Return to Anime North

AnimeNorth20It’s been 5 years since 2011 when I last attended Anime North.  They just announced a cap on attendance and for other reasons, I could not afford to attend.  So what has changed since then?  Too much.

Anime North has become an event which it is anime in name only. Too many other interest have moved in and taken hold which barely fit the ‘anime’ con we once loved. Like a circus with TOO many rings and no master of any of it.  It has spread itself TOO thin over the years and too many others have seen it as a means to grab a piece of the pie.  Everything seem mechanical in process.


With only weeks before Anime North, I finally found a Bed and Breakfast in Weston just miles from Toronto Congress Centre. Surprisingly nice for 50 dollars a night.  Yes you heard me right. 50 bucks with breakfast made your way. Heck, it cost me over 10 bucks for breakfast at Denny’s early that day. Super nice, super quiet neighborhood with wifi.

Photo shoots

Photo shoots were a chance for like fans of a show to meet. I attended 3  photo shoots in progress at two locations. Both locations at Toronto Congress Centre were in HIGH traffic areas with plenty of distractions and no real back drop to take any real form of photos.  They consisted of group shots of cast then characters with a person giving a countdown. “Okay now all the Ezras” Another Bleach photo shoot had far too many Ichigos versus another character.  The photo shoot lost is spontaneous character.  I got better shots from taking photos “after” a photo shoot than during.

Toronto Congress Centre

One thing that hasn’t change is the layout of traffic between sections inside Toronto Congress Centre. Namely it’s still hasn’t improved after all these years.  It still has it’s bottlenecks of having entrances and exits at odd places making for LONG trip with crowds blocking both.  I spent over an hour trying to get to where friends were.  Many of the attractions were moved outside like wrestling, outdoor rave.  Thankfully, there was the NEW north building which Anime North hardly used all except for the Skit Night and Masquerade.

Food and drinks at Anime North

The area restaurants were down by two. Both Kelseys and Sushi Dragon ( a personal favorite) were closed for renovations.  Sushi Dragon was sold and to be made into a new restaurant.

Tim Hortons was over capacity with number of people alone cancelled any air conditioning. My ice coffee was practically melted by the time I got 10 meteres from the store.

Food trucks were few. Given the hot weather the ice cream truck was my main stay. Even at night, I had to eat my cone fast before it melted everywhere.

The closest I got to the other venues were bus stop to head back to my B&B.  There was simply too much going on to cover it all. I took in both Skit Night and the Masquerade at the new North building. Rusty using the camcorder after the old one died years before I last attended AN. With the advent of cellphones having more power than my camcorder, I don’t know if  will get through my footage of both events considering everyone else has their footage already up. The camcorder was top of the line … 10 years ago. Now it’s old hat with digital units like GoPro able to live stream events.

What did make the grade was my Vines of Anime North all hittng new marks.  Gormac hit 1000 loops in less than 6 hours. Only ship girl Shimakaze would beat it with 5000 loops in about 12 hours. Vine is very powerful for just being 6 seconds and has recognized Anime as a valid section in it’s own rights.  Only problem is my current devices have far too little storage for long term recording or picture processing power.  I will have to rethink and reinvest in new smaller and lighter equipment. I took over 400 photos and videos Friday which I got up before heading in Saturday on the website. With over 800 photos and videos for Saturday and nearly 500 photos and videos on Sunday, I hit the wall on how much I could get through in a short time. As it was I was carrying around 20 lbs of gear in backpack and heavy duty tripod constantly for three days.  Living away from the main strip also had it’s drawbacks and this was really apparent Sunday when I had my luggage tote with me.

The Creeps of Anime North

When I first heard “Everybody wants to take their picture with me” line was some guy on Sunday.  I thought at the moment, “Dude, if that was true then she be asking you.”  and was tempted to go up and ask her if I could take my photo with her and ask him to take it for us as the ultimate insult. As practice I don’t take my picture with no one except friends I know well.

The second time, I over heard the same line, I was creeped out. I turned to see it was a different guy using it on another female cosplayer.  Frankly I can’t remember if either these guys had con badges since it was outside and most cosplayers either had their con badges tucked away or flipped behind them.  The ‘Cosplay is NOT consent‘ movement of late has it’s grounds for fighting back at the abuse.  However where do you draw the line at harassment and a lame pickup line? I could really out these guys but then that would leave me vulnerable for lawsuits of defamation and only would count as hearsay.

With the mountain of photography at an event like Anime North it’s a two edge sword. A photo can place a person in time and place. It’s the creeps that are destroying a hobby which I’ve enjoyed over the years. Many have stated that with all the photographs, they never knew how their image was going to be used. With our site, at least, they know how and where it’s going to be used. I had parents demanding I take their kids photos this year. I spent more time explaining to parents their rights and how their child photo was going to be used. This year, parents were glad to see me back. Something I can be proud of. In spite of people complaining how many cards of mine I have handed them. Finally that will change too.

Sunday,  finally picked up my T-shirt from Chop Shop Goods.  It was long over due to get a press shirt.  I think they did a great job of capturing the logo from a card I gave them.  I put it on over my other T-shirt only to get a stain on it shortly afterward.  I plan to get more for multiday events like Anime North and Fan Expo. Plus I’m looking to reduce my load of carrying gear. I just purchased a windows tablet PC which is going to take some getting use to.   It’s been 5 years since I was last at Anime North and I plan to be back next year.

The way home

I met up with friends at the end of Anime North.  We went the less traveled route since the subway for Spadina line was still out. Along the way, I noticed that the NEW North building was HUGE! Make that massive. Dwarfing the old Congress Centre.  It made me wonder why the heck Anime North was still dealing with the old Congress Centre let alone the other locations.  The North Building along with South building could wipe out the cap system which has choked Anime North growth and chances are shut out the regular anime fan attending … being crowded out by competing interests by other NOT anime groups.

We beat the crowds by catching the bus one stop before everybody else got on by this route. We ended up parting at Bloor Younge station. I once again headed to Dennys for supper before catching my bus home. This time some girl cosplaying a strip of bacon handed me a discount for Dennys.  Who says cosplay doesn’t come with benefits. =)

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