Last weekend, AM2 returned to Anaheim Convention Center for another weekend of anime, manga and music. The annual event is relatively new to the convention scene -- this is its second year in Anaheim -- but it's made a splash due to its unusual price structure. The main floor of the convention, featuring vendors and artist booths, as well as a number of events, is free. Attendees have the option to buy a convention passport to attend special events and get priority seating at the general events.
The arrangement appears to be working well for AM2. Let's face it, if you're at an anime convention, you're going to see the bulk of the crowd on the convention floor. Shopping in the dealer hall or artist alley is part of the convention experience. At anime cons, you'll find many of the same items you'll see at comic book and sci-fi events -- DVDs, plush toys, collectibles, books, fan art and T-shirts -- but there are some items that turn up more frequently in between aisles crammed with kids dressed like characters from Bleach and Tiger & Bunny. Check out our list below and let us know what you see most often at anime conventions in the comments.5. A rainbow array of wigs
Anime conventions are always heavy on cosplay. If you go to one, you might want to consider dressing as a character you love. Of course, if you're going to do this, you will probably need a wig. Wander through the exhibit hall at an amine con and you'll find some.
At the cons I attend, Epic Cosplay's booth draws a big crowd. They sell a variety of hair pieces in styles and colors that go with many of the hottest cosplays. According to Christopher Yoshida, the company's shipping manager and "convention go-to guy," the incredibly popular web comic Homestuck is responsible for a lot of their wig sales. There are plenty of fans who want to dress as the trolls from the series. Long-running anime series, like Naruto and Bleach, are consistently popular at the cons. Otherwise, wig trends tend to follow whatever media is popular at the moment. "You really have to keep on top of stuff," Yoshida says.4. Anime body pillows
Remember when James Franco turned up on 30 Rock with a special attachment to his anime body pillow? Those really exist -- you can find them en masse at any anime convention. They feature full-sized renditions of the most popular, and typically very attractive, anime characters. Brian from Anime Haus, the company that brought in a large amount of body pillows to AM2, says Sailor Moon, Gurren Lagann heroine Yoko Littner and wolf-eared girl Holo from Spice and Wolf are among the more popular characters. He adds that body pillows are actually quite popular with women as well and some of their best-selling pillows are male characters, like Zero from Vampire Knight.
Brian says the popularity of body pillows, which people like for "sleeping companionship," varies from region to region. From his experience of attending 22 conventions a year, they tend to be most popular in Los Angeles. That makes sense. L.A. can be a lonely place.