May 24th to 26th is the launch of undisputed launch of Toronto’s convention summer. By the bus load, everybody over 14 who can name more than 100 Pokemon heads to the Western edge of Toronto where for a weekend daze of “kawaii” and “sugoi”. A convention so huge it fills the Toronto Congress Center, the Doubletree, the Sheraton, and many other hotels in the YYZ area with criss-crossing tides of anime fans there for panels, performances, and the general spectacle of the biggest niche fandom imaginable. Anime North will swallow you whole.
For additional perspective, check out the TdotComics report on last year’s Anime North.
Although the focus of the convention is always towards Japanese culture. Every year there’s more and more space allotted for domestic culture. The Western comics panel was rather dry, but after some initial confusion regarding the location, the western comics photoshoot was well-attended by numerous Waynes and Starks. Although I have my doubts about if Les Misérables warrants a panel. while all of Gundam just gets an hour.
Of course, there’s also thousands of other cosplayers of every shape and size. A plethora of Pokémon, Digimon, Sailor Scouts, and Schoolgirls. This year the “League of Legends” cosplays made the best collective representation, with giant props and weapons all checked by Anime North staff to make sure they aren’t too dangerous. And the recent Disney film “Wreck It Ralph” inspired a considerable number of cosplayers. Organized photo-shoots drew the attention of hundreds of photographers, although not every photoshoot had such a great location (so the fighting game photo-shoot was pretty weak compared with previous years). Here. cosplay is so common that nobody would even notice something common as another Naruto walking around and it really takes something huge or unique or provocative to get attention.
As with all the cosplay-intense conventions, there’s many more images in TdotComic’s Facebook Album for the event, where you can tag yourself and friends.
Inside the Toronto Congress Centre, there was the dealer’s room, although the flea-market “Nominoichi” is growing rapidly and is a must-visit place to get good second-hand deals. Then the dealer’s room and artists alley are full of people eager to sell their goods. This year the Toronto Congress Centre boasted a few pleasing structural modifications and more valuable ATMs.
With so many people gathered, a lot of groups take the opportunity to engage the crowds in performances. The Cosplay Wrestling is a sight to behold (although might not retain your attention for long), and the 404s always gather a crowd, but the real party is the hike around the semiperimeter of the TCC for the area where they held J-Pop concerts, including performances from Hoshi*Furu and imported J-Pop group Awoi.
Also drawing a crowd were several Sailor Moon voice alumni. They were entertaining and told stories of their careers in the voice actor industry working on a show which both wasn’t very good, and yet is now a cultural legend. Amazingly, all the questions were actually interesting, unlike the questions asked to the Inu Yasha voice actors two months ago.
To a large degree, Anime North, which is now older than many of the attendees, has become something stagnant. The framework is tried and tested. Although this year there were a few new improvements, like the “no posing” sign in an area where foot traffic bottlenecks. And while last year the registration line had some people passing out from the heat, this year the line to claim tickets was so short it embarrasses a certain Hobbystar event. There’s still a handful of relic elements that I doubt anyone would miss, The “Compass” newsletter is dead weight considering mobile internet streamlines people’s information process. John Martin’s toy display is now just sadness.