Animethon reignites passion at highly anticipated convention

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Arts & Life

For the first time in two years, attendees of Animethon 2022 had the chance to share their appreciation for Japanese pop culture at this large-scale event. Presented by the Alberta Society for Asian Popular Arts, Animethon took place from August fifth to seventh at the Edmonton Convention Centre. The venue hosted over 14, 000 attendees over a duration of three days—nearly 4,000 more than their last festival in 2019. Despite the summer heat, the indoor space was filled with cosplayers in elaborate costumes who had been waiting for this weekend. 

“I’ve been cosplaying at Animethon for [seven] years. It’s kind of gross how long I’ve been doing it,” joked Bella Panther, who was wearing a costume from the video game Final Fantasy VII. 

“It’s been two years, so [just seeing how many people have shown up] is amazing.”

Panther, who goes by @tinytimelady on Instagram, had been waiting two years to wear her Tifa Lockhart cosplay to Animethon.

“I was looking forward to wearing this outfit today. I worked really hard on it; I was excited to show it off,” said Panther.

As she spoke, a group of fans formed around Panther and another cosplayer dressed as Cloud Strife, another character from the same game,  but this is what the duo expects at conventions.

Convention goers dress as Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII at Animethon 2022 // Photo by Alleah Boisvert

“I actually come here to get photos, so I don’t really go to panels. I come to shop and have people take photos [with me], that’s my favourite part about the conventions,” said Panther. “Sometimes there’s a random person that pops up [to get a photo] and I’m like, woah, interaction I wasn’t expecting … people are generally friendly, so it’s not a bad thing.”

While some convention-goers like Panther attend to show off their craft, other long-time Animethon fans are there to soak it all in. With hundreds of artists and vendors, a gaming hall hosting live tournaments, guest speaker panels and even full-blown concerts, there’s no shortage of activity.

Anthony Mann, who attended Animethon the entire weekend, has been coming to the festival with his friends from high school for over ten years. 

“I’ve gone every summer that I can remember,” said Mann.

He said the 2022 festival was close to how he remembered it in previous years and that there was not much change since 2019.

“It’s a different energy than it’s been the past few years, people are very eager to be around each other again … people are a little more cautious of personal space, which might actually be a good change. We still get a lot of great guests that come in. I think it’s mostly just being more conscious of the space around each other is what’s been the biggest change,” said Mann.

Although the festival has passed, Animethon’s return to Edmonton in 2023 could be the beginning of a new passion for some.

“Don’t be afraid to come! If you’re new to anime, there’s a lot of panels where you watch the first four episodes of anime, so if you don’t know what you want to watch, check those out and see if something pops for you. That can usually spark a real passion for anime,” said Mann.

Animethon was established in 1994 and is the longest-running anime convention in Canada. The high-energy atmosphere, intricate cosplays, and welcoming crowds are what keep attendees like Mann coming back to the longest-running anime convention in Canada. 

“I think they’ve perfected the formula.”

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