Monday, 30 June 2014

Anime North 2014

Like last year, this Anime North recap is mostly for my own memory and musings, but maybe you'll find something of use in it too. Also, you'll see random commissions of my time travel characters!


Never works these days. See last year for why.


Didn't get to the registration line until after 8:30am. Marked papers. Had passes by 9:30am. Wasn't about to line up at TCC again and there didn't seem to be an AMV room this year, so wandered over to International Plaza hotel to look in the video rooms.

Commission by: Sabrina Salamon
I really like this one!!
The "Sat Morning Cartoon bonanza" was playing 'Medabots' so I watched an episode of that. Then there were a few shorts... including Personified Internet Explorer (Inori Aizawa), which is pretty awesome, check that link. (Seriously, THAT clip is how I see my Math Serial. If you like it, you may like mathtans, and vice versa.) More wandering. 'Happiness Charge Precure' in one room and wow, 'Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water' in another. (The former is everywhere, the latter is classic.) At about 10:40 I went to line up for one of three panels that I made it to this year.


This was a first time panel; the four panelists (of uncertain spelling: Richard, Steven, Matt, Emily) had exchanged emails previously, as obviously this sort of thing can be quite contentious. About the only overall agreement was on Studio Ghibli. To start, "Game Changer" was defined as "so influential that the fandom itself changed as a result" and "Essential" as "people should be aware of it" (even outside anime circles).

Changers: Dragonball Z & Sailor Moon for pushing things mainstream. Gundam Wing and Macross (Plus) as portals to gundam genre (with a shoutout to Robotek). YuYu Hakusho as a genesis for "tournament style" anime and shounen (with a shoutout to Fist of the Northstar). .hack//sign as the original "trapped in an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game", a plot that seems to be getting popular these days. And on the technical side, Akira was mentioned.

Commission by: krakenface
Evangelion. Seen by one panelist as starting the "Inversion" genre, the idea of turning a trope on it's head. "Mentally unbalanced people must save the world... and they're not succeeding??" More recently, Madoka Magica has played with similar ideas using magical girls. But is a new spin necessarily a game changer? Utena twisted the magical girl trope, but wasn't necessarily groundbreaking... yet it did popularize things while adding new depth.

"Nothing exists in a cultural vacuum." We also need to consider that some anime are the product of their times. For instance, these days we have fewer and fewer farmers - and Silver Spoon is a recent anime taking place at an Agricultural High School. Also, anime has tended to be a "whitewash" of characters racially, making Avatar an interesting multicultural gateway (even though it's not strictly anime). And twenty years ago, companies saw it as necessary to remove Japanese content - less so, now that North Americans can accept something as "good" even if it's foreign, and evident in the way they're treating the revised Sailor Moon Crystal.

An audience member pointed out that a critique of the previous generation becomes it's own genre... which I'm certainly seeing even outside of anime as people review old movies/comics/etc. Merchandising is also seen as hugely important in North America - Pokemon initially struggled in Japan (particularly with the scene that caused seizures), but got media attention here and they had all this swag that helped it take off.

Popular Long Runners: One Piece, Detective Conan, even Ranma 1/2. Less so Inu Yasha, because it never really ended an arc, just kept telling the same story over and over. Near the end, I asked the panel what might be the next big things to happen; "Kill la Kill" (from same studio as Strike Witches) and "Log Horizon" were two I jotted down, and one panelist mentioned "Short Peace" as 4 shorts compiled into one movie.


It now being noon, I wandered back to the TCC (my wife went to "Fresh from Japan") in order to commission some art. Not of my math characters this year, but of my time travel characters, as well as a commission of Numbers for a friend. (He's currently publishing his Shadowrun story at Chaos Beast.) I felt like Artists Alley was larger than a typical Dealer's Room. Deciding on who to choose took well over an hour. One guy was doing button commissions, I thought that was clever.

Commission by: Linda Ng
Note: In future, probably good to have an actual pose or something in mind (as Scott did). Artists are very obliging, and "um, something athletic" is not giving them a lot to go on. In retrospect, I was mostly getting the images to have something to distract me from my web serial. The tiny pictures I had as references were also only waist up (you can see them here), so I gave carte blanche as far as doing anything more with them, like the leggings on Carrie, above.

Went back to Plaza hotel for 1:45, only to find that the line for the 2pm "Creating Characters" panel was already so long that there was no guaranteed entry. So, nevermind. Ran into Karl then, so that was cool. I proceeded back to check out the Dealer's... Hall. City. Insanity. Usually I systematically scan through the whole place, I didn't even try this time. Spotted a Nanoha tapestry but it was of young Nanoha, so no. Then an adult Nanoha mousepad - with boobs, so NO. Then a shirt saying "Trust me I'm a doctor" with a pic of 'My Little Pony' Dr. Whooves, so, wait, what? Bought a couple "Scientific Railgun" manga on the way out, resolving not to return.

Went back to Plaza just after 3pm, a bit late to meet my wife, so I hung around "Fresh From Japan". They were showing 'Black Bullet', which looks like an interesting take on dystopias and racism (against young girls with red eyes because aliens - it's complicated). Also, opening music by Fripside (of 'Railgun' fame). It's one to consider. Left at 3:35 to line up for... no, the line for the 4pm "Anime Vs Reality" panel was already cut off. Really?

So I went over to the Sheraton Hotel to check out the Manga Library. Randomly spun through the sheets and settled on "Mai, the Psychic Girl". It was an interesting read - old school, with rotary telephones, but plot of girl dealing with indirect trauma on account of her powers. I then took a quick wander through the gaming area, and one guy wanted to take a picture of all my badges. This was his first AN and he saw me as some "ambassador", I fear he may have me confused with someone else.

Back over to Plaza hotel for 5pm, figuring that I can pop into the back of the "Music Video Contest Finals" that started a half hour ago... and there's a guy at the door saying the room is full. SERIOUSLY? This is the huge BALLROOM for crying out loud! Fine. I head back to "Fresh From Japan" in time to catch the end of "Haikyu!!", an anime about two volleyball teammates with conflicted personalities. Then it's "Is The Order a Rabbit?" which... um. It's... cute? The protagonist is Cocoa. Another of the cafe girls carries a gun. The rabbit is possessed and doubles as a hat. Here's the opening. MasakoX has reviewed it.

That wrapped up just before 6pm, from there I looked at "Blood Lad", a supernatural anime. Fuyumi, a human girl, stumbles into the supernatural world and becomes a demon, meeting Staz, a vampire obsessed with the human world who has a big manga collection. Neat concept and decent execution but with too much focus on Fuyumi's breasts. I prefer either subtle fanservice, or all up in your face (like "Highschool of the Dead"), this seemed to be trying to find a balance (which I don't think is possible). Also took a look at "Love, Election & Chocolate" but it didn't make an impact.

When the Music Videos let out at 6:30pm I met up with my wife (she said there were some seats near her, I don't know, maybe they freed up later) to get dinner. Of note, the other "Fresh" series' were "Log Horizon" (but there was a subtitle problem), "One Week Friends" (about a girl with memory loss), "Kuroko's Basketball", "Golden Time" and "Nisekoi".


After dinner, went back to line up for the "Debs & Errol Filk Concert" a half hour early, because I'm NOT going to be told they're out of room for THIS event. (You may recall I met them at Anime North last year.) Good times were had, Debs & Errol did the first half hour (Errol ate... things) and Kari Maaren the second half. Admittedly, as I have their CDs and follow on Twitter there were only a couple songs I didn't recognize. Also, chatting in the audience, I learned that I got a mention at Ottawa ComicCon as the singing math teacher, so there you go.

Errol as an undead crawler?

Then was the Creativity panel, with the same three of them as well as Sally. A lot of what was talked about I already have a sense of (and I recommend checking out my recap of the Creativity panel from CanCon 2013, also featuring D&E) but here's a few of the main takeaways:
-Get over the fear that it won't be any good. Fail faster (to get to the good stuff).
-Start with the basics, then build. Kari: "Know where the lines are so that you know when you're stepping over them. Or setting them on fire."
-Deadlines help. If you fail to make a deadline, ask yourself WHY. (Have smaller goals?) Tell others about your deadlines for accountability.
-Collaboration is great for creativity, both because of things others come up with, and for more accountability.
-Practice. Including practicing the skill of working under pressure, if you're concerned about "choking". Also unexpected things do happen. We have to accept this.
-The "Imposter Syndrome", when you see external things by others and internalize to yourself, is counterproductive.

CARRIE (alternate version)
Commission by: Kai-Shii
That wrapped up at 11pm, at which point I went to "The Abridged Collection", and got into some standing room only at the back. They were doing "Attack on Titan" abridged followed by "Mobile Student Haruhi", an odd mashup of two genres. Left a bit after 11:30pm to head back for "The Music of Fandom". (Caught the end of 'Ukulele Jam', apparently "crunching" is when you strum without making any noise, which can be incorporated in playing. Versatile instrument!)

The "Fandom" panel was pretty much the core filk folk, me, and one other girl with her parent, so it was more a discussion. Maybe we can blame the "Doctor Who" panel that was running concurrently. We convinced Kari to play "Being Watson" as an intro (love that song), then talked about the difference between Filk (a community) versus Geek Music (often independents). There's also "Dementia artists" like "Weird Al" who are mainstream, and not really part of either set. I likened things to Venn diagrams.

Afterwards, at 1am, I made quick rounds of the video rooms to see what was amusing in ecchi (one room was playing a Lupin movie) and headed back to my hotel for somewhat before 2am.


Sunday started with me NOT posting to my webserial for the first time in 70 straight weeks. I've blogged, go read if you want. Met up with my parents for breakfast again, got back to the con for about 10:30am. Went to "Create That Anime" because I'd missed it last year, and to see how they were doing it given Steve Savage wasn't attending this time.

Wasn't a huge audience, but it was somewhat amusing. I think I'd watch "Genetic Task Force Diamond Man", about a high school biology club that ends up making diamond men and live-in women. I did notice the host was generating both sets of random anime tropes at the same time, which seemed (to me) to give more prep time to the person going second, but that didn't always help.


Went to the "Magical Sugar Buzz Theatre" at 11am, in time to see a bit of "Lady Jewelpet". It seemed generic, but looking it up now, it's apparently the sixth installment of an entire franchise. Okay then. Next, "Love Live!" about a group of 9 girls who (according to the website) become a school idol group to save their school... but in the episode I saw they all apparently had the ability to lucid dream together? Um. It was okay though. Then, "Time Paladin Sakura".

Okay, T.P. SAKURA is AWESOME in much the same way that Nanoha was awesome when I first saw it at Anime North... uh... ten years ago? Oy. It's also apparently a spinoff (of "Da Capo") the same way Nanoha was a spinoff (of "Triangle Heart"). Learned later it's just an OVA though, only two episodes, which is a bit of a downer. Basic premise, Sakura can travel in time, she's trying to stop Suginami from interfering with the past - but Suginami sees himself as trying to recover lost historical artifacts. So who's really the protagonist? Plus they have secret school identities, there's magical circles, usual tropes. Anyway, here's the opening.

When that ended, I went next door to check out a bit of "Girls und Panzer". Five minutes there mostly just confirmed what I'd heard about the series. Then, just after noon, I went to "Fractale". Because, duh, math teacher. The opening sequence does have fractals.

This one's interesting - they develop the world as you watch, so I don't know the whole of it yet but... many years in the future, cities are abandoned and people are nomadic. Because when you have the technology to project yourself anywhere, why stay in one place? So there's a world of actual humans (connected to the 'Fractale' network) and one of their virtual "avatars" (doppels), and one can't physically interact with the other. Until the appearance of a peculiar character. A summary really doesn't do it justice. I'd check it out.

Commission by: Neil Buday
OMG how 'SD' works for her!
I watched that into the third episode, but after 1pm decided I'd better go back to pick up my art commissions from yesterday. I actually forgot which table I'd requested a commission from - normally I'm more spatially aware, but the size of the place, oy. Got everything but one, the artist wasn't finished yet. While at the TCC, I ended up wondering if maybe 'TP Sakura' had been licensed in some way. Not having internet powers, and wanting to avoid regret, I decided to brave the Dealers' Insanity again for a quick look. Nope, okay, done.

They'd been doing AMV Replay since noon, so I ended up back in that room verging on 2:30pm. Then, I thought, there's a panel on 'Self-publishing & Marketing' at 3pm - do I want to line up for that? Do I want to trade immediate enjoyment for possible longer term enjoyment? ... Yeah, alright. I show up at 2:35. There's a line (unauthorized) queuing for RWBY at 4pm because PEOPLE ARE NUTS. The 3pm panel (authorized) line only has a couple dozen in it though, so I queue.

I ended up blogging separately about that panel.  So I think that was worth it.


At 4pm I went back to the AMV room for another 20 minutes or so - enough time for the crowds to clear for the 404s final performance. (My wife said the line was already long at 3pm.) It was also JJ's last improv show with them, as he's taking more personal time. We showed up there a little before 4:30pm. Got to see JJ and some of the others try to re-enact "Sailor Moon" in one minute... I'm impressed they got as far as Chibi-Usa. (Then they did it in 30 seconds, 15, 5... what with changing identities it looked like Moon ended up with a Monster, not Tuxedo Mask.)

Also some tributes to JJ occurred.

Had to dash off just after 4:45pm to pick up my last commission before 5. Returned, watched the "Catgirls Irish Drinking Song", then dropped by the "Milestone Con-goers" panel about 5:10pm, shortly after it started (it was for those who had been to at least five Anime North). THAT was a bit interesting, as you have people reflecting on the "next generation" - there being a place for young kids at the TCC, for instance. One person recalled "lockdown" years, when a missing kid would cause all rooms to be locked down until they were found. (Me, I remember the year there was a power failure and I walked up flights of stairs to help bring some stuff to the Con Suite.)

There were also comments about issues these days that either didn't exist before, or weren't seen as being issues. For instance, the need to ban 'Yaoi paddles' and the 'Conventioneers' from the con. There was also talk of cosplay picture etiquette, and how things change away from a convention. I had to head out about 5:30pm, because it's five hours back to Ottawa, and me and Anne-Lise still had to walk back to the hotel where I'd kept the car this year.

On the trip back home, my car odometer topped 100,000 km.

Pulled onto an exit ramp for the picture


Drawn by me.
If you couldn't tell.
Last year AN had over 23,000 people; this year Saturday admissions were sold out in advance. As I said last year, Anime North has become more of a tradition than anything else. Possibly an ending tradition... nothing hugely resonated with me this year. I did get some interesting information and anime leads, but was it worth driving for 10 hours? I also sacrificed my long weekend (to schoolwork) in order to be able to do this... which brings everything back to the job. So I'll need to keep thinking about that.

Either way, hope you enjoyed reading and maybe found something of use! Feel free to let me know below.


  1. Game Changers
    Evangelion was a deconstruction of prior mecha anime, showing just how messed up using children as front line mecha pilots would be. Combined with the creator's untreated depression and breaking the studio's bank account, the series became bleak. Definitely an influence and the lead for a series of deconstructionist series like Gunslinger Girl, but I don't see it as a genre on its own.

    Art Commissions
    I learned about specifying poses after getting Nasty of Subject 13 commissioned. In hindsight, I probably should have gone with Oswald or Treehugger - their bodies don't change on command - but Numbers was a key character in the scenes I was working on at the time.

    The two Carrie pics definitely catch her personality, different aspects in each pic. Athletic, in charge even when falling. Frank looks close to how I pictured him, and the pi shirt definitely fits him. Luci looks innocent, though I always pictured her pigtails longer. Chartreuse really does work super-deformed. I could easily see her flashback done entirely in that style, even if the adaptation was live action.

    The Con Itself
    I keep thinking I should go one last time, money and time permitting. But it sounds like the con has gotten too big. Panels filling up long before they start... I could wind up missing a lot and just wandering and running into crowds which would be unpleasant right now. *shudder* I would have gotten the Dr. Whooves shirt, though. Time ponies are cool.

    1. I'll take your word on the Evangelion backstory (that was where the panelist opinions started diverging)... maybe it depends on how you define "genre".

      I'll try to think poses if/when I decide to do commissions again. As to the watercolour Carrie, I think she's jumping a fence. Oh man... that Chartreuse episode was super deformed even before picturing the art style. O.o

      As to the con, I think it depends on if there's some specifics you want to check out. It's not really a wandering con anymore, since there's so many people ahead of you (or behind you). Thus my inertia's tilting away, but something could still draw me back.

    2. Eva might have popularized deconstructions, leading to a new genre? It does; genre gets weird.

      I think I see the fence there now. ^_^;; Chartreuse seems to live in a SD world and only deals with everyone through that filter. :)

      I'll take a look. I may want to go one last time, but crowds aren't my friends any more. *sigh*