Day one of Anime North has been survived! Mostly anyway. I will admit to unfortunately being careless to my two hours of sleep, limited food sources and sorching-in-the-sun heat that rendered me incompasetated by the evening. But a long nap followed by a hopefully full night’s sleep (pending the airplanes taking a halt on the constant very-close-over-head flying) and all shall be right as rain and ready for day two!
But how was day one you ask?
(Photos will be included in a future post as current server problems aren’t allowing me to upload them – sorry!)
My day began with the airport travel – thankfully there’s of nothing importance to say regarding that – uneventful and it served it’s purpose (I did rewatch How to Train Your Dragon as my in-flight movie however, and let me let anyone who hasn’t already seen know how awesome it is.).
Arriving at the Anime North location at about 9am, Marsha and I took some time getting familiar with the exteriour layout. The convention is split between three hotels, all of which seperated by a six-lane highway. Suffice to say it was obvious things were going to get a little hairy on the safety side as these now pedestrian-free streets were going to be very much packed in a mere few hours. The same was easily said for the dealers room – at the time a large empty space with dozens of tables but soon to be stuffed wall to wall with the contents of a dozen trucks outside and a mass of eager-buying bodies.
The registration line began building noticeably at about 10am, with lines opening at 1pm. By the time 12:30pm rolled around there was a sizeable line of at least a few hundred people waiting to get in. Once registration opened, it was like a floodgate in the area and by 2pm the line had grown in size and the area was overtaken by every manner of costume and creature you’ll ever see at an anime convention. Note: People dressed in full body Pokemon outfits is very big at Anime North this year.
The opening ceremonies were held at 4pm. Occuring with 3 hours of time for people to register means it garnered a decent sized crowd. The event was late to start by half an hour with a momentary attempt to distract by two staff members momentarily waltzing on stage. Never let it be said though that the staff of AN doesn’t have an obvious enjoyment for their work and a great sense of humour about it all. The ceremony about with a staff tribute video of amusing past-con photos of staff before jumping into the guest announcements including most predomiantly voice actors. The ceremony finished with a high-beat anime music video with a lot of high-action anime sequences that did a great job hyping the audience with a combination of new fads and old favourites. The video had a 0.5 second tribute note to the recently passed Carl Macek at the end, that though missed if you blinked, was still a nice addition.
Pockets of people hanging out, posing for cosplay and desperately seeking shade from the sun covered the outside area quickly at this point and local food truck vendors had already smartly surrounded the area. The dealers room wasn’t set to open until 5pm but it was evident this was what the masses wanted. By 5pm there was a line spanning the entire length of the building, almost dwarfing the registration line earlier that afternoon. Unfortunately, while the line did prevent a massive influx of people surging into the dealer’s room, it also became painfully obvious that the situation wasn’t being handled quite as smoothly as it could’ve been when many learned that anyone could just waltz past the line, enter the building unstopped by the security directing the line and head into the dealer’s room without issue while hundreds were trapped almost an hour in the boiling unshaded heat of outside. Marsha and I followed one such flock of people while looking to seek out the musical guests autograph session and were more than a little surprised.
The line-ups, along with being very hot, were also in a parking lot that was missing some much due signage. Notably this meant that cars were fully capable of driving around and through the crowds – which many did. Watching the look of confusion on drivers’ faces as they traversed the crowd was amusing but seeing them slowly push through a crowd of hundreds of anime fans was not only unnerving but ridiculous. When you see a huge crowd of people, drive around!
Inside this building, which houses the Artist Alley (Comic Market), dealers room and wrestling arena (complete with live wrestling matches), things were flooded pretty quickly. The artists tables were covered in tons of shiny merchandise and prints for sale while attendees were threaded through their area towards the dealers room which was already packed wall-to-wall with people.
More than a little overwhelming at first, there’s definitely a sense of frenzy to get what you want now in fear it won’t be there later. From already severely-marked down boxset prices to walls and walls of manga, unending aisles of anime body pillows and every type of merchandise you can imagine inbetween, there’s definitely something for everyone here. Whether or not there’s enough room for everyone is a totally different story, but definitely not one unheard of in convention settings.
One thing that surprised me about Anime North, and I had a similar reaction at SDCC, was the amount of bootleg material. While stacks of doujinshi isn’t anything unexpected, the number of boxes of bootlegged DVDs and CDs was a little odd, some spanning from Disney movies to anime soundtracks. These only made up pockets of the dealer room offerings but they were disappointingly out of place.
Companies themselves are sparse, something common to Anime North so I’m told, with the only one I noticed being a Media Blasters booth - again apparently run by those not actually associated with the company. However the group does have a panel tomorrow, suggesting actual company staff on-hand somewhere (same being said for Funimation).
And what did I buy you ask? Well not much so far on account of needing to collapse in my hotel room but I did manage to at least scope out the area and see who was offering the best deals on manga. Need to get the most for my money of course! Everything at US cover price seems to be the standard, with no taxes and occassionall a buy get x free sort of deal. Several vendors had books on for $5 a piece in an effort to clear out old stock but the selection proved tediously familiar for those who traverse conventions on a regular basis looking for new additions to their bookshelves.
Eager to nab the new stuff first so I could spend tomorrow looking for the more older or out of print stuff (ie: CMX is the name of the game this weekend), I came out with only 12 books on day one – a far cry from my 67 at Fan Expo a few years ago. Two days left though – I could still break my convention record! Book highlights include The Last Airbender: Zuko’s Story, Maiden Rose (Vol. 01), Silver Diamond (Vol. 06) and Library Wars (Vol. 01).
This is where my day ended but my event booklet is already highlighted with all the things I’d like to attend tomorrow. With doors opening bright and early, it’s bound to be a busy day – best get some more sleep!