By killroycantkill 1 Comments
Anime North is Canada’s biggest anime convention and is held annually at the Toronto Congress Center. It is a time where nerds and dorks of videogames, anime, and whatever else can come together and hang out, share favourite shows, cosplay and buy loads of merchandise. 2012 is also the first year to introduce an attendance cap to this event, which made it seem like it was less packed than last year but made it harder for people who just wanted to go for one day to buy passes. This year I managed to go and I wanted to write my thoughts about the whole weekend event. I had a ton of fun like usual; I took a lot of pictures of great cosplay and just the mass crowds that were there.
Toronto Congress Center
The TCC is the main area for anime north, where most of the cosplayers come and gather to take pictures in certain areas for photo shoots, and where the dealer’s room is located so you can spend all of your money. This is probably where most people spend their time during the convention. It’s easy to expend a lot of time in Artist Alley and the Dealers Room just walking around, checking out the art, and lose time in the Dealers Room even if you are not going to buy anything. Even if you are not interested in that, the main halls are where concerts are held, sometimes with bands who have flown in from Japan to spread their JPop music as well as free professional photography set up for people in cosplay to come and get their pictures taken. Outside is where the Rave is located if you feel like letting lose for a bit, I personally always find the rave music to fast to dance to.
Across the way from the TCC is the Doubletree Hotel; held there are the majority of the panel type events for Anime North. Some of the major events that are held at the Doubletree are the Saturday Night Masquerade, Maid/Butler Café, the 404 shows and various types of game shows and discussions. Outside there is a nicely shaded area where a lot of cosplayers hang out to escape the heat but still be outside, and this gives a great opportunity for cosplay photos against a natural background.
Now just over the bridge and a little farther away from the TCC is the Sheraton Hotel, where most of the gaming events are held. If you’re not a fan of walking don’t fret because there is a shuttle bus that comes around every once in a while to take you to the any of the 3 main events. As mentioned this area is catered towards gaming, and I don’t just mean videogames. There are a plethora of board, card, and videogame set ups all around the hotel, as well as a dedicated room for games such as DDR and other rhythm games. Also in the Sheraton is the aforementioned Manga Library where you can read your favourites or just check out new series before you buy them as well as Yaoi North if you are into that kind of thing. This is a great place to hang out and spend some of your time at Anime North; the crowd really gets enthusiastic about all of the tournaments so there’s some excitement to be had in all of the rooms.
This is probably one of the things I look forward to the most every year for anime north. It’s basically a garage sale, but with mostly anime and videogame items. People rent a table to sell their stuff that a lot openly admit they just don’t want or don’t want to take home, this allows people like me to haggle like a jerk and get certain items for crazy cheap. Last year I got a Master Grade Gundam kit for $30 Canadian which is pretty darn good. If you stay around until closing time people start lowering their prices a bunch so you can get some really cool items or just additions to your manga collection at little expense.
The Art of VG Cats
A personal favourite panel for me because the creator of VG Cats comes to draw some of his comic panels before anyone else gets to see them and also answers artistic questions from the crowd. It’s always amazing to see how much work goes into just one comic strips, layers upon Photoshop layers, all kids of shading, colouring, blending, I’m surprised he just doesn’t go mad creating these things.
Taiko Drum Workshop (Nagata Shachu)
Nagata Shachu is a Taiko Drum group from Ontario that travels around and does amazing concerts. I’ve gone to see them at McMaster University near where I live and was very surprised to see them in the schedule for this year’s Anime North. During this workshop you got to play on a real taiko drum, and bang the crap out of it! They did some beginner lessons so that everyone attending could learn the proper techniques for how to hit the drums, stance, and even how to stay on beat with your other band members.
Then after the workshop they let the pro’s handle the drums and put on an amazing concert. I recommend if you ever have the chance to see them or any other Taiko Drums concert for that matter to check it out. The sound those things put out is incredible and hitting them is very satisfying.
Yaoi is always a big part of Anime North, so much so that they have certain rooms dedicated to different types of Yaoi panels. I assume that fan girls are able to rejoice in watching their favourite male character get into precarious situations but I am not willing to go to one of the panels to find out for myself.
Anime & Videogame Name That Tune
Some of the most popular game show type panels are the Name That Tune ones. It allows fans to test their knowledge of various Anime and Videogame songs in the allotted amount of time given to them. There are always one or two “crazy” people who are able to get songs right off of the first few notes but since the songs aren’t always from this year or from a specific genre of videogames or anime everyone has a fair chance to win the top prizes. Next year I am planning on entering the Videogame Name That Tune if they have it because I feel I listen to enough gaming music to have some sort of chance in that contest. Unlike the Anime Name That Tune where if it’s not Lucky Star or Sailor Moon I’m totally lost most of the time.
Running all convention is the manga library, and it’s exactly what you picture it to be. Someone brings a massive collection of manga to be rented out and enjoyed by all of the attendees of the convention. I’ve heard rumors that all the manga is owned by one person and he lugs it here every year and if that is true then I applaud him or her. This place is a great way to kill time when waiting for friends or other panels to start up. Or even checking out new series you have heard of but never read without having to buy the books. After going to the Manga Library I always think I should go to my public library a bit more… but I never do.
Otakubaloo (Parking Lot Rave)
Another all convention event is the Otakubaloo or better known at “That rave place outside of the TCC”. People gather here to dance their faces off during the convention. The reason I mention this even is because at night a big crowd gathers to dance under the night sky, a lot of people dance in their cosplay and even bring glow sticks to dance with like a regular rave. I just wonder how many of them are super high to complete the experience.
The 404’s are one of the biggest crowd pullers in the whole convention. They’re a improve comedy group that specifically caters to internet/nerd humor and do a really good job at it. Think of it as a nerd-ier Who’s Line is it Anyways type show. During the day they have an all-ages show but during the night is when their 18+ show start. There’s no limit on what the audience suggestions should be and while most of the suggestions are just people yelling out “porn!” or “Yaoi!” you sometimes get some really creative suggestions. This year they even stripped after every skit which was… weird to say the least but made for some more entertaining skits when everyone was doing it with their pants off.
Pictures of Cosplay
If you would like to see some more of the pictures I took during the convention click this link and it will send you over to the TNIAB flickr account. I hope you enjoy looking through them as there are a lot of great cosplayers out every year.
Anime North is one of those things I look forward to every year and am very sad when it ends. Not a lot of times throughout the year you can gather with tens of thousands of people who enjoy your same hobby and feel like a part of a great community. There are smaller anime conventions throughout the year but nothing comes close to the massive gathering of Anime North. This year was really fun and as usually I can’t wait for next year. I highly recommend going if you are on the fence or if you are an anime fan but just haven’t thought of going to a convention, nothing like just diving into the deep end of one of the best anime conventions there.
And if you have been wanting to go to Anime North I highly recommend it for 2013, some tips are if you get tickets in January and go with a group package you can get your weekend passes for a lot less than normal price and make sure to book your hotel early since all the ones that are close to the Toronto Congress Center will fill up very fast.
This is also posted on the website Three Nerds in a Basement which is also where we host a podcast. If you would like you can check out the website and listen to our podcast at typev3.podbean.com. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you check out the podcast.