Thursday, 8 June 2017

Anime North 2017

It’s a recap, since after 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 why not. The 21st Anime North took place from May 26-28, in Toronto, Ontario. My post here, much like last year, will include vocaloids, anime showings and an 18+ panel. A key difference (aside from no art) is that, because I wasn’t teaching, I could leave Ottawa in the morning, rather than at 4pm, and actually see some of the early stuff. Didn’t even need to have my badge mailed. I know! Rare!


FRIDAY


I reached the Toronto Congress Centre before 3pm, and even managed a parking space. There was less Toronto traffic than I anticipated. I wasn’t even parked in the Conservative Convention in the North Building. Had badges and was scanning the schedule by 3:30pm, decided to go to Opening Ceremonies. Stopped in a Unisex washroom en route, where there were cosplayers, including a Sailor Mercury. So that happened.


ROSEMARY THORNE
Commission from Lia
The Ceremonies had a lineup, and I forget when we got in, but no one said anything until 4:40pm, when Big Mike from the 404s got up and said “I’m only the guest in the room. ... Until they stop me, let’s start a cult!” He ran a survey on things, started reading through guests and then about 4:50pm the Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Shelley Rabinovitch said opening words. Of note, no big programme books this year, as you can get things on your phone. “Unless your phone’s dead.” Also, Canada’s 150th anniversary.

They had the Anime North Idol winner of 2016, Yumemi Kiseki, singing. (Apparently this is a thing every year.) Irwin Tan said some words about things change, but he’s hoping the passion and love never change. They introduced the Featured Guests, having translators for the ones from Japan. (Someone behind me said “I feel like I’m at a grad ceremony”.) Nobuyuki Hiyama, back to the con after 7 years, apologized for the fact that his English is probably less good now versus then. Also, he bought a jacket here, size small, but in Japan he’s a size large.

They had fashion and musician groups up next. Someone from Brilliant Kingdom (the duo Babi and Kaie, who also have a Lolita brand, Triple Fortune) has apparently designed clothes for Nana Mizuki, that’s wild. “Karasu” actually performed a short piece. Around 5:30pm we were into North American guests. Someone mentioned how when “Gatchaman” was adapted for North America they added “7-Zark-7” with poor animation (in 1979) to capitalize on Star Wars. The opening video played about 5:45pm.

That wrapped up with still some time to catch a bit of “Nerd Music with Tom Smith (not that Tom Smith, another Tom Smith)”. Heard all of a couple songs, including “307 Ale”, a song based on a licence plate that leads up to a pun. (Worth it.) I recommend checking out “The World’s Fastest Filker”’s site, filkertom.com, he does vocal acting, personalized songs and more.

By the time I got to “Anime VS Science” after 6pm, the room was full (lineups, that’s a thing), so I went into the Dealer’s Room for half an hour. Anne-Lise bought me a Nanoha Strikers doll (reduced, missing flyer fin), I prefer the later incarnations, and we picked up T-Shirts. I then scouted around the Artist’s Alley until 7:30pm to put in for a couple commissions (see elsewhere in this post).


MELISSA VIRGA
Commission from Shirley
I’ve never been able to get to the Nominoichi before, since I never get into Toronto until 10pm. That was buuuusy. Surprisingly, I saw 3 tables with Nanoha Figurines (I never seem to see it outside of the one guy in the Dealers’ Room). Even saw a guy carrying a 1st Movie Fate. (And heard someone refer to Nanoha as “Cardcaptor Sakura”, can’t win ‘em all.) I bought a school uniform Nanoha with Yuuno in a backpack. (Might have even bought the Signum, if I hadn’t bought two figurines now already.) Saw Dave Watson too, he said he’d been doing pretty good business.

At 8pm I went to check out the Momiji Gallery, to fill time - one of the commission people was actually doing a blue pencil pre-sketch for me. Michelle Stainton had a pretty impressive steampunk section there, including pocket watches. There was a Miyazaki dress in the gallery too (images of his characters). Then to the commission person, where I got a MASSIVE revelation. I draw EYES that look like GLASSES. (That’s why they keep turning up on half my commissions!) Glad we got that sorted. I should have tipped artist Lia. Go show her support!

At this point I had lots of steps on the day but no “stars” for “active motion”, so (after seeing a couple of really good Neptune/Uranus cosplayers) I walked over to the Sheraton Hotel for the Manga Library. (That worked, took 10 min.) I checked out Steins;Gate, having seen a number of the second manga on sale in the Dealer’s Room. Interesting. No “Oopas”, and the Rukako (they don’t use Lukako) sex change discussion happens differently. Also, Suzuha is barely seen, so making her the last Labmem makes more sense.

Was back at the car for 10pm to head out, at a time when I would normally be coming in -- I was going to my hometown, for a Middle School 50th Anniversary Reunion happening the next day. Stopped at Tim Hortons for dinner, reached my house a bit before 11pm, avoided hitting a bunny in the road. Unfortunately, only 6 hours of interrupted sleep.


SATURDAY


I doubt you’re interested in hearing about me chatting with Mr. MacFarlane and other middle school teachers that morning. (Though interestingly, our middle school grad picture of 1990 was the last to use yearbook photos, versus posed grad pics.) I reached the Toronto hotel after 2:30pm, after a misstep and being saved by my wife. (Seriously, both a Dixon and Dixie road in the same area? Toronto, you suck.) Reached the Convention again before 3:30pm.


Vocaloid
The “IA” Virtual Artist concert! Already in progress! And full! But there was a short queue of people that they were allowing in as people left, so I joined that and got in at 3:30pm. I got a white IA button! (They seemed to have both white and black.) I swear, at one point I thought IA was covering Celine Dion’s “One Heart” in Japanese. (It's actually "Shooting Star".) One of the neat things about Virtual Idols is how they can actually leave sparkles as their hands move (like in heart form). Note it wasn’t true holography, it was a video of IA’s first concert (Sept 19, 2015) but hey, she was listed as a Musical Special Guest.

When that finished at 4pm, I went to the Anime Music Videos, also in progress. I’ve scribbled some notes on ones I liked. I agree “One Horn Man” by King Redeem (One Punch Man AMV) was creative and “Twintails and Music Clubs” by Kyci (K-On XOver AMV) was well edited (both category winners). Also rather liked “The Marathon” by James Blond (Redline AMV), “Falling Stars” by AngelMaeVictory (Your Name AMV) and “Make Love, Not Explosions” by Glitzer (KonoSuba AMV). After award winners were announced, I went to check on “Science Fiction of Anime” but the line was long and not moving yet at 5pm, so I went to pick up my commissions instead.

En route, I saw the “Fresh from Japan” lineup written out, and I looked them up later. It included “Kobayashi Dragon Maid” (It might be funny?), “Interviews with Monster Girls” (I don’t think a succubus math teacher is my speed), “Hand Shakers” (an Other World anime) and “Saga of Tanya the Evil” (weird reincarnation). Dropped back into the Dealers after getting my Art - and of course all dozen Steins;Gate vol 2 discount manga were gone. I found it for regular price.

Dinner at Tucker’s Marketplace, 6:30pm, didn’t have long to wait for a table. Ended up dropping by Dealers briefly (to get actual discount manga, I wanted a net gain on the day), then on to Holiday Inn East to check out Yaoi/Yuri North. I want to keep my finger on the pulse of this community, I often find myself writing in it. After getting an 18+ sticker, I went to the 8pm “Polyamory 101” panel. There were 6 panelists, I was a bit late and missed any introductions.

Question highlights: What about talking with parents/family? (Some had, some hadn’t. Gets interesting when issues of bisexual/trans mix in.) About splitting time between two relationships? (Can’t be 50/50, it’s about communication, what they need and you need. More than 2 does get unfeasible, unless perhaps it’s 4-5 people all in a swapping situation.) How to approach second person about already in relationship? (Do an introduction so it’s not some other “mythical person”.)

About jealousy? (Important to determine if it comes from possessiveness, or from neglect. Jealousy is “normal”, but it’s also fine to not be jealous. Know partner boundaries, like only anything above waist is okay with other person.) Handling this more personal issue in a professional setting? (Deflection, and lies of omission don’t necessarily count. Can say was out with girlfriend, don’t need to say which.) How do you know when another partner is necessary for your life? (Varies individually. Also, asexual spectrum. One panelist was married for 14 years, his dad was poly. Got to considering suicide which was a wakeup, did counselling, ended up in divorce. “I didn’t understand who I was”.)

Any red flag behaviours? (When partner you’re worried about isn’t responding when you say you need them, or if they use their feelings to restrict you, guilt tripping. Love as a prize to be earned is not good. Nor is one person playing you off others. There can be people who enter poly but didn’t really want that, get standoffish. Also, safe sex. And get any insecurities out in advance, like “this thing about my past means I do need cuddles if ‘x’ happens”.) Double standards! (Men are “players”, women are “sluts”, some see poly as “greedy”. Personal reactions vary.)

They’d progressed to reading questions that had been submitted anonymously. One that the moderator looked at here was both transphobic and homophobic, and she didn’t read it, and all I can think is, Goddamn. Why are people such colossal jerks? It’s supposed to be a safe space. There were concluding remarks about making sure to negotiate everything beforehand, and how it takes a village to raise a child. Also, a flyer on a table had the following weblink for asexual spectrum information: Ace Toronto, https://acetoronto.wordpress.com


HEADING INTO SUNDAY


At this point it’s 9pm, and I was headed towards the Steins;Gate movie at 10pm. Having FINALLY watched this time travel series (and blogged about it) I wanted to see what they could have done to add a movie. En route, I stopped in to see “Beautiful Bones”, an anime that a fan of TV's Bones would probably get a kick out of... a reclusive genius (Sakurako Kujo) with poor social skills gets roped into helping with police crimes, thanks to a younger high schooler.


Mad Scientist with
Dk. Pepper
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure episodes ran a bit past 10pm, so I saw 15 minutes of that, then Steins;Gate! There were even a couple of people who came in cosplay! Ahahaha! It was great. I called some elements of it, but not very far in advance. It finished around 11:45pm, so me and my wife went to see the 404s Late Show for about a half hour, leaving after the dating game (“Space Cowboy” was a tricky one). I saw Karl Z checking Adult IDs at the Ecchi Anime room, so dropped by to chat with him a bit at 12:30pm. I was tired, and forgot he got married. x.x From there, I went to the “Open Mic” room to hear a couple songs (there was a Steven Universe group effort), but left after 12:45pm because it’s a 45 minute walk to the hotel I snared late. Asleep about 2:15am.

The “Ask a Bisexual” panel at 10am would have been cool, but I deemed sleep and breakfast to be more important, what with that event happening literally at the hotel the other side of the Convention. Got back to the Con about 11am for “Magical Sugar Buzz Theatre”. They were showing the climax of a recent PrettyCure, followed by “Kemono Friends”, an anime involving a human girl lost in a park with many animal girls. The OP is the popular “Welcome to Japari Park” (now a meme??). Then “Hinako Note”, a girl who freezes up like a scarecrow yet wants to start a theatre group. All the moe.

That all finished verging on 12:15pm, so I went to the AMV Replay nearby, because I wanted to come back in time for the “Little Kuriboh Q&A” at 1pm. Props to Anne-Lise for spotting it on the “Updates and Corrections” sheet, it was kind of a downer when I realized that his panels were late Friday and noonish Saturday, when I wouldn’t be in Toronto. I got to see Martin Billany after all! The copious notes from that panel are getting their own separate post!

Many were talking to Kuriboh outside after the panel, so I went to the AMVs again. When I wandered back out at 2:45pm, he was still there with his wife, so I spoke briefly to him in passing. The “ReFresh from Japan” room was showing “Alice to Zouroku”, young girl with mysterious power (Sana) befriends an old florist (Zouroku) and wants to save others like her from a mysterious Organization. Then “Natsume’s Book of Friends” still seems to be a thing; I peeked into “Coffin Princess” instead (historical setting?) then back to the AMVs.

By 3:30pm, the AMVs were starting to be ones I’d seen the previous day, so I started to head out. (Another I liked, “Senbonzakura” by Danielle MacDonald.) Paused in curiosity at the CrunchyRoll TV in the main area (turned out to be KonoSuba, interesting thieving technique). On to the car, with a brief stop near the Sailor Moon cosplay Photoshoot site, then out of Toronto. A quick trip back home first, then on to Ottawa, arriving just after 11pm.

Thus ends another year, 21 straight. As for next year, I really don't know, my life is constantly in flux, but it is possible. Thanks for reading, if you have thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment below!

5 comments:

  1. I really should go again, at least once.

    But the program only available via app/online? Unless the location has free and robust wifi, it's a turn off. Between data charges and roaming fees, it's not a great approach. And there are people who like to mark up the schedule while trying to plan the day. (I should show you my copy of the CanGames schedule.)

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    1. Oh, the SCHEDULE is still in paper. With all the locations of events, maps, mini-summaries of panels, etc. (aka the "Survival Guide"). Otherwise I'd be screwed, my phone is 15 years old. (Wifi what now?) The big PROGRAMME is online only, the one with the Guest Bios, Convention Policies, ads for other Conventions and so forth. Hopefully that clarifies? (Yeah, I write on my schedule too.)

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  2. That does help, yes. I'm not as interested in guest bios as I am at planning my day. Are the panel descriptions included in the paper planner?

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    1. The mini blurbs are, yes. They're in the front half (after the hotel maps) with the schedule blocks in the back half.

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    2. That's all I really need. If I'm interested in a guest, I already know the bio enough. :)

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