up while many existing conventions grew in size as more people discover anime fandom and anime fans attend more conventions.

Throughout the year, most conventions chose to publish their attendance numbers. collected those numbers and has assembled this list of the ten largest anime conventions in North America:

  1. Anime Expo - 33,000 total
  2. Otakon - 22,000 paid
  3. A-Kon - 10,800 paid
  4. Anime Central - 10,434 total
  5. Anime North - 9,500 total
  6. Anime Weekend Atlanta - 7,505 paid
  7. Anime Boston - 7,500 total
  8. FanimeCon - 6,580 paid
  9. Katsucon - 5,700 total
  10. Sakura-Con - 4,745 paid
Anime conventions typically report attendance numbers as either paid attendance (the number of people who paid to get in the door) or total attendance (the paid attendees plus guests, staff, dealers, and anyone else with a badge). We've specified above which attendance figure is listed, but it doesn't appear as if the difference would affect the order of the list in any way this year.

The above list only includes conventions with a majority of their programming dedicated to anime and manga. Therefore, it does not include large events such as CN Anime and Comic-Con.

It should be noted that although Sakura-Con did not list an actual 2005 attendance total on its web site, their press fact sheet listed demographic data. The number listed above is the total number assembled from that data.

Since last year's list, Anime Central and Anime North have swapped positions. FanimeCon and Sakura-Con each dropped two spots, Anime Weekend Atlanta climbed one spot, and Anime Boston climbed three spots after the elimination of its attendance cap. would like to stress that the above list is not a list of the "best" conventions, but only the largest. There are many, many other great anime conventions out there worth checking out. As usual, we've heard some great comments about some of the smaller conventions out there. Quite often the best part of smaller conventions is the more intimate atmosphere that makes it easier to make new friends and rub elbows with guests.

Although 2005 has been a successful year for anime conventions as a whole, with things like podcasts and cosplay chess gaining popularity, there were a few bumps in the road along the way. In July, Connecticon faced a financial hardship that was overcome through the efforts of its web comic guests. Notably absent from the 2006 schedule are Kunicon, which cancelled its return to Miami, and Con No Baka in Toronto, which cancelled its Sunday programming during its Saturday evening programming.

Looking forward to 2006, there are already a number of new conventions on the horizon and most existing conventions will likely have respectable growth. The convention year starts off with Ohayocon on its earliest weekend ever and convention regular Greg Ayres joining their dance programming staff. Later in the year, fans will face a convention-packed Memorial Day weekend with four anime conventions running at the same time, three of which are on the above list of the ten largest anime cons. In the summer, tens of thousands of fans will undoubtedly flock to Anime Expo and Otakon as usual. In the meantime, AX continues to search for a CEO and Otakon will likely continue to face an attendance cap as long as they remain at the Baltimore Convention Center.

It will be an interesting year to watch as anime conventions, as well as anime fandom itself, continue to evolve.