Photo from Anime Boston that's been photoshopped to place a flustered anime boy holding a baby in the foreground. In the background, four toddlers are running away from him.

Columns

How Bringing A Kid To An Anime Con Is Like Breaking A Bone


I never thought breaking my foot would be the ultimate crash course in taking a kid to an anime convention. As it turns out, though, a bum foot and a preschooler aren’t all that different. 

Back in 2011, I broke my foot by tripping down a Metro escalator. Katsucon began the next day, and I’d already lined up interviews for my convention reporting. So, I got an aircast boot for my foot at the hospital, and a wheelchair from the accessibility station at the Gaylord Resort.

Attending Katsucon in a wheelchair made me think about accessibility more directly. I spent a lot of time waiting for elevators. I also had a tough time in the dealer’s hall because I was too short to see over some of the tables. What I remember most, though, was the kindness of cosplayers. When I asked for a photo, they dropped into poses low to the floor so I could get a good shot. 

It’s been years since my foot healed, but later, my body underwent a different change. Five years ago, I attended Anime Boston while I was visibly pregnant with my daughter. Anime Boston has always offered accessibility features but only some were obvious to me, like the gender-neutral bathrooms. When I got pregnant, I noticed for the first time that the convention has a “Family Room,” which can be used for nursing, bottle feedings, or diaper changes. Now that I look out for this convenience, I’ve noticed that most conventions offer it.

I didn’t attend any cons while my kids were babies, because their infancies overlapped with different waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2023, I finally felt ready to bring my daughter to Otakon. She was just shy of her fourth birthday and loved Mario, Charizard, and Cinnamaroll. I never watched anime with her because I didn’t want to force my interests on her, but she found Ghibli clips on her own through the YouTube Kids app. She was just as much of a fan as my husband John and I, so we decided it was time for her first con. 

We left our toddler with his grandparents and set off for the Metro with our stroller. I remembered from my experience in a wheelchair that the stroller would limit the ways we navigated the convention space. I was also immediately sympathetic to how my kid’s height would affect her experience, picking her up so she could see things on my level. I didn’t need to worry, though, because she had a great time. She got her picture taken with a Luigi cosplayer like she was at Mario Disneyland, and played arcade games on screens way bigger than the one we have at home. Her favorite part was, unsurprisingly, Ota-chan, a room full of crafts and activities for Otakon’s youngest attendees. 

My first column here was about older anime fans. At the time, though, I didn’t think about the natural outcome of fans aging and having kids: younger anime fans! I may have been too shortsighted to notice the ways cons are accessible to people of all ages and abilities until they applied to me, but I’m grateful to the convention volunteers who thought outside themselves. Maybe if communities were run a little more like cons, we’d all be a little bit happier. 

About the author

Lauren Orsini

Lauren Orsini is a writer and anime fan with bylines at the Washington Post, Forbes, Anime News Network, and others. She writes about careers in fandom on her personal blog, Otaku Journalist. She lives with her family just outside of Washington, DC.

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