By Alleah Boisvert
After a two-year hiatus, pop culture fans can once again look forward to celebrating their love of anime in-person at Edmonton’s 27th Animethon. The iconic festival that celebrates returns in August. Animethon organizers are optimistic about the three-day festival after COVID-19 numbers led to the cancellation of their winter pre-festival, A Taste of Animethon, last January.
“Taste [of Animethon] was just to jump start and get people used to [the in-person event] again, and then we can bring that to [Animethon] so that people are more familiar with what they’re doing. The good news is because we did a lot of legwork for Taste, we have a lot already done for the [main festival],” said Jenny Lau, Animethon’s Director of Programming.
Due to Animethon’s structure, it hasn’t been able to pivot online like other festivals, so Lau anticipates a lot of attendees will be experiencing a festival like this for the first time after binging anime at home. Lau is excited for new anime fans to finally be a part of the Animethon community.
“We have a lot more newer audiences and younger crowds that are just getting into anime due to the fact that COVID has opened up a lot of people [to explore new interests]. They’re bored, they’re like ‘oh, what’s this? Anime?’ and then they’re into it, they’re hooked. Come join us!”
Returning attendees have missed the communal aspect of the festival the past two years. More social events such as the cosplay contest, anime-themed EDM dance and the popular maid and butler café will return but with added health measures.
“In Japan they have these cafes where maids serve you and they’d be super cute like *uwu*. Then they make this omelette rice [dish] and the maids would use ketchup and draw their cutesy art onto this food […]. So, we have that, and [the sessions] usually sell out literally on day one,” said Lau.
Animethon events like these wouldn’t be possible without a team of enthusiastic volunteers. Starting in 1994, Animethon is now recognized throughout North America, so a lot goes into such a well-established festival. From language interpreting to accounting, there are tons of diverse volunteer positions that need filling.
“Because we’re just starting things again, a lot of [previous volunteers] have moved on with their lives, so we have to do a new fresh batch of recruitment. So, we are constantly looking for people, especially now that we have a lot of holes to fill,” said Lau.
For NAIT students looking for fun and interesting volunteer experiences, Animethon might be the perfect opportunity. It was for Lau, who happens to be a fellow Ook and NAITSA’s Communications Director.
“A lot of our staff have gotten careers out of Animethon actually. In fact, I’m one of them. When I was applying for my job, the reference that my boss for Animethon at the time gave to my current boss was so stellar that it set me up for success,” said Lau.
“You have to put yourself out there. If you want to do something that you want to contribute back to the community, why not this?”
COVER PHOTO from Twitter @CTriff