Anime North vs. Fan Expo: Why I attend them both

Hello denizens of the interweb! Once again I apologize for my failure too keep up with my blog. I have just gotten a new job and I have been finishing getting ready for my new program aka filling out hundreds of forms and taking a first aid/CPR course.

Back onto the topic of nerdiness though. Awhile back I received a Tumblr message asking why I attend both Anime North AND Fan Expo. Though I did reply privately to the anon I figured that my reasoning is worthy of a longer blog post.

Long story short the reason I attend both is because they are both VERY different conventions.

Now into the long version.


Anime North was my original cons. I first attended it at the age of 13 back in 2007 when I was still a Grade 10 weeaboo in love with Kingdom Hearts and attempting to sew. Fan Expo, on the other hand, I only began attending last year but even from that one year I can see a huge difference between the two cons.

The first thing I noticed is the difference in how they are run. Anime North is a con by the fans for the fans and that means that everything there is something a FAN would want too see making it more about the fans enjoyment and less about the money. Fan Expo is a convention created by the big corporations making it more about the money and less about the fans. Yes fans will see what they want to see but it will be at a higher cost. Now I am not saying that this is a terrible thing. Out of the two cons, Fan Expo tends to have way better guests and better run panels and that is because they can afford to do so, so even though the ticket prices tend to be higher you do get better run panels and guests (Robert Englund biyatches). Anime North does not have the budget too bring in big names and if you really want to see a certain kind of panel YOU have to sign up and run it yourself.

Secondly, Anime North is a much less mature con. The fans tend to be younger and because of that things tend to get louder and sometimes more annoying. Fan Expo has a much more mature feel despite the huge range in the age of attendees and I think, personally, that is because. The issue in maturity does have negatives and pluses for both sides though. As I said Anime North can sometimes seem more annoying but at the same time it has more of a fun vacation kind of atmosphere. On the other hand, Fan Expo can seem a little stuffy at times with all of the events being catered towards a more serious crowd.

The cosplaying crowd at the cons is also very different. For the most part you tend too see some insanely well made costumes at Fan Expo taht often look like they came straight off of a movie set. They are often not as large as one you can see at Anime North simply because of the venue size. At the same time Fan Expo also has a lot of Halloween costumes and closet cosplays which can be seen as either good or bad. There really is no in between quality at Fan Expo, in my PERSONAL opinion the costumes are either awesome or just plain lazy and bad.

On the other hand, Anime North’s cosplay scene is a perfect mix of the elaborate costumes made by hardcore costumers and the the simpler “I just cosplay for fun” costumes. Due to the con not being held within city limits I think a lot of people just feel more comfortable cosplaying without being judged as hard by the ‘normies’. At the same time though, you DO tend too see a lot more pointlessly slutty costumes and once again I think that goes back to the maturity level of the attendees.

Both cons have amazing dealers room (Fan Expo’s is larger due to the budget they have in getting a larger venue) but the Cosplay contests are very different. There are two cosplay events at Anime North, the masquerade where contestants are judged purely based on their cosplays and the Skit Contest where the judging is based more on the skit itself then the cosplay. Fan Expo has only one cosplay event and that is the masquerade and like the rest of the con this event is serious business. The cospayers who enter the Fan Expo masq are top tier costume makers making the event more like a costume fashion show.

To sum it up in a plus and minus chart:

Fan Expo

+ Insanely high quality cosplays for the most part

+ Merchandise that more closely appeals to my interests

+ Everything is very contained

+/- More mature Crowd

– Cha ching

-Downtown Toronto

– More serious vibe

Anime North

+ All of my friends attend this con (Talia, Tanya, Kail, Jessica etc)

+ I feel more comfortable cosplaying here

+ A lot more ‘fun’ events

+ Outdoor events

– Often uninteresting guests

– Lower quality panels

– More immature

Would I say that one con is better than the other? No I would not because they are both so different. If someone was to ask me which one they should go to I would ask them “Are you looking for a party vibe or a more formal one” because that is frankly what it comes down to. If you want to go to a con to hangout and party with friends go to Anime North but it if you would prefer a more calm affair where you are getting great celebrity appearances and panels I would say Fan Expo.

Of course the two cons also have very different target demographics with Fan Expo appealing to western media fans with a bit of anime and Anime North being more Asian media oriented and that also may affect your choice.

Ultimately I love both cons. Anime North is at the end of the school year and it is a great way to unwind and celebrate being a young nerd while Fan Expo is a calmer affair where I pay big money too get more choices in swag and see great people.

Really it all a matter of opinion.