Anime North is annually held at the Toronto Congress Centre and a hefty handful of surrounding hotels. It’s an unstoppable hurricane of a convention that marks the start of the summer (which ends with FanExpo). Thousands upon thousands of people pre-register, book their hotels, prepare their costumes, their wallets, and ready their bodies for it. The 2015 outing was a return to the hotels and fields walked a million times before, to see old friends and make new ones, while breathing a fog of affection for all things Japanese.
Cosplay is always a crucial component of Anime North, which has a higher ratio of costumed to regular attendees than any comic book convention and being surrounded by so many colorful costumed characters is a quick way to become bitten with the cosplay bug. Now non-anime costumes like Slash and Bob Ross are accepted into the herd just as readily as the League Of Legends characters who push their engineering skills to the limit. Although there was no singularly popular brand this year, “Love Live” had heavy representation, and the tight outfits of Yowamushi Pedal spread awareness of the new cycling anime. Attack on Titan‘s popularity is in an apparent decline. Not many Robins this year, but a good number of Ravens.
For a gallery of 260 photos, check out This Week In Geek’s Facebook Album for the event.
Anime discussion panels used to be a good way to find fellow fans of niche brands and have better conversation than you can at a photo-shoot. But this year’s panel schedule had a distinct socially-aware slant. “Cosplay and Body Image” does deserve it’s time feels redundant when there’s also “Cosplay is for Everyone”. But really no panel on Gundam and still a panel on “Les Misérables” says that the scheduling is growing out of touch. Wisely, all the more adult themed panels are kept to the Sheraton.
Thankfully just casual exploring can lead fans to hundreds of other attractions all over the convention – constant musical performances, The 404s working all weekend, some acrobatics, the masquerade and Anime Idol event. If you need to rest your butt, there’s video rooms airing anime or fan-editted anime music videos. And in the night there’s dances and the fancy Moonlight ball. And you can head to the gaming area and play some “Go”.
Although there’s lots to do, every paying attendee should spend some time making a few rounds of the dealer’s room and art’s alley in the main building of the TCC. There, artists sell prints, comics, and hand-crafted jewelry, exhibitors promoting their projects like the Akiba Kissa Manga Café. Hundreds of vendors selling all the Pokemon merchandise and thousands of Funko Pops, and smutty mangas. For the best deals and used goods, there’s Nominoichi. You can handle a live snake, you can get in line for an Autograph from one of the several guests. The whole facility was jammed with as much nerdy goodness as possible and somehow there were only a handful of pockets where internal pedestrian traffic congested.
Anime is a field that is continually changing and moving forward, and Anime North is growing to appreciate more than it used to – but the old classics are still not forgotten. While it’s sad that half the people at the convention haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop and Akira, the seeing at least three space cowboys who love it enough to dress up as Spike or Faye or Kaneda is reassuring.
While there’s a lot to do at Anime North, the convention has been around for over 15 years and with the events so spread out, it’s easy to become lost in a herd of cosplayers and miss out on a fun event a convention mile away. But if you enjoy seeing costumes, meeting fellow fans of shows like Digimon, and you don’t mind waiting in the longest line you can imagine, then get ready to pre-register your ticket for 2016 as soon as possible. Since that the attendance is capped, there’s four thousand regulars racing to claim their space.
-Michael Ryan, May 29th 2015
This isn’t even my final form. Which is unfortunately weaker than my current form.