Anime Weekend Atlanta, or AWA as it is affectonately known, is the largest anime convention held annualy in the southeast United States. The South being a rather conservative environment, anime and manga conventions are rather hard to come by without traveling to other states. Because AWA is the largest convention of a Japanese style of art in a region where such art is relatively scarce, AWA is unofficially know as the Mecca for southeastern fans.

The main group catered to is the otaku with a secondary base of gamers who come mainly for the Halo tournament and the recently added 24-hour nonstop gaming room. The entire entertainment level of the Renaissance-Waverly Hotel in Atlanta near Hartsfield Airport is rented out for one weekend, this year from September 24th to September 26th, including all of the ballrooms and the corporate suites, along with one regular room rented for use as a guest room where exhausted participants can sleep, eat, or screw around with members of the opposite sex (or same sex, if you prefer!).

One of the main informal attractions to AWA is the cosplayers. Anyone and everyone is welcome to appear in costume of their favorite character. By doing so, the cosplayer has a unspoken agreement with every fan carrying a camera to the convention to stop and have a picture taken.

The main attractions include AMV's, (Anime Music Videos)which are music videos with anime instead of live action. AMV contests in several divisions pepper the weekend's acivities list. The dealer room is also a popular visit, with many greedy merchants hocking any and every kind of ware imaginable, from shirts to swords to candy. If you look hard enough, I'm sure you could find drugs and flesh for sale as well.

The crown jewel of AWA is the ball. The ball varies in theme but common rules include required costume or else formal attire, no weapons, tickets in advance, and every attendee must participate. One year's theme was the impressive gala from Final Fantasy 8. This year (AWA 10) it was the "Rose Ball" complete with a Victorian style dance hall, wooden center floor, and rose petals scattered over the floor. The whole event was crowned with waltzes and tangoes done by a professional string quartet.

All in all, if you live in the South and love anime, I would most definitely advise attending. Although tickets in advance are much cheaper, they can also be purchased at the door.

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