Anime Revolution: Winter (AniRevo: Winter) 2015

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To start off the New Year, I was expecting to write about the back-to-school rush and all the good stuff that comes along with that. (No seriously, this stuff can be important.) Regardless, I wasn’t expecting to write about a convention so early on in the year. Given that the last convention in Vancouver that I attended occurred back in August of last year. To my surprise, a friend of mine told me this winter, Anime Revolution would also run a smaller convention called AniRevo: Winter. It is a one day convention held at a different location with a smaller venue. It’s hosted at Art Institute Vancouver, one of many Art Institute campuses in North America. The convention ticket sales were slated to start being sold at 9AM in the morning, but as one can see above, people were already lining up half an hour before that.

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On the bright side, the line up went fairly smoothly and we were inside within 20 minutes of waiting in line from when the doors opened. There were a bunch of tables set up with people manning tablets for ticket sales. Each person was given a wristband after paying, and were required to show them in almost every area of the convention. I came here with my friend Mike and another friend nicknamed “The LewdMaster” or “Lewdson” for short. The back area pictured here is where the main event hall was located, and already had things set up for people to start lining up. I meant to drop by the first event which was The 404’s Improv group, but due to some time constraints after stepping out to grab some breakfast, the room was already filled.

Also found in the area on the second level is the Maid Cafe. Unfortunately, between going to events and spending time with my friends, I didn’t manage to enter the maid cafe which is a real shame. I had a fun time last time with Puddi back at AniRevo 2014 in August. However, I can only only assume it was just as great if not better. The venue had a small cafe and it was used and decorated to look more like a maid cafe. In addition to the cafe, there was also a fully stocked kitchen since the school also happens to have a culinary program. One can pretty much venture to say that the food served was also on par if not better than Coal Harbor Cafe which was used for the main convention in 2014.

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With nothing to do between waiting for the next panel to open up, my friend Mike and I decided to hit up the dealers hall first. It has become almost a tradition for us to hit up the dealer halls early to see what there is and take time to decide what there is we might want to buy. Usually, over a multiple day con, we would try to get one another to splurge on that one item we talked about or wanted to get on the first day. Let’s just say, we usually give in and buy the items over multiple days.

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The dealers hall was a small room and had about 12 to 15 small stalls selling different anime goods ranging from key chains to full on figures. Of course, other hobbies such as Magic: The Gathering and other such TCGs were also sold in this area. Sadly, I just didn’t quite have the cash flow or much desire for most of the things there. I managed to scrape by without buying something on the first day of a con. (Even though it may be the only day.)

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Heading down to the games room, we dropped by to check on the schedule for the upcoming gaming events which included Super Smash Bros., MTG, Gundam, and even Pokemon challenges. We were tempted to get into one of the MTG drafts, but we decided against it and headed over to the Cosplay Contest instead. I personally thought we should come to enjoy the various panels and major events first, since we could just drop by for Magic later in the day.

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The games room was a little on the cramped side, but the setup was pretty good for the limited space. Near the front of the room was a projector with players playing Smash and other smaller TVs and monitors littered around the sides of the rooms for other games such as Smash for Wii U and Gundam. Tables were placed on the back right side of the room with tables set up for card games or board games. We would head back into this room a few times during the convention.

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Following our visit to the game room, we went to line up for the Cosplay Contest, which would be held in the main event area as shown in an earlier picture. The room itself wasn’t large, but it wasn’t small either. We were lucky enough to get into the room given how quickly the room filled up. All the chairs were taken by the time we entered, but at least we were able to stand and watch. I’m not sure if they expected this large of a turnout, but this can only really be a positive sign about running a convention in the winter.

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With everyone seated and/or standing in the back, they were prepping to get the show on the road. This room is actually a big black room that really feels like a photo shoot room or sound/stage room. Let’s just say there was a lot of equipment around that really pushed the idea of being at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Sadly, they didn’t make use of most of the equipment. The only part that really seemed lacking was not having microphones for the contestants and judges.

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Two members of The 404s Improv group would act as hosts for the contest. They did a pretty good job of getting things rolling and were loud enough so the whole room could hear them. Not only were they introducing cosplay contestants, but they also entertained the crowd when the judges were making their final decision by making up one word stories where each of them would say one word to create one full story.

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The first contestant cosplayed as Cinderella in winter. Her costume was made with just one hand and gained a lot of attention from both judges and audience members alike.

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Next up was someone cosplaying as a winter themed Riven from League of Legends.

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Princess Merida from Brave was next to show up in the contest.

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After those contestants, we had one of the Chipmunks from Rescue Rangers.

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Sorry about the earlier camera quality, I almost forgot I had brought my normal camera with me and quickly swapped from using my HTC One X phone camera. Needless to say, the photos I took were better after the swap. I don’t recall who exactly came up next, but I managed to get a few images in. (It was a little hard to hear from the contestants due to the lack of microphones.)

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Just another quick shot of the room as it filled up to max capacity due to the limited space at the venue. People lining up outside were contestants that were waiting to get up since there was no stage for them to enter from.

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Another group cosplay came up shortly after and they cosplayed as Hiccup and Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon.

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Randomly, a surprise contestant in the form of the Church’s Chicken mascot showed up and had a little fun. Church’s Chicken also gave out $5 coupons in the AniRevo swag bags for reference. (Everybody likes free chicken.)

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Debonair Jayce and Ezreal also from League of Legends were the next group cosplay team to come up and show their moves.

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Following the League of Legends cosplay came some Resident Evil cosplay with decked out military gear. This pair plays quite a bit of airsoft and decided to cosplay as soldiers in their gear.

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Crossplay was next, with a swapped gender Princess Peach and Jack Frost. Let’s just say they got a lot of interesting comments from the crowd.

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Next up was this costume that had a story behind it. One of the audience members had made the costume but didn’t want to wear it, so this guy wore it for them to showcase. Talk about teamwork.

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I’m again not too sure what this was from since I couldn’t hear too much of what was said, but they came in as a group cosplay.

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Another one that I couldn’t recognize, but this cosplayer acted out her role fairly well from what I could recall.

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Lastly, we had a group of different evolution Eevees from Pokemon, this group cosplay was pretty amazing given the variety among them. A few members showed up a bit later, but the whole group was around by the end for the interview from the judges and made a strong impression with the crowd as well.

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The crowd at the back were patiently awaiting for the deliberation while listening to the previously aforementioned one word stories from The 404s. One story was about Sailor Moon, while the other was about Ouran Highschool Host Club.

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At the end of the day, the Cinderella would take home top honors from the judges as well as Princess Merida from Brave. The Eevee group also got an honorable mention for their costumes and also got a prize. One other contestant also got an honorable mention prize, which I can’t really remember too clearly.

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One of the major surprises for me was the McCafe truck from McDonalds. Usually, I don’t talk too much about dealers, vendors, or sponsors, but this is an exception. the McCafe truck was parked outside and gave out free coffee to all con attendees. Not only did they serve regular coffee, but lattes, mochas, and even expressors were free. I grabbed myself a warm cup of mocha while my friends grabbed hot chocolates and headed back inside. This was a nice touch in such cold weather and was a great pick-me-up.

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Stepping back inside, we headed back towards the gaming room to join in on the Magic Mini Masters tournament. I can safely say I had terrible luck and wasn’t playing as well as I should have. Sadly, there were only 4 players total. A smaller convention also means less participation which led to the 4 player mini tournament. I played two games and lost both of them, but I had fun and sometimes that’s about all you can ask for. I also played a game of Weiss Schwarz as well in which I may have had all the luck I could ever ask for. That would explain my luck in Magic afterwards.

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Before calling it a day, we dropped by the All About Figures panel and listened to someone talk about figures for a good hour. We learned a few things we may not have known before. One thing to note was with things winding down, even the small panel rooms weren’t as full. The most interesting part of the panel was the Q&A where the audience asked some insightful questions with some answers given based on experience.

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Leaving the panel hall, we knew it was time to say goodbye to the first AniRevo: Winter ever. It was a fun one day experience that had its share of both ups and downs. Overall, I would say the event was run well and things were smooth throughout the majority of the day. There were some missteps here and there, but these are the types of things you learn from and improve based on. The venue was a little on the small side, but it was a successful convention nonetheless. With that, we’ll have to wait until August for the full AniRevo. I’m looking forward to things to come since AniRevo last year had a record turnout of 12,177 which is sure to only grow larger. It’s been fun watching the con grow from the first one ran back in 2012 to what we saw back in August of 2014, and the introduction of a mini winter convention. Anime Revolution 2015 in August is definitely the event and convention to head to in Vancouver and only more great things can come with time and experience.

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