Located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Animethon is one of the fastest-growing anime conventions in Canada. While it was started by the Banzai Anime Klub of Alberta (BAKA) back in 1994, the Alberta Society for Asian Popular Arts (ASAPA) took over operations in 2010. Originally, Animethon was an event to promote Japanese anime, but now it’s steadily grown to include popular voice actors, cosplayers, and guests from both North America and Japan as well as hold various contents, games, and activities.
One popular event is the Extra Life charity fundraising event which will be covered in another article. Other upcoming Animethon 26 articles will cover some panels hosted by voice actors such as Daman Mills, Kengo Kawanishi, and Erika Harlacher. We also had the opportunity to attend Animethon and Edmonton’s first-ever Anisong concert which featured Yoko Ishida, Sayaka Sasaki, and ChouCho!
In addition to all the panels, there’s a dedicated gaming room with consoles, board games, and break area, a shopping area with both vendors and independent artists, a maid and butler cafe, and lots of fan-hosted panels as well! Take a look below to see some highlights from the Opening Ceremonies where Mr. Shigenobu Kobayashi, the Consulate-General of Japan in Calgary, gave a moving speech to all Animethon attendees.
Now, let’s take a look at what Edmonton’s Animethon is all about and plan for your trip there next year!
|When it Established||1994|
|Length of Event||3 days, Friday through Sunday|
|Place/Location|| Edmonton Convention Centre|
9797 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 1N9
|COST|| An event pass for all three days is at a great value of $60 CAD! Children 12 and under get in free when accompanied by an adult, too. Just there to game? Worry not as there’s a 3-day gaming pass for only $20 CAD!|
The X-pass is up for sale for $130 CAD, which allows you to have early access to the vendor’s hall and front-of-the-line access to all events, guest panels, and autograph sessions! But there’s a limited amount, so be sure to grab yours early!
|Hotels|| The closest hotel to the venue is Courtyard Edmonton Downtown which has rates at about $160 CAD per night for a room.|
One Thornton Court, 99 Street and Jasper Avenue
However, there are many other hotels within walking distance. If you’re staying late, Animethon provides escorts to get you safely to any hotel within roughly a three-block radius. If your hotel is farther than that, plenty of Ubers and taxis are standing by to get you there!
Company/Event Message for Fans/Attendees
While there’s not a short message for attendees, each pass holder received a booklet for Animethon and included were messages from not only the Co-Chairs of Animethon, but other distinguished persons as well. Take a look!
What to Expect
While the convention runs Friday to Sunday, the longest and busiest day is, of course, Saturday. However, it’s arguably when most of the coolest events happen, including the concert. The convention is held on three main floors which are accessible by escalators, stairs, and an elevator. Aside from the dedicated gaming space, there’s also a large area for shopping and getting autographs from guests. Panels run by voice actors and fans alike were largely held on the bottom-most floor while the concert was held in the same room as the Opening Ceremonies next to registration. There are maps on each floor as well as a schedule, so it’s quite easy to navigate.
Animethon isn’t a big convention when compared to ones like Anime Expo, so while there were fewer people, a majority of con-goers still came in cosplay. It’s important to note that many of these con-goers came as a family, so Animethon felt more like a relaxed, family-friendly event. And true to Canada’s reputation, everyone was quite polite and all smiles throughout the weekend.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
Cash and Credit Cards
As always, some cash is best to have on hand, especially if you want to participate in the Extra Life games and auction. However, if you’ve forgotten your cash or to exchange your American dollars, Japanese yen, or what have you, there are some ATMs at the convention center and many artists, vendors, and eating booths do accept cards! Be sure to stop by the Crunchyroll booth while you’re there. This year they gave away free posters for anyone who could show that they had an account with them.
One great thing about Animethon is that there’s a coat check. For a low price of about $2 CAD per article, you can check your extra set of clothes or even merchandise you bought so you don’t have to carry them around all day. If you *are* going to cosplay, one thing to note is that the bathrooms aren’t super spacious so it’s best to come already in costume. However, if you experience a cosplay malfunction, there is an area you can go to that’ll help you fix it up ASAP.
Tissues, Medicine, and Hand Sanitizer
Edmonton summers are fairly cool at about 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) when compared to Japan or the United States, like Florida and New York, where it’s usually somewhere in the mid to high 30s (around 100 Fahrenheit) this time of year. Be sure to bring plenty of water, some medicine if you’re sensitive to climate changes, tissues, and hand sanitizer. You really don’t want to get sick while at the convention!
Merchandise to Get Autographed
Finally, here are some cool things you might want to bring. First, check out which guests will be coming to the Animethon you’re attending. If you own any official merchandise of that guest, you can get up to two items signed for free! In the case of the Anisong singers, they also had their CDs for purchase and you could get them signed as well. This year, Kengo Kawanishi and Masakazu Ogawa signed some posters for fans who got there early! If you’re into gaming, you’re free to bring your own consoles, but there are lots already set up in the convention as well. So game away!
What to Do While There/What is Available
Eat / Cafes: When searching for food, if you don’t find anything in the convention center to your liking or the popular maid and butler cafes are already sold out, connected to the venue is a government building which has a food court called Canada Place which has various food shops open late just for the convention. If all else fails, there are tons of eating establishments within walking distance or by Uber.
Panels / Events: Animethon had quite a few voice actors and vocalists as guests this year so a large portion of the panels held was geared towards Q&A and voice acting. Con-goers got to learn about the profession and even try voice acting with professionals during the convention. Other events include a charity auction for Extra Life, some dances, AMV panels with guest King Redeem, and improv shows as well.
Gaming: As Extra Life is a huge part of Edmonton and Animethon, a large room was dedicated to gaming with different areas for consoles and PCs as well as team and solo games. Large TV monitors made it really easy to watch the gamers and was a huge draw as well. Kids, teens, and adults all enjoyed this room as they also hosted not only video games but board games, card games, and Dungeons and Dragons as well.
Shop: For the size of the convention, the shopping area boasted a good variety of vendors and independent artists. Some artists were selling their work for the first time and it was great to see all of the support for local artists, too. Big vendors also drew in a lot of people with a mix of Japanese cultural items, like sensu fans and yukata, as well as other merchandise imported from Japan.
Concert: This year was the first-ever Anisong concert. As there will be an upcoming article covering the concert, we’ll just briefly mention the basics. It was held on Saturday night from 8 P.M. to 10 P.M. and singers Yoko Ishida, Sayaka Sasaki, and ChouCho all performed solo as well as collaboration songs. Tickets were included in the price of Animethon’s admission, so you just have to line up early to get a good spot inside!
Unlike other major conventions, Animethon doesn’t hold regional competitions for cosplay. However, there is a cosplay contest, so many con-goers eagerly entered to see how well they did. More than anything, most people cosplayed for fun and to walk around with friends. Since Animethon is mainly an anime convention, nearly all of the fans were cosplaying something from anime while there were a few game characters strewn about. All in all, it’s just a fun thing to do and don’t be surprised if you get asked for pictures if you’re cosplaying a popular character!
This was the first time we’ve covered Edmonton’s Animethon and it was definitely a blast. Rather than it feeling like there was too much to do and see that we couldn’t get to everything, the panels and events were all spaced out nicely and there was a good variety. Even the guest voice actors and actresses had time at the end to take pictures and meet with people personally as they weren’t being rushed out to get the room prepared for the next guest. Honestly, it was really refreshing and definitely a convention we’d recommend to go to if you’re in Canada or happen to be in the area when Animethon is happening. Next year’s dates are August 7-9, 2020!