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You might have thought it was Halloween this past weekend with throngs of people dressed up in costumes. Since it’s not the end of October, it has to be a convention. Anime Revolution (or AniRevo) turned Canada Place into a three-day event, from Friday, August 22nd to Sunday, August 24th, celebrating all things anime and manga. A collection of photos from Anime Revolution are available on Gallery.
This was my second time attending Anime Revolution (the first time was in 2012, their inaugural year, and I was out of town for last year’s convention). I purchased my badge last minute online before the pre-registration cut off on August 10th for $78.75 CAD (that’s with taxes). That’s quite pricey.
As I had to work Friday, I wasn’t able to make it down to Canada Place until after 6:30 pm. The upside was that badge pick-up being quick and I could get into the action. While the exhibitors hall had closed at 6:00 pm, I decided to spend a few hours wandering the main hall and promenade outside of the convention centre to take photos before calling it a night.
For Saturday, I decided to cosplay and donned Naruto’s outfit and the fourth hokage’s cloak as part of the upcoming theatrical release of the film Road to Ninja – Naruto the Movie. After a couple of odd looks on public transit, it was right into the fun in downtown Vancouver. I’m not sure why, but my Naruto outfit is pretty popular — I get the most pictures taken when I wear it and I have people always asking about the wig, or where I got the jacket. I missed the Naruto photoshoot on Friday, but still had people asking me if I was there and if there would be another shoot during the weekend (the answer to both was no).
Speaking of photos, Canada Place is located downtown and also is a multipurpose facility which includes a cruise ship terminal. During the course of the weekend, a number of cruise ships had docked with hundreds of tourists who unwittingly stepped into an uncommon scene. I heard so much feedback from these visitors, curious and confused, over what Anime Revolution was all about. Most of the tourists from Asia, however, were a little more familiar and called out to their favourite characters for pictures.
I got to experience more of Anime Revolution during Saturday, and my first stop was the exhibitors hall. Underneath the white sails, dozens of stalls teetered with DVDs, books, figures, costumes, wigs, plushes, swords and even property (apparently Gendou Ikari sells real estate as a hobby). A handful of booths were selling not-so legitimate goods, so I avoided purchasing anything from them. I found myself shelling out money for a few things: two DVDs — the first season of Digimon, the first season of Attack on Titan, and a couple of manga: Naruto, Soul Eater and Food Wars. The Artists Alley filled the second half of the exhibitors hall with
stalls decked out in colourful prints and handicrafts. I did pick up a nice print of Robin and Nightwing for a friend of mine.
I have a bad habit of making attempts to visit panels at conventions and then failing to follow through. This time, I succeeded in doing so and taking a break at a few lectures. First up — Aniplex where I got watch a couple previews of upcoming series and licenses for the North American market. Hosted by the Aniplex Guy (I’ve seen him at conventions from Sakura-Con to San Japan), he even had a bunch of rare items to raffle off. Unfortunately, luck was not my friend and my ticket was not called for some limited edition merchandise (I just really wanted that wall scroll of Rin and Yukio Okumura).
Following the Aniplex panel, it was time to get in line for a Q&A session with Megumi Ogata. Ogata is well known for her roles as Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sailor Uranus from Sailor Moon, and Yugi Mutou in Yu-Gi-Oh!. I was impressed that the staff had everyone line up for the panels in the underground walkway that connects Canada Place to the newer west building of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Volunteers stood at the entrance and directed everyone to their appropriated demarcated lines. When the room was ready, staff would lead us up, and along a route through the lobby and into the room, barricading the hall to make sure no-one would cut in. Once in the room, we were reminded not to take pictures or record Ogata at her request. The panel hosts asked that everyone who had a question to line up in the centre aisle so that they could address the voice actor. A number of the queries pertained to her role as Shinji and his relationship with Kaworu Nagisa, which she downplayed as friendship. It was interesting to learn that Ogata is an accomplished singer in addition to her voice acting. Ogata would hold a concert late Sunday afternoon for which I was unable to attend.
After that, it was time for the Viz Media panel. Hosted by the bubbly Charlene Ingram, we were introduced to new manga and anime titles the company publishes. I will admit that Charlene did convince me (not directly) to purchase a copy of the Food Wars manga, which I did after the panel.
After a brief dinner break, it was back into the walkway to line up for the Origa concert. Origa, who was born in Russia, performs in English, Japanese and Russian. The show kicked off with a brief video introduction and a mélange of various anime themes, which included the Naruto opening Blue Bird by Ikimonogakari. The hall wasn’t packed and it took the crowd a while to get warmed up. Once Origa started singing songs from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Witch Hunter Robin and Escaflowne everyone jammed near the stage to be part of the action. Not all of the music performed was anime related; Origa added some of her own original work into the show — Land of Love and Diva, for example.
For Sunday, I dressed up as Soul Eater Evans from Soul Eater. While not as popular as my Naruto outfit, I still do get a fair amount of people asking for pictures. I spent much of the final day perusing the vendors and artists in the exhibitors hall and wandering about taking photos of the wonderful costumes in attendance.
I was disappointed to learn that Marina Inoue had fallen ill Saturday evening and would not be appearing for the rest of the convention. I did want to meet the voice behind Armin Arlert (Attack on Titan) and Yoko Littner (Gurren Lagann), but I wasn’t available to visit any of her earlier panels. Next time!
Viz Media held a showing of four of the recently re-dubbed Sailor Moon episodes in the afternoon, including an episode that wasn’t shown in Canada during the series’ original run. Following some technical difficulties, we were treated to the episodes 1, 2, 8 and 10 of the classic anime. Charlene informed us that still photos were allowed, but no video or audio recording were permitted. The whole room cheered when the original theme started playing, and when Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask made his first appearance. The screen provided was a little small, so it was a little hard to watch. I think Viz did an awesome job in re-casting the English voices, sticking to the original names, and keeping the censoring at a bare minimum.
I was relatively impressed with Anime Revolution 2014: staff were visible and helpful, the convention seemed organized and had a great guest selection. Only downside are the registration prices and that some of the vendors were selling bootleg items. But I do love seeing all the wonderful costumes that show up — it’s amazing to see how many fans there are and that take their time to create and wear their work (or purchases — I don’t judge). I do look forward to returning in 2015, and perhaps purchasing my badge well in advance so that it’s not so hard on my wallet.
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