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Anime North Over the Years

After going to every Anime North since the very first one, I would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the top 5 differences between Anime North’s first year and their 20th year. 

1)      Location and Attendance

When Anime North got started, the attendance was approximately 800 people in one location.  20 years later, that attendance has increased to over 30,000 and the area has expanded to two buildings of the Toronto Congress Centre with at least 4 or more hotels for additional programming.  The Dealers room alone has expanded from the basement room in the first Anime North to occupying one third of the large Toronto Congress building.

2)      Artist Alley

During the first Anime North, they had an Artist Alley for the fanart.  But 20 years later, the Artist Alley has changed and it is now split into two areas – The Comic Market for print art and the Crafters Corner for additional non-print art such as jewelry, plushies, and 3 dimensional art.  There are also tables for professional artists.

3)      Costumes

During the first Anime North, the most noticeable costumes came from Sailor Moon, which aired on YTV at the time.  After 20 years, cosplay has evolved into new activities such as the Cosplay Skit Contest and the scheduled photoshoots.  There is a much larger variation of anime series seen in costumes in the past few years including video game characters.  I was fortunate to get a picture of a rare Yo-Kai Watch Komasan costume.

4)      Technology

Technology has evolved quickly during the past 20 years.  In the first Anime North, cell phone technology was very limited and they had a message wall, which was a large sheet of paper attached to wall.  If you wanted to find someone, you would write a message on the wall and hope that person would find you.  With today’s technology, the schedule can be downloaded into your phone and you can post your highlights easily on social media.  Technology and social media helped all fans come together and feel proud on enjoying their anime hobbies.

5)      Programming Highlights

During the very first Anime North, it was mostly the anime screenings and the costumes that were the most visible highlights.   In fact, Pokemon did not even arrive at Canada yet.  After 20 years, new attractions have stayed in Anime North such as the Nominoichi, Anime Game Shows, the Anime Music Video contest, the maid and butler cafes, and the music concerts.  The guests were also different in the first Anime North, which were mostly costume specialists.  But after 20 years, the range of guests have not only expanded to voice actors but the guests also include Japanese music guests, cosplay guests, literary guests, fashion guests, and expert panelists and authors.

Anime North has achieved an amazing 20 years as well as being known as the largest anime convention in Canada, second in North America.  We all look forward to the next 20 years of Anime North.