Fandom, friendship and engagement at Animethon 24
It started in the ‘90s, when some people discovered they shared a passion for Japanese culture and art. They decided to get together and form a club—the Banzai Anime Klub of Alberta. Since then, Animethon has grown from booking two classrooms in MacEwan’s downtown campus, to taking over the whole university for a weekend every year.
Mary Ng-Notton, an event organizer, says the guests this year range from voice actors of video games like Final Fantasy to anime favourites like DragonBall Z and Attack on Titan. Various musical talents including DJ TeddyLoid and Japanese rock (J-Rock) bands will also play several concerts throughout the weekend.
Now the fourth longest running anime convention in Canada, the event draws crowds of around 9,000, many of whom show up dressed as their favourite anime or video game characters for the convention. The more serious fans even change costumes each day they go, which means manufacturing up to three separate costumes with various components, wigs and embellishments.
Animethon also has a strong connection to the LGBTQ+ community, something they always devote guest selections to each year. This year, the convention will host cosplay duo Baozi and Hana from China, who have become gender-fluid cosplay role models for many that attend.
A new pilot event labelled the “Idol Showcase” will kick off the three-day festival on Friday, exhibiting more than a dozen dance cover groups from Alberta inspired by various anime shows and concerts.
Saturday will see more events cherished by convention goers. The Edmonton Lolita Fashion Community, a Japanese subculture inspired by the Victorian and Rococo eras, will hold a fashion show to parade some new looks in the world of Lolita street fashion, which ranges from gothic, to sweet Lolita styles. A cosplay costume contest will also be held Saturday.
“Cosplayers will strut their stuff across the stage to show their efforts. Some have been practicing a skit for it,” says Ng-Notton.
And finally, on Sunday the Orbis Orchestra will put on a classical concert with covers of soundtracks from various anime and game favourites.
While the lineup of guests will certainly keep the days packed, tight schedules make for a lot of work to keep the weekend running smoothly.
“Our attendance numbers go up every year, and we are inspired to provide more and more quality content to our fans,” Ng-Notton says.
As the longest running anime convention in Canada, new generations of cosplayers and anime lovers have added to the growing crowds each year, but the event is starting to see a much younger generation joining in the love of Japanese culture recently.
“It is only natural that some of our long time or older patrons are starting to bring in their children to share their love of these hobbies. I am very proud that Animethon is a family friendly event so these parents can help our community grow,” says Ng-Notton.