Anime fans, dress up! Every year, Otakuthon is a chance for all those who love Japanese cartoons, comics, and games to come together and celebrate their passion. While the rest of the world might think dressing up like an animated post-industrial-revolution alchemist from an alternate universe seems a bit weird, trust me, it’s super fun. Cosplay is one of the highlights, but Otakuthon has something for anyone with an interest in Japanese animation and games. Panels are available on everything from the plot of Frozen to dressing Lolita style. There are spaces for gamers, yuri, yaoi, fans for every kind of anime imaginable, shoppers, artists, fashionistas, and of course Pokémon will get special precedence with a Pokéthon. Events run overnight, including screenings of hentai anime. Chances are that if you’re part of any of these niches, you have a good handle on what to see. If you’re new to Otakuthon, here are ten things not to miss:
J-POP Your Boogie Shoes to Start
You’ve probably heard of K-Pop (Korean Pop), well Japan has its own version, J-Pop (Japanese pop music). While many of Asia’s pop performers don’t get to Montreal, local performers East2West will perform hits by Asia’s hottest pop groups likeBoA, Daichi Miura, Da-iCE, Perfume, and even K-Pop groups like BTS, GOT7 and SNSD. If you want to find out why Asian pop music is so addictive and want to see some fierce choreography, come and dance along with East2West. Later, catch Japanese pop sensation, Back On (Friday, Aug 5, 12-1:30 in 710 for East2West; 8 p.m. in 210 for Back On)
Go Pokéthon Go
Given the large number of people who are catching pokemon at Decarie Square each night, the Pokemon Go craze is still with us a week after launch. Canada has its first festival dedicated to Pokémon, the Pokéthon. This event includes a cosplay meet-up, battles, trading, a photo shoot, and just celebrate Pikachu and co.
The cosplayers share the fruits of their hard labor in a number of events. The Masquerade allows 80 cosplayers (or cosplay groups) to model their costumes. Some do it catwalk style, while others performs skits or songs. Judges select the best in different divisions. (Saturday, August 6, 6:30, 210)
Meet The Face Behind the Voice
Otakuthon brings in many voice actors who have played the roles of your favorite characters. If you’d like to hear about their experiences or get an autograph, this year, you can meet Chris Cason (Mr. Popo and Tien Shinhan in DragonballZ; Gluttony in Fullmetal Alchemist, Ukyo in Ouran High School Host Club, and so many others); Eric Stuart (the original Brock, James, Butch, Squirtle, Blastoise, and Pokédex in Pokemon, Seto Kaiba in Yu Gi Oh! to name a few); and Atsuko Tanaka (Soi in Fushigi Yugi, Misuzu Suenaga from Salary Man Kintaro, and Reiko from Chouja Raideen).
Meet Youtube Sensations
Vlogs have become a popular place to critique and provide news for all things anime. Several youtubers with subscription bases ranging from 400,000 to 1 million will be at Otakuthon this year. Aki (Akidearest) rants, reviews, and unboxes things on her channel. Joey, the Anime Man, connects with anime culture via rants and skits. Quebecer Mistry Chornexia has 1 million subscribers and is known for his Top List videos.
Game Your Eyeballs Out
In the game room, those wishing to play RPGs, Wargames, or Trading Card games have a chance to come together. Boardgames are on hand to try out from partner stores Chez Geeks, Gamekeeper, and Three Kings Loot. Tournaments are also held throughout the weekend. Roll the dice and try something brand new with a game host who will explain the rules. Oh, and if you prefer your games to come via play station, Wii, or Xbox, there are tornmanets and games for your favorites like SSBM, Mortal Kombat, League of Legends. Or check out something completely new.
Don’t Watch Alone
An anime festival is going to have some anime. Crunchyroll, a website known for streaming Asian media, is a major sponsor. Videos run from sunup to sunup (yes, the run overnight) and include films and television shows. Best of all, they’re in the original language, generally Japanese, with subtitles in French and/or English. Why not see Ouran High School Host Club, Sailor Moon, or Ace Attorney with a room full of fellow fanatics.
Develop a Passion
Panels and workshops are run by attendees. The variety of offerings is astonishing and ranges from the profound to naval gazing. If you have a specific skill you’d like to learn — wig making, game publishing, songwriting, costume making, Sake 101, drawing skills — there’s a workshop for that. If you want to discuss feminism and Lolita culture or bad fanfiction, there’s a panel on it.
Meet Someone New
The Otakuthon is a great place to be yourself. It’s such a welcoming atmosphere, especially for people who often feel like their interests are not all that mainstream. Everyone is excited to talk about their particular passions and the easiest ice breaker of all to use is, “I love your costume. Tell me how you made it.” It’s easy to make friends who share your interests, or perhaps ones who can help you develop some new interests. Two groups that have been given more prominence are the yuri (girl-love) and the yaoi (boy-love). Not only are there panels, workshops, and films specifically addressing these two groups, but there are also dating events like the Anime Dating Game and Queer Speed Dating.
Shop the Market
From personal experience, Otakuthon culture is addictive. For newbies, a great place to get a first costume is at the marketplace, or even just to get inspired. Need a particular manga? It’s for sale. Want an artist to draw you a specific picture, or one of yourself? Someone will be glad to oblige. There are many rare products from Japan and Asia available too.
Otakuthon takes place August 5-7 at Palais de Congres. For more information, click HERE. Tickets are $55 for the weekend, or $34 for Friday or Sunday, $45 for Saturday.