Thursday, 16 July 2015

Anime North 2015

If you’re interested in anime, writing, or drawing, this post may be of some use to you. Alternatively, you’ll at least learn what happened to me at Anime North, one of the largest anime conventions in Canada back in May 2015.


Friday never works these days. See my year 2013 post for why.

That said, this year I did end up in the Presidential Suite of the Holiday Inn Express; I’d ended up having to book a regular King room three weeks previous, because I mistakingly thought I’d booked months ago. They then upgraded me upon arrival, due to overflow - it may have helped that I’m a member of their rewards program. The room itself was actually three rooms (!).


As in 2014, lined up for registration after 8:30am. Marked papers. Had passes before 10am and left the Congress Centre to regroup. Ultimately decided that there was nothing immediate I was interested in, and went back to see about artwork commissions. I’d had four possible character images in mind (which I’d roughed out the previous night) and ended up requesting colour commissions for two of them. They're below.

Merchandise, in Presidential Suite Room 1
That done, I popped into the Dealer’s... City. I actually took the time to try and go around everywhere this year, in part because with “Magical Lyrical Nanoha Vivid” out in Japan, I thought there might be a resurgence of some Nanoha merchandise. Not really - though one dealer had shipped in a life-size ‘Raising Heart’ replica (not for sale)!! I did buy a Figma from him, even though I’ve never been huge on models. Still cute. I also picked up a Hatsune Miku book, because personification.

By this point it was afternoon. I wandered over to the Manga Library (running into Ashley Hakker en route), because I’d been meaning to find out a bit more about “Strike Witches”. I ended up reading a good chunk of one book, then left to line up for the 3pm panel “Paper to eBooks”, one of two writing panels I attended that day.


The panelists for this first one were Marie Bilodeau, Jen Frankel, and Shirley Meier. On COVERS: The cover art for an ebook is the thumbnail; they can’t do foldouts or wraparounds. Stock photos will look like stock photos, and people are more difficult to render (and not look like a 3D render) but going traditional you may not have a choice. Noted that cover artists get paid less than you - be nice to them. Also, beware of putting the main character on the cover, it can stifle the imagination.

from "Epsilon Project"
Commission by: Cherry Zong
On IDEAS: Can do a “writing party” online in GoogleDocs: every person has their own assigned character, have them interact. On MARKETING: It never stops, it’s the hardest thing (and trying to start over after a break is hard too). Charles Dickens had his books memorized, and he would perform them as a one man show with voices! One panelist says if you donate enough for a coffee, she’ll Skype with you for a bit. (Wordpress has a tinyCoffee plugin - what?) The benefits of the eBook is you can get more impulse buyers. On EDITS: Get someone professional; it’s a business. For file conversions, SmashWords has a guide.

In general, FIND OUT WHAT CONTRACTS ARE - what do others want to get away with? Fight to keep your eBook rights, they’ll often bundle it up with everything. A sobering tale: The author of “The Vampire Diaries” (L.J. Smith) sold the rights of her book series. It was picked up for TV. When she later wanted to continue the story she was told SHE COULD NOT, and she’s been reduced to writing fanfiction of her own books!

After that panel, I went to locate my wife, who had said she’d be at “Fresh From Japan”. I was there in time for some of “Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!”, the magical boy anime... which I ended up introducing to my school’s anime club in June. ^o^ There was also “Kantai Collection” (girls as naval fleets, simultaneously weird yet derivative), “Shiro Bako” (the making of an anime, that looked interesting) and “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?” (interesting enough, but not sure it’s for me). By then it was after 5pm, so we went for dinner.

Returned for the “Writing Sex” panel (which necessitated getting the 18+ sticker on my badge, for the first time in a few years). I will do my best to describe this in a PG way. You have to be comfortable with the terminology (only Harlequins constantly use flowery language). Read the scene out loud if you have to - and proofread. “She grabs his sock” may not be what you wanted to say. Better, hire a beta reader, until you get better.

There should be a tonal difference between these experiences: “virgin”/“experienced”, “one night stand”/“start of relationship”. Don’t overdo descriptions of sound (moans, more moans), use other senses like taste and scent. Sex is not graceful. Always make sure you know where the limbs are, so no one is being hit in the face, and no third hand appears. Use lube for lube, not whatever’s handy in the scene, suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Consider the boundaries of your characters, where are their hard lines? (Do they like biting?) And yes, there is a difference between how men and women write porn.


At 8pm, I went to the “Fans in the Professional Workplace” Panel. What do you do when your fandom conflicts with work? It featured a banker, a librarian, a graphic designer, a grad student teacher, and a lawyer. One of the first things they dealt with was their use of “fan” rather than “otaku”, as much as a concession to how “otaku” can mean “to the extreme” as opening it up to more than anime. As one of them said, “It’s an important part of my life. It is not my life.”

from "Time & Tied"
Commission By: Gen Ishihara
If you want to see to what degree they had to remain “undercover”, I point you at my education column: TANDQ: Animated Discussion. Other things discussed were how television shows (like “Game of Thrones”) were easier to discuss than anime - there’s still that dichotomy of anime “is immature” or “is porn”, with no middle ground. Partly because anime is a small market comparatively (less than 2% of videos here), partly because it’s second tier entertainment even in Japan (Studio Ghibli being an exception), and then ones that break through tend to be for younger audiences.

Do they even put Anime North on their resume? It CAN be a way to be remembered. The teacher had “sanitized” his resume, morphing it into a reference to Japanese culture. Possibly check out the hiring manager for your company on LinkedIn, to see what is expected. An audience member (from the Rochester Institute of Technology, apparently a geek school) was particularly curious there. Also mentioned, while “How to maintain professionalism” is not taught in school, exercise restraint when correcting misconceptions. But fandom CAN be beneficial. There's manga guides to content, and the librarian noted how her knowledge of “Welcome to Night Vale” was useful when questions arose in her workplace.

That panel had (unfortunately) conflicted with Kari Maaren’s concert; I did get there for the last song (mic drop = kazoo drop). Then I stuck around for Peter Chiykowski’s concert. There seemed to be more people interested in the Filk than last year. I was running out of steam though - apparently I’m getting old. I left about 10pm, briefly swung by “Worst Anime Ever” (but it seemed to be closed up) so poked my head into “Old School Anime” instead. Some guy named “Ken” was offing people named “Spade” and “Club”. Okay. Headed back to my hotel before 11pm.


Sunday started with trying the jacuzzi in the Presidential Suite, because why not, I’ll likely never have a chance like this again. After checking out of the room, I swung by the artists (one commission was ready, the other was not yet), and (around 11am) went to poke my head into video rooms.

“Magical Sugar Buzz Theater” seemed to be playing “My Little Pony”. In Japanese, with English subtitles. Wait, what? Meanwhile, the “Sailor Moon Crystal” room was playing the episode with “Princess D”. Having seen that already I settled for the ponies, and when they ended there was “PriPara”, an anime featuring elementary student Laala becoming a singing idol. This is also when I ran into Karl Zaryski, which is good, I’d hate to have missed him.

After that, at noon, I spent three hours on drawing related panels and workshops - with Helen McCarthy and Kent Burles. They're in a separate post: Drawing Myths and Tips.

After all that, it being after 3:15pm, I made it to the AMV Replay - I’d wanted to see at least a few. I wasn’t actually keen on the winner, “Anime 404”, one of the type to splice together various animes & music. So I offer: “My Neighbour Figaro” (Momiji’s Challenge Winner),  “Notice Me” (Silver Medal Merit) and “Little Bit of Love” (I liked it, show it a little bit of love). When that wrapped up before 4pm, I poked my head into another couple rooms. “Sailor Moon” was showing a classic (undubbed) episode with Shingo and Mika. “Love Live! School Idol Project” - which I’d seen a bit of last year - apparently has the name “muse” as their singing group, spelled like the greek letter mu. This, I like.

I finally headed out, making a pass by the artists again for my second commission, and meeting my wife at “The 404s” show - another one of those things you want to at least catch a part of. Ah, the hilarity of invented superpowers. I left before the closing ceremonies, because it’s still a five hour drive home.


Nineteen consecutive years. Still more a tradition than anything else - but this time, the drawing tips were worth the trip. And their own post. I went to more panels and less anime this year, I wonder if that’s part of it? Maybe I’ll return for #20.

If you liked that post, feel free to read about 2014. Or check out my AMV Friday Roundups.

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