Mumbling Kitsune: Anime Conventions: No Kids Allowed? (

By:Nadia Oxford
Date: Sunday, August 03, 2008

With the summer heat comes good traveling weather, and with that comes dozens of conventions. It doesn't matter if you like to fish, fire pottery, assemble newspapers or just stare out the window; someone, somewhere loves the same things as you do, and conventions will put you in touch with them.
While there's no better place to make friends with similar interests, there is a potential for conflicts as well. Considering the diverse nature of conventions, there's been some fan debate on the idea of putting age restrictions on attendees, limiting conventions to people 17 and older.
Keeping minors away from some conventions makes perfect sense (the Adult Entertainment Expo), but it's unfair to keep them away from gatherings for all-inclusive hobbies like anime, games and comics. Concern is understandable, but a few simple ground rules will ward off mishaps.
“Anime” covers a broad range of material; the genre's multi-leveled appeal is well-known. Therefore, some of the material available for viewing and purchase is not meant for minors. A kid who prowls the dealer's room in search of Pikachu merchandise might get more than he bargained for. As a result, some conventions are strict about what's allowed to be sold, at least out in the open, and of-age fans get sore. Conventions also bring inevitable complaints about younger, hyper fans who seem to be plugged up with sugar and seek the attention of every attendee, sometimes through objectionable cosplay.
But what's preferable? Scoring a mediocre pile of cartoon pornography that can be acquired online, or sacrificing the diverse audience of a typical convention? Everyone is young once and not all of us necessarily acted sombre in the face of sensory overload. Conventions are for anyone who wants a store of pleasant, if tiring, memories.
When fans meet and mate, they sometimes bring their offspring to relevant conventions. This can be great fun for everyone involved, but a shrieking kid admittedly kills the experience. Therefore, it's vital that the parents of minors plan ahead and know what's going on around them. Some children, especially toddlers, just might be overwhelmed by the flash of costumes and merchandise. Sometimes it's best to leave them with a sitter, or stay home and bring them next year when they're a bit older. In addition, most cons last about three days; one might be plenty for a youngster. It goes without saying that plenty of juice and snacks should be on hand.
Parents of older children should be aware of any State-wide curfew laws for minors. Conventions are automatically required to subscribe to them. Parents might also want to supervise Dealer's Room visits for very young kids who are capable of observing the world around them. That way, kids can find Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise without being subject to fan comics of Yugi and Kaiba doing each other (or worse, their summoned duel monsters).
There's no guarantee that keeping minors out of conventions will eliminate “fannish” behaviour; the animated atmosphere tends to make everyone young and just a little stupid in that fun way. Older folks are just as capable of being annoying and inappropriate as the young.
If a convention is based on material that is capable of being enjoyed by all ages, there's no reason to exclude any group. Common sense, as always, is preferable to a thousand rules. Besides, there is no resisting a toddler dressed up as Aerith the flower girl from Final Fantasy VII.