PopLurker would like to thank Animethon for providing press passes in exchange for event coverage.
What’s better than attending conventions?!
Taking road trips to attend conventions, and that’s exactly what PopLurker did when we attended our first Animethon.
Animethon was celebrating its 26th year of existence and I was more than ready to answer the call making the trek three hours north of Calgary to check out what promised to be an amazing party at the Edmonton Convention Centre in downtown Edmonton.
I’ve only been to Alberta’s capital city twice before in my life, once when I was 13 and this past March when PopLurker covered the Edmonton Collector Con, but Animethon was a whole different breed of sexy beast spanning three days from August 9-11 showcasing everything that anyone who loves anime, cosplaying, video games, art and collectibles could ever hope to find under one roof.
I rolled into the convention centre early Saturday morning before the attendees arrived, and quickly picked up my Media pass. The Animethon event staff was prompt, courteous, and made sure everyone attending had their questions answered and had no issue with where to find everything, as this event spanned the entire building covering three different floors. There were autograph signings with Sunrise Beyond President and CEO Masakazu Ogawa celebrating Gundam’s 40th anniversary. Daman Mills was also in attendance signing autographs for fans of his voice work as well as hosting a voiceover workshop and the Dragon Ball Fighter Z finale where he would mock players as Frieza while they were in the midst of battle. There were charity auctions and anime viewing parties held in the various Salon rooms throughout the venue as well as Maid and Butler cafes, a BBQ on the outdoor patio, Gunpla workshops and a full-fledged Anisong concert and aniEDM dance party Saturday night where you could show off your best dance moves and voice talents. Animethon made full use of every square inch of space available to them that weekend and it showed.
While I was able to access the Exhibitor hall before the crowd showed up and got my bearings and a sense of where all the different vendors were located, when 10:00 AM rolled around and the doors officially opened for the day, it didn’t take long for attendees to appear in full effect. The Exhibitor hall and the venue as a whole quickly became a sea of humanity, however the event staff kept everything organized and running smoothly and effortlessly. While the Edmonton Convention Centre was definitely full, at no point did it feel cramped or overcrowded. Aisle ways were wide with plenty of space to move around without feeling constrained and there was adequate space for everyone to chill out and take a breather when needed. Everyone was positive, upbeat and happy and energy levels remained high throughout the day.
In the last two years that I’ve had the privilege of covering conventions I’ve always enjoyed all aspects of attending, from seeing the different cosplayers to sitting in on various panels, but above all else I’ve quickly found myself getting most stoked about checking out the Artist Alley, taking in everyone’s amazing talents from craft work to various collectibles to insanely talented art work. Every con that I’ve gone to I find myself calculating how much I can spend, how much I want to spend and at times lamenting how much I overspent. Point me in the direction of the Artist Alley; my wallet is always at the ready.
Walking into Animethon, I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any new art prints as I still have prints from Calgary Expo and Otafest yet to frame and hang. However, walking by the Quirkilicious booth, I couldn’t say no when a gorgeous Final Fantasy VII print caught my eye and wouldn’t let go of my gaze. My favorite booth though without a doubt was the Edmonton Gunpla builders who had tables of Gundam each more beautiful and jaw dropping than the last with a HG Destiny Gundam that kept drawing me back over and over again. If my budget had allowed, that Destiny Gundam as well as an Ultraman that caught my eye would’ve come home with me that night.
A couple of things of note that the Animethon staff did that I want to applaud is offering as much accessibility as possible to attendees that had limited mobility or mobility issues. Between escalators, elevators and making navigation as seamless and as easy as possible, there was no shortage in the effort put forth by the event organizers. Second was the Safe Walk service. Every night of the convention from 9:30pm until about 1:00am convention dwellers could meet with event security at the main entrance along Jasper Ave and security would escort attendees to the next door Courtyard hotel or to the nearby LRT and bus stations. While it can be scary to think as to why this had to be offered; apparently downtown Edmonton has a bit of a rep, at least those in charge of Animethon offered it nonetheless. From the moment I arrived until I left that evening, it was clear that Animethon ensured that everyone attending was happy, had fun and was safe.
Overall, my first experience with Animethon was a completely positive one. While I can’t speak for Friday and Sunday, my perspective for Saturday was everything ran smoothly and the vibe from everyone in attendance was positive, upbeat, enthusiastic and happy. It was a super fun time and I’m already looking forward to lurking next year’s show.
PopLurker’s Animethon 2019 Image Gallery: