After a good night’s sleep, day two of Anime North officially began. The registration lines began to form fairly early but paled in comparison to the line for the dealer’s room which stretched on hundreds of people down the sunny parking lot. A pleasant change from yesterday, a portion of the parking/line-up area had now been sectioned off from traffic meaning that cars were no longer able to drive inbetween groups of con-goers. Yay for minimizing the risk of getting run over!
And so – day two! (watch out, it’s a long one)
————————————————– VENDORS ROOM ——————————————————
The doors opened at 10am and the Comic Market and dealers room quickly flooded with its second wave of eager shoppers. All the same dealers from yesterday remained in place, some already busy filling up tables with new stock. After my blitz through on Friday, I was looking forward to taking it easier and looking at the individual tables this time around. Manga remained my focus and I spent a lot of time price and selection comparing. The general rule of thumb was everything at US cover price with tax covered by the vendor. Some boothes offered buy x get x free while others sold assortments of older series in packs or for flat rates of $5.
Lots of vendor tables were covered in anime DVDs for sale but the prices definitely weren’t on a side as friendly as the manga. One vendor was already slashing prices by late-afternoon so their prices were good at $10 a pop, dropping to $5 a DVD before the event closed at 8pm. However the real treat of the show is the returning Starstruck Entertainment whose direct dealings with Funimation offered up a vast collection of titles at mind-boggling prices. Wow. The complete series of Ouran Host Club? $12. Gankotusuou? $6. Individual DVDs of numerous series were priced at $3.99 while brand new blu-ray boxsets went as low as $40. Suffice to say, much anime was purchased.
And filling every other nook, cranny and elaborate shelving system were every kind of anime merchandise you’d imagine – anime pillows, wallscrolls, figurines, prop trinkets, cosplay items, doujinshi, CDs, toilet paper and candies – to name a few of the more recurring. Admittedly my time spent looking at this kind of merchandise is very limited compared to books and DVDs but I always try to scout it out for a few fun trinkets which are things I’d only buy at conventions. Still, this kind of merchandise is definitely the most visually (and financially) promient at the show and the hoards of people crowding each vendor table well betrays their enthusiasm for the swag before them.
With some vendors already putting out their end of con sale prices, Sunday is bound to be a flurry of last-day shoppers looking to swoop in and take advantage of every sale presented to them (myself included of course).
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Of the vendors present, I settled on three manga-wise to do the majority of my shopping:
The Beilguing’s buy 5 get the 6th free made it the perfect place to buy some a whole bunch of books new and old. I walked away with a stack of new titles including Shinobi Life (Vol. 06) and 20th Century Boys (Vol. 08). Most excitingly perhaps was the find of the entire King of Cards series! And the entire Bride of Deimos series! They also had a sizeable collection yaoi and hentai comics that made for interesting browsing (and perhaps more than a few purchases). Seriously though, the mass amount of books The Beilguing had is hard to accurately describe but it did take a very long time to go all the way around the large multi-directional, multi-space layout. The books never ended! And when they did you just turned around and discovered the other tables behind you.
1001 Comix had a huge selection of different titles but the most impressive was their boys’ love which made up a vast portion of the offerings. We’re talking hundreds of books easily. I thus walked away with a sizeable pile of boys’ love books, not an easy feat when I own perhaps far too many yaoi books already released in English. Notable titles include the recently released Maiden Rose (Vol. 01) and Blood Honey. Sadly they were very anti-photos so few images of their lengthy table-line can be shared.
The Hairy Tarantula (weird name) was my final manga-stop of the day. Though I wasn’t expecting to pick up much after already stretching thin my budget, I came across the entirety of Key to the Kingdom and a number of other missing volumes from my CMX collection. Sold! They also had a sizeable boys’ love discount section, and though they didn’t have any books I needed, should be a great find to anyone looking to grow their collection. Keep an eye out for those hidden sections!
————————————————– FUNIMATION PANEL ——————————————————
Mid-afternoon on Saturday a decent crowd of people entered into a post-Beyblade showing room for Funimation’s first of two industry panels. Internet issues made the presenter unable to use the presentation put together so the duration of the panel was held by showing random trailers out of QuickTime and speaking schedules and titles out loud. The result was pretty unenthralling but the presenter’s efforts were appreciated, his mood good and some snazzy information to be taken from it.
Some panel highlights:
- Hetalia’s marketing slogan is “World War Fabulous” (to the crowd’s amusement and disbelief)
- Funimation does not have the rights to release Evangelion 2.0 as it has not yet been offered to them by the Japanese license holders
- Reminder of their upcoming rerelease of X/1999 got the most reaction from the audience, even over Hetalia
- No comment from Funimation regarding recent word from Manga UK that Funimation be doing their dub for Summer Wars
- Funimation is currently pushing several series for Canadian broadcast and is working to have their website Hulu streams switched to YouTube so those outside the US can watch
And of course you always need to have someone with an undoable demand during the Q&A session. This panel’s wasn’t nearly as grating others in the past, but the demand to stop releasing boxsets without all previous extras because you’re “punishing those who wait to buy” was definitely on the silly side. We… kind of understand your pain? Most of us are happy to have the option to buy seperate DVDs for extras and slimmed down boxsets for cheap, I should think.
Overall it was a pretty uneventful panel, a quick put together that fell victim to technology issues and needing to save all the big announcements for the bigger cons throughout the summer. Still, it was nice to see Funimation take the time to send a rep up to show they care and the knowledge they’re actually pushing a number of their titles for Canadian TV coverage was exciting to hear – even if it being met with repeated failure. Our anime up here is pretty terrible ie: completely non-existant, but it’s good to see someone’s still trying!
————————————————– THE SHERATON ——————————————————
The bulk of Anime North’s events were spread out between three differnet locations – the Doubletree hotel, the Toronto Conference Center and the Sheraton Hotel. The Sheraton Hotel is the furthest point away, a good 5-10 minute walk up the street. It also proves the most different in atmosphere. Emcompassing all the gaming, yaoi/yuri and roleplaying events, the mood of the center was notable more enthusiastic and the age group lower overall. This also extended to the staff who showed a level of enthusiasm for what they were doing that was almost overwhelming.
The video games were jam-packed with a dozen-number combination of widescreen TVs and project screens all playing an assortment of games, from BlazBlue to Street Fighter. Nearby a room was designated purely for DDR and the level of skill by the players utilizing a wall-sized screen complete with seats for watching was mind-numbing. Seeing feet move that fast was one thing but seeing the game keep up was almost that impressive on it’s own.
Several other rooms were designated for tabletop roleplaying, LARPing discussions (live-action role-play) and most impressively, Go. The Go room was packed full of Go players of every skill level all playing eachother in games. Seen Hikaru no Go and those rooms of players? It was just like that – the level of concentration, dedication and fun everyone in the room was having was really great to see. Very inspiring too, for someone who’s tried multiple times to learn the game and can’t figure it out. I’d like to stop by and perhaps trying playing a game against a human being for once!
Along with the numerous Yaoi panels occuring in one of the hotel’s convention rooms, another huge draw of the area is the Manga Library. Run via a surprisingly organized method of temporary library cards via bar codes on badges, each book of the presented collection was scanned in via a check-in, check-out system while readers sat in the room and read. It was literally a library, short of being able to take the books out of the room. It was both well-organized and well-attended for being so tucked away from the bulk of the convention. By evening Saturday it had seen around 435 individual registrations.
The Sheraton was definitely a different kind of convention experience than the rest of Anime North. Granted fitting that many people into a much smaller space with more physically extensive activity mixed with sitting for hours on end events made for a stuffy and perhaps less flattering environment at times but the general attitude of all in attendence is the kind of love-for-your-hobbies enthusiasm that makes conventions a lot of fun.
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And so… day two comes to an end! A few panels attended, lots more stuff bought and day three on the horizon, Anime North has passed the halfway mark. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the attendance numbers play out with a lot of talk that the numbers seem to have definitely grown this year. It being my first year, I can’t comment but hopefully AN will be able to soon after the event’s end.
Day three tomorrow including my wrap-up thoughts on the convention as a whole and a small but colour assortment of photos to go with.