Catherine and I had a chance to explore Otakuthon over the weekend and it was a great experience. Check out what we liked the most:
The Manga Library
Alicia: Conventions can be busy, overwhelming places and Otakuthon has come up with pretty neat way for attendees to sit back and relax. Over 3000 manga (made up of three private collections) were available for guests to read, free of charge, in the Manga Library. Set up with chairs and a neat fort, the Manga Library functioned like a normal library with guests handing over their badges as collateral for a chance to catch up on their favorite series away from the crowds.
The Video Game Room
Catherine: For an anime convention, Otakuthon sure knows how to do gaming. They dedicated a huge area in Palais des Congres and stuffed it full of gaming goodies. Along one wall, we had the Touhou Project gaming stations, dedicated to the popular one-man-made game of the same name, as well as other Japanese-created shooters. They also had a pretty cool PC lan-setup in another corner to give con-goers the chance to play some FPS’ with their friends. If that isn’t your cup of tea, they also gave access to the very latest games for everyone to tryout, including Titanfall, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Starcraft 2 and League of Legends.Stationed right next to it was a Marvel vs Capcom friendly tourney that generated some buzz, but none as much as the main attraction: Mario Kart. Taking up a fourth of the area, they streamed the insanely popular Nintendo racing game on a huge screen. There were shouts, whoops and yells coming that corner that really added to the excitement Otakuthon was trying to deliver in having their epic gaming room.
The Tabletop Game Room
Alicia: Otakuthon made a great effort to ensure that many facets of attendee’s interests were included in one convenient place, the convention center. That means there was an entire room dedicated to letting guests play a wide selection of tabletop games. From Dungeons and Dragons (5E) to KrosMaster: Arena, there were games for every type of dice roller to try out.
The Exhibition Hall
Alicia: A huge attraction at any convention is the Dealer area. After all, who can resist their favorite character in adorable plushie form? Otkauthon’s exhibition area was filled to the brim with all kinds of merchandise, from hard to find, region specific games to a great selection of both men and women’s clothing. Booths from Montreal-based stores and those from out of province all had a wide variety of items that can be otherwise hard to find (even online.) All the US cover price deals would blow a manga collector’s mind.The Artist’s Area was a busy place all weekend. Amazing, colorful pieces of work were hung up everywhere, showing off the local and not-so-local talent. Lots of attendees could be found perusing the tables, walking away with prints of their favorite League of Legend’s Champion or boy from Free!
The Masquerade Ball
Catherine: And finally, we had the pinnacle of the cosplay happenings: the Masquerade Ball. Aimed at bringing amateurs and professionals together alike, it gave the chance for brave souls to get on stage, sing a song, perform a skit or just strut their stuff and show off all their hard work in front of an eager audience. The music was loud, the announcer was enthusiastic and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Oh, and there was an endless lineup. This was, hands down, the most popular event on the Otakuthon roster.
Alicia: I attended my first Otakuthon 4 years ago, and walking into the convention center each time since then has been quite the experience. Each year you see the changing faces of cosplays and merchandise, all following the biggest titles in anime and manga. What doesn’t change is the the enthusiasm of the attendees, volunteers and event coordinators. Otakuthon is evolving but it still has the spirit it had when it was just emerging from Concordia’s anime club. Some conventions can outgrow their roots, becoming more about drawing crowds at the sake of attendee’s actual enjoyment. Otakuthon has successfully brought in big numbers and made an environment that is welcoming, genuine and comfortable. I can not wait to go back next year.
Catherine: I hadn’t been to an Otakuthon in quite some time; between heading down to Toronto for Fan Expo or buying up Montreal’s Comic Con 3-day pass, I overlooked this fantastic convention the past few years. But what an unfortunate mistake. The convention has grown exponentially since its early days as a niche anime club into Quebec’s largest, and Canada’s second largest convention that is dedicated to all things Japanese pop-culture related. There were 17 650 (!!!!) bright eyed, enthusiastic con-goers that passed through Palais des Congres last weekend and the spirit it brought radiated throughout Otakuthon. From the organizers to the people we interviewed, there was nothing but excitement and dedication at making this a fantastic experience for everyone involved. And the cosplayers. Oh, the cosplayers. There were actually *more* people dressed in costume then not, and just that in itself made this year’s Otakuthon stand out. Am I going to go again? Hell yes. Should you? Hell yes. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
Until Next Year…
Unfortunately, we only scratched the surface of what this year’s Otakuthon had to offer. They had different events, panels and contests that were going on every hour, on the hour. This non-profit, fan-run convention gave attendees the opportunity to meet, mingle and hang out with those who make this fandom so damn exciting to participate in. If you feel as if you missed out on something great, we won’t sugar coat it for you; you did. But don’t fret! Otakuthon isn’t going anywhere and they’ll be back next year, August 7-9th 2015.