I have a confession to make. Actually I’ve made it before: I’m not really an anime guy.
That being said, anime conventions are an interesting sort of event. They seem to have, overall, a more relaxed atmosphere. If there’s an outside space, it’s full of cosplayers quite literally dancing and having a good time, unlike some conventions, where you dare not leave the venue for fear of not being able to get back in.
In the olden days, Animethon used to start mid-day on a Friday but, as it grew and people started showing up earlier and earlier, they started programming earlier. As a result, I missed most of the first day due to the real world, but I was able to get there in time for the big Flow concert.
For those who are like me and like pictures, sorry, you’re out of luck. No photography allowed at the concert (thanks for nothing, Sony Japan). I’ll do my best to describe the experience, though. First, go to YouTube and lookup Flow, they have a Vevo channel. Now picture a high energy rock group playing to crowd that would sell out most venues, 2 floors of bleachers and a basketball court full of standing room, all rocking out. Even the security were having a good time, while still getting their job done, a rare and nice thing to see. Now toss in a bunch of glow sticks and cosplayers and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what happened. The concert was scheduled for only an hour, but they ended up playing for almost 2 hours, which was a pleasant surprise.
I started my Saturday off with a visit to the Vendor Hall which, in this case, was actually in an underground parkade. Nothing truly amazing in the Vendor Hall: your usual smattering of Wigs, Plushies, Costumes, and Video Games. There were a couple neat things, however, including an Animethon decorated car and a brilliant display by a Lego user group.
Panel-wise, there was everything you would expect from a convention dedicated to Japanese culture and art. The only thing that really caught my eye was a Tabletop RPG panel focusing on Call of Cthulhu. I was hoping for a deeper overview of the game, but most of the time was spent going through character generation, prepping people to play in a campaign the next day, off the schedule. This would have been great if I had been able to play, but dropping 3 hours on a game wasn’t really an option for me.
In between wandering and my panel, I met some wonderfully pleasant Cosplayers and spent a few hours of my wanderings with them, including supper after my panel.
Sunday began with a How To Train Your Dragon panel. I realized very quickly that I actually have only seen the first movie, and a couple episodes of the broadcast TV series, and was going to be left behind in this discussion. Despite that, it was an interesting panel, although it delved a little too deep into fan theory for my taste. The moderators were wonderful, though, and we met up shortly after to take some fun pictures with a few of the other Dragon cosplayers.
One of the downsides to Animethon is the layout of the venue. It takes place at the main campus of MacEwan University, in downtown Edmonton. While the location is nice and accessible, the reality is that it is spread over four blocks side-by-side which can make for a lot of walking back and forth. Much of that walking is through pedways and corridors which were wide enough to accommodate the large flow of people, but too narrow to stop people and take their picture, which can be a bit disappointing when you rush past a beautifully constructed outfit.
By the end of the weekend, I had met many great people, seen some amazing cosplays, and even had a bit of fun. If you have the chance to attend an anime convention, do it. You’ll have an experience you aren’t likely to get at any other type of con.
You can check out all the photos from the event here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.925412017497006.1073741846.432867453418134&type=3