The 18th annual Anime Central (ACen), North America’s third largest anime convention, is underway this weekend in Rosemont, near Chicago. Last year’s event drew a record 29,000 unique attendees, tallying 81,000 in total over its three full days. Organizers expect to breach those figures again in 2015.
ACen is something of an oasis for anime fans in Middle America. While official celebrations of Japanese popular culture take place across the United States nearly every weekend of the year, many of them are modest affairs, geared toward less populated regions and local fans, sometimes hosted by municipal libraries and schools. The larger conventions and expos, with their bus-loads of cosplayers and A-list Japanese guests, tend to be coastal events, hosted in urban centers such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston and New York.
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