Anime North has come and gone for another year. The streets and hotels around the International Plaza hotel and the Toronto Congress Centre have gone from plain and ordinary to colourful and full of character and back again.
For anyone not aware of the annual celebration of anime and pop culture the sidewalks lining Dixon Street near the airport looks like something out of a movie. Mixed in with the scores of people walking up and down the sidewalks in and around the TCC are people dressed up in wild and amazing costumes. The cosplayers are out in full force.
For three or more days there you can find just about anyone at the con. Young and old, they are all at Anime North. Some dressed up in character and some just taking in the experience.
When you arrive at the event for the first time the whole thing can seem overwhelming. In a society where we pretty much accept that people dress a certain way, plain and simple, the outlandish and exciting costumes are a lot to take in. But that apprehension is soon switched for a new norm – colourful is cool. The funny thing is that once you are at Anime North for a few hours, or days in some cases, the rest of the world soon seems lacking.
Every year I am at Anime North for the Saturday, which is the big full day for the event. Among other activities that I participate in at the convention I revel in taking photos of cosplayers as they walk about the convention. Except in a few instances everyone in costume is more than happy to oblige and pose for a photo. They dress up for themselves and the delight of others and the photos are a way for them to remember the event. Some will even pose in a signature pose from the character they are embodying.
After the high of the event, with all of the fun and colour of the weekend, comes the fall when arriving home.
When I get off the bus in my hometown on Saturday evening everything seems bland again. There are no lavish costumes, brightly coloured hair, or a sense of wonder any longer. Also gone is the accepted con practice of stopping someone and asking to take their photo. While one could still do this, I’m not sure how well it would go over outside of an anime convention.
For a photographer the photos of cosplayers from the convention are as valuable as a memento as souvenirs from the dealers room and the memories of a fun weekend with friends.
Until next year when we pack up and do it all over again.