(Editor’s Note: Welcome to another new contributor to the site! J. Tanooki has over a decade of experience building costumes and cosplaying as her favourite characters, and we’re excited to launch her new column about all things cosplay. First up: her round-up of Ai-Kon 2015, at which AYB also had a presence. Let’s go! –JM)
It’s the middle of July, the weather is hot and humid in Winnipeg, and with it comes this year’s Ai-Kon. Amidst heavy amounts of construction as the RBC Convention Centre continues its massive expansion, thousands of attendees flocked downtown to enjoy a weekend of anime, gaming, cosplay, and both Japanese and nerd culture.
If you were a cosplayer like myself, or were an admirer of cosplay, there was an abundance of opportunities. Cosplayers of all types, all genres, and all skill levels were present this weekend. It was easy to come across perfect recreations of various video game characters, anime characters, cartoons, TV shows, movies, and comic books. And if you enjoy the more humorous side of cosplay, there were plenty of people running around holding clever signs or those that, very obviously, threw together a costume at the last minute.
I wanted to launch some original redesigns of recognizable characters that I love. For the Friday, I cosplayed as a redesigned Heartless from the Kingdom Hearts game series. With the Saturday of Ai-Kon, I went with something really special. I wore an original redesign of Amaterasu, the white wolf from the game Okami. The response to my cosplays was awesome. I’ve never been stopped by so many people either for a picture or just to chat. Interactions with attendees and making people smile are mostly why I cosplay. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed.
Ai-Kon was praised, with a full schedule of events to take con-goers through a plethora of activities. Various anime series and movies ran around the clock for 52 consecutive hours. The gaming room was full of consoles, arcade cabinets, and tables for portable gaming. Ai-Kon’s notable guests hosted panels, autograph signings, and meet and greets. This year’s guests included:
- Eric Vale – Voice actor, writer, producer, director
- VickyBunnyAngel Cosplay – Canadian master-level cosplayer
- 404’s Improv – Canadian nerdy improv comedy troupe
- Terri Hawkes – Voice actor, writer, director
- Ian Sinclair – Voice actor
And returning for his 7th appearance at Ai-Kon,
- Greg Ayres – Voice actor, DJ
The onsite marketplace offered a variety of original artworks, crafts, collectables, retro games, plushies, clothing, and many other items that would make you question the amount of shelf and storage space you have in your home. It should be noted that for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, the longest day of the con, there was a lineup of approximately 80-100 people at any given time just to get into the vendors’ room. The only constructive feedback I had heard regarding the marketplace was the hours of operations on Friday. Being that the hours of the marketplace were from 12PM-7PM, this seems to have inconvenienced a few con-goers that could only attend on Friday evening. They had worked their regular day job until 5PM or so and it allowed them very little time to go home, grab a bite to eat, get to the venue, and actually have time to shop, if at all. This time was further constrained if they also had a cosplay to change into.
And, of course, your beloved AYBOnline hosted a table during the event so gamers could have a first-hand experience of the Oculus Rift. The table was filled to the brim showcasing equipment, products, and brochures from our amazing sponsors as well as information and merchandise for AYBOnline and BaseLAN. Our full Oculus demo experience drew crowds throughout the weekend and maintained a consistent line up of anxious gamers wanting to try out the Oculus for the first time. Many returned later to try it again, even if it meant standing in line with wait times upwards of 30 minutes or more. The response was phenomenal and we look forward to seeing many of them again at C4.
All-in all, this was a fantastic, fun-filled weekend at Ai-Kon. Con-goers were presented with plenty of activities, the event was well organized and, from what I could tell, there were no major issues. If there were, they were very well-contained and didn’t seem to affect any other attendees. The staff and volunteers of this year’s Ai-Kon deserve plenty of praise and gratitude from the local community.
Thank you Ai-Kon and we’ll see you in 2016!
J. Tanooki is a Contributor for aybonline.com. She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own.