Montreal has always been one of those places in Canada I have wanted to visit. There’s something about French Canada that is always intriguing for those of us on the West Coast. Maybe it’s the lack of French we experience here in BC or the fact that we’re pretty far from the Eastern provinces. Whatever the reason, Otakuthon was a good reason for me to travel out the Montreal.
Heading early to the airport on Wednesday morning, I arrived in Montreal by early evening and took a stroll around the airport (YUL). It’s almost a culture shock to see so much French on every menu, sign, and corner you walk by. I spent a few hours at the airport waiting for the rest of my friends to arrive as they were flying in from the US. We managed to meet up with D_S and D_S’ friend Matt late evening and headed out to the hotel together.
Our list of members included the following:
- shcboomer (me) – @shcboomer
- D_S – @feedmeyourtears
- Matt (D_S’ friend.) – No Twitter 😦
- lunr (Our good Toronto friend) – @lunr_sama
- dbx (The lovable French Canadian) – @dbx10
- hikage (Our other Toronto-ite) – @HikageKyun
As usual, Wednesday was mostly used as a day of rest and time to get settled into Montreal. There’s nothing like a flight across Canada to make you want to take some time to relax. We spent most of Thursday meeting up with the rest of the group as everyone arrived at different times. On top of that, we also made sure to stock up for the weekend.
We also headed down to the venue on Thursday to check it out and to pick up our bags that came with our preorder. The majority of us opted to have the badges sent to us by mail. One of the coolest things about the badges at Otakuthon is that they have RFID technology to be scanned in and out. This makes controlling the venue and tracking attendance more accurate. On top of that, they can scan your badge to see what other extras you bought including concert tickets and the like.
Unfortunately, lunr opted to not have his badge shipped. Let’s just say he spent some time in this line to get his badge. The venue itself is quite large and was located near Chinatown in Downtown Montreal. It took a little getting used to, but once you found your footing, it was easy to navigate the multitude of floors and halls.
Friday morning started off with a big breakfast. Nothing gets you going like a good breakfast for con days where you might be skipping meals altogether. Not to mention, we have an Eggs Benny thing going where we try at least one in each city we visit. Let’s just say Montreal has really set their bar high.
As we headed into the venue, we knew we were in for a long day. Why not start off the day with a little walk-con to see what we can find. The whole group was together and we decided to visit the main area of the convention center. It was pretty packed, but it was well organized and the usage of the RFID cards made entry a breeze.
The dealer’s hall is one of those areas you will visit at least once on your visit to any con. Otakuthon was no different, we spent some time inside to check out the merchandise and see if there was anything that caught our eye. There was a lot of anime, gaming, and assorted hobby goods. I personally only bought some art and charms for friends. However, the others did manage to pick up a few things here and there including figures and other character goods.
When it came to panels, the convention itself ran them pretty well. They were mostly run in the upper levels and the rooms were quite spacious. It also helps that each of the rooms had a digital display outside showcasing what the current panel was and what would be upcoming. Of course, the overall content was up to the panel hosts themselves. Needless to say, some of them were better than others.
As it got later in the day, we were ready to head back to prepare a bit and grab some dinner. Even on our way out, there was still a sizable amount of people entering and leaving the convention. The hallways were less busy but still had a crowd.
After grabbing a quick bite and spending some time in the hotel room, lunr and I headed back to the convention center. We had bought tickets for the Lia show and decided to head there earlier to try to get better seats. Luckily, we got there in time to sit in a comfortable row and didn’t have to stand at the back. It wasn’t super busy by the time we got in, but by the time the concert started, the place was packed to the brim.
Let’s just say I’ve been looking forward to going to see a Lia concert live for a very long time. When I heard she was the musical guest for Otakuthon, I knew I had to go. Good thing my good buddies D_S and lunr have been saying how good the con was for about a year. The Lia concert was better than I expected and her tracklist was more or less what I expected. As most people know, I really love Key and she performed some of her biggest hits from Key works including My Heart, Your Beats!, Bird’s Poem, Bravely You, and others. The convention was worthwhile for this concert alone.
One of the things we certainly could not miss while we were in Montreal was to have poutine. If you’re not sure what poutine is, it is a staple snack/food in Montreal and the rest of Canada. It is a simple stack of french fries, topped with cheese curds and gravy. Montreal is famous for its poutine and smoked meat. So put these two things together and throw in a bunch of other ingredients for one delicious but fattening snack.
Friday night ended with us spending some time meeting up with another group of people from the Toronto area. They were a cool group and we went out to a bar with them and got to know them better. Let’s just say conventions are a great place to meet others that share your interest. We also met up on the following evening and had one heck of a late night both on Friday and Saturday.
Saturday was pretty similar as we spent time going to panels we had on our list and visited the dealer’s hall and did our usual combination of walk-con and spending time taking photos of cosplay.
I spent Saturday evening meeting up with a friend of mine DxS. He was there with J-Novel Club so I headed over to his panel. It was interesting to get to meet some people in the industry as they were a title sponsor. Somehow, one thing leads to another and I found myself having dinner with the owner of J-Novel Club, DxS, and another staff member. It was an open concept dinner spot where the menu was on a chalkboard. We opted for the chef’s selection as we weren’t exactly well-versed in French.
That is a lot of Kotori. lunr is also a huge fan of Kotori, sadly, his power level is not quite up there yet. Maybe next time.
Overall, Otakuthon 2018 was a great experience. D_S and lunr were not kidding when they said it was a good convention. There’s just something about having a convention located in scenic Montreal and the mixture of good artists, guests, and sponsors. That’s not to say there weren’t downsides including some weaker panels, lineups, and other minor issues. However, these were heavily outweighed by the general atmosphere of the convention, the usage of RFID badges, and the well-organized machine behind it. I would definitely go back to Otakuthon if given the opportunity.
The one unfortunate outcome of going to Otakuthon this year was my inability to attend Anime Revolution which is my local convention. Not to mention, this was my first year not attending. On the bright side, we had our secondary correspondents attend.
Cosplay photos can be found at the end as usual. We had a FGO/Type-Moon and Rem challenge this time around.