Animaritime is fan-run anime and gaming convention that has taken place in New Brunswick, Canada for six years. Each year it grows with more events and more attendees and this year was certainly no exception. With over 1000 attendees, Animaritime enjoyed its highest attendance numbers yet and brought with it a whole lot more of the fun, activity and lack of sleep that staff and attendees alike have come to expect. I myself am a three-year attendee and two-year staff member, with no plans on stopping being either anytime soon.
You can check out Animaritime’s forums if you’d like to learn more about the convention, including people’s thoughts, photos and videos of the recent event. For the curious, Animaritime’s official photographer also has lots of photos for online viewing. Under the cut I share some of my own experiences at Animaritime 2009 which happened earlier this month, including a short peek at some new purchases and a mish-mashed overview of my panels.
Simply put, all my panels went great! As usual they made up the highlights of my weekend.
My string of evening panels that I ran last year, and returned to hold this year – Shonen-Ai/Shoujo-Ai, Yaoi and Yuri – were moved to the convention’s main events room, placing me up at the podium in a room that was able to comfortably fit all who wished to attend and then some. It felt extra intimidating being on a stage behind a mic, and the projector unfortunately didn’t agree with me so it was just me to stare at up there, but thanks to generous listeners, wonderful contributors, and no doubt a bit of luck, the entire evening went great.
Shonen-ai/Shoujo-Ai, a combination first this year, was well attended and the overlap of interest between the attendees was both interesting and enjoyable. Few there didn’t enjoy both and no one seemed to mind the combination. There was some good discussion about the similarities and differences in fluffy stories (All Ages panel) containing boy/boy and girl/girl elements and how gender does and doesn’t play distinct roles in these depicted romances. One of my favourite moments was people’s sincerity regarding their own sexuality and how reading these kinds of same-gender stories gives them a sense of security. This and many other excellently shared points about why people enjoy these kinds of stories are something I would’ve loved to have time to go into in more detail. My biggest regret is not having recorded the panel for future playback so I could hear everyone’s comments again and have a chance to jot down all the great series people were recommending.
Following was the Yaoi panel, always an enjoyably epic experience thanks to my yaoi-panel-partner-in-crime, Pants. This year our “token gay staff member”, Dusty, also joined us up at the podium. We began with the usual run down of the ‘what is yaoi’ before jumping right into audience questions, quizzes and more innuendo-filled statements and word puns than any three people should fit into one hour. Panel highlight was certainly when two of our audience members, and hosts of the visiting Café Noir, gave everyone a posed-example of the position 69 :> You guys were real sports! And I hope neither of you were blinded by the many camera flashes. Pants and Dusty’s Red Bull can representation of another sexual act definitely wasn’t without its merit either though! Attendees also loved the Yaoi Press books we had for prizes and it was great having so many awesome titles to hand out.
After the Yaoi panel came Yuri, unfortunately due to size-constraints an only half-hour long panel. However it proved to be a good fit since most of the attending where also present for the Shonen-Ai/Shoujo-Ai panel, meaning we’d already gotten a chance to discuss a lot of relevant points earlier. We discussed a lot of different specific titles, including recommendations and personal favourites. There was some great discussion regarding differences between Yuri, hentai featuring girl on girl action, and stories that were more representative of lesbian relationships. Several attendees shared their experiences at other Yuri panels including some eye-opening and interesting stories some of the male attendees in particular had, including being denied entry. Most were great sports about discussing the potential whys, and in ironic fashion, two guys got up and left at this point when they were told we weren’t going to be watching porn.
And to finish off my Friday evening line-up came the 18+ Garage Sale, which as last year brought a huge line-up of convention attendees waiting to see what fellow visitors had to sell. No surprise that almost everything vanished within minutes despite a two-item per person limit. I made a purchase from the sale as well, leaping on a copy of Mikiyo Tsuda’s Yuri manga short-story anthology, Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu. One of my favourite Yuri collections and I couldn’t believe a pristine copy sat there in front of me. Yoink!
People’s excitement of being able to purchase yaoi really reminded me how hard some find it to purchase and it’s a shame, both in their interests and business-wise, that there isn’t anywhere in the region that brings in many boys’ love titles for shoppers to peruse. None of our vendors had any boys’ love to offer and after seeing the frenzied and enthusiastic crowds vendors who do order in quantities of it to sell at other conventions, it’s something I would definitely recommend to some of our returning sellers in the future. Half the fun of convention shopping is finding things you wouldn’t normally after all, right?
My other panels included helping MT with her Digital Illustration panel, Where to Buy Manga and All About the Wii panel. I really loved some of the discussion in the Where to Buy Manga panel and people sharing their experiences and buying history. I also helped out a tad (aka made constant back-seat-driver-commentary-during) at the Hentai panel where enthusiasm and humour was at a high, and Icarus Publishing’s free swag, and knowledge of their very existence, went over really well.
Most surprising to me this weekend was all the positive attention that followed me throughout the convention after the bulk of my panels on Friday. I was asked by numerous people to have a photo taken with them or give my autograph, along with many general thanks for the panels along with some fun follow-up conversations. Some even knew me from Kuriousity and two girls very excitably asked me if I was the same person who was quoted on the back of a Yaoi Press book. Everyone spoiled me with the attention, I felt like a celebrity walking around there and wish I had more time to stop and talk to everyone who had questions. A million thanks to all of you who made me feel so special :D I’m so happy people enjoyed the panels!
While the majority of my weekend was a blur due to being staff on a team with a nearly 1:50 ratio of staff to attendees, the memorable moments shine through. Running Artist Alley was a great experience and it was amazing seeing it tripled in size with so much talent packed into one room. My panels were a blast that I look forward to running again next year. To everyone who attended them, thank you so much! You’re all amazing and I hope you had as much fun as I did.
Who doesn’t return home from a convention without swag? I bought lots of fun stuff from our vendors, several of whom were incredibly generous and gave me some deals that left my wallet happy and my suitcase beyond my ability to carry. I came home with 37 new volumes of manga based on the two couple-minute trips I was able to sneak off to enjoy in the vendors room, titles mostly old and out of print (and Blade of the Immortal for $3 a piece; how can you resist that?!). The image above our some of the titles I picked up, a good indication of some of the reviews you can expect to see in the not-so-distant future here on Kuriousity.
Artist Alley provided me with a bunch of adorable prints, posters, buttons and nick-nacks and I think I regret not having more time to splunk through there and speak with artists most of all (despite being Artist Alley Manager!).
The hallways and rooms were packed wall to wall with cosplayers and enthusiastic fans, nearly all of whom were very courteous of the convention and hotel’s rooms, giving the staff what very well may be our most incident-free year. Yay everyone! As usual I was amazed by the cosplayers, who sometimes I think almost beat out those who weren’t cosplaying in sheer numbers. My favorite cosplayer, for having an awesome costume and being incrediably sweet and a wonderful artist, was undoubtedly the beautiful Sailor Mars.
Support from so many companies and individuals continue to allow us to run a better and better convention every year as well. Special thanks go out from me to Yaoi Press, GoComi, Icarus Publishing and EastNet Computers whose support I continuously got to see make lasting positive impression and entertainment for our attendees.
Congrats to all the (ridiculously hard-working) staff for another fantastic year and thanks again to all our attendees for coming out and enjoying it with us! Animaritime will return in 2011, with our first-time mini event, Animinitime, taking place in 2010. I look forward to seeing everyone next year for more local fun times :)