Last weekend, I headed down to a convention that I haven’t attended in years. Anime Evolution is a local anime convention here in Vancouver that has been running for years now. It took a break for a few years due to some issues that were unavoidable at the time. The event started in 2003 and ran until 2010 before it took a few years off to return again in 2012. I’m not exactly sure about the details surrounding why it stopped running, but the good news is that they’re running the event annually again. In the past it actually took place at Simon Fraser University (SFU), the institution I currently attend. However, for the past few years they have been running it over at University of British Columbia (UBC). The campus out there is beautiful in comparison to ours but is a ways away. Anyway, with all of the background information out of the way, I headed down for one out of three days of the convention due to some commitments I couldn’t miss.
As with most conventions, Saturday is usually the busiest day. It seemed to be the case with Anime Evolution 2015 as well. After a long bus ride, my two friends and I arrived at UBC. Our first task was to find the building which AE is located. The good news was that I had visited UBC multiple times in the past and could quickly locate the building without getting lost. (Good luck if you don’t know your way around though. The campus is huge.) After arriving at the Student Union Building (SUB), one of my friends (Let’s just call him Alpha) picked up his single day pass at registration.
With his pass secured, my friend and secondary correspondent Mike and I had the tall task of finding the Press Room to pick up our press passes. With a little help from some of the staff, we managed to find the room and pick up our passes from the Press Relations Boss, Will Box. He looked like a busy man as he was the only press staff working so early in the day. He gave us a quick rundown of what rooms we could use for press related things such as interviews or just to take a breather and sent us on our merry way. Just a quick disclaimer, I was given a press pass to AE, take that for what it’s worth when reading this article.
We had some time to kill between the first event we wanted to attend and picking up our passes. With that time we decided to hit up the dealer hall which was on two separate floors. The top floor had quite a few stalls including the one pictured above. My friend Mike wanted to grab some singles for Weiss Schwarz so we grabbed some cards here before moving on.
After picking up the things Mike wanted to grab and after I decided to buy some packs of both Magic and Weiss Schwarz to test my luck (It sucks. 😦 ) , we decided to further explore the dealer hall area. The two levels were quite spacious considering it was located in their brand new SUB building.
The lower level is packed full of stalls as well which sold a good amount of anime goods. The lower level had more space for people to walk by compared to the upper level. It was still fairly early in the day so the dealer hall was fairly quiet which made for a good shopping experience just before the rush of people.
I personally took quite a few pictures in the dealer hall (with permission of course) since it also doubled up as a way to help a friend ‘decide’ on what he wanted from the convention. A friend that couldn’t make it told us to pick something up for them without giving us any ideas of what they wanted. We had to scour the halls multiple times before deciding on something to bring back for them.
A nice contrast of swimsuits and swords.
Looking at the official merchandise booth for Anime Evolution, I noticed one thing that stood out to me. They actually sold lanyards. Something that was desperately missing at Sakura-con 2015. The staff at the booth told me to write something witty for the caption, so I gave it my best shot. Overall, the dealer hall portion of AE was great and provided enough goods to keep most fans happy.
For us, the first major event had to be the Daisuke Sakaguchi Q&A session. He’s played roles in anime such as Clannad, Hyouka, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Gintama, and many more. One major upside of this panel was how well the Q&A was actually run. It was organized and people were well prepared with their questions. Best of all, the translators were pretty on point and seemed knowledgeable about Daisuke Sakaguchi and his voice roles. Interestingly enough, no one tried to ask a question in Japanese.
While my friends participated in the Weiss Schwarz tournament, I turned my attention to the Janey Varney Q&A panel. She was a great guest and was as eccentric as I had previous heard about. She was really into the questions and paced around the rooms interacting with the people asking questions. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a panel where the guest went around and actually interacted with attendees.
Next up on the docket was to go grab some lunch. It was already 2:30PM before we knew it and the hunger was starting to set in. We dropped by one of the local express Japanese restaurants inside of the campus to grab a quick lunch.
Finishing up our quick lunch, it left us some time to scour the dealer hall and the artists alley just before heading to the next event in the main hall. Alpha picked up a few buttons while also looking for a gift for our friend. Conveniently, the main hall was located right next to the artists alley making it a quick walk over. The event being held in the room was the VAN48 concert which we attended for a bit before heading out to meet up with Alpha who was playing in the Smash tournament.
Anime Evolution Idol Round 2 was happening directly after the VAN48 concert. We dropped by to watch the entirety of the program, the announcer seemed familiar to me and I even asked Mike if I knew the person. Turns out I did and I bumped into them later in the convention and talked for a bit. Anyway, seeing the singers was an interesting experience, and they were all unique in their own ways. The only one that really stood out was the one that got trashed by the judges.
Meeting up with another friend who is pictured above, we headed to The Pit to grab dinner. It was a bar type setting so we just ordered the seasonal special, had some burgers, and headed back to the convention area. We went to a few of the mature panels and had some interesting times. Obviously, I felt it was kind of unnecessary to take photos of those events. We’ll leave it up to the reader to use their imagination here.
Before heading off for the night, we dropped by the dance area to get a picture since our friend was hyped about going to at least see what it was like. I can safely say he fit right in with the rest of the crowd pretty easily.
All in all, Anime Evolution 2015 was an enjoyable experience. There were some ups and some downs but it was mostly smooth sailing for a small convention. Our secondary correspondent, Mike, said he enjoyed his stay as well and both of us wish for more great things to come from AE in the future.
Note: Some select cosplay picture can be found below.