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Researchers Launch Survey to Gain Insight on Anime Conventions and COVID

Swathes of anime conventions have been cancelled, postponed, or moved online in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19. As the world begins to open back up, though, what will cons look like after this prolonged absence? What new safety guidelines might they have to institute, and will certain elements remain online? Will any of these changes limit attendance?

Convention organizers across the United States and around the world are asking themselves these questions, but the flip side is equally important: how will attendees respond? Con-goers’ interest can make or break an event, so understanding what they want, need, and miss from cons may help ease the transition back to in-person conventions.

To help open this conversation, researchers Billy Tringali and Maria Alberto are running a survey focused on asking these questions of con-goers themselves. Why do we attend anime cons? What do we enjoy most about them? What has it been like to miss them, and is it exciting to have them back? And now that con comebacks are on the horizon for late 2021 and 2022, what are attendees thinking and expecting of anime cons, post-pandemic?

The survey is available here. Please share the survey with your connections and attendees, so that Billy and Maria can gain as much useful data as possible!

What We Ask

“A Survey of Anime Convention Attendance in Response to Covid-19” is a voluntary, completely anonymous survey that takes about 10-30 minutes to complete, depending on how much detail a participant chooses to provide in optional sections.

Participants will be asked where they attend anime cons, which ones they attend, and whether they have observed the widespread cancellation of cons in 2020-2021 having noticeable effects on their own lives. Participants can also provide more detail about their experience with cosplaying, attending virtual cons, and returning to in-person cons as vaccinations increase and travel restrictions ease.

Why We Ask

There’s been a lot of buzz about the unprecedented effects of Covid-19, even in mainstream media. This survey seeks to collect event attendees’ experience of those same effects.

Erik Jansen and Kuo-Yu Liang wonder if it’s time to start taking at least parts of cons online for good. What do con-goers think of this expansion, and how might it affect in-person practices such as cosplay, artists’ alleys, competitions, and more?

Elsewhere, Roland Kelts interviews several con organizers about the fallout of anime cons being cancelled in person and the challenges of moving events online. From the other side, how have con-goers experienced such changes, and what do they think of them? Is there anything about virtual cons that they want continued, or anything about in-person cons they’d like to see changed now that they’ve experienced an alternative?

Audrey Cleo Yap focuses on cosplayers specifically, asking what cosplay is like in a moment of limited social interaction and in-person gatherings. How do cosplayers experience these challenges? How has Covid-19 impacted cosplaying? And by extension, how is cosplay tied up with anime cons specifically?

Without knowing what con-goers expect and hope for in these areas, it may be difficult to meet either individual or collective expectations moving forward.

What Happens Next

The survey will be available through September 2021, kept open while these questions are fresh on people’s minds, particularly as many cons begin to reopen this fall. It is open to anyone over the age of 18 who attends anime cons in any capacity.

After the survey has been closed, the researchers will provide preliminary analysis and then make the raw dataset available to researchers, event organizers, and anyone else interested through a public repository.

A convenient copy-paste message is provided on the final page of the survey, so that participants can share it with their own networks quicky and easily. Please share the survey with your connections and attendees, so that Billy and Maria can gain as much useful data as possible!

Billy Tringali (@BillyTringali) is the founder and editor-in-chief of JAMS: The Journal of Anime and Manga Studies (@OpenAccessAnime), the only open-access journal solely dedicated to publishing high-quality academic works regarding anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. The journal’s first published volume is available at Billy earned his MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and currently works as the Law Librarian for Outreach at Emory University School of Law.

Maria Alberto (@MariaKAlberto) is a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, where her work focuses on fans and their engagement with media texts, particularly pop culture ones. She has presented parts of her research at Akon and Fan Expo Denver, and she is also a manuscript reviewer for The Journal of Anime and Manga Studies. She earned her MA from Cleveland State University.

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