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.