I live in a city that has a relatively large anime convention, and for some incredibly odd reason I have never been! This year is different, and I am very excited to announce that I will be attending and covering Otafest 2015!
My history with anime goes back as far as the days of Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty, and Keroppi. There was something that set Sailor Moon apart from the other predominantly American/Canadian cartoons I was exposed to, and it always stuck with me. Japanese cartoons were more magical, mystical, and emotional. They were more than just a gimmick or a few cheap laughs; they were genuine and had heart. I have always found the Japanese to be incredible storytellers and animators, so anime really makes sense to me. Anime was just special. As I got older, I inevitably discovered Pokemania and became a massive Pokemon fan. I loved the show, the games, the merchandise, the cards…EVERYTHING. Pokemon and Sailor Moon were the gateway for me into anime and quite honestly, a love for Japanese culture.
Video games and Sailor Moon have made me the Japanese culture maniac that I am today! If not for them, maybe I wouldn’t be the Dangan Ronpa fan that I am, or the Death Note fan that I am. I remember discovering Love Hina when I was in Grade 7 or 8 and thinking that it was one of the funniest and most clever anime I had seen, yet my friends at school didn’t share that passion. Love Hina was nothing but softcore porn to them, leaving me to look like the creepy otaku of the group. American and western cartoons/media are very different from Japanese ones and I find that a lot of westerners have a hard time accepting Japanese media. It’s either too weird or too adult; most people simply won’t give it a chance. Being one of the people that does happen to like most Japanese media, it’s frustrating as you find yourself wanting to say, “Hey! Did you catch the latest episode of Sailor Moon Crystal this weekend?” and you just get blank stares. This is why I am looking forward to Otafest, an entire convention just dedicated to people who have a passion for Japanese things, whether it be music, animation, manga, or the culture in general. Although I love the Calgary Expo which is dedicated to all things geeky, Otafest is more niche and for the JDM side of the geek world.
My hope for Otafest is that I can find a vendor who sells Japanese and/or Korean music. I find that at the Calgary Expo, there are lots of vendors who sell manga and anime and anime related goods, but never any music! Why no vendor selling Girls’ Generation or Koda Kumi CDs? This definitely needs to happen!!! There is; however, an asian music dance that is going to be held at Otafest, which has very much sparked my curiosity.
As far as guests that I am looking forward to, Toby Proctor is going to be there with Linda Ballantyne. Toby Proctor was the main voice of Darien/Tuxedo Mask from the English dub of Sailor Moon, so I am incredibly interested in seeing him and possibly getting my copy of Sailor Moon Season 1 signed! Linda Ballantyne was the voice of Sailor Moon for Seasons 3-4 (S, Super S); however, I watched those seasons in Japanese, so I do not have nostalgia for her at all. Besides, the best English dub of Sailor Moon/Serena was Terri Hawkes! Generally, I watch anime in Japanese, but when I was a little kid and different shows were being broadcast, they were televised in English and thus I have nostalgia for the English voices. I also think the Sailor Moon dub for Seasons 1 & 2 was done very well. Stoked for Toby!!!
There are various panels I am interested in checking out and I can’t wait to see what Otafest has to offer. It is at a smaller venue than the Calgary Expo obviously, but it generally gets around 8000 attendees, so it is of decent size. Otafest is held on May 15-17, 2015 at the University of Calgary. If you are interested in learning more about Otafest, check out their website here. Stay tuned for my video covering Otafest!