I want to thank Anime North for granting me a media pass for the entire weekend. So yes, for an entire weekend between Friday and Sunday I spent it at Anime North. Not just Canada’s largest anime event but an event run by volunteers – a truly non-profit event meant for a large community of people to just thrive and have a great experience. Let me tell you something, it’s pretty fantastic. For three days I was surrounded by a community of people who shared our collective love of Anime, manga, video games, table top games, Japanese art, and so much more. To suggest that this event is only for weabs is the understatement of the year. This event had vendors, entrepreneurs, performers, industry professionals, guest panels – if I listed out everything this event had, I would be writing for HOURS. Instead I’m going to write about my personal subjective opinion on events like this and why they are so important.
I remember when I was in the first grade, just a young fan of anime seeing Carlos and Sugar from The Zone on YTV (an after school block of television) visit Anime North. At the time, I thought it was heaven. Kind of like now, when I was in school, a majority of my friends were not interested in anime at all and I vowed to one day be at Anime North to fully immerse myself in my passion. You’re telling me, that the thing that I love more than anything else has a whole weekend dedicated to it? I would guarantee you that many of the attendees at Anime North were like me, they found this passion for the medium that most of society thought was different and weird. At Anime North, we do not give weird a side eye, at Anime North we embrace the weird.
It’s a weekend full of passion and community. You have people from every walk of life attending, many in costumes and donning attire to show off their favourite stories. I saw people from different races, sexualities, genders, those with accessibility issues, those on the spectrum – I saw every type of person in that community of anime fans. That’s beautiful. Anime North is an event that connects people through the power of Anime and nerd culture. It’s an event that celebrates the unique, bold, and creative. It’s an event that allows people to truly be themselves. It tells individuals to come as they are.
On my bus back home, I missed the stop because I got caught in a fun conversation with this couple cosplaying as Shikamaru and Temari. Do you understand how fun it is for me to engage with someone about anime and manga? I can talk days about it. It’s almost like I dedicated nearly a decade of my life to writing a blog surrounding the topic. Not to mention that everyone at this event was so nice. From industry pros to attendees, to staff – everybody who was there had the greatest attitude and was so welcoming. Every time I brushed by someone while walking through the sea of nerds, I heard someone apologize. Any other time you get a larger group of people together in society they become assholes. Airports, sports events, concerts – it’s a free for all of “me”. Anime North was an event with thousands in attendance, where it felt like everybody had a big heart and wanted the event to be for everyone.
Not to get political, I promise this isn’t political – we often hear about how divisive the world can be. We hear about people taking sides, arguing over things that really mean nothing. But this one event brought people from all walks of life to join in on the passion of being a fan. Everyone was just happy to be there and to share that experience of happiness with others. We need events Anime North. They’re good for fans, industry pros, entrepreneurs, and the growth of the medium. We need events like Anime North because they build community. And we need events like Anime North so kids in school don’t get ostracized for having an interest that is different from the norm.
Thank you to all those who organized Anime North for providing a setting where people can be who they are and for encouraging the growth of my favourite thing in the world.