Pikachu was there, Mario was there and so was a baby dressed as a character from Zelda. All attended this year’s 16th annual Animethon.
“This is a place for all anime lovers to congregate,” said Nik Ekonomakia, president of the Alberta Association for Asian Popular Arts. “If you walk around, you see a lot of creativity.”
The downtown Grant MacEwan Campus served as a playground and meeting spot for anime lovers between Friday and Sunday.
Melissa Dammel, 16, comes from St. Albert every year to share her interests with fellow fans.
“It’s like a hobby,” Dammel said.
“This Japanese culture is a lot more interesting than anything like pop culture — even if you feel like you don’t belong, you do here.”
Anime is often viewed as cartoons for kids, Ekonomakia said, but what people don’t realize is they’re actually great stories ranging from serious dramas to silly comedies.
“It’s all about stories,” Ekonomakia said. “There are thick graphic novels that go on for years where you can stick with the characters — it is a type of art form.”
A number of artist were selling their work, including Ceitlin Hankey, 23, who said she has doubled her profits over what she made last year with her drawings and handmade crafts, including purses.
“Anything is possible when drawing anime,” Hankey said. “That’s why I love it so much.”
This year’s attendance was lower than last year’s crowd of 4,000, Ekonomakia said, but he added the turnout was still great.