Nopy's Blog

Anime, figures, magazines, and everything related.

Animethon 18

August 08, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Anime

Yesterday was the third and last day of the 18th annual Animethon, an anime convention held at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada. It used to be the largest anime convention west of Toronto, but since Anime Evolution in Vancouver claimed that title two years ago, it is now just the oldest annual convention in Canada. This year I went mainly to take pictures of cosplayers and the event in general, which you can find at the bottom of this post. I have everything I could want right now in terms of anime/manga merchandise, so there’s no loot to show off.

Friday was the first day of Animethon, but unfortunately, I still had to work that day and couldn’t make it to the convention until around 5pm. This was the first year that I pre-registered for the event, and I was happy to see that pre-registrants had their own line at the registration desk and got their stuff in a neat little envelope. The envelopes were probably recycled from last year’s Animethon, but they had a cute drawing. Included inside was a neck pouch that doubled as a pass, a guidebook (which had a really nice cover this year), an event schedule, and some free stuff for Gaia Online.

The first day of Animethon is usually more of a meet-and-greet considering there are a limited number of events, panels, and attendees. I only stuck around for an hour and a half to get over the shock factor of seeing so many cosplayers, cross-dressers, free huggers, and hyperactive teenagers all in one place. Despite going every year, I still think Animethon is weird (in a good way, of course).

I brought my camera with a 50mm lens and took some pictures of cosplayers, but I soon found that a 50mm was a bad choice. Since Grant MacEwan was a community college before it got upgraded to a college and then to a university, there is very little open space. I couldn’t get cosplayers entirely in my photos because the hallways were too narrow or it was too crowded to back up any further (and Friday is always the least crowded day). I went with a 18mm-135mm zoom lens for the second and third days.

Saturday and Sunday are when the convention really gets going. There are contests, games, anime viewings, panels, concerts, autograph sessions, an exhibition hall, and an artist alley. I also found a group of people showcasing what I think were dollfies, but dolls creep me out (I watched “Child’s Play” when I was 4) so I turned around and never went back. I’m not going to go through everything I saw and did this year, so I’ll just highlight what I thought was good and bad about AT18.

The Good:

Everything seemed to go without a hitch. Animethon seems to suffer from some technical difficulties or problems in communication every year, but I didn’t see any of that this time. The AMV and Cosplay Contests went very smoothly, panels were in the right place, the only problem I saw in my anime viewings was a missing disc, and the gaming rooms seemed to be very lively whenever I dropped by.

Bringing over Bespa Kumamero, a pair of musicians from Japan, was also a good move. I’ve never actually heard of them so I didn’t go to their concert, but everyone I’ve heard from said that it was amazing. It was also cool to see the English dub voice actor for Goku from Dragonball Z, Kirby Morrow, at the convention and signing autographs.

The AT18 staff and volunteers really deserve a pat on the back for holding the best Animethon I’ve been to so far.

The Bad:

To say the gaming rooms were crowded is an understatement. There were so many people stuffed into a small space that you could smell the sweat when you walked through the door, and it wasn’t pleasant. I don’t know if they could’ve gotten a bigger room or not, but that would’ve made things a lot better.

The Cosplay Contest was hosted by Kirby Morrow, and he was an excellent host, but it didn’t sit well with me when it was clear he had never even heard of most of the anime and characters he was trying to pronounce. Sure, he did his  job, which was to entertain, but a host should know more about the thing they’re hosting.

While the merchandise being sold at the Exhibition Hall is up to the vendors, I remember reading somewhere that Animethon wouldn’t allow any pornographic or bootleg material to be sold. I didn’t see any porn, so they got that category covered, but 60% of the figures I saw were fake. The other 40% I couldn’t differentiate because of the poor lighting. I’m assuming the vendors themselves don’t know their figures are fake because most of them had authentic goods as well. If you’re a retailer selling anime figures, make sure to buy them from a licensed distributor like AAA Anime.

Improvements:

I know that every Animethon since 1994 has been held at Grant MacEwan, but the event has outgrown the facilities. College classrooms are too small for gaming tournaments, dark and cramped hallways are horrible places for cosplay photos, and placing an exhibition hall in an underground parking lot is just wrong. Given that Animethon is run by a non-profit organization and the alternative sites for holding the event are the University of Alberta, Shaw Conference Centre, and Edmonton Expo Centre, it might not be financially feasible to hold it anywhere else. If the organization were to somehow come into the possession of a large sum of money though, it would be nice to have Animethon at the EEC.

I’m still relatively new to photography, but even I knew that most of the campus has horrible lighting. The only good place for taking pictures was near the main entrance, but most cosplayers were gathered by the cafeteria or in the Exhibition Hall. All the professional-looking photographers I saw were standing around the entrance waiting for good cosplayers to pass by. I knew a lot of them might not even pass through there so I decided to actively search for them. Most cosplayers were happy to have their pictures taken, but some seemed annoyed and one group just flat out refused. There were also a few people who seemed to intentionally walk in front of me and slow down, hoping I’d take their picture (I was probably in zombie mode if I didn’t ask for a picture). It would be great if future Animethons had a designated cosplay area where cosplayers and photographers can gather and do their thing.

Two more things I would’ve liked to have seen are: a figure panel and an aniblogging panel. Are there really no big figure collectors and/or anibloggers in Edmonton other than me? The panels are all run by volunteers, so maybe I’ll apply next year to run one or two.

Pictures:

I was looking forward to finding some Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplayers and was upset to return home empty-handed Saturday night. Luckily, I found a Madoka on Sunday morning, followed by a Mami and Homura. Just before I left, I spotted a Kyouko too. It seems there’s no love for Sayaka, but I was happy I found 4 of the 5 main girls.

Below are a bunch of pictures I took during Animethon 18. I’m pretty sure I asked everyone for permission to take their picture, but if you happen to show up here and would like your picture taken down, just let me know. I don’t recognize all of the characters here, but I’ve identified the ones that I’m familiar with.

Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

One of the autobots from Transformers, I’m not sure which one

Celty from Durarara

The guy from Nightmare Before Christmas (left), Joker (left center), and I don’t know the other two

Tetris blocks

Panty and Stocking from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

Domo-kun

The Last Airbender

Souleater, I think?

Master Roshi from Dragonball

Remilia and Flandre from Touhou

I think one of the girls from Precure

Outside the university

Main entrance to Grant MacEwan

Goku, he had his daughter in a monky outfit, but he put her down, you can see her feet on the far left

Miku

People playing Red Rover

A guy trying to break through the line

Gurren Lagann and I don’t know who’s on the right

Chii and Dark Chii from Chobits

Ouran High School Host Club

People having a tea party outside

Scorpion and Subzero from Mortal Kombat

This is what happens when you leave a blank board in the Artist Alley

Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Cosplayers playing cosplay chess outside

Mami and Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I’ve lost track of Final Fantasy since X, but I’m pretty sure these three are from one of the later FF titles

A spy and engineer from Team Fortress 2

Mario, Yoshi, and Bowser

Black Rock Shooter and someone I don’t recognize

There was more Red Rover on the third day

The Kyouko I spotted before leaving the convention

Any real photographers here can tell I still need a lot of improvement, so if you’re willing to offer me some tips on photography, I’d be happy to hear them. They will go towards taking better pictures next year.

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21 Comments to “Animethon 18”


  1. That transformer is rumble

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  2. Ok Master Roshi was by FAR my fav!!! LOVED HIM! The girl in the blue wig and the stars on her sweater is Coraline (from the movie Coraline), and the girl next to Gurren Lagann is Perona (from the anime One Piece)

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  3. Ah, once again thanks for the feedback.
    I was the Director of Programming for this event.
    I’m especially glad for your pros and cons list, it does help.

    Nice to hear about the guidebook; we’re especially proud of it since it’s the first time we printed entirely in full colour.

    Good to hear other than a missing disk or two the videos seemed to go well for you. We actually had a lot of trouble with that this year, lack of staff, and we’ve already tentatively agreed to reduce the number of videos for next year.
    How was the variety?

    I completely agree with you about the gaming rooms being overcrowded. We didn’t have a lot of flat rooms available this year so we gave each gaming room one of the larger ones we had. We do have a few ideas in mind so we’ll have to see what we come up with for next year.

    I know I was really pleased with how well attended the concerts were on Saturday night. Easily blew away our records for any event we’ve held in that gym.

    As for bootlegs, yes there is a bootleg policy. Did you report the bootlegs to anyone? I know for myself unless it’s super easy to determine I can’t tell the difference; then again I never actually had time to look in the vendor area for myself either.

    As to the alternative locations we have evaluated various options in previous years. Cost is definitely a factor for us, as well as patron feedback. We also want to keep the admission cost down as much as reasonable for attendees as well. We did have to raise prereg rates this year; however we did offer a Paypal payment option as well as a badge for preregistered event passes.

    We have talked about designated photo areas and such before. However, yet again a lack of staff has been one of our major stumbling blocks. There also isn’t too much wide open space available either, so it’s definitely a tricky issue for us.

    Additional panels? Please do send a submission in.
    We’ll also be doing A Taste of Animethon again in Late January so maybe even for then if you feel up to it.

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  4. ah a great event :D although I am not fan of cosplay stuff ^^

    the one beside BRS reminds me with Ciel Phantomhive when he dressings as “lady” in a party

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  5. Rules against selling anything pornographic?! But that’s pretty much the only thing I would buy at cons these days! =O

    Anyways, I’m curious: what’s the best part of the convention experience for you? I find that the way I react to Anime North over the years has changed. The novelty of seeing people dressed up and the big dealer’s rooms have given away to a desire to meet people at panels and meetups. What makes you come back to Animethon?

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  6. So yeah, I agree about the cramped gaming room. They definitely need to put that part somewhere else next time. And I was surprised I didn’t see any Kyubey either, given how memetic that cat-thing is.

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  7. @Dreaming artemis:
    Ah, thanks, I didn’t even know there was a Transformer named Rumble, I wasn’t a very big fan of the series.

    @lovelyduckie:
    Master Roshi was awesome, I don’t know who won the cosplay contest, but I would’ve voted for him.

    @Bryan:
    I thought the variety of videos was good, I really don’t spend much time in the viewing rooms though, so I only watch a few episodes during each convention.

    It just didn’t cross my mind to report the bootleg figures for some reason. There was also no way for me to prove they were bootlegs short of bringing some of my own figures from home for comparison. The boxes they used were identical to the originals as far as I could tell. I think the only bootlegs that a non-collector would be able to spot are the lower-quality nendoroid knockoffs since they don’t have the Good Smile Company logo on the joints. Even then, it’s still hard to tell without opening it, and some bootlegs do have the logo on the joints. Some of the bootleg scaled figures were more elaborate and would take someone that knows more about them to tell the difference.

    I hope you guys can find a bigger place for Animethon next year, but I know that’s going to be difficult. I really appreciate what you’ve all done with the convention, and I wish you the best of luck next year as well.

    @Aya:
    I just looked up some images of Ciel, that does look like himw hen he’s dressed as a lady.

    @Chag:
    Well I guess they either had to make it a family-friendly event or appease all the porn lovers.

    I answered your question on Formspring, but here it is for anyone else wondering:
    I used to go just to buy stuff, but now that I can get everything online it really isn’t what draws me to conventions anymore. The main reason I go now is to see the cosplayers, events, and to simply be in an environment where people don’t give you weird looks for watching “cartoons”.

    @Lirodon:
    Spotting a Kyubey at the convention would’ve made my day. I’m guessing it’d be hard to make a Kyubey outfit, and as far as I know, Kyubey plushies aren’t out yet.

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  8. Oh nice! you went to a convention!
    Im planning on going back to my second convention in singapore this november. its going to be awesome 8D im suprised the convention you went has been on since 1994!

    the Celty from Durarara cosplay is awesome!

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  9. Ohmigod Shredder. Excuse me as I break into fangirl squeals because in all my conventions I have never seen a Shredder!

    And now I’m really hungry for my next con–it’s next weekend! Matsuricon in Columbus, OH. I also have 2 more coming up this year (Youmacon and Anime Crossroads). Yes, I’m a con-hungry person. But cons are where I get to see all of my friends who live nowhere near me, so it works :)

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  10. Total agree that the Master Roshi look alike should have been and might have been the winner. ^^

    Still not 100% sure about myself attending one of these events, but they do look fun. As for fake merchandise it does seem likely as I would expect their is no one to check the ware’s authenticity and more concerned on illegal items being brought in.

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  11. Falcon Willys says:

    He, he, he!. I enjoyed all at the animethon 18, was so nice to walk around the artists alley, the cosplay contest, cosplay chess and the vendors area!.

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  12. @Fabrice:
    I was surprised Animethon was so old too when I found out about it. The only convention in North America that I can think of that’s older is Anime Expo, which started a year earlier.

    @Arianna Sterling:
    Shredder was pretty cool, it’s too bad there were no ninja turtles around. You’re so lucky to be able to go to so many cons, there’s only 2 big ones that I can reach by car.

    @tsurugiarashix:
    It’s a little shocking every time you go to a con (at least for me), but after a while you get used to all the craziness and enjoy seeing so many people that also enjoy anime. The problem with authenticity is also with most people not knowing what the difference is between a real and bootleg item.

    @Falcon Willys:
    I know, it’s always fun to go every year :)

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  13. Sounds like you had a lot of fun! Wonderful photographs of cosplayers. There are some very nice cosplays too. Anyway, looks like everyone enjoyed themselves so that’s always good. ^ ^

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  14. Nice shots of the cosplayers, at least there’s a decent number of ones that you could identify. Cons should have places specifically set up for cosplayers and photographers to get together, but I guess they’re more concerned about booths and panels as that doesn’t really bring money in to them, or something like that. I tell myself every year that I’ll attend a con myself, but it never happens. There seems to be only one in my state and everything else is too far away to bother with.

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  15. I haven’t been to any convention. But looking at the pictures, it looks so fun. The costumes are also well-made, I didn’t realize that cosplayers are actually spending money for this, wow!

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  16. i went to my first anime convention a month or so ago. i went to Anime Expo 2011. my cousin got me tickets for it as a graduation present. to say the least, i’d say i was slightly dissapointed. all the stuff in exhibition hall is like 25-100% more expensive than buying it from a japanese retailer (including shipping). freaking 1-3hour lines for events that you might not even get in because of lack of space. extra money to buy tickets to watch miku hatsune concert, which i didnt have chance to buy. it just seems theres way too many people.

    lol. cosplay pictures from AX2011, taken by my cousin, on my facebook if interested. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.192378047487631.48465.100001463113916

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  17. @Yi:
    I definitely enjoyed that weekend, it’s one of the only times I can walk up to people and ask for a picture without looking out of place.

    @Persocom:
    Well, it’s run my a non-profit organization, so they shouldn’t be making much money. I’ve looked at how much it costs to set up a booth, and for a business, it’s not very much.
    I guess I’m lucky that I have an anime con in my hometown, some people travel an entire day getting here by car just to attend.

    @snippett:
    If you ever get the chance, you should go just to see all of the cosplayers, it’s really fun.

    @alucard13mm:
    Wow, going to Anime Expo as your first convention must’ve been shocking with all the people. It’s a shame that the lineups were so long, and charging people twice for an event sounds like a ripoff.

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  18. Awesome Possum says:

    I’d just like to mention that in your picture of Mario, Bowser and Yoshi.. There is a black guy on the left in the background. Just wanted to say I know this man. He is beside me. That’s all.

    I also kind of know bowser too.

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  19. @Awesome Possum:
    So that means you were just out of the shot by a foot or two.

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  20. I saw this after the event, but didn’t have the time to reply. This was an awesome con! I was Itsuki from Heartcatch Precure, Beatrice from Umineko, and one of the legion of Vriskas from Homestuck; you might not have seen me, but you did get a picture of my graffiti. (Check the website link!) The Homura was one of my good friends. So yeah. I just felt like commenting, because apparently, people are STILL looking at this entry. XD

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