I emailed Jason Rako, AE’s Media Manager, to ask him what I should expect as a first time attendee and any advice he could impart upon my unblemished soul. I have posted his response to me in it's entirety, as I found it both terrifying and informative.
I first started out with Anime Evolution 2006 as part of the communications department (my friends talked me into it). Not only was I staffing for the first time, it was my first time ever attending an anime convention and I was overwhelmed as a tidal wave of Japanese popular culture slammed into me once I arrived. I’ve posted his advice in it’s entirety below, as I found it to be very informative if not a little overwhelming.
Mostly likely the first thing you'll see when you arrive at an anime convention is the abundance of cos-players all over the place. Dressing in your daily street clothes will make you the odd-one-out as you're surrounded by colourful costumes of a variety of Anime characters milling about all over the place.
I was lucky that I had friends who had a good sense of what was happening and took the time to show me around and explain everything that was going on. That's actually how most people get roped into an anime convention; their friends invite them to tag along and they are enveloped by what's going on around them.
The first thing anyone should do is get a lay of the land as soon as possible. The best source for this is definitely a stop at the information booth of any anime convention which is usually a stone's-throw away from the main registration lines. Info booths will always have the most up-to-date information about what's going on and the staff are specifically there to point you in the right direction. A key piece of information at the info booth, which is almost as necessary as having water at a convention, is the convention guide.
The convention guide contains every single piece of information about what's happening at a convention. It will have the schedule, maps and a detailed description of almost every main event taking place at the convention. Not having a guide at an anime convention, or any convention for that matter, is the equivalent of sailing a rudder-less ship across the Atlantic Ocean.
Once you got your convention guide, you need to start planning. It is nearly impossible to experience everything at an Anime convention, especially one which runs for three days on a 24-hour schedule. Of course, there are some who can see everything at the expense of a decent night's sleep. I remember one year when some staff were running on about eight hours sleep over the course of three days. For the rest of us, who value at least six hours of sleep a night, it's best to start making plans.
If you're a gamer, you will no doubt try to get into every single gaming tournament which appeals to you. From board games to consoles, we got it all. Anime Evolution is featuring The Gauntlet this year which will test gamers on a variety of skills from board gaming to handling a controller. The winner gets one heck of a huge trophy too.
After gaming for countless hours and watching heaps of anime titles, there's no doubt that you will be getting hungry. Again, the convention guide maps will tell you where to get the noms. At UBC, most of the eats are located in the Student Union Building. It's also ground zero for most of the convention. Be sure to keep your energy levels up by eating right. For those of the right age, there are a few watering holes around but, as per the con rules, you cannot enter the convention areas unless otherwise noted if you are intoxicated.
The "otherwise noted" line in the convention rules takes into account that the Pit Pub is located on the lower levels of the Student Union Building. If you are going to visit a few of the nearby establishments, use common sense.
Another major thing to note is that the University of British Columbia is an old campus with many buildings scattered all over the place. While this makes for some interesting backdrops for photography, it also means people can get lost easily, especially at night. When venturing out, be sure to go in groups, especially if you have never been to UBC before.
Anime Evolution is at the University of British Columbia in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada. Show runs from Aug 13th-15th