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A Taste of Animethon 2011

February 13, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime, Other Stuff

Animethon is an annual anime convention held in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s marketed as the longest-running anime convention in Canada and usually takes place in August. For those who can’t wait a whole 12 months between Animethons, there’s also a sort of mini-convention called A Taste of Animethon (ATOA). This is held halfway between Animethons and is a scaled-down 1 day version of the actual event. As regular attendees will know, Animethon always takes place at Grant MacEwan University (formerly College, formerly Community College), and this year it was held yesterday, February 12.

I’d never been to a mini-con before, so I didn’t know what to expect. According to the schedule, the event was set up just like the regular convention, but with much fewer activities. I got there shortly after it opened and headed to the marketplace after paying $12 for the day pass. Since ATOA is so small (I think there were only a few hundred people there), there were only a handful of stores at the marketplace and a few artists selling some of their work.

I was tempted to buy a Reimu plushie, but I literally have no room left at home for more merchandise right now. The manga and DVDs seemed to be really popular; one store had whole tables stacked with them and lots of people were swarming around. Other things for sale were vintage video games, posters, figures and model kits, drawings, trinkets, key chains, buttons, stickers, cosplay accessories, and art supplies.

These keychains were some of the more interesting items at the marketplace. They have tofu keychains, face bun key chains, turd key chains, and sheep key chains. Unfortunately, the same store was selling fake nendoroids. I’m not sure whether the sellers knew the nendoroids were fake or not, but they were easy for me to spot considering I have a small army of them. I didn’t take a look at any of the figures, so I don’t know whether they were fake too. It’s disappointing that there’s no one to watch out for this kind of stuff.

After browsing the marketplace for a while, I watched some AMVs and stuck my head in some of the viewing rooms and panels. It seems a few of the volunteers weren’t familiar with the audio/visual equipment so some rooms got off to a late start. This happens every year at the main convention and seeing it happen at this mini-con makes me wonder how much training the volunteers are getting (if any Animethon organizers are reading this, maybe you guys could try adding in more training).

The gaming room was separated from everything else for some reason and when I stopped by there weren’t many people in there. The games being played were rhythm games and it was too early on a Saturday morning for me to be staring at brightly coloured arrows/dots speeding across a screen.

I had something to do in the afternoon, so before I left I did a quick run around the place and snapped a few photos of some cosplayers. If anyone wants their picture removed, just drop me an email.

ATOA is basically what I imagine Animethon was like back in the 90’s: a few events, no crowds, and a small group of people that enjoy anime. It’s a nice place to bring someone who’s new to anime or someone who you want to share your hobby with. Hardcore anime fans would probably enjoy the full convention more than a mini-con though.

Other than training people to set up the audio/visual equipment, the only other thing I’d really like to see is some advertising. ATOA was completely ad-free and the same can be said about the main Animethon conventions. While some people like it this way, I think it has a negative impact on the convention. With no ad revenue, that means that most of the operating costs are paid for by the attendees, and increasing admission fees are driving away some would-be convention goers. Actively seeking out sponsors and letting them advertise on posters, banners, the website (which should stay up for more than half a year), doors, and even before every event/showing would help. They could even ask companies to supply lanyards and badges in return for letting them place the company name/logo on them. In short, while ATOA and Animethon are fun events, there’s still room for improvement.

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10 Comments to “A Taste of Animethon 2011”

  1. How could you not buy one those Reimu plushies? I feel so disappointed.

    It’s been years since I gone to an anime con, small or big. My local con being cancelled because the organizers could simply not book the usual place doesn’t help.

    I find this interesting though, a preview of the actual convention. It sounds like a nice way to raise interest and awareness.
    Miette-chan recently posted..CNN9 Special Report

  2. Small conventions seem like my kind of thing; I wish I knew where to find them where I live.

    The most advertised convention I know of that’s right in my state is the AX convention, but that’s a little too big and busy for me as I don’t have a group of friends here that I can go with. Also, the price tag for a day’s entry is ridiculously expensive.

  3. @Miette-chan:
    If it was a Flandre or Suika plushie, it would’ve been a different story. That’s sad that your local convention was cancelled, I know a few others have been cancelled recently too.

    I’m sure California has tons of smaller conventions, you can look them up here:

  4. @ Nopy:

    Oooh, thanks for that! Don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go to any of those, but I’ll use that site as a place to look up conventions in the future!

  5. Mini-cons! I’ve never been to a mini-con. The smallest I’ve been to gets about 1800 people, so…yeah. Still, reading this post reminded me how impatient I am for my next con–which is the 1800-ish person one, around the end of March. Too far away, I swear.
    Arianna Sterling recently posted..My Anime Valentine

  6. @Arianna Sterling:
    Just watch a few series of anime that you haven’t seen and it’ll be March in no time :)

  7. Sounds like a decent event. Not too big, but not too empty either.

    Anyway, I want that Miku plushie.
    Yi recently posted..Sorairo Girlfriend Yuri Manga

  8. @Yi:
    I would’ve liked to see more stores though, there wasn’t really much I wanted there.

  9. Interesting blog.
    I can answer a few of the questions posed being one of the organizers.
    I was responsible for organizing the live programming (panels).

    While we do have more training done for Animethon for ATOA we don’t have as much time for organizing and training. I think we got started around mid-December.
    Then again I was filling in for someone and forgot to check that we had remotes for all of the dvd players which did cause some delays.

    The gaming room was actually the closest flat room of sufficient size that we could book as there were some classes going on during the event. If we had the option would have put it on the 2nd floor like last year’s ATOA however the room we were looking at was already booked.

    Actually the lack of advertising for ATOA was on purpose as we did not want too many people to show up. Being in the middle of the school year we can book only so many rooms. We did have some posters around campus and facebook but not too much else.
    Then again the budget for the event did not allow for much advertising.
    All things considered we estimate that we hit our target of 500-600 attendees.

    As for increased pass prices, Animethon I think has traditionally done very well with that. Our preregistration weekend rates have been the same for quite a few years (since A14 I believe) and is relatively lower than most other conventions. Although we have tweaked the at-door prices every year it seems – just need to find the right balance.

    Myself and the organizers are well aware we have lots of room for improvement. Feedback like this does help and we appreciate it.
    You did have a nice list of suggestions for possible sponsor ideas and I will forward them on as well.
    Many on the staff agree with you, we do need to improve our ad/sponsoring efforts.

    Although right now I think our biggest issue is a lack of staff. As long as I’ve been staff (A13) I don’t think we’ve ever filled all of the positions. If you know anyone who’d be interested in helping out have them send in an application. Details can be found in our forums.

  10. @Bryan:
    I see, thanks for explaining everything. While I would like to see improvements, I still appreciate everything that you guys do. Animethon is one of my favourite events of the year and I look forward to Animethon 18 this summer.

    I’ll see if I can find anyone interested in volunteering and send them your way.


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