Anime conventions are supposed to be fun places to hang with like-minded fans, to watch videos, buy collectibles and engage in some cosplay. But sometimes things can take a darker turn.
"You get hundreds and hundreds of young girls in skimpy costumes ... and then you have older male anime fans," Katsucon media relations guru Chad Diederichs
told the Washington Post. "The juxtaposition of the two may not look entirely wholesome."
One unfortunate example—last month, Michael Allen Alper, a 34-year-old Silver Spring man who was already a convicted sex offender, admitted in federal court that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl he met in February 2010 at Katsucon.
In response to this, Katsucon told the Anime News Network that:
In light of this event, Katsucon will make every effort to check our pre-registration attendee list against local and federally published sex offender registries and will prohibit attendance from those identified as a threat to our attendees in the hope to prevent an incident such as this from ever occurring again.
But is that practical, or even possible? As Firefighter50 commented on the Washington Post article:
I would also like to point the impracticality of background searching everyone who buys a membership to check for anything that would flag them. We already have lines around the block right now can you imagine the cost and time of checking everyone. Also even if it was feasible how would you like it if just because you are an older man or woman we profile you to cut down on number of people to check.
But more importantly, as Moonchildcnb12 wrote in the same comment thread:
I'm not going to deny that there aren't any there, but I am going to say that they aren't the only ones there. You're more likely to bump into someone that loves the same show you do or someone that spent hours working on getting their cosplay to look just right and will gladly tell you what they used to make it. I guess what I'm trying to say is, is that rather then writing about the creeps and perverts that lurk everywhere, not just at conventions.
We tend to agree with Moonchildcnb12—though the Washington Post's piece seems to insinuate otherwise, conventions are no better or worse, no more or less safe, than the wider world outside.