On June 3rd, Kita-Kon, Northern Ontario’s sole anime convention, held a fundraising event at Lakehead University’s Regional Centre. The Mini-Kon hoped to generate awareness and funds for the main convention, to be held this September.
Kita-Kon, translated as “Northern Convention”, was first created in August 2007 and held at LU. Subsequent conventions were held at the Victoria Inn and the Valhalla Inn. No convention was held in 2011 due to a 41% drop in attendance in 2010.
Alicia Mayo-White is the Cosplay Chair of Kita-Kon. She is cautiously optimistic Kita-Kon will succeed this year.
“We’ve seen the highs and the lows of Kita-Kon over the years.” She added that no one expected the significant drop in attendance in 2010.
This Mini-Kon is a way to rebuild after taking a year off to re-strategize outreach and events.
Mayo-White added that they are looking to devote time to Western comics (e.g. Marvel, DC) this year, owing to the recent resurgence in popularity: “They’re the comics people know,” she said.
“It’s not concrete, but we’re interested in holding a day devoted to Western comics, just to bring people in.”
The Mini-Kon spanned three rooms in the Regional Centre, each of which contained a variety of features related to anime, gaming, and Japanese culture. RC-1001 was the venue for various seminars, also known as panels. Panels were presented on themes related to anime and gaming and included a demonstration of MMO game Tera Online, a discussion on cosplay (the practice of dressing up as a favourite character), and an activity-based presentation on origami paper folding. Trivia contests were also featured.
RC-1002 was screening various anime. Some of the anime featured in this room included the 2011 reboot of the classic 1980’s TV series Thundercats.
Various video games and consoles were found in RC-1003. Games here included a Super Nintendo with Pocky and Rocky and a Nintendo NES with Contra.
Other games included a full-sized In The Groove arcade machine. Numerous competitors danced to impress the small crowd gathered nearby. There was also a Nintendo Wii with Super Smash Brothers Brawl, a staple of Kita-Kon. Later on in the evening, a Brawl tournament was held.
Two vendors’ tables were also present at the Mini-Kon. At the registration desk, there were baked goods and items, such as kitty ears and kitty hats for sale. The table outside the RC lecture theatres featured a variety of chibi figurines, both custom-made and store-bought.
Vanessa, who staffed this table, has been with Kita-Kon for approximately three years.“It’s good to be a part of a community of people who aren’t normally socially accepted together… you could be a weirdo and it’s accepted,” she said.
Next to Vanessa’s table was a small display promoting Pinku! Project, Canada’s first Japanese idol group. Based in Toronto, Pinku! Project first emerged in 2011 and performed at the Anime North convention in Toronto. Kita-Kon hopes to raise the funds required to bring Pinku! Project to the main Kita-Kon event in September.
Kita-Kon is scheduled to take place from September 7-10 at the Valhalla Inn. More information about Kita-Kon can be found at http://kita-kon.org or on Facebook at “Kita-Kon Facebook Group”.