Where should I even start? I mean this was probably my most hectic weekend in a long time. I actually just came back from a camping trip the previous week and even that wasn’t as tiring as this weekend convention was. One thing I’ve come to realize after going to many conventions is how important getting sleep early on the Thursday is and how one should have a larger than normal breakfast. Chances are the first night’s sleep is really going to be the only large amount of sleep you’ll get and when you get to the con, you will have to make your lunch/dinner times very flexible.
You would think after coming here last year, I wouldn’t be surprised by this long lineup, but I still am. The line actually goes all the way outside and has two parts to the line just like the previous day. The convention center was packed in the morning as people were trying to grab their passes and file into the main convention area. Personally, I had arrived a little early to make sure we could get good seats into the events we wanted to head to. I was here early in the morning with my friend Mike and puddi and went toward the opening ceremony. Just for clarification, puddi also had a press pass just like me and that would become important later on during the week.
Just another quick shot of the long lines on Friday morning. You get a better sense of how long this line really was since you can see the door where the line continues outside. On the bright side, the line was well organized and moving along fairly smoothly with a full set of staff manning all the possible pick up stations. Thank goodness my friend picked up his pass on Thursday or else he was bound to miss quite a few events just to get his pass.
Heading deeper inside the convention center, you can already see the people lining up for various things including the dealer hall and the opening ceremony. Little did we know the line actually extended out to the ticketing area and down a set of stairs which would be the main waiting area. After walking around a bit and getting to know where all the panel halls would be, we decided to head towards the line for getting into the opening ceremony. Only later would we find out that the line for it was actually stretching all the way back to the ticketing area.
As you can see, the lines were quite organized considering how much walking space there still was to the side. Some of these people were lining up to get into the opening ceremony, while others were just waiting to get into the dealer hall it seems. I took some time to try to chat to some people and get their thoughts on the convention. Most people were excited and really looking forward to a weekend of fun. One big improvement already compared to last year was their usage of space. Last year, one of the rooms was dedicated to lining up for the various events and panels. This year they used the biggest room as the main performance hall, which was really a great idea considering how many events reached max capacity last year.
Before heading to the line for the main performance hall, I recalled some stuff about our press pass and went upstairs to verify it. At first we were told we would have to wait in line in order to get into things like everyone else which makes sense to some degree and it works like that in a large amount of conventions. However, we juggled through a bunch of staff until someone managed to get in touch with someone high up enough that knew the rules regarding press. Apparently, press passes would work like VIP passes in terms of priority access into events which I had recalled reading over when I applied for press this year. This meant we could get into any event by just showing our pass as long as it wasn’t at max capacity. It would be a very big thing for me and puddi for the rest of the convention since we could show up earlier to get in before regular attendees did. On top of that, we could walk to the front of the line and just get in. Talk about treating press and industry right, this is something other cons should really look into. It’s hard to write articles about a convention when you can’t get any good photos or get into panel, major events, or the line.
Anyway, after filing into the room and when everyone else was seated, we waited for the event to start. We would wait for a good while since they let people in one group at a time to make sure seating was used properly. This worked for the most part, but some people were still filing in as the event started. There were two screens placed to the sides of the main stage which used up Exhibit Hall A which is one of the bigger rooms on the Canada Place side of the convention center.
Lights started to dim not too long after the majority of the seats were filled and we were greeted with an introductory video which was shown on both screens. The video featured the song Shake It by himawari, and had a 3DCG animated version of Senkaku Mei dancing to the song. Let me make this clear, the art and design of anything with official art at Anime Revolution are much better than a lot of conventions. The fact that they have an original character is already impressive, pile that on top of the great design and color scheme on all official material, we’re really in some sort of design heaven.
The video lasted for about four minutes and had various animations featuring Senkaku Mei. One thing I would have liked to see is better Kara, at least in terms of font choice. It looked a little generic, but at the very least it was readable. (Maybe I’m just too spoiled by some Youtube videos and various anime OP/ED subtitled songs with KFX.)
Here is the full version of the song and video as obtained from Anime Revolution’s official Youtube account. (Yes, there is boob jiggling animation at the end.) Personally, I found it quite enjoyable, and it was a good way to start the convention off. It was also great to see the video showcased all the major guests at the convention too. Consider this the tone-setter for the rest of the convention if I may call it as such.
Following the video, a member of the staff came on stage to introduce the main MC for the rest of the convention and for some of the major events. She did a great job introducing the convention as well as trying to pump up the crowd a bit before the others got on stage.
The MC for the event was Dean Redman, let’s just say he fit his role well and did a really good job. With a mix of comedy and seriousness, it was great to watch him introduce the many different guests and staff that we would be seeing a whole lot of during the bigger events in this hall.
Following up from that was Deputy Consulate General of Japan in the Vancouver branch of the Japanese embassy. He came to speak last year as well, and he really pushes how important this event is and how happy he is to see more people taking an interest in Japanese culture. I agree with a lot of what he has to say in regards to growth and how he sees more and more growth at Anime Revolution and how he is impressed by how many people turn up each year.
Next up, there was a short portion where the president of Anime Revolution came up to speak and he also held a content that didn’t work too well at first. At first, the content was the person who had his business card under their seat would win a big prize. However, after about two to three minutes of searching, no one was able to find it. There were some empty seats near the back and the room was too dark to actually see the card if it was there. To continue the search would probably turn up no results, so he picked random people from the crown that wanted to come onto the stage for a little trivia. In terms of difficulty, the questions were fairly simple and mostly based on the convention. Some questions included: “How many years has Anime Revolution run?”. “What is the official mascot/character for Anime Revolution?”, and “What does ‘Senkaku Mei’ mean in Japanese?” The last question was not well answered and even came to the comedic answer of “Triangle something.” (That would be 三角 or sankaku otherwise it would be 三角形 or sankakukei.) Not sure where they got that from, but it was a valid attempt at least. Someone else answered “Thousand something” and managed to get the point, the official translation is “Thousand Revolutions.” At the end, he decided it wouldn’t be right to pick any winners or losers considering the number of question and the improv. Everyone that went up onto the stage got a free upgrade to a VIP pass, which really reflects well on how the convention treats their guests.
Vic Mignogna was the next one to head up onto the stage, he would perform the song that almost everyone in the audience would know. Anime conventions tend to has a lot of Frozen and the song “Let It Go” is well known. He sang this live with help from the audience and really got the atmosphere started and most of the attendees pumped up and ready to go. I’m not sure how to feel about anime conventions and Frozen going together, but after so many times I’ve seen Frozen cosplay and heard this song at conventions, I’m slowly getting accustomed to it.
Continuing after Vic Mignogna was the TokiMeki group of maids from the maid cafe that is ran inside the convention. We’ll have more information about the maid cafe itself on day 2 as we enter the abyss.
Last, but certainly not least, was Marina Inoue. She was presented an award on stage and introduced herself to everyone and wished us all a good convention experience. It would be the final touch to the opening ceremony, and it was certainly one of the better opening ceremonies I have attended.
As I stated before, Marina Inoue is a great speaker and did a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the convention.
One thing to keep in mind at all conventions is this policy, I can’t recall how many times people think that cosplayers are free for the taking in terms of photos or otherwise. Respect is huge, and cosplayers should be treated with the same amount of respect that you expect. Anyway, as I stated before, the art for Anime Revolution always looks great to me. They really put a lot of effort into the design of each individual thing they use at Anime Revolution, from posters, passes, and all other printed material.
Heading into the dealer hall, the first booth I always visit is the convention hosted booth. It usually has a high amount of goodies and a display of some sort. Last year, there were a few big sculptures, while this year we were greeted with one of the AniRevo cars. Looking at this really makes me jelly to be perfectly honest with you.
In addition to the AniRevo car, there is also a display of Totoro in front of their collection of convention goodies. These included T-shirts, lanyards, posters, and even a figure this year. I kind of regret not buying the limited edition Senkaku Mei figures as I was too busy the whole weekend running from panel to panel to take pictures and gather information for my article. As I’ve mentioned many times, the designs on all the merchandise and the booth itself looks pretty good compared to most conventions.
The dealer hall had a line to get into at the beginning, and lots of people were rushing into try to get their hands on limited goodies. I personally didn’t buy much this year due to time constraints and lack of budget after spending so much money at Sakura-con this year. However, I did spend some money on Weiss Schwarz and some other assorted small goodies. One portion of the hall was reserved for artists, while the other half was set up for vendors. Many of the major local shops that sold anime goods or TCG goods came down for the weekend.
At 11:30am, there was a Marina Inoue Q&A panel. She was really nice about answering questions, and surprisingly, none of the questions were rude or farfetched. Some were just asking her if she could recite a line, while other questions were more along the lines of being a seiyuu/VA.
One of the most interesting questions was about her daily life, and she basically said she is about the same as everyone else except she barely gets to see the sun. Since most seiyuus are put in studios underground where noise isn’t a concern, she would be there for hours without seeing the sun.
The panel wasn’t all that full, but chances are that is due to multiple factors. One of which would be the line up outside waiting for passes, the other would be the fact that it was only Friday and people may have work on that day. Another interesting question that was asked was along the lines of “If you had to pick another seiyuu to be your wife, who would it be?” To my surprise, she answered this question and talked about how she had worked with some other seiyuus and which ones she would consider. They ran out of time before the whole line of questions was asked, but there was always the Saturday Q&A panel to ask more questions.
Last year, I spent a lot of time in the games room, as my friends didn’t have much interest in many of the panels. Of course, I had to go with tradition and head into the games room to at least see how things were going. At first, I headed upstairs expecting the same small room as last year, but to my surprised they picked a bigger room downstairs to use as a game room. There would be a small stage area at the back for major tournaments and panels, while the front area had tables and was mostly used for TCGs and board games.
Walking into the room, a Weiss Schwarz tournament had already begun and many people were already playing. If you’re wondering, I did ask before taking all of these photos. Most of the players were really into the game, but after the game they would chat with one another as if they were friends. It’s great to see such great sportsmanship and really reflects well on the players. My friend Mike decided to play in the tournament and ended up doing fairly well for himself. A Yu-Gi-Oh tournament would start later on in the day and puddi decided he would help judge the event. So I ended up panel jumping throughout the day and just coming back to the games room to meet up with them. Overall, this took up the majority of our afternoon, although I personally managed to go take a look at part of the Angelic Pretty Fashion Show, and part of Yaya Han and Lindze Merritt’s Q&A. After the gaming room excursion, we went out to grab some food and headed out to a card store to pick up some cards before heading back to the convention for the major show in the evening, the Anime Revolution 2014 Swimsuit Contest. That part will come in a separate post, since there are a lot of pictures and videos of various parts to it.
Last off, some assorted cosplay pictures I thought were interesting from Day 1 @ Anime Revoltion 2014.