Anime North 2014: Wrap

Day Three of Anime North is just like Day Two, just minus the brunch and more casual. Most of the JP Ps went back to their hotels after closing ceremony was over; Harami and Mai both attended that event, and that ended at 7pm. Most cons don’t end this late, for a weekend-type con. We ended up eating at a tex mex place down the road and it turned out a lot more affordable and about as delicious. It was also a little bit of an acrobatic act; originally it was a dinner with just some local Ps and the HPT guys, but some JP guys wanted to tag along so the party size changed from 13 to 26 and back to 16. I again tipped well.

Did I mention that on Saturday’s off-kai at the local steakhouse chain (it’s not as upscale as, say, Ruth Chris’s) we did RE@DY? We were able to get a whole corner of the place to ourselves and a few JP Ps went off on it.

After hanging out with all these new-found Ps, it was kind of moving. By day three we were sufficiently bonded with some JP Producers that we had a tough goodbye at the parking lot. We came back to the hotel and did more calls and lightstick waving. Hacked the hotel TV so we can watch 8th live. Remember the glamours AI LIKE HAMBURGER routine.

And this is how Anime North feels like a 4-day con even if it’s just 3 days long. On Monday we got up at a reasonable hour and walked around Niagara Falls. It’s always fun to see the largest watering hole on earth.

Yukari puppet

Well, where can I begin? It’s like I went and hung out with a bunch of guys whose first anime con was this con, who traveled thousand of miles to see Harami and partly partake the bounties of Toronto and Canada. Seeing the HPT guys was considerably not as interesting; it’s great to see them, but we just talk like how we talk on our secret back channel so it came together naturally. It’s more touching for some other Ps who really connected with the Japanese Ps, like the one JP P who came to visit from Ireland during his study abroad. We met a bunch of Filipino and Chinese Ps of Canada and even a Korean P from Washington State. New Jersey represented big time, from the US. There’s a Thai P who was also doing a degree in the States who flew up here “conveniently.”

The main goal, I think, was to have a good time, to welcome the Ps, and to demonstrate our affection for IM@S and Yumi Hara. The funny thing is this isn’t really spoken among the Ps who arranged the various events, the outfit days, and what not. But I think someone needs to say it sometimes just so we’re clear. Of course, for some others (like me), this was also an anime convention with all of its usual charms. I wish I spent more time with Mai Goto. I wished I went to the Rose Noire concert. I wish I took more cosplay photos. It’s just that those concerns sit somewhere on the bottom of this adventure.

So instead, we can talk about how I ordered an American-sized steak and showed them an American-sized appetite? The Japanese Ps that came over are either pure Harami Cluster types, who are just fans of Takane or Harami, or DD like many of the local attendees. So in that sense I was shown how much worse they’ve had it. It’s funny because one of the cool bros at the offkai was lewd posting while on his way back to Japan (actually on the same flight as Harami) and it was this funny juxtaposition that too perfectly details how many of the 2.5D event chasers I’ve seen. I guess if Harami gets you going, more power to you? Just be responsible.

And yeah, Yumi Hara is the reason we all came together. In the big scope of things, she is just one of many of the attractions that makes up the Idolm@ster as a franchise. Personally, even before seeing her in person and going to Anime North this past weekend, she was probably my number one seiyuu from IM@S 765Pro All Stars. Today, she just further cements that position…although I don’t think it means much. I’m a DD, after all.

What I really want to talk about is the whole DD nonsense. It’s a bit of a fun realization because the Harami Cluster, by default, is a group of Harami fans. These are the guys that traveled so far, to brave new culture in a strange land, just to see her in a way that they couldn’t back home. But in the mix are a bunch of people like me, one of them is a Minzoku who is a Makoto P, for example, and if his twitter page is true, Harami is his #2. Coincidentally this group of Ps just reaffirms the statement Masunari made about MakotoPs being “yakkai.”

Well, anyway, to briefly recount the official offkai, there were about 35 people, we took over a long table and 3 booths, plus a table where various JP Ps donated loot as presents. Gifting is kind of something I forgot to do. Instead, a few of us went and got a last-minute cake (Baskin Robbins) for Ami & Mami, so I think that counts for something. The team tried to mingle JP and non-JP Ps together with enough translation powers between each side for each grouping/table, and I think it kind of works. I sat with fellow oldblogger Moy and a local P that I didn’t know well, along with three JP Ps. One is also a high-level DD who does back-to-back events. When he came out of that there’s a light bulb that went off as he spotted the same phone wallpaper as Moy. That Koroazu with hat pic, yeah? One of the JP Ps is actually okay with English so he played translator for the most part.

As ice breaker (although I didn’t think we needed it), we did the happy birthday song and did calls to READY in the restaurant. That’s crazy by American AND Japanese standards, as a couple of JP Ps went all out while the rest of us looked around nervously or in various states of uncertain embarrassment. It’s a good time though. TIP TIP TIP, by the way.

This is the kind of thing I can tell you more/all about when you see me in person. Let’s just say good times were had by everyone.

Yumi Hara

As for the actual star guest herself, she’s really personable. Basically like an Osaka-style version of a Mamiko Noto in some ways. She’s got a down-to-earth aura along with this good-naturedly straightforwardness that allows her to barge into some funny topics like the boobiness of her voice. I’m not sure what to make of the totality of my Harami experience at AN besides to conclude that she is basically the same person I saw on the various home video, at the SSA live, and now in Anime North. Her shoulders and arms are still weapon-grade for my eyes, but as a person I think she’s pretty all right. It’s the kind of cute that I can get behind and not get diabetes from.

I wrote up some Q&As. Will post later.

Loot-wise, I was in the dealer’s room for about 20 minutes while evicting myself from the pre-line-up for Saturday’s Harami autograph line. I have no regrets really, because I didn’t think I would have the time to go visit it. Traveling by car from and to the con means dealing with pack traveling, and with 3-hour dinners 2 out of 3 nights, it’s pretty hard. In retrospect I’m not even sure if I had any time to do it because of the way the schedule is built. More events for guests means less time to attend other programs.

As a con, Anime North feels too much of an everything. The con hall hosted majority of things. The hotel across the road, the International Plaza, hosted the more domestic events like panels and screenings. Video, video games and other silly but important things are hosted down the road in the Sharaton. A bus drive around those three locales, but they’re walkable.

This con isn’t so different than the one I attended back in 2006, it’s just got another 10-15000 people now, as it hit just shy of 30k this year.

The only loot I got this year are gifts from other Ps, and an ancient N+ single Mai Goto was selling. Like, I got some Harami bromides OMG. Thank you whichever P you were, sorry I don’t have your names. Also thanks to the liberal (if administered poorly) autograph policy, I even have 2 2-shots with Harami. Gotta figure out a way to use it on Facebook or something. On top of my own autographs, I was able to get a Yumi autograph for a friend who was enjoying his time in Raleigh.

Yeah, next year’s Anime North is DDごろし. Animazement is showing no signs of being not awesome, and Anime North at this rate is going to bag another IM@S seiyuu. Glup.

LASTLY! Huge shoutout to all the Ps and non-Ps that made this weekend possible. First, it all starts with Mai Goto and Yumi Hara for their work in the shows I love! Second, props to Toronto’s premiere anime event, it staff and everybody that made the con pretty chill and oh-so IM@s-heavy (and special props to Rin-san for the assist). Third, all the producers (and non-producers) that made the weekend great. You know who you all are; some are here and some are there and some are not on twitter; you are all in my heart and good luck escaping that otaku hell! You are half the reason why I was at Anime North.


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