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Cosplayers come out in droves for inauguration of Anime Ottawa

Cosplayers have been flooding the EY Centre over the Easter long weekend as the convention space hosts the first Anime Ottawa.

The main halls were a sea of neon hair and oversized-swords on Saturday, with thousands coming out to celebrate all things anime, manga and Japanese pop culture.

The event is bridging from the traditional Ottawa Comic-Con. According to convention spokesperson Alyssia Duval-Nguon, the niche of anime and manga has grown in Ottawa to warrant its own separate celebration.

“Comic-Con nowadays has become a little bit more broad in terms of all the fandoms and all the themes and subjects that are represented,” she said.

“There was a need for the anime crowd to have their own event and it’s been a big success so far.”

Many signed up for the various cosplay meetups and workshops. Dozens of vendors lined the convention floor, selling sketches, figurines, replica weapons and homemade crafts.

Voice actors from popular shows and video games offered autographs, including Daman Mills of Dragon Ball, Emi Lo of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, and Chris Hackney of the Mobile Suit Gundam series.

Japanese band Angela flew in for a concert in the evening – the group is responsible for several anime theme songs.

Organizers expect more than 10,000 attendees over the weekend.

“There’s something for everyone – we see entire families come here together and they will find their niche here,” said Duval-Nguon.

Walking the convention floor in their Resident Evil cosplay Saturday were Alex and Gabby Dufresne along with Gilbert Pilot.

“I saw that there was this new convention called Anime Ottawa and my friends were going, so I was like, ‘you know what, let’s just go there,'” said Alex.

“You get to be with friends and you also meet new people, so it’s really great – I really love it,” said Gabby.

Choosing a character to cosplay remains a difficult decision for anime fans. Many, like Emrik St Gean, chose to represent a character from Dragon Ball, following the recent death of its author Akira Toriyama.

“I probably would have come in just a regular t-shirt, but I really wanted to show my respect to the author,” he said, dressed as main character Goku.

“I love the character – he’s the hope of the universe, dying multiple times saving the earth and he will protect anything.”

Dressed as Nappa from Dragon Ball Z, Oleg Rumialcev says he is new to the convention scene.

“I’ve always been a fan of Japanese culture and cosplay, so I’m trying something new today,” he said.

Vee Shneider decided to dress as their least-favourite character from One Piece.

“I actually really hate Sanji but I guess I chose him because he was the easiest to cosplay,” they said. “I already have his fit, so I just had to make the buttons, the wig and the makeup.”

After Saturday’s turnout, organizers say the plan is to make the event a yearly offering. Anime Ottawa continues Sunday with celebrity meet-and-greets, gameshows and even more cosplay.

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