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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Panty and Stocking from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt
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
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
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.