Well, here’s my long-winded Anime North commentary with some pictures (mostly Petshop of Horrors and a few Trinity Blood ones). It was an okay con although some things could have gone better. ^_^; The trip included quite a few little bumps along the way, some of them not actually related to the con but due to my own stuff going awry. I wish I had made it to more events and seen more but I still managed to have some fun.
If anyone was wondering what happened with the contacts I was waiting for… The day before we left, I’d called my optometrist and found that he had only received one of my amethyst contacts from the manufacturer and it was the weaker one intended for my right eye. I wasn’t thrilled with that since it’s the left eye which I needed to be purple for Count D and I needed both lenses if I wanted to wear them for Renrin. -_-; I know it really wasn’t the optometrist’s fault since they were custom made lenses and all he could do was wait after he placed the order but it was disappointing since I was hoping to get all the contacts stuff settled before the con. The purple didn’t show that well either on my nearly black eyes; you could see it a bit if you stared closely but it looked more dark gray than anything else. And I was only able to get a sample lens in honey before the con but decided it was too brown for D’s yellow eye.
On the bright side, he only charged me $200 for the purple pair, which is even less than what I’ve found online. ^_^ I remembered him quoting a much higher price when I ordered them so I guess he felt bad and decided to give me a discount since it took so much longer than he expected. I’m lucky my optometrist has been so patient since I’ve probably been driving him nuts with all the phone calls and questions. ^_^;; Trying to get custom toric contacts has been so frustrating with the long wait and limited colors that I’ll probably not bother with it again. -_- (I should have better lenses for AnimeNext though since I picked up my other contact on Friday and the optometrist agreed to order non-toric hazel lenses for me so I could have a better color for the right eye; before he had wanted all my lenses to be toric if possible.)
Anyway, the drive from NYC to Toronto was long and cramped since my whole family was going, including my grandmother. We had packed the car the night before and were able to leave the house a while after 7AM Thursday. Being squeezed in the backseat of a sedan with 3 other family members all day was not fun. x_x; Thank goodness my sister, mother, and grandmother are all smaller and petite. We went up the NYS Thruway this time and didn’t have any problems. (Our last trip to Toronto in 2000, we tried the shorter route through Pennsylvania and Binghamton and ended up with a flat tire!)
We made the border crossing without any problem and got to our hotel around 7 in the evening. I’d booked rooms at the Renaissance, not realizing how much of a walk it was from the Doubletree and the con center. Plus, the road it was along was more like a highway than a regular street so it was a bit scary to walk in the area with all the cars zipping by. o_o; For those reasons, I ended up not going back to the hotel and changing costumes as often as I’d planned.
After getting checked in, I went over to the Doubletree to pick up my badge and register for the masquerade. Anime North uses 4 divisions rather than the 2 or 3 most US cons have and I’ve gotten a couple of awards since reaching craftsman level so I decided to try signing up for master division, which is their top level. I was glad that I was able to get masquerade registration out of the way then so I wouldn’t have to do it the next day. ^_^ I was a bit worried I’d end up stuck on a huge line on Friday because it’s such a large masquerade and all registration is at the con. Had dinner with my family and then went back to the hotel to unpack and get things ready for the next day.
A snag that night reminded me how I dislike having to iron at cons. I was taking the ironing stuff out of the closet in the hotel room when the ironing board came apart. O_o; So, I dropped the iron on one of the beds (I had just taken it out so it wasn’t plugged in, of course.) and looked over the ironing board to find that it was broken due to a missing bolt. I found the screw that was supposed to hold the legs together but no bolt so I assumed it had been broken before. So, I end up dragging it through the hall and swapping it for the ironing board in my parent’s room. Then, I come back to find that the iron I had dropped on the bed had not been emptied out after its last use and had leaked onto the sheets. >_< By that point, I was all “Argh!” and it did not help that the iron dripped a couple of drops of hot water on my foot after I started ironing. After dealing with crazy irons the past two cons, I’m planning to pack my Rowenta for AnimeNext.
Friday morning started with Twelve Kingdoms cosplay. I wore my Renrin costume and met with hikaruchan as Shoushun for pictures. The pictures are all on my brother’s camera so hopefully he’ll get them processed soon and give me copies. Not much was happening yet since the con didn’t officially start until around 5 so I just wandered around for a while to see the hotel layout. Saw hikaruchan again, this time in her Snow White costume, before walking back to the hotel with the intention of changing for Petshop of Horrors group.
I found novaraven, dressed as D’s father, outside the Renaissance. She and her friends were unloading their luggage and waiting to get their rooms so we stood around and chatted for a bit. She showed me her Q-Chan plushie which has a strawberry and a sound button inside so that it makes the “kyu” noise when squeezed. ^_^ We exchanged gifts (Thanks for the chocolates, novaraven! ^_^) and went off to get ready for PSOH pictures. We did a mini photoshoot in the lobby with novaraven’s sister and friends dressed as original griffins, T-Chan, and Leon.
The whole group minus Leon who was taking the picture
Count D and the pets
T-Chan and Q-Chan
With Leon and T-Chan
“Smile, Mr. Detective. And don’t eat the nice policeman, T-Chan!”
And, of course, the man-eating goat didn’t listen. D seems way too amused that T-Chan is trying to gnaw Leon’s arm off… LOL
Most of the D and Papa D shots came out blurry unfortunately. I sort of liked this one and tried to fix it a bit but don’t think I succeeded. ^_^; Looks kind of creepy though which I suppose isn’t a bad thing for PSOH.
Here’s one of the clearer shots.
I tried adjusting the lighting for this one but couldn’t get it to look decent so I just left it.
After pictures, we walked over to the convention center together. I wish we’d gotten to wander around longer as a group but everyone else still needed to get their badges so I went off to look through artist’s alley for a bit. Talked to Northern, who had PMed me on cosplay.com before, and gave her some suggestions for making a T-Chan plushie. She had actually asked if I would commission one for her but I didn’t make a paper pattern when I did mine ^_^;; and my own costumes tend to keep me busy so I offered to give free advice for making one instead.
Attended the makeup panel since it’s one of the things I know little about; I often feel like I come out looking blah in my photos. I learned some things that I’ll have to experiment with when I have time and talked to Sarcasm-hime briefly after the panel.
Went back to the hotel for one more costume change (Count D’s peacock dress) and dinner before returning to the Doubletree to wander a little and watch the skit contest. I thought I’d go by the ballroom dance lessons afterwards but was tired so I ended up skipping it and just having my brother take a few pictures before calling it a night. Several people actually recognized me as Lady of the Thread that day which tends to surprise me. I always figure that no one really knows who the heck I am since I tend to make so many obscure outfits, don’t make it to that many cons outside of NY/NJ, and only post sporadically on cosplay.com. XD;
Friday went pretty well but I seemed to be continuing the trend of having some snag come up each night. After I’d gotten back to the hotel and was trying to take my contacts out, I nearly lost one and came to the conclusion that the other must have fallen out without my noticing because I couldn’t find it. Never had that happen before. o_o; Fortunately, they were just my regular lenses and I always bring a spare pair to cons.
Saturday, I wore my formal Terra since I was entering it in the masquerade. With the masquerade starting at 5 and check-in/craftsmanship judging at 2:30, I figured I might as well wear it in the morning and not change until after the contest. The work I did on it recently seemed to fix some of the problems I had before. The bodice fit better, my scarves didn’t fall down this time and the circlet didn’t snag my wig. ^_^
Browsed through the art room and dealer’s room for a while and ran into nerdraeg in the artist's alley before going over to the Doubletree to look for other people. Ran into hikaruchan dressed as Seth for the Trinity Blood shoot and was able to find novaraven and her friends a bit later. Tagged along for a while and took pictures.
Novaraven and a friend as Sophie and Howl
Trinity Blood costumes that novaraven worked on for her sister and a friend. The queen dress had a crazy amount of detail and Abel’s wings could open and close! O_O
Group photo, including hikaruchan and novaraven’s friends
Unfortunately, I spent a large portion of the rest of the day feeling frazzled because a personal problem unexpectedly came up shortly before masquerade check-in was supposed to start and I had a ridiculously hard time getting a hold of my parents and sister on their cell phones so I could get them to help. I kept calling and calling (and running up huge roaming charges!) but was sent to voice mail most of the time, which did not work properly in Toronto. >_<
Masquerade check-in started late. (I found out the next day from Kaijugal, the masquerade coordinator, the delay was because the hotel hadn’t delivered the chairs and curtains for the green room setup on time.) The show itself started late, too, but that almost always seems to happen with masquerades. ^_^; Managed to get through my walk-on without falling over in my wobbly kitten-heeled shoes but I wish I’d cut the first 10 seconds or so from my audio clip. (I’d played on the fact that there were opera house scenes in FFVI so I’d bought a mask as a prop and used a snippet of “Masquerade” from “The Phantom of the Opera.”) The visible part of the stage was narrower than I expected, meaning less time was needed to cross it than I’d planned. I went really slowly because I’d planned the curtsey before walking offstage to match a certain part of the music and I think it was obvious I was trying to stall. ^_^;;;
Even though entering the Anime North masquerade probably took about the same total amount of time as Anime Next (only other con where I’ve done the masquerade before), I have to admit I prefer Next’s system since you don’t have to stay around one area for so many hours at once because craftsmanship judging and rehearsal appointments are earlier in the day. I just found myself getting a bit restless after sitting in the green room for a couple of hours. ^_^; The craftsmanship judges don’t have to rush as much with an appointment system, too; I found myself not having time to go into as much detail as I usually do because there were so many others waiting for judging, too. The appointment system probably takes much more time and advance planning by staff though so I can understand why not all cons would do it.
What I found to be better about Anime North’s masquerade was a more spacious green room and more help available to the cosplayers. Like the stage ninjas being available to pick up things you leave/drop onstage, offering to carry off cosplayers who died in their presentations, and giving warnings if people get too close to the edge of the stage. The MC also came around to speak to people and go over entry forms. And they brought in some food for the participants.
Unfortunately, the masquerade delays kind of threw off my plans for the rest of the evening. The contest had been scheduled to finish at 7 so I had hoped to run back to the hotel and change into one of my Count D outfits for the ball before meeting novaraven and her friends for dinner at 8. But it turns out that all the masters entries were placed near the end and I was entry 81, the third to last. So, with the delayed start, I wasn’t able to leave until around 8:15. ^_^;
We went out for sushi afterwards but decided to get take out after finding we’d have to wait for a table. (the takeout ended up taking a while, too ^_^;) We caught the shuttle bus back to the Renaissance and I showed novaraven the peacock dress since I never ran into her when wearing it the evening before. Got a picture of her in her dragon robe with Grandpa D’s cloak, too. The painting on it is so detailed!
It was past 10 by the time I finished dinner so I ended up not changing costumes as I’d planned. I was hoping I’d make it back over to the Doubletree in time to see at least a bit of the cosplay chess but it had ended already. I’ve been in 3 chess matches at different cons so far but still haven’t sat and watched one from the audience yet. ^_^; So, I sat around for a while, waiting for the ball but had to leave since they still hadn’t started by a quarter to midnight.
I wish the ball could have been scheduled for earlier. If it had started on time, I could have stayed about an hour but late night events aren’t that great for me since I like to actually sleep. ^_^; I usually try to be back in my room by midnight at cons since it takes me a while to change out of costume and get things ready for the next day plus I have to be up early because it takes me like 2-3 hours to get ready in the mornings. (It wouldn’t take as long if I weren’t stuck with the job of trying to get my brother up in the mornings. I keep calling him and calling him but it takes forever to get him out of bed and I end up wasting so much time that way! -_-X) Plus, with my parents along this time, they weren’t going to let me stay out until 2AM.
Sunday was more Petshop of Horrors cosplay since I didn’t get to wear Count D’s vacation outfit earlier in the weekend. Even though they weren’t what I’d hoped for and weren’t as strong as they should be, I put in my mismatched color contacts for a few hours, which I hadn’t done on Friday. And the rest of the time, I just walked around without any contacts since I can see okay as long as I don’t need to read stuff from a distance. So, if I seemed a little dazed that day, it was probably because I couldn’t see as well as normal and was tired also. ^_^; But I guess the dazed look works since D had amnesia when he wore that outfit. XD;
Went through the dealer’s room that morning and did a bit of shopping. I didn’t buy much since stuff like manga would have been cheaper to buy at a US con due to the exchange rate. I did pick up vol. 16 of Fruits Basket and vol. 2 of Petshop of Horrors though; I’d been looking for 2 to finish my PSOH collection but no one has had it the last couple of cons I went to. Also, bought a Mokona plushie since I’ve started reading Tsubasa and think he’s cute. ^_^ And a plushie of Ayame in human form. I’d never seen that one before so maybe it’s relatively new?
Went over to the Doubletree afterwards and stopped by the masquerade table to check the awards list. I won an award for my Sequin and Beadwork on Terra. ^_^ Best Master Workmanship went to the large and fantastic looking Dynasty Warriors group that also won Best in Show. Seeing the costumes in the green room, I thought they had a good chance of winning Best in Show and I’m not surprised by their workmanship award, either. The whole group looked good and they had more complex patterning, props, and hair. I wanted to try competing at Anime North because I thought I needed the challenge of a larger con since I kept consistently winning the craftsmanship awards for my division at the small and medium sized cons where I’ve competed the past couple of years. ^_^; So, in that regard, the competition wasn’t a disappointment.
Finally had a chance to chat with Kaijugal, too, since the big cosplay events were over. It seems this was a rather crazy year in terms of stuff going wrong and when she heard I’d missed the ball the night before, she talked to one of the organizers and they gave me a refund for my ticket which I hadn’t expected at all. They were very apologetic about it being delayed so much and even offered a free photo with one of the backdrops they had at the ball. ^_^
Kaijugal had asked if I’d be interested in doing panels if I attended again and was surprised when I said I’d never done a panel before. Despite my babbling on and on here, I tend to get nervous speaking in front of groups. ^_^;; That did remind me though that I’ve been meaning to write up some little tutorials to post online when I’m not busy with costumes. The main one I had in mind was one on seam finishes for people like me who don’t have a serger.
Went to the Twelve Kingdoms panel which had some interesting discussion and brought up some ideas I hadn’t thought much about before. Saw Enki, En-Ou, and Taiki cosplayers, too. Too bad hikaruchan and I didn’t know they were going to be other Juuni Kokki cosplayers; we could have tried for a group pic with all 5 of us! I still haven’t seen a North American group larger than the 4 we had at Otakon last year.
After the Twelve Kingdoms panel, my brother took a few pictures of my new costume before we left the con. Did a silly Tsubasa crossover pic with the Mokona plushie I’d bought since Count D was missing his memories at that point in the manga. *laugh* Will post that after I get it from my brother. (Meanwhile, novaraven has a couple of pics of my new outfit posted: http://novaraven.livejournal.com/27611.html) I wish I’d remembered to take some pics at the Renaissance before changing out of the costume though. I could have pretended to walk into the glass wall in the lobby like D did in that chapter. XD;
And that was it for the con! Would I go back to Anime North? Maybe. Although I ended up missing a lot of things with the Renaissance being farther away than I expected, there were actually events/panels that I wanted to see (unlike last year at Otakon where I found almost no events I was interested in despite it being an even larger con!). The main obstacle if I wanted to go back would be the distance since I don’t drive and I certainly wouldn’t expect my father to agree to such a long trip again for the con. And with my tendency to make elaborate (and heavy!) costumes, transporting them by bus or train is rather a challenge. ^_^; Those are the main reasons why I don’t make it to cons outside of NY/NJ more often.
As for the rest of my trip, I’ll leave it for another post since this is already ridiculously long and people are probably falling asleep over their keyboards if they actually read through the whole thing. ^_^; So, later this week, middle of the night fire alarms, fish skin clothes, creepy underground tunnels, and hoop skirts. LOL