Anirevo Summer 2017: Wrap

I’m trying to rapidly wrap up this post only because I have to prep for Otakon? LOL. Turned out I had a lot to say about my first trip to Vancouver. Vancouver is the other part of Canada that’s worth visiting, I guess? The west coast bastion of … Chinese immigration in North America? Well, one thing that is for sure is that culturally it is very asian, and very diverse. Lots of different East Asians and Asians in general, too. It feels like New York City in the sense of its cultural and racial diversity, except it leans very heavily towards Asia, where as NYC is leaning towards Latin America, Africa and Europe a lot more by comparison.

The story goes there used to be a large anime con in Vancouver but it went under due to some con drama or fraud or something. It went away and AniRevo is the survivor in the subsequent con shakeups in the region after various smaller cons gave it the good old try. Now AniRevo runs twice a year, with the Winter version focused more on gaming and the Summer version focused more on anime and Japanese content.

A couple years ago I tried to go, but couldn’t pull the trigger. Since then it’s been aping me for all this time so I jumped on it when Itou Shizuka got announced several months ago. That’s a no-brainer guest–she is one of the pillars of seiyuu otaku scene in the last major meta, to borrow some card game lingo here. Bucket list, even. I was thinking that I would be glad just to be able to see her at a panel or get a thing or two signed, while doing some culinary tourism in Vancouver.

It turned out that Vancouver and Anirevo provided more. For starters, this con follows the template of the other Toronto con I attended, which means it packed out on guest panels and autograph sessions like Anime North did, or one session per day. In addition Anirevo added a lot of pay-to-win mechanics, starting from a premiere badge which lets you get priority in autograph and panel lines, and you can pay 30 CAD to get a photo taken with some of the guests, such as said Itou (and later, Konishi). Lastly, even if you don’t spring for the premiere badge (which is only at 200 CAD), you can buy 10 CAD one-use tickets to bypass the autograph line. That means a lot of people were basically paying $10 to line up and skip the half of the people in line for autograph… with less effort. I believe this was the first or second year they started this? It’s like basically a poor man’s premiere badge, as if autograph lines were the only benefit you’re getting out of your badge, you would have come out ahead even if you did 3 sessions a day for the weekend (regular badges were like 65 or 70).

That is just the human comfort/old con-goer perspective. The scheduling was grueling but compact, everything ended by 7pm and nothing was earlier than 11:30. Anirevo this year loaded up on other voice acting guests, with aforementioned Konishi, then Ueda Kana and Katou Emiri. It’s a really good, diverse set of Japanese otaku anime/game acting talents. It also makes flying to Vancouver a no-brainer despite being the week before Otakon (which I’m going to…).

Maybe if it had a music guest that’s not DJ Wildparty, things would be perfect? I think I’m already beyond happy with what happened, which was I was able to go to all the panels and autograph sessions for Ueda, Katou and Itou, with just missing out on a bit of a couple of the panels. The panel themselves were a riot too, especially Itou who sort of played it hard and fast, and was sometimes more “intense” than the audience.

I think for people who enjoyed Itou’s antics Anirevo was great. I didn’t even know if it was possible for her to publicly talk about some of the stuff she did at her panel, like boobs and butts, but she did. The panel didn’t veer too far into these categories but we got quite a few perverted requests about being talked down to or what not. It was pretty surreal. In that sense, I think the interpreters and MCs or whoever runs their GR had a good time and had provided possibly the best experience, speaking from the attendee’s point of view, that I’ve seen in this kind of situation. It’s cute when your guest bully the interpreter (like Toshi or Taka) but this…is pretty serious. I guess ask me in person if you’re curious as to what happened? Or find one of the illicit recordings online? LOL.

In comparison, Emirin’s panels were pretty tame! Her panels were also surprisingly not as full (the panel rooms the seiyuu guests were in were not big, but they do fit few hundred people easy) as the other two female seiyuu, despite still being mostly filled. Q&A style. There were definitely a bunch of Japanese folks who attended it from overseas, plus the Japanese folks that regularly occupy the greater Vancouver area that’d attend Anirevo anyways? Anyway, her angelic smile made my days, and I got 2 questions in–one about the location of this photo, and the other about the new WUG TV anime.

Kana-sama, on the other hand, definitely wins the longest lines of everything contest among guests at Anirevo. It’s impressive to see a Japanese seiyuu getting this much attention–only on the west coast I guess. At the same time it’s not just her, all the turnouts were solid, even Konishi. I guess that is why this exists. As for Ueda Kana, a lot of her Q&A requests were for her Fate roles, as well as a lot of gacha ones, and a few “please follow me on F/GO” and this shameless dude. The guests were fast and loose and just having a good time, it seems. But with this cast, how can it be anything but, I guess.

The other big attraction for this seiota at Anirevo is Takadera Takeshi, a sound director affiliated with Half H.P. If you watch anime credits you would know what this means. It actually turns out the four JP seiyuu guests all worked with him for D-Frag, so at the live dubbing panel they acted out a couple scenes from D-Frag with them. It’s kind of neat from a seiota point of view to see it, but it’s weird if you aren’t invested I think? What does a Sound Director do anyway?

At the meet the guest event we went to, which was off-site from the con, about 10 minutes away by foot, we had some light refreshment and had a drink. I was able to toast with Shizukasama and chatted with Wildparty and Takadera, as the two of them don’t really have a line. By the way the meet-and-greet ticket was $25 for an hour, but we got shafted by getting < 40 minutes of time with the guests. I missed out on the other three seiyuu more or less completely as a result, LOL. I found out that he made the connection with Anirevo from Bang Zoom, as he knows someone at the dubbing studio who referred him to the con. He also went to AX this year as an observer, as well as the last 3 Anirevos as guests. If I was able to have a good chat with him, that could almost be alone worth the price of admission to this convention. It helps that he knows some English, and I can understand a bit of Japanese?

Anyways, I had a pretty good time. To just course through what I did chronologically and to paint a better picture of what it was like, I stayed at the Day’s Inn, which was about 3 short blocks away up from the con. I arrived the night before from YVR, and took the Skytrain in, which is about another 2-3 blocks away. The transit system seems pretty good, so use it if you want; ridesharing services are not available in Vancouver.

In the morning Friday, I ate at a couple places while dealing with my badge pickup. This was a line-up on the open spaces outside the Vancouver convention center, overlooking the pier where the cruise ships dock. You get a great view into the harbor (and the smog that was going on). It was quite scenic, overall. It was a short 20 minutes to pick up my badge after the appointed time when the con opened up, but I queued for 50 minutes prior to it. It turned out the badge line was actually quite slow? They had maybe 10 stations processing both pre-reg and at-con, plus whatever things you did for Premiere. At the booth you even had the option of buying more things they were selling.

The con itself was kind of disorganized from a dealing-with-large-crowds sense. Or rather, the con seemed as if it was prepping for maybe 5000-10000 people, and I’m sure more than that many people came. At any rate, maybe Anirevo was right, other than the reg line and the initial dealer room rush, nothing was a long lineup. The dealer room is mixed with AA, and both combined made up a pretty small area to be honest. AnimeNext probably had a bigger dealer space.

Once came the afternoon, it was back-to-back sessions of autographs and lineups. Even with an autograph express ticket (which became a thing that was disorganized, so the con wasn’t even selling it right off the bat when the exhibit hall opened) lining up early meant you got to get yours first, so you could go to the panel without missing much of it. Basically the JP guests had events at the same time, just staggered who is when. If you want to do just one or two people you are fine, but it would be hard to do all three/four. Signing up for a photo session was a matter of paying for a ticket and picking the time slot, since it seems they keep track how many for each session, for each guest. It turns out there weren’t too many people who would pony up thirty for a two-shot. It was actually better than just a two shot, as after the shoot you can immediate request a fix/reshoot, and they even print it out nicely 5×8 for you ala cosplay photo shoot style.

Looking back, Friday was a breeze. After all the midday event was over, I hung out with some aniblogger regulars (sup @tctc) and eventer types for dinner, and headed home after some more hanging of outs. I had a good upclose look of downtown Vancouver as we walked around a bit, and got to hear the local describing the demographic shift the past 15 years.

Saturday was probably just as easy, but I slept in a bit more and tried the continental breakfast at the hotel (it sucked). After a fierce round of panels/autographs we headed to the meet-n-greet, which is at an even more touristy part of town along the waterfront. I mean every 3rd shop was a souvenir shop basically, along the street. It was a Saturday and the weather was nice enough, so the crowd was out in force. We ended up in line outside the venue, which was just a pub, and somehow we were shafted 20 minutes waiting outside while premiere badge guys got to go in? This was kind of odd, and I’m not sure why it took that long for the rest of us to be let in.

Anyways, the meet & greet wasn’t the most organized either; people were lining up for tables (we got swapped every ~5 minutes), there were servers bringing food around–I had a piece of salmon and a pulled pork slider. My last table duty was with Itou Shizuka, and once I got evicted I couldn’t hop in with someone else, so I grabbed a beer from the bar–it was actually really good! Then I sneaked back and clinged glasses with Shizukasama. Yes, the deed has been done.

I spent a good part of the meet and greet talking to DJ Wildparty and Takadera, because nobody else was lining up for the two of them, probably for 10+ minutes or so? Anyways, it was good talking to some guests, especially when they’re the type swimming up your ally.

We took a leisurely walk back to the con center for continuing coverage of panels and autograph sessions. After the meet and greet was first the D-Frag dubbing session, which packed most of the main events room. Afterwards, I managed to hit up Itou, Ueda and Katou both days, and caught some of those panel stuffs. I also was able to poke my head in the cover dance group panel doing their Deremas stuff.

Dinner for Saturday was late, since we had a group and it was at a yakitori place. We got some gelatos while hanging around talking. This time we trained out to more of the burb, and I even got on a bus on the way back.

Sunday was again, rinse-and-repeat. By then I washed away most of the fatigue caused by jetlag and was feeling pretty good, despite staying up to catch part of the 765Productions Day event at the Seibu Lions game. Man, what was that pitch, Pyon? I packed up and checked out, while grabbing a quick breakfast at the Timmy’s a block away from the hotel.

After figuring out what the crowd is like and what’s going to happen crowd-wise at the various events and lines, I decided to try for a Konishi photo, as I can squeeze it in between two panels. I ditched everyone’s autograph session except Ueda’s last one, gave away my last priority ticket, and just hit up the panels until I have to jet out of there. I even got a lift to the airport, thanks a lot Kon! It’s about 25 minutes without significant traffic, so downtown area is quite accessible. It took me almost 45 minutes by train coming in, so I don’t know what’s going on with that LOL.

PS. The real reason why I went to Vancouver, pls. It’s better seen on my IG but it’s private, so to be brief, Fukuoka style tonkatsu ramen was pretty good, but Shiro and I obviously went for the as-much-negi-as-possible experience. I also had the hiyashi chuka and it was good. The yakitori place is just OK but it’s solid. I made my own umecola since they didn’t have a cola fountain. The gelato place was indeed Bella Gelateria and it’s really good.

Friday I also went to Nightingale for an early brunch. It’s swanky and worth revisiting.

If anything I missed out on, I kind of I wanted some Church’s Chicken but I didn’t know where to go to get some.

PPS. I want to actually do a conclusion bit comparing ota styles in Vancouver with just about everywhere else in the US/Canada. Anirevo is a con that hits a lot closer to my core interests than most. It’s got that cosplay hangout thing, but it’s got a ton of Asian dudes queueing up for seiyuu wanchan(s). It’s pretty hilarious. It’s not like a serious business, all-about-anime thing that characterizes old guard cons like Otakon or the hangout variety that you can find in Cali or much of the rest of the country. At the same time I feel the roots of the con is still weak, being relatively new and a lot of the staffers are not really experienced. It’s also likely going to tilt the attendee base by the kind of programming and regulars Anirevo attracts. It doesn’t have a strong identity (Vancouver itself doesn’t either, coincidentally?) but if a con is defined by the things most people do the most at the con, then this is a con where people hung out in the exhibition halls, did seiyuu programming, and cosplayed.

Which is to say, Vancouver is basically like China. And this is like the best of both worlds, and perhaps also the worst of both. Time will tell, but at least the city is a fun tourist destination, so that part probably won’t change!

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