Hello, and welcome back to RPGamer's third annual visit to Canada's prime anime convention Anime North in Toronto, Ontario. This year Anime North con attendees met with mixed weather, but that didn't stop the parade of cosplayers from strutting their stuff. Unlike last year where I was a panelist and industry guest, this year I chose to take more of a backseat role. Anime North 2011 was a mixed experience overall, but it did have some of the best costumers I've seen in years.
First, let's look at the atmosphere of the convention. The organization was ludicrous, with volunteers on frequent power-trips throughout. I'm use to volunteers being a bit pushy, but they were borderline threatening in some cases. It was utter chaos, especially on the Friday, as there was nowhere to turn without someone being in your face. However, as Friday went on and events began to roll, things smoothed out. Nominoichi once again was a huge success, as I was able to clear off nearly all my items, while also picking up copies of Lost Odyssey and Odin Sphere for twenty bucks total. Easily the best deal I found over the weekend.
Artists Alley once again showed off some familiar faces, but also a lot of new and upcoming talent. One bit of excitement came from the small collection of Dragon Age and Mass Effect fan art that cropped up. Usually JRPG and anime fan art take the convention by storm, but this year WRPGs, non-RPGs, and even realism pieces were showcasing their right to be at the convention. There was a lot of artwork based on the films of Hiyao Mizayaki, including tons of Totoro and Ponyo art. Artists Alley also had some amazing trinket items and crafting items. Every year, Artists Alley continues to be my favourite section of the convention and this year did not disappoint.
Most of the weekend was spent doing two things: being incognito as Anabelle from Suikoden II. Unfortunately, in the events of Suikoden II, Anabelle doesn't exactly last long within the game's story. Funny enough, however, I thought I was going to be one of the only Suikoden cosplayers when I met with a Seed costumer, who then told me he was off to find his friend dressed as King Jowy Blight. Needless to say, insanity happened and I spent a lot of time playing dead. This type of randomized fun is really what Anime North is all about.
There's not much else to say about the overall quiet weekend at Anime North. It was odd to be recognized by some of the attendees as "That Lady Who Works for RPGamer," but it was equally interesting that people recognized Anabelle considering her limited role in Suikoden II. Once again the costumers really made this convention shine, and I look forward to sharing the photographs that were taken throughout the weekend. Now, here's what my partner in crime had to say about his convention experience. Take it away, Scott!
It seems to me that the Dealer's Rooms on the Toronto Anime Con scene have normalized, and everyone seems to be offering similar items at the same prices with no real opportunity to find any hidden gems or bargain hunt. It's a shame to see something that drew me to these cons become so listless. Trends in cosplay seem to be pointing towards Scott Pilgrim as the official lazy cosplay for the next year or two, which is streets ahead of the 'generic akatsuki' in terms of coolness. Cardboard as a cosplay material has advanced beyond boxplay, which has yielded some seriously awesome stuff awesome stuff, and Hetalia has surpassed Naruto in the "so overdone it bothers me on principle" category of cosplay complaints. But the real reason I look forward to Anime North above the rest of the cons of the year are because of its panels. This year I managed to lead four panels and sit in on a half dozen more, having an absolute blast doing it. I led the Game Mastering Advice panel, and it was the first time I'd ever had to hang around afterward to take more questions. All in all, good times were had despite terrible weather.
Enjoy the photographs taken by myself, Scott Wachter and Ada Lovelace. If you would like your picture removed, feel free to e-mail me. I look forward to seeing more RPGamers at Anime North 2012!