Quantcast
Anime North Is Canada's Nerd Utopia

Anime North is the largest convention of its kind in Canada and its attendees think of it as the perfect social atmosphere to get weird. Attendees of the convention are united by the same embarrassing hobbies, fostering the kind of environment where...

Anime North is a social utopia. Attracting as many as 20,000 nerds per day, this three-day convention is the largest of its kind in Canada. Against a mundane backdrop of hotels, a corporate convention center, suburban strip malls, and chain restaurants, legions of anime nerds, gamers, LARPers, furries, ravers, steampunks, goths, and various other fanatics dress up in elaborate costumes and celebrate their weirdness. This year’s convention included geek speed dating, a dealer’s room packed with everything from hand-crocheted My Little Pony dolls to replica weapon vendors, a costume masquerade, outdoor and indoor raves, gaming rooms and LAN parties, workshops, and a host of panel discussions. The atmosphere is radically inclusive. One attendee, Kevin, explained, “You just come to Anime North and everyone treats you like they’ve known you for years even though you’ve never met them before. It’s pretty nice. It’s the best community ever.

While in mainstream society you are generally ostracized for dressing up as Pokémon or living in your parents’ basement to pursue a life of World of Warcraft, Anime North affords attendees an opportunity to transcend their day-to-day reality and become something else. “If you want to be a robot, you want to be an animal, or you want to be a buff, shirtless warrior, you can be it,” offered Protoman.

Attendees of the convention are united by the same embarrassing hobbies, fostering the kind of environment where nobody is cool and nobody is discriminated against. The convention’s programmers have taken cues from this egalitarian ethos, including discussion panels such as Gay Sex 101, 4chan, Transphobia in Anime and Gaming, Sex and the Single Otaku, and Black Folks Like Anime, Too! One attendee, who would only identify himself by his gaming alias RShadowKirby, told me, “If the United Nations was as accepting as the people here at Anime North, world peace would pretty much accomplished just like this... People from all around the world from different races just come together not only just to look at anime but just to have fun and laugh together. Why the fuck can’t the world do this?”

These utopian sentiments were pretty commonplace at the convention. Beth Anne Jones, an Anime North staffer dressed from Inuyasha, said, “I know this sounds kind of cliché but anime could bring world peace if people just sat down, watched it, enjoyed it with each other and resolved their differences.”

More nerds from VICE: 

The Babes of Comic-Con 

Nerdwatch 2012 

Weirdo Club

Morphsuit brigade at Anime North.
Michael Toledano

Maggie: "No one judges anyone who wears a costume at this event... You can be what you want or dress how you want."
Michael Toledano

Joey: "The shield alone was about a month’s worth of work."
Michael Toledano

Luke: "No one ever gets judged around here."
Michael Toledano

Tia, a high school student and Hot Topic employee, poses as Twilight Sparkle from 'My Little Pony': "I’m the alicorn version of her, the one that everyone hates."
Michael Toledano

Kevin in an 'otaku' mask: "I just bought it for the sake of having it but I ended up having more uses for it than I thought I would."
Michael Toledano

Xander: "We’re not all crazy. We’re just a bunch of geeks and nerds just having fun."
Michael Toledano

Turbo Street Funk Band plays the theme from Tetris at Anime North.
Michael Toledano

"I’m Captain America, but, like, a sexy, super gay version."
Michael Toledano

Megaman and Protoman smoke cigarettes. I asked for their real names and they offered Megaman and Protoman. When I asked about their costumes, Megaman replied: "What costumes?"
Michael Toledano

Michael Toledano

A "fursona" is, kind of like your personal, animal-type thing... It's what you would be as an animal.
Michael Toledano

Daytime rave at Anime North.
Michael Toledano

Melissa: "I smashed my phone yesterday because I thought it was a bulb when I was drunk. I mean, it’s the one time of year that we can just get together with people that have the same interests as us and have fun, right?"
Michael Toledano

Kyle: "I think it’s just such an interesting experience how interactive everybody is and how friendly everybody is, and approachable. If we could live in this kind of society all the time it would be great."
Michael Toledano

Rosaline: "I’m hoping to go into illustration and comic books. In a way I guess coming to conventions like this kind of helped me move in that direction in my life."
Michael Toledano

Julie: "I made it with fur. It’s all handmade. It’s a professional secret, how I made all of this."
Michael Toledano

We have a hotel nearby. We just run over, change, come back.
Michael Toledano

Don: "If everybody could wear literally whatever they wanted or act however they wanted, within reason, then I think it would be a great, great world."
Michael Toledano

Beth Anne Jones: "A lot of the unwritten rules of anime are don’t make fun of someone else’s costume if it doesn’t look the greatest. You can be anyone you want here. In regular life I’m pretty much an outcast, but here I’m accepted by everybody."
Michael Toledano

Spiderman waits for his mom to drive him home from Anime North.
Michael Toledano

Rachel: "It’s a Piplup. I love penguins."
Michael Toledano

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service tries to recruit nerds and programmers at Anime North. They gave me a free flashlight. I asked if it would track me. They said: "No, we're not the NSA. We're the good guys."
Michael Toledano

Matt: "I figured it’s about the only time that it’s socially acceptable to be dressing like this."
Michael Toledano

A gigantic Starcraft 2 LAN party held in the Sheraton Hotel.
Michael Toledano

Parking-lot rave.
Michael Toledano

Anime North attendees take the bus home at 3 AM.
Michael Toledano