I’ve never been to an anime convention before; I only heard about them from my friends who’ve attended some of the larger ones like Anime Central and Sakura-Con. After hearing about Anime Evolution, I was interested in attending to see all the cosplays and perhaps beef-up on some of my favourite series or perhaps catch something new.
The convention was hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus, which as the name describes, is on the top of a mountain. It’s a little out of the way, but isn’t too far from SkyTrain and bus service. The weather looked fairly gloomy, but fortunately the rain held off. Even if it did pour, it wouldn’t have mattered much seeing as much of the event space is covered.
Inside one of the buildings, the halls were lined with artists’ tables and displays of their work. I rounded the corner and wound up at registration where I had to fill out a form to get my badge. Since I arrived on the Saturday, I only got a one day badge. I was also given a bag with a guide, programming schedule and a choice of VHS tapes from a cardboard box. I skipped on the tapes since none of the series interested me and the fact I wouldn’t have been able to play them.
I went outside and wandered around for a little while snapping pictures of the various costumes that milled about on the concourse. It wasn’t hard to find the main stage for the walk-offs and performances since the covered plaza between the library and administrative offices was filled with chairs and a roped off platform. Just behind the rows of chairs, there was a fenced in area that was stocked with tables stacked with handicrafts. I didn’t go in seeing as it was closed when I arrived.
I went inside the building that housed offices to look for the dealer’s room, and was greeted with a line up leading into the room. After a half hour wait, I was finally able to enter a set of small rooms crammed with tables overflowing with boxes of models, figures, manga and DVDs. Fortunately the room after was a little larger, but still quite crowded with all the people browsing and making purchases.
Afterwards, I made my way back out into the plaza and grabbed a seat with some friends for the walk-offs. Teams of two contestants would appear on stage, emceed by G. I. Joe’s Cobra Commander and Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion; then make short performances set to music alternating between the participants. The contestants would then be judged on their act and then proceed to the final round which was to be held on Sunday. Apparently the winner would be proclaimed “King of Bishonen” Overall, the walk-off was pretty entertaining.
I returned to the hallway where the artist’s alley was setup, perusing the many tables lined up along the walls. It wasn’t too crowded making it easy for me to take my time and look through the various styles presented by the artists. I ended up purchasing some prints and a shirt as a gift for a friend.
Back outside, I met up with a few more friends and spent a good while taking pictures of cosplay in and around the quadrangle. I was surprised to see a few Zidanes from Final Fantasy IX amongst the crowds of characters from Kingdom Hearts, Naruto, Legend of Zelda, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, InuYasha, Evangelion, Final Fantasy, and Invader Zim.
The only panel I attended was that of VG Cat’s Scott Ramsoomair. Scott shared a bit of the background behind the web comic, fielded questions from the fans and even put on a short concert for us with a piano that happened to be in the room.
Overall, my first anime convention was pretty cool, but way too short. Next time I will have to opt for the full three day experience to take it all in. There’s just so much to see and do that can’t be done in a single day.
Photos are available on Gallery.