Gamers, Cosplayers, and Voice Actors Converge for Anime Evolution

Vancouver’s longest-running anime con caters to fandoms new and old

AE Fire Emblem Fates
Corrin cosplay from Fire Emblems Fate (left), Jonathan Lepine as Ryoma from Fire Emblems Fate (middle) and Jeffrey Lazzarotto cosplaying as Xander from Fire Emblems Fate (right) at Anime Evolution 2016. (Melissa Pomerleau)

Vancouver’s Anime Evolution is “for the fans, by the fans,” says Mikal Peterson, the Table-top Gaming Coordinator for the annual Anime convention. “And so we try to put on as best of a show as we can.”

Anime Evolution started in 2003 at Simon Fraser University from a banding of various clubs throughout the lower mainland to produce one grand animation cosplay festival. It has since grown to be the longest running, and one of the most successful, Anime conventions in Metro Vancouver.

This year the event took place at the Sheraton Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver from Aug. 19 to 21. There were board games, card games and roleplaying games all throughout the three day event, and the gamers were joined by cosplayers who came from across Canada to show off their fandom pride.

“We chose [Anime Evolution] because it was easy for all of use to meet up,” says Jeffrey Lazzarotto, cosplaying as Xander from the game Fire Emblem Fates. “We’re all from Calgary, but we all went to different Universities.”

Other characters roaming the grounds of the Sheraton Hotel include a wide range of League of Legends Champions, Pokemon trainers bearing their Pokemon Go team colours, Overwatch heroes and even Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion, also known as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask.

While some cosplayers purchase whole costumes ready to wear, others spend months labouring over each and every detail.

“Most of the time was put into designing everything, making sure everything fits and how it would stick together,” says Lazzarotto. “Planning it was probably two to two and a half months. Actually making it [took] maybe a month or a month and a half.”

“Sometimes I’m really quick and I can pull out a thing in like a week or 3 days. I did this one really slowly over six months,” says Jessica Mckay, who was dressed as Sakura from the anime series and manga Cardcaptors. Mckay is also a Creative Writing student in her last semester at Kwantlen University.

In the Vendor’s Hall, convention attendees can find a wide range of cosplay accessories and outfits, an endless supply of tabletop games, action figures and plushies. Next to this was the Artist’s Alley which included a number of artists and their artistic renditions of various games and fandoms available for a modest price.There were also a series of panels ran in different rooms throughout the hotel for fans to come and interact with one another.

A few voice actors even made an appearance at the Con to sign autographs and host panels. Among them was Tracey Moore, the voice of Sailor Moon in 14 episodes of the English dub original series, and Steve Blum, voice actor in Digimon, Naruto and Afro Samurai: Resurrection, to name a few.
“Cons are fun because if you’re cosplaying you just get photos, and hang out with people, and you realize ‘oh, you’re wearing that, me and you like the same thing,’” says Mckay.

Nearly every panelist, organizer, and cosplayer encountered at the con seemed eager and happy to share their experiences at Anime Evolution, and according to Peterson, “As long as people keep showing up, we’ll keep going.”