Anime North 2017! (Floof and Poof’s Excellent Adventure)

So much for blogging during the actual con, we were too busy enjoying every moment of it!

And so much for posting the weekend after… ( > _ > )

Anime North 2017 concluded on Sunday, May 28. I attended for the full weekend, cosplaying a childhood favourite: Sheena Fujibayashi, the ninja summoner from Tales of Symphonia. (I got hyped just by saying that out loud!) I even had the Corrine plushie to match!

This blog will cover my experiences, and include some updates to the blog from two years ago. For title purposes, Top Hat/Mad Hatter will be referred to as “Floof,” and I will be referred to as “Poof.”

 

Friday – Arrival and first evening

Since we were staying in a hotel this time around, I managed to avoid the worst of the rush. Or so I thought… it turns out the 52 will be crowded no matter what. I guess it didn’t help that I was travelling during rush hour, when kids get off school. Nonetheless, I made it to our hotel, and after a traditional Anime North dinner, I threw on my costume and headed to the con.

Some tips for commuting by TTC’s green line: go to Kipling station, and grab the 43 from there. It looks like a long trip, but believe me, it will save you the fumbling from Lawrence West, to Lawrence, and back again.

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Corrine meeting Sheep for the first time

Now before we move on, I would like to share a pro tip on hotel living, re: food. If you have a long commute from your home to your hotel, pack non-perishable foods that are inexpensive, yet filling. Some ideas include:

  • Hot Rods (salami sticks)
  • granola bars
  • Bread (specifically buns)
  • fruit cups
  • cookies
  • muffins
  • summer sausage (or other non-perishable meats that you can slice as needed)
  • ramen noodle cups
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A traditional Anime North dinner

The last one is a staple of conventions in general, because they are lightweight, filling, and easy to prepare. I think further meal information will be part of a second blog, since there is quite a lot to cover. We made our noodles with the coffee maker. Don’t forget to use the coffee maker for its intended purpose as well, and take advantage of the hotel’s complementary breakfast! And remember, there’s nothing like a hot cup of tea after walking all day.

 

Cosplay

Remember what I said two years ago, about crunching on your costume no matter what? Well, this year I barely slept at all the night before. I literally stayed up all night trying to sew the gloves just right, before saying “forget it,” not completing the boot covers, and falling asleep from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. I was running on 3 hours of sleep, and the con hadn’t even officially begun!

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You can tell from the pictures why I’ve dubbed myself “Poof.” My poofy hair is my defining feature, so instead of donning a wig, I like to make use of its natural state. Too bad I balked at cutting the appropriate bangs. But for the most part, I’m pretty happy with how my costume turned out. And it was really flattering, that people asked me for pictures. In the future, I would like to make a blog about what went into the costume.

 

Artist’s Alley

We spent most of our time in Artist’s Alley, looking at all the cool things people had for sale. While there, we ran into a few nice cosplays. (If anyone knows the people in these pictures, please tell me so we can give credit where credit is due!)

 

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Yato gave me his business card. Perhaps I’ll call him in to write a guest post one day.

 

With impending changes, I thought it would be nice to pick up some updated artwork deco. I also found some inspiration for future crafts and plushies! Corrine and Bunny were very happy to be among their kind. I will include links to the interesting shops and art pages below. Please pay them a visit! The amis pictured below were made by Golden Enigma Crochet.

About that jellyfish… it seems great crafters craft alike. 😀 I prefer the way hers turned out: the frill is wide and defined. Not to mention it ripples around uniformly, between each leg.

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More of Golden Enigma’s kawaii kreations

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I always feel bad browsing the cute amis and thinking, “I could totally make this, if I would stop being so darn lazy…” Then I remember Corrine, and how happy I was to see him finally completed. The girl running Golden Enigma booth also admired him. I think it’s important that crafting communities take time to admire each others’ work, and give constructive feedback, rather than tearing each other down or trying to outsell each other. We are skilled in rare arts; we mustn’t let them turn into yet another mass-produced, corporate mess.

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Shoon Jr. the Alpaca

We also found some alpacas with bows on their heads. Just like Shoonie! Sadly, I don’t remember who made these. Let me know, if you find it in the links below!

 

Here are some artist links worth visiting:

Golden Enigma (awesome crochet!)

Yuukiice (an old friend from Uni. She’s a talented artist!)

Janice Sung (more arts)

Red Paw Designs (hilarious chibi prints)

Colourfy Me (Cute crafts)

Snow Paws (Art and unique plushie design)

Geek @ ❤ (Geeky trinkets and knick knacks. This name sounds familiar…)

 

Saturday – Panels and stuff

We actually attended a panel today! It was a panel about paper cutting. The presenter made some interesting cutouts, and even demonstrated his techniques. For further information, you can visit his blog, at https://japanesepapercutting.wordpress.com/. Maybe one day, I can try making something for Floof. I find myself drawn toward educational panels; it’s fun to learn about new crafts, and polish your knowledge of old crafts.

We also attended a few improv sessions. Have you heard of the 404s? I hadn’t, until I viewed their YouTube channel and noticed a couple familiar names… Andre (Black Nerd Comedy) and Skitch. Hm…

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Holy sheep on the farm! Skitch orchestrated the intro/outro theme for Nostalgia Critic! And Black Nerd is the same Black Nerd from the Smurfs review! The world of YouTube just got a bit smaller. And I begged Floof to take me for chicken nuggets afterward. (He did take me out. But I’m not gonna say where. ^_^ )

I avoided fandom panels this year, mainly due to how nutty bananas people have gotten over the years, in regards to their favourite things. Seriously guys, we all love the same things, we just have different ways of showing how much we love them. Unfortunately, you get too many vocal “purists” who make fandoms inhospitable to newcomers. That, and the panels overlapped with other things we wanted to visit. XP And we avoided the One Punch Man panels, because Floof knew that none of the Saitama cosplayers’ heads were shiny enough.

IMG_20170528_183956We also watched a kimono dressing race. It was interesting to watch how they tied the kimono, compared to the way I tied mine. Sheena’s belt is tied in a big bow, with long trailing ends. To tie my belt, I used a tutorial for tying basics, and worked out my own method to look closer to the official artwork. I want to post the full method in a seperate blog, about the costume.

Although you’ll want to save your money to buy souvenirs from the con, it’s okay to go out to eat at least once. (I really wanted chicken nuggets, okay?!) We found a familiar restaurant, which didn’t have any lineup at all. And yes, the food was tasty. I think it was because it was so out of the way, that many people didn’t consider it an option. That’s another tip: costume and comfort permitting, try to explore the area outside the con. You never know what you might find!

 

Sunday – Photoshoots!

Finally, the day we’ve all been waiting for! The Tales of… photoshoot was held today. I knew I was home when we were trying to cross the street, and the Kratos in charge squee’d, “OMG SHEENA!!!” I got to pose with an adorable Collette, and Zelos cosplay. There sure were a lot of Zestiria cosplays. This group was amusing: the Mikleo was hesitating to join in the Sorey/Mikleo shots, so Alicia pushed him in. XD

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You can also click here for the official Anime North photoshoot page. Be prepared for a swarm of D.Va cosplays in the Overwatch category. If you attended this year and got some great photos at the photoshoots, please upload them to share the awesomeness with the world!

Here are a few more shots I managed to get, with Colette and Zelos. We recreated some funny scenes and fanart.

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“Sheena’s real name is ‘Violent Demonic Banshee!’ …. >_< SEE?! I TOLD YOU SHE’S VIOLENT!”

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A memento from Corrine

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T_T

 

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Click image to view fullscreen

The last one was based off this point in the game.

Sunday is also the last day to purchase things, so get over to Vendor’s/Artist’s Alley to grab those deals before they close up shop! I bought a few candy kits for Shoonie, the “OMG THEY KILLED RORY!**” print, supported Yuu-ki by buying a Gerudo Link sticker, and got the candy bento kit to try with Floof. I’m quite proud of myself: my only real weakness is candy kits. X3;

Expect to see fewer cosplays on Sunday, as this is the last day of the con. At 8:00 pm, say goodnight to the best 52 hours of otaku life in Toronto. (Though technically, it’s in Etobicoke) But it’s okay, because then you can head back and enjoy the merch you bought, and the last night of chills in your hotel. I made Floof try the bento candy kit. His verdict was 7/10, and the broccoli didn’t turn out mushy and slimy. Maybe Shoonie and I just have bad luck.

If possible, stay the night on Sunday, and leave Monday morning. This will significantly reduce the rush to get home, as many people will leave after the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

And so ended a lovely weekend at Anime North. Before Floof returned home, we used the coupon we received for Uncle Tetsu’s Angel Cafe. Considering all the time we spend apart, you think I’d be used to seeing him go…

I’ve decided to go again in two years. While it is a fun trip, Anime North gets pretty darn expensive. Once you account for the cost of tickets, hotel, food, transportation, and merch, you’re looking at spending no less than $300, and that’s a very forgiving estimate. It helps to put aside a little bit of money throughout the year, so you can treat yourself once the big weekend rolls around. And in my case, that two year wait gives me enough time to decide on a couple’s cosplay for Floof and Poof. :3

Did you go to Anime North? If so, have we met? Do you plan to go in the future? If Colette and Zelos from the pics are reading this, you girls were awesome!! Comment below!

Pika, **you Daleks!

 

Pikachu Card Holder/Wallet – DIY #10

Pika… I’m just a Pika on a wallet.

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Shoonie turned 18 on April Fool’s day. I still remember going to visit 3 days after she was born, and now she’s going to start college in a few more months. (;w;)

If there’s one thing I can recommend to a prospective college student, it’s to keep a wallet or card holder on your person at all times. (That is, if you don’t already) Along with your student ID card, you will need to carry your bus pass/driver’s license, health card, points cards, and debit card, to name a few. And as you get closer to graduation, it’s nice to create and keep a business card with your information on it, to hand out at job fairs.

This project was inspired by a Pika phone case Shoonie made for me years ago, back when I was about to graduate high school. Sadly, the case was too small for my clunky LG Neon. Said phone up and snuffed itself out about a year later. Good riddance.

Now it’s 8 years later, and both Shoonie and I have come quite a ways since our beginning years in crafts and design. I decided to make this as a tribute to how far she’s come.

The initial design for the wallet included a few slits for card holders, a clear window for a photo ID, and a pocket for cash money. Kind of like this, but with a photo ID window instead of the zippered change pocket. To make the ID window, I took inspiration from one of Yumi King’s past tutorials. And you know that Rilakkuma = YASSS.

Then, I gathered the materials needed:

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1 sheet yellow fabric

Scraps of dark brown, red, and black fabric

White 3D paint pot

Needle and matching threads

scissors

measuring tape

seam ripper

clear ziploc bags

money and cards (for reference)

Pencil and paper

 

…and promptly decided that the scope was too great. As you can tell from the lighting, it was very late at night, and we had to travel to Shoon Land the next morning. After much hesitation and deliberation, I decided to just duplicate my own basic cardholder. The outside would be a Pika face and tail, while the inside would resemble a 3DS. I made a paper prototype:

I cut a 10 x 13 cm rectangle, and two 5.6 x 5 cm rectangles. The “dip” in the center is meant to make it easier to slide your cards in and out of the holder. The small rectangle on the right was meant to become a tail for Pika’s backside, but decided it would only cover the stripes on the back.

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In the end, it wasn’t as all-in-one as planned, nor did it have the fancy 3DS detail on the inside. But it does what it’s supposed to do. And look, it holds $18!

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Overall, I have quite a ways to go in terms of my felt/needlepoint skills. Attach11638_20170425_165436Luckily, the upcoming month’s project will grant plenty of time to work on that…

Watch out for this at the end of the month, along with a plushie to go with!

Have you tried making a wallet/purse before? If so, what did you use? What were the results? Comment below!

Pika, so happy~

Pixel Art: Heart Earrings – DIY #8

Why wear your heart on your sleeve, when you can wear it on your ears?

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These earrings ended up looking like raspberries. So I’m calling them “raspberry hearts,” like in that one song from DDR. As you can see, they look better from a distance.

I’ve been staying in the Winter Wonderland this weekend, to spend Valentine’s day with Top Hat. We are going to stay in, dress up nice, and eat a candlelit, homecooked dinner. I’m going to wear a red dress, but couldn’t find matching accessories or jewellery. And so two nights ago, I made these with materials provided by Mother Top Hat, and earring hooks that were hiding in my bag from the Muffet earrings. Here is what I used:

dsc_0146Beading needles

Fine beading cord

Earring hooks

Pliers

This pixel heart, as a guide. 

*The scissors became useless, after I learned that the pliers had built-in wire cutters.

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I started out with a length of wire that was the length of my forearm, and 5 beads to start the center chain. There must be a proper name for it, but I call it “weaving.” Basically, you string the 5 beads as normal, then use one end of the string to weave back and forth between them, creating a sturdy chain.

I personally prefer to use polyester sewing thread, because it doesn’t curl back on itself as much, and it lays completely flat and doesn’t kink. Beggars can’t be choosers, of course, not to mention this cord is sturdier and doesn’t show between beads as much.

When working pixel bead art, start from the middle, and work one side at a time. This will keep you from getting confused, and causing the work to twist. It also helps if you sort out your beads ahead of time. This way you can determine which ones are too tight for your needle. If they can’t handle the eye of a needle, they won’t be able to handle the bundles of cord created by weaving. I got the Mad Hatter to do this step for me… after he woke up from his couch cat nap.

dsc_0153Another thing I suggest is to work beside someone motivational. Sometimes the best way to work isn’t to work with them, but to work alongside them. What I mean is, do your own thing, but do it in proximity to one another. I kept struggling and breaking beads while sitting alone. It wasn’t until the Mad Hatter finally came to sit with me, that I made progress. This is also a good way to spend time together, while still doing nothing at all… if that makes any sense.

Whether you have a date for Valentine’s Day or not, this is a cute project to make. You can wear them, give them to your girlfriend, or give them to your best friend tomorrow, for Friends’ Day.

To attach the hooks, I wove the remaining ends until they both stuck out of the top center. Then I just tied them to the hook, and snipped any excess cord.

Tonight, The Mad Hatter and I are going to have a nice date. I’m going to wear these earrings with a red outfit. Stay tuned this weekend, to hear about our date, and a DIY for the outfit! Meanwhile, enjoy today’s entry for the 30 day art challenge. Click the image to see the rest of this month’s submissions!

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Food is a universal language. Whether you have a Valentine, are just celebrating with friends, or you have exams to worry about, take time today to share a meal with someone. Meals taste better when shared.

From all of us at Pika’s Penguin Production Company, have a safe and happy Valentine’s day, and don’t forget to brush your teeth tonight!

Pika, so happy~

Pixel Art: Muffet (Undertale) – DIY #7

Blaaaargh.

Beadwork is a lot harder than it looks. Gone are the days of being five years old and simply stringing brightly coloured plastic beads onto an elastic cord. These are the days of painting 1 mm beads, (millimeter, for those outside Canada and Europe)  and then weaving them in such a way that they remain firm.

Top Hat requested Undertale-themed earrings for one of his nieces. And because the internet can never have too much Undertale fanart…

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muffet-gridAs usual, pixel art is easier said than done. Fortunately, Muffet is already drawn in pixels, so it was simply a matter of transliterating the large image to GIMP, with a visible grid. Doing so resulted in a product that was about 36 beads long.

Well…that turned out to be waaaay too long.

img_20161218_211049167So there I was, hunched over a puddle of tiny beads and a single, flimsy beading wire, with only the soothing melody of Danny Sexbang’s vocals as company. Because the wire was a shiny gold colour, it kept getting lost, or mistaken for a stray thread. I always found it in the end, touch wood, but it was time consuming. After about an hour, this was all I had accomplished.

Let’s take a break to enjoy this amusing incident that occurred during this time.

Me: *singing aloud* “Taaaaake…onnnn….meeeee~”
Top Hat: “Take me on? :D”
Me: “Yep, it’s the NSP cover!”
Top Hat: “NSP?”
Me: “Ninja Sex Party.”
Top Hat: “…”
Me: “Lawl it’s a band.”
Top Hat: “So there are sexy ninjas playing instruments?”
Me: “Well, only one of them is a ninja.” (Ninja Brian)
Top Hat: “That’s such a lonely party!”

img_20161219_123558782Finally, I could take no more. This chintzy wire was good and fine for getting through those too-tight beads, but it was flimsy and kept getting lost. Fortunately, Mother Top Hat has lots of craft supplies. Including steel beading needles! Things went a lot faster with these needles. It was nice to sit next to Top Hat, while we worked on separate projects. Except the part where I stabbed myself in the throat with a needle, that hurt. X_X With the needles, this is what I accomplished in less than 20 minutes. Note that it’s a lot neater, as well. The trick is to work one side at a time, and finish that side before returning to the other.

At long last, I was finished. And then Top Hat pointed out, that Muffet has eight legs, not six. And this is why I ‘humphed’ at him. Which really wasn’t a good thing, because then he got more pictures of me going ‘humph.’

At this point, I was so tired and wanted to spend the last night doing something besides working. So the earrings now look like the finished product, shown above.

After posting the earrings to Facebook and Instagram, Huggie Buddy posted this in the comments. Super! Just as I said I didn’t want to look at beads for the rest of the year, all my brain could think of now was, “MAKE MORE CHARMS!”

1482428044245Upon returning home, pink beads and a pack of needles in hand, I set to work on a full-size Muffet. And here’s her progress, two days and a stiff shoulder blade later. When it’s finished, I’m going to send this to Top Hat, as a supplementary gift alongside the derpy earrings. Maybe it can be a window charm?

Next week will be the blog no one waited for: the time capsule! I don’t remember what I wrote in it, but hopefully I stuck to at least half of those resolutions.

From all of us at Val’s Crafts, Pika Plushies, Pika’s Penguin Production Company, and so on so forth… Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2017!

Pika, so happy~

30 Day Drawing Challenge: Part 1 of 2

So this is what I’ve been doing all month. And holy sheep, I actually finished it. Why not recap the experiences with the 30 day drawing challenge?

Day 1 – Super You!

uoit-dc-day-1The first challenge was to draw yourself as a super hero. This is Shay Crowe, alter ego: Crocheria. (Working name) She has the ability to bring the plushies she makes to life, or simply wrap her magical yarn around her body, and use it as leverage to grapple. Think of her as “yarn spodermin.”

If you’ve perused Tumblr, you’ve likely happened upon The Knitter. Consider this his nemisis. I took way too long to finish this, and it looks like something I would’ve drawn in high school. There is a long way to go…

The design was inspired off Pascal from Tales of Graces, and… I dunno…Harley Quinn? I would like to wear long, thigh high socks with garters. As for the boots, not even I remember if they’re supposed to be boots, or thicker socks.

Days 2 – 7: Basic Anatomy blaster

These days were the most tedious. Although the point of this week was to help improve your ability to draw basic anatomy, they were very tedious. Hands are forever my nemesis, though day 6 was the day I learned to use shadows to indicate depth. Legs and feet were fun to draw, and yes, I used Spiderman as a reference for the leaping pose. The eyes and basic poses were drawn on the same sheet, and I didn’t feel like separating them in the dA submission.

 

Days 8 – 14: Concept art, and a doggy

Finally, a chance to draw concept art for other projects! These are plans for things that appear in my next project, a NaNoWriMo novel. It would be nice if the dream home became real one day. And the doggy is just a doggy, because doxies are cute.

The owl is Hibou, the main character’s pet owl. He is a cute, loyal companion for the most part. However, he also has the ability to turn his head upside down and emit a horrid screech, when he is upset or provoked.

The grey chain link on the right hand side is a sort of mind-controlled weapon. At least, that’s the best way to put it. The blue chain on the left is an alternate version of the weapon, after a certain point in the story.

Lac Gaawel (Mirror Lake) is a spring located on a mountain summit. They say the water here is so pure, that if you gaze upon it, you will see your true reflection. This means that you will see yourself as you naturally are, without makeup, masks, or transformative magic.

This armour is initially worn by a character who appears much later in the story, but is significant nonetheless.

 

Days 15: uoit-dc-day-15Hero Revisited

We’re at the halfway mark, which means it’s time to revisit that character you brain-farted out on day 1. You must place them in an action pose. This is where I settled on this style of using polygons, rather than drawing lineart and colouring in. (Translation: I couldn’t be arsed to put effort into lineart)

I do like the way the hair turned out, and it felt refreshing to draw something besides the usual 3/4 view static pose.

Incidentally, day 15 was also Keedee and Bear’s wedding day! I was unable to attend, so I wrote a simple prayer for the two of them on Facebook. Remember folks, true love is not letting them put green peas in their mac and cheese.

It’s safe to say day 15, was the start of a time of changes for my close friends and I. Kitty got married to a cute bear. Tabbs found and adopted a kitten companion. And me? Well, you’ll have to find out next time!

Have you tried a 30 day challenge before? If so, what were they, and have you finished? Are you participating in this month’s NaNoWriMo challenge? Comment below!

Pika, so happy~

 

FanExpo 2016!

We may not have made it to Anime North this year, but FanExpo certainly made up for it!

You’ve likely heard of FanExpo, Toronto’s biggest convention for ALL geek culture, rather than just anime. As you can imagine, it was jam packed, even for a Friday, and despite being during the long weekend. Unfortunately, Umbreon had not been completed in time. And it still isn’t. Womp.

As I’ve already made a post about things learned at Anime North, it is only appropriate to recap things I learned from FanExpo. So sit back, enjoy, and hopefully take a few things away from the experience if you’re deciding to attend in the future.

Transportation

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View from around the corner of Union Station

FanExpo takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) located in the downtown core, near the CN Tower and Rogers centre. Not to be confused with the TCC, which is in the West End. If you live near the subway or GO train, it should be easy to find your way down. One rule I’ve learned about taking the TTC is, “as long as you can find your way to the subway, you’ll be fine.”

FanExpo was much easier to reach than Anime North. From Union Subway Station, just walk up to the main road and follow the crowd down Front Street. At first, I tried following a Deadpool and his dad, but they seemed lost as well. A trick to remember is, “find the main street, and then follow that toward the CN Tower.”

It’s even easier if you take the GO train, because you can just follow the covered path to the South Entrance. This was much easier than going to Anime North, which requires you to take another bus after getting off the subway. And it’s easy to access from the GO train, which makes it even easier for people who come from far away. Even though Umbreon didn’t have eyes, it enjoyed the journey, as well.

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Hello FanExpo 2016!

It only took an hour to get downtown by subway, if you initally take the Express bus. But it’s a good thing I got there right as the registration opened, because it gave enough time to look around Vendor’s Alley.

Vendors’ Alley

Consider this part 1 of the Alley visits. Here, you can buy prints, as well as receive autographs and photo ops with your favourite celebrities. Panels and autograph sessions don’t start until 11:00, so take your time looking around, and figuring out where things are; the escalator layout in the MTCC is quite bizzare.

Why be a Pika IN a bag, when you can be a Pika bag?

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And Umbreon found itself.

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Don’t worry, Umbreon. You’ll look just like this… eventually.

Although it was Stan Lee’s last year going, I didn’t get a chance to see him. But it’s okay, since autographs and photo ops with him ran up to $119! It must’ve been exhausting for him, since people were continuing to come up when he was trying to sit down and take a break. “With great power comes great responsibility,” I suppose? XP Really though, I hope Mr. Lee will be okay until the con is over. Can you believe he’s turning 94 this year?!

Vendor’s Alley is also where you can learn about new series, and obtain more information about shows and web series you already follow. This is where I found out about Super Geeked Up. For those who have heard of them, yes, Jeff Burns is a pretty cool guy in person. For those who haven’t, they’re basically a geeky comedy show, and later that day, they did an improv show reenacting classic movies in funny ways. Or so they said, I missed it. 😦

But yes, I have watched the first episode of Super Knocked Up. Honestly, I think I like it better as a comic, rather than the video format. It’s got a hilarious premise (super villain gets pregnant by super hero, hijinks ensue) but the first two episodes are very…slow. When reading a comic, you automatically assume that time is passing from panel to panel. But in the videos, they’ve recreated the scenes in real time. Maybe they were trying to get a laugh out of the awkward silences? I feel the first two episodes could’ve easily been squished into one. But the season finale was intriguing enough that I do want to keep watching, despite the Dumbledore they’ve pulled with Jessica Jones in season 2, so let’s see where this goes.

Check out Super Geeked Up’s official website. And if you’re interested in watching their videos, or Super Knocked Up, check out their Youtube channel or Facebook group.

 

Cosplay

The best part of FanExpo is that people are allowed to dress up as Marvel/DC characters. Yet, I found myself drawn toward the video game/animation characters. And I didn’t get a proper picture of the Darth Vader lineup. Womp.

First, let’s enjoy this Katara done right. As well as Sokka, Momo, and Suki.

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Know what we should do next year? Make a bunch of tiny mascot plushies, and get their cosplayers to pose with them. I saw a couple cosplaying Cosmo and Wanda, (Fairly OddParents) and thought it would be great to get a picture of them with Baby Poof. Or even this awesome Link and Sheik, with a Navi plushie. Wait, this is Twilight Princess Link, so it’d have to be Midna.

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Should’ve asked Sheik to play “Thor and Dr. Jones”

Sadly, I didn’t cosplay this year. I just wore my shirt with all the Doctors from New Who. (New Doctor Who) They did have a booth for Doctor Who Canada, and the people there looked exactly like the 10th, 11th, and 12th Doctors, River, and Clara. I wonder if they attended Alex Kingston’s panel?

FanExpo 2016 drinking game: drink every time you see a Harley Quinn cosplay. Take another drink if it’s the one from the comics, TV shows, or most media until now. If you’re playing the hardcore version, or just don’t care about your health, drink every time it’s the one from Suicide Squad.  (By the way, you could totally hear Margo Robbie’s accent slipping. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just one of those things you can’t help but notice)

 

Celebrity Guests

Ahh, another great thing about FanExpo: the celebrity guests! I got to see Charles Martinet (voice actor for the one and only Super Mario) and Alex Kingston (River Song from Doctor Who) in person. Is it sad that you never imagine them as being real people, until you see them in person?

Sadly, Veronica Taylor (original voice of Ash from Pokemon) had a panel the day before. And I missed her autograph session. But it’s okay, not like I had an Umbreon for her to sign. In fact, it didn’t cross my mind to bring some of Peck Peck’s Mario games for Charles Martinet to sign. That would’ve made a good present, since I didn’t find anything for him. :\

I won’t talk much about the celebrity guests here, because I want to save that for future posts about the characters they’ve played.

What I learned: Bring memorabilia for your favourite guests to sign. Autograph prices are a lot cheaper if you bring your own material. And they make great presents for the nerd in your life who is hard to shop for.

 

Artists’ Alley

Time for every crafty person’s favourite spot! This is where you do most of your walking, so be prepared if you’re cosplaying in heels. Or barefoot, as one brave Robin (Fire Emblem) cosplayer did. And expect traffic to be slow, when you’re weaving through stalls, stopping to browse, or trying to get past people who have stopped to browse. Here are some bows that were on sale at one of the front booths. I wonder where they get this printed fabric? It would make cute pyjamas:

I got Shoonie two bows. BUT WHAT KINDS COULD THEY BE? Are they featured above? Are they a different kind? You’ll have to wait and find out. 8D

I met a fellow crocheter named Maria. She ran a booth selling crochet cozies, gloves, and creative barettes. One barette was a gigantic donut! Maybe I should’ve gotten that for Baker Shoonie. Maria was also selling perler bead bows, some of which had a Pokeball in the middle. Sigh, here were much more creative bows, and for the same price as the ones from the first stall. I should’ve looked around, before buying the two from the stall up ahead. >.< Maria was cool about me just browsing for ideas, which was nice of her. There is a rule now: my close friends and family are not allowed to buy plushies from anyone but me. Hey, good things come with a price! Literally.

If Maria is reading this: Hi Maria! Good luck with your cutie crafts! 😀

Here are links to Maria’s shop, as well as other cards found around the alley:

Nerdifacts (Highly recommended for cuteness!)

Atomic Ami (More cute amis)

Cakes Cove (Crafty Bakery)

Imaginism Studios (Cool artwork, and a business card of a cute bunny)

Geek At Heart (Bronze work)

Grumpycakes (Cute, cartoony illustations)

 

While walking around, guess who else happened to be there? Kitty! He was with Amy, who is cute. Thanks to Amy, I got over my concerns of buying something for myself. Hey, this will look great laminated and hung up on the wall. Those InuYasha and Naruto posters were getting stale. I hope this time next year, the three of us can attend together again, alone with a fourth person. *River Song voice* Spoilers~ ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ

And it’s kinda neat to see a real life copy of a drawing you’ve only seen on deviantArt. I’d seen this artist’s work around dA before, and love her use of bright colours and lights. She also had a Zelda pic, but… it was NSFW. And I live with my parents, so. (Click image for original dA post)

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What I learned: Look around before buying. You might find a cute plushie at one booth, but you might find something even better at another booth. And if possible, wait a day or two for prices to drop. If you’re meeting up with people, use the garbage bins around the cafeteria as landmarks, since they’re the easiest ones to find. Or better yet, arrange to meet up and walk around together before the con begins.

 

Final Verdict

Even if it was only for a day, and I was alone most of the time, FanExpo was great. Although many people were not in cosplay, it still felt out of place to be in regular clothes. I’m not sure if they have scheduled photo shoots for each series/fandom like AN did, though I guess with all the different fandoms and genres present, it would be impossible to accomodate everyone.

It’s easy to have a journey of self-reflection when you’re alone. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I started walking with Kitty and Amy, that my feet and legs started to hurt. Though aching legs usually only happen when….uh oh. ;w;

And this concludes our Sunday reading. Here, have an orange R2-D2. He was beeping and squeaking just like in the movies. It’s too bad you had to pay extra to see Mark Hamill; I wonder if he did a special skit with this R2.

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Did you attend FanExpo? If so, which celebrity guests did you see? Which ones would you like to see? If you didn’t attend, have you attended in the past? Would you like to attend? Comment below!

Pika, so happy~

 

My First Anime North: 2015

On Saturday, May 23, 2015, I went to my first Anime North. I’ve wanted to go ever since I first heard about it in 2003. Or was it 2004? Either way, I’ve waited more than half my life to go. And a few months ago, my birthday buddy texted, “I GOTS TICKET U WANT GO ANIME NORTH LOLOL?” Okay maybe not those exact words, but that sums it up. And I love how I got that text a week after cutting my hair. But we’ll get to that.

For those who aren’t aware, Anime North is Toronto’s annual anime convention. There are all kinds of panels, workshops, photoshoots, and cool crafts to buy. If you like, you can attend while dressed up as your favourite characters. (Cosplay) Who can say no to that?! Basically, Anime North (AN) is a weekend of awesomeness for anime and video game fans everywhere.

Since last weekend’s blog was delayed, I figured this week’s blog would detail my experiences and takeaways. If you are considering attending AN in the future, I hope this post will give you insight on what to expect.

Transportation

Anime North takes place at the same location every year: the Toronto Congress Centre (TCC) located in Toronto’s West End. I live in the East end, which means it took 2 hours to get there by public transit. A little tip from someone who has taken TTC for most of her life: as long as you can find your way to the subway, you’ll be fine. This deviantART journal explains the bus and subway directions very clearly.

My commute went smoothly (I don’t account for the delay at the subway station, since those happen a lot) until I got to the 52, the bus that takes you right to the TCC. Expect crowds, because that’s exactly what you’ll see when you get to the stop. Part of the way, some commuters got into an argument with the driver because he wouldn’t let them on the bus. The bus was already crowded, and due to safety reasons drivers cannot let people stand beyond the white line. He was almost ready to put the bus out of service, until some other people on the bus got him to settle down and continue on. The people did get on the bus in the end, but it cost us all an extra 13 minutes of commute.

What I learned: if, under any circumstances, your commute takes more than 90 minutes, get a hotel room. Many events take place early in the morning or late at night, with some of the bigger events running past midnight. Think of it this way: a hotel room is expensive, but considering how much more you can get out of your one experience, isn’t it worth it? You don’t have to catch a bus at 8 am just to get to a panel at 10:00 am, and you don’t have to bail halfway on the panel that runs until 10 pm. If you choose to commute, be aware of the general non-con going public who still have to go about their usual lives. My biggest advice would be to leave early, or carpool with friends.

Cosplay

I have mad respect for people who try to make their costumes look as close to the original character as possible. I stressed out too much with Katara… and that was just a shirt with stuff sewn on, hair loopies, and a neckalce! Oh yeah, here’s the necklace:

necklace

Regarding hair: the loopies were such a pain! This wouldn’t have been a problem with regular long hair. Katara’s season 1 hairstyle is simply a braid, with two strands tied in front, and pinned in place under her ears. Well, the entire top layer of my hair decided to do its own thing and flew around all over the place, constantly undoing the loopies at the pins. Layered hair looks gorgeous when left loose, but it’s a hassle to tie back. This is why I seriously consider cutting my hair super short. *hears her family and friends yelling “NOOOOOOOOOO!”*

When I told birthday buddy I wanted to cosplay Katara, he asked which outfit, and I told him it was a combo of seasons 1 and 3. He said I should’ve cosplayed the red outfit she wore, when they were undercover in the Fire Nation. Ya know, the one with midriff? I couldn’t be brave enough to do that, let alone run around in a bikini anywhere but at the beach/swimming. I’m too self-conscious of my tubby tummy. >_< This discussion happened after we saw a girl dressed as Yoko from Gurren Lagann. I know there has been a lot of controversy lately, about what girls should and should not be allowed to wear. As a girl, I believe there’s a time and place for everything. At a convention celebrating all kinds of scantily-clad characters for instance, and as long as it makes sense for your character.

What I learned: no matter when you start working on your costume, no matter how simple or complicated it sounds, you will always end up working on it the night before. Something tells me I should’ve just worn my Pikachu Halloween costume and hopped into my bag.

Also, it’s fine if you don’t want to wear certain things, but don’t put others down for wearing those things. Anime North is basically a 2.5  day retreat to dress up, have fun, and enjoy your favourite nerdy things. Save the dress code debates for when you get back to real life.

I didn’t get many pictures, but if anyone knows the guys pictured below, please let me know! I didn’t get their names, and would like to give credit where credit is due.

cosplays

Panels

Panels are basically lectures and discussion groups.

The first panel we attended discussed sewing tips. Having stayed up late figuring out how to sew the trim on Katara’s outfit, I listened intently. That, and the plushie workshop next door was full. (Not that I sorely needed to attend that. 😉 ) While waiting in the lineup, we met a guy working on chain mail. I showed him pictures of the Charmander and Squirtle plushies, and he went, “awwwww~” Then he tapped his friend, and she joined in the “awwwwww~” XP

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I attended the next panel on my own. The topic: Kingdom Hearts. I remember being a wee one when my neighbour borrowed the game from someone. We never got to watch her play it, but I became curious after seeing Mickey Mouse on the cover. Man, I was a dumb gamer as a kid. In fact, the hardest boss I’d fought in that game had to be the Wonderland Heartless boss. Silly me couldn’t figure out how to find Blizzard, which was very very useful for said boss. And so there I was, stuck for ages on this stupid thing, only to play through a second time, get Blizzard, and wipe it out in less than 5 minutes.

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The guy beside me was kind enough to let me get a picture of these cute cosplay kitties

Birthday buddy joined me for the Legend of Zelda panel. Or rather, he magically managed to crash a few minutes in. That panel was jam packed! Not surprising, since Zelda is amazing. In fact, it’s my favourite vidya gaim series to date. For personal reasons, I liked Twilight Princess. Aside from the darker art style and more creative boss battles, one of the game’s most iconic sequences has to be when you have to carry Midna on your back, after Zant exposes her body to light. Not only was this the first Zelda game I finished without a walkthrough, but that particular scene stuck with me. Maybe it’s the whole urgency, maybe it’s the music (another memorable part of the game) but I never thought of it as much until now. The whole idea of going through all the trouble to save Midna, after all she put you through to reach Zant, and after she was hurt so badly and left helpless, was very touching. It reminds me of my game devs, who have been with me through all the emotional stress of the program. The ones who would be right there complaining about assignments and profs, and who would stay up chatting until 3 am just to listen to problems. My friends are all my Link. They’re not the macho “MERN” types like traditional Western comic book and game heros, but they don’t need to be. They just need to have the right skills to help Zelda save Hyrule, and to get Midna the help she needs.

What I learned: it’s important to remember just how passionate fandoms can get. And by passionate, I mean “will defend to the death.” You should’ve heard the reaction of the Sora/Riku shippers, after a little 10 year old girl said, “I would like to see Sora and Kairi get together.” Hey, she has a valid point, ya know. They never did tie up the whole deal with the Paopu fruit. Or did they?* Really, the best thing to do is just enjoy the things you like, however you like. So what if you haven’t gotten to this or that, or you didn’t react the same way as others? You shouldn’t feel bad. And you shouldn’t rush through just because other fans are pressuring you. I for one stopped reading Game of Thrones for several days, after the infamous Red Wedding scene.

Need more Twilight Princess ravings? Check out my old game dev blog.

*I still haven’t played Birth by Sleep or Re:Coded. On an unrelated note, Chain of Memories‘ battle system can go die in a hole.

Vendor’s Alley and Spending Money

As you can imagine, this was the part I was looking forward to the most. There are so many cool things here! Sadly, I didn’t find cute bows or phone cases for Shoonie. I couldn’t find many cases, period. :\ Being a non-selling crafter in Vendor’s Alley feels awkward. On one hand, you can look around at all the cool things other crafters have made. On the other hand, you look at them and think, “I could totally make that myself…”

They also had Pokemon Curry Sauce Mix. This was the first thing I considered buying, until I imagined Kitty as Professor Oak going, “Pika, this isn’t the time to eat that!” Ever since we made the dango candy kit, he’s had a bad impression of Japanese foods that come from packages. The picture on the box did look kinda gross. X3; Besides, I want to try making Japanese curry from scratch. Maybe I’ll hit up the local Asian grocery store to see if they sell curry roux blocks. My parents will ask too many questions if they see me putting apple and honey into curry.

I did find something worth buying: candy kits! They were the same prices as Sweet Tooth ($7 – $8 depending on kit) but they had a particular kind that I couldn’t find at Sweet Tooth. I looked at Birthday Buddy and said with confidence, “I am getting this!” I won’t reveal the kind just yet; you’ll have to wait until the candy kit review! (Yes, you too, Shoony)

A funny thing happened while I was browsing a weapon booth. Someone said, “hello, wife.” I look up, and the dealer was dressed like Aang. He had a glider and everything. :O I said, “oh, not for another 20 years. I think. When did they get married?” Then he said, “um, after the next comet.” Oh sheep son. That reminds me, I never did make that Appa purse… :\ I saw a couple Zukos and Korras, too.

confession-bear

What I learned: being a vendor is never easy, no matter how or where you sell your creations. When deciding to become a vendor, consider the pros and cons before making your decision. Consider whether or not you can afford the rental fee, and whether or not you can sell enough things to make up for said fee. Have you ever wondered why things are more expensive downtown or at malls, than they are in local chain stores? It’s to make up for that pesky space rental fee!

If they have one, pick up the seller’s business card. This way you can have a link to their online shop, and you can buy from them when you’re ready.

Food

There are many restaurants available right next door, from Tim Hortons to Harvey’s to Montana’s Steakhouse. AND THEY’RE ALL CRAZY BUSY. There were lineups out the door for fast food, and people were sitting outside for hours to be called into the sit-down restaurants. I wish I was exaggerating. And by the way, you can’t make reservations during the con weekend. Birthday buddy and I ran around looking for a place, before giving up and ordering room service at his hotel. (It arrived in an instant, by the way) But ya know, after all that running around it felt good to finally take off those winter boots, put my feet up, and eat steak in bed. Fun fact: this was the third time I’ve ever had steak. All three times were with someone who had some importance to me. In this case, it was a birthday steak with a friend who was born on the exact same date. Yes, we were born the same year, as well!

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Because who doesn’t like an apple with their steak?

What I learned: bring snacks, and make use of the water stations. It gets really hot in Toronto around this time, especially indoors where there are a lot of people. I didn’t personally see it happen to anyone, but I’ve heard stories of people fainting at Anime North. Take care of your health! It’s a bit outdated, but this guide is very useful.

Anime Viewings

Exactly what it says. These are slots in which you can kick back and watch available anime and movies. If it’s a viewing of a series, they start from the first episode and go down the list. From what Birthday Buddy explained, all viewings are in English.

I find this scene way too funny.

We watched Rock Lee and his Ninja Pals, which I’ve already watched. Ya know, that Naruto spinoff where everyone’s chibified and Rock Lee is the main character? I don’t know why, but I like the birds that go, idiot! Idiot!” Birthday buddy looks at me and says, “I know this is supposed to be a comedy, but come on, Lee is so much smarter than this…” I don’t mind watching Naruto in English, since that’s what I used to watch when it was on TV, and the voices are pretty close to the original. Granted, it does make a lot more sense to hear Japanese terms in Japanese. Argue all you want, but I still think English dub Neji sounds awesome when he says, “Byakugan!

What I learned: viewings are a good way to discover new anime and revisit old favourites, while also kicking back and taking a break from walking all over the place. But again, viewings are in English. If you’re vehemently against English dubs, avoid.

Late Night Weirdness

After the kiddos are put to bed, things get weird. And Toronto’s biggest anime convention is not exempt from this truth. Take for example the viewing with which I concluded my first Anime North: WTF Anime.

While not the weirdest cartoon, or part of the actual viewings, this cartoon started us off. It’s called There She Is, by the animation trio SamBakZa. It’s about a Bunny and Kitty who fall in love, much to the simultaneous support and chagrin of society. You may have heard of it; to this day, it’s one of the most popular cartoons on Newgrounds. The dude running the viewing described it as, “the cutest cartoon about racism you’ll ever see.”

As silly as it is, this actually becomes very watchable. *Warning: step 4 really does get intense.

The dude running the panel did some dub work in the past, and showed us some of the silliest dubs. Bear in mind these were all animes that were meant to be taken seriously, but due to fail acting, directing, and overall ridiculous content, they became so bad, they were funny.

I don’t remember many titles, nor do I know if they’re available online, or if the guy just had them handy. All I know is we watched a clip called, “the dog who cried blarg at the heart of the moon.” It was a clip from an anime in which a rabid Doberman tears through a metal train and tries attacking people. And yes, I mean “tears through” as in literally, as though he was tearing through a cardboard box to get treats. They used an actual a voice actor for the dog, rather than getting dog sound effects. Said actor got bored and started making “blargaragalablah” noises. It was so dumb, it was funny.

A bit of Google searching helped me find two of the shows: Machine Robo, and Naikaku Kenryoku Hanzai Kyosei Torishimarikan Zaizen Jotaro. (Government Crime Investigation Agent Zaizen Jotaro. Yes, that’s the entire title) Machine Robo’s Rom Stoll always made grand entrances, yet never revealed his name to the bad guys. (“You don’t deserve to know my name!”) Zaizen Jotaro was an over-the-top secret agent whose catchphrase was, “da bomb!” Fun fact: the creators of the latter didn’t make him over the top as a joke. They honestly thought that American audiences would like the notion of a character that said, “da bomb!”

Unfortunately that’s all she wrote for this day, because an hour in, I had to call it a night. Word is there were some events that ran until midnight.

What I learned: See above, re: Transportation.

Aftermath of My First Day at Anime North

As you can tell from the last blog… I was exhausted. And I wasn’t even there for the full day! X_X I also missed the Avatar photo shoot, which took place on Sunday. I’m not too broken up, since I know my costume was derpy. Meanwhile, I will wrap the present I got for Shoonie. I never found anything in particular for Peck Peck, except that missed opportunity to get a picture of the guy cosplaying Shulk. Le sigh… Fortunately, most things he would like are available at the town centre.

Final Verdict:

Would I go again next year? If I can get money, and friends for a hotel room, definitely. I’ve already got a few costumes planned! ^_^

Would I be a seller next year? Probably not. I want to be able to enjoy the con. I might just bring business cards.

Have you been to Anime North? If so, what were your favourite events? If not, would you like to attend one day? Have you been to any other nerdy conventions? Comment below!

Pika, so happy~