Ani RE:Vo - We Hit Anime Revolution 2017
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It’s August here at Lifted Geek, which means it’s annoyingly hot here in our Seattle offices but also it means we make the trek to visit our neighbors in the great white north for Anime Revolution… again held in beautiful Vancouver B.C., or at least it would have been beautiful if not for the raging Canadian wildfires that left both Vancouver AND Seattle covered in a thick smoke that looked my like a scene from the oncoming apocalypse. But anyway… back to AR.
Anime Revolution 2017 made some major changes this year, the con has been steadily growing and the Vancouver Convention Center’s (Centre?) Canada Place building was getting a bit tight. This year the con made the hop across the block to the main Vancouver Convention Center (Centre?!?… still don’t know which) to a bigger and more spacious convention space. Already looking up as we strolled in to the con, we started walking to Canada Place before turning around to check out AR’s new home.
First off, let’s focus on the meat and potatoes of any anime convention… the vendor hall and the panels/events.
Upon walking in to the vendor hall, I was impressed to see how much bigger this room was than its counterpart in Canada Place. More booths slinging all manner of geeky goods made for quite the sight to see. As per usual, Anime Revolution branded vehicles were on full display on the show floor. While the variety seemed more diverse, like other years it did seem like many of the vendors were Artist Alley type booths. Personally, I love a good Artist Alley but I do wish that there was more of a definite dividing line between booths selling goods and booths showcasing art.
As a little shout out to our friends, it wouldn’t be an Anime Revolution if we didn’t visit our buds over at Siamurai and their distinctly Japanese sense of fashion. Like previous years I made it a point to buy multiple pairs of pants, I love their pants and will proudly rock em with the most weaboo-tastic t-shirt in my entire wardrobe.
I did come across a few other vendors who stood out. T-shirt manufacturer BiBisama was front and center, showcasing some unique screen printed shirts featuring the artwork of various different artists. I got to talking to the folks behind BiBisama and we will be featuring some of their shirts in future Lifted SWGR posts. Another vendor that stood out were the lovely ladies of Haute Geek, featuring striking geek themed skirts that are surprisingly well made. I recently got in to Steven Universe (thanks to my lovely girlfriend) and when I saw the Rose Quartz skirt I had to get that for her.
Overall, there was much of the same stuff you’d expect at an anime convention, like a Katamari ball full of oppai mouse pads and fan art. The hall's layout felt well thought out, one of my gripes was continuing to use a single entrance way with a single exit. It made for congestion at times along with some of the new operations practices, some con goers were forced to wait quite a while… but we’ll touch on that soon.
The panels we did hit were some of our usuals, the late night panels like Savi’s 70’s Dating Game and the Hentai Productions Swimsuit Contest. Always a good time at these 18+ panels, for the Swimsuit Contest… I actually was in it! Jacob, the often scantily clad host of the show, talked me into it last year and I made good on my promise. I threw together honestly the cheapest swimsuit version of cosplay I could think of, went as Aquaman with seashell pasties on my nipples and sang a parody of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid I titled “Part of Your League.” It was a blast and I had a great time being in it! I’m not the fittest guy on the planet, my dad bod game is strong and honestly I’ve been trying to slim down again to get back to how I used to look… but honestly I felt so sexy on that stage. The crowd dug my song and I even won the judge’s choice… as per usual my buddy Marc clinched the audience choice with his golden speedo Wario. We hit a few more panels but one that stood out for us this year was the Walk Off.
For all the years we’ve covered AniRevo, we have never gone to the Walk Off. From my understanding it’s like a dance off/performance show where two acts go head to head to impress the crowd and judges alike. I don’t know why we never got around to checking out this panel before, we do get strapped for time and since our team runs pretty thin every time we go up there… the quest to maximize our time does make some events fall by the wayside. This year we decided to finally at LEAST see the finals… and hoo boy what a show it was! This was hands down one of the most entertaining panels we’ve come across at the show! While events like the 70’s Dating Game and Swimsuit Contest rule the evening schedule, it’s clear that the Walk Off is THE PREMIERE event to see during the daytime.
Despite the heat and all that disgusting smoke that seemed to trap all the heat at ground level, the cosplay game at AniRevo was strong once again this year. Everything from anime to non-anime cosplay were present. People rocking big armor builds to those who slaved over a sewing machine for months to get the perfect cosplay. Anime Revolution has quickly become one of our favorite shows to go to and hang out with our friends. Since out first year we’ve made some great pals up north… many of which make the trek down to Seattle for our Sakura Con, ECCC, and PAX to party with us… so it’s always nice to enjoy their Canadian brand of hospitality.
While we did have a good time, it wasn’t all rainbows and magical girls for us. As press, we do enjoy a certain level of privilege at shows… AniRevo especially. Industry badge holders are given priority seating at panels and we don’t have to line up for panels. One of the biggest changes the con made this year was to employ a black-light stamp system for attendees. Con-goers were forced not to just wear their badge everywhere (to be expected of course) but also to undergo a stamp check at every checkpoint… from panels to the vendor hall. This system slowed down traffic to a crawl at every checkpoint. Honestly, I understand the sentiment… AniRevo was trying to combat the practice of badge swapping… in a sense attempting to protect their profits. It’s not something I fault them for but I feel that their attempt fell short for fans of the show. While both myself and Riri had Industry badges and in a sense could circumvent lines and the whole stamp system, our friends who all had standard attendee badges were stopped constantly and faced the brunt of the line-up issues at these stamp checkpoints.
Another issue I noticed on Friday was the line to get in. I’ve done shows like SDCC and PAX, I’m used to lines at these big events… it’s all part of the process. What baffled me was how con-goers were forced to stand outside (in this smokey climate) for upwards of four hours to get a badge. Instead of separating lines, they had new and pre-registered attendees stand in the same line. Basically if you didn’t pick up your badge the Thursday before, many were left high and dry.
As for solutions, I feel that the con could have better utilized some of this big new convention center’s interior to snake the line around rather than forcing fans to stand outside in the smoke. This was I felt a egregious shortcoming of their operations and perhaps they could have done more to protect their con-goers from the very real danger of the environment at the time. The stamp system seemed sound in theory, but honestly even some of the biggest cons don’t use this two-part verification system. I know that badge swapping or counterfeit badges are something conventions want to curb, but there are better ways to do it. PAX uses an invisible UV reactive watermark on their badges that show up under a black-light, coupled with black-light stations at every main entrance make stamping out counterfeits an easy process. As for badge swapping, NYCC uses a check-in/check-out system in conjunction with RF chips in their badges that must be verified by staff. If someone checks in then hands their badge to a friend to give to someone else, that person cannot check in with your badge since the system has marked that person as already being inside the convention.
Overall, this is still a fun show and despite the hiccups we at Lifted Geek definitely enjoyed our time here. Personally, I want to give the show the benefit of the doubt. Call it new venue jitters that came with moving across the landing. I prefer to be optimistic and say that the problems AniRevo faced this year will be addressed for next year. My personal indicator for how much fun I had at a con is how deep my post-con depression is afterwards. AniRevo is still a grand ol time and I look forward to seeing my favorite Canadians again soon… just, please… let’s ease up on the wildfires, k?