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When I went to my first Anime North 7 years ago, I was floored by how big it was and how overwhelming everything seemed to be. At that time, I could really have used a guide, but none seemed to exist. So if this is your first time or your 3rd time, I hope you can learn something new and get the most out of Canada’s largest anime convention.

So you’ve bought your tickets, booked your hotel, and arranged transportation to and from the Congress Centre. Now all you have to do is count down the days right? Not quite. There are a couple of other things you should prepare for.
When you’re in the Dealer’s Room (The area with all the merchandise), the last thing you want is to not be able to buy that special something because you spent your money on that “plushie you just had to have!” Make sure to save at least $100 before the con! That may seem a lot at first, but manga after manga after figurine after anime pile up and you run out of money very fast, no matter how good the deals are. Atm machines around the convention run out of money very fast during the weekend (Yes! They can actually run out!), so don’t depend on them for cash. The majority of vendors only accept cash and don’t have machines on hand for debit and visa. So make your life easier by saving up your cash or making a nice big withdrawal before the con.
Yes, there will be fast food restaurants near the convention centre, and even a Japanese restaurant! Food is also sold in the Dealer’s Room and at the Double Tree Hotel. But food will be extremely expensive and the wait at fast food restaurants will stretch to tomorrow! Don’t try making reservations either. Those nicer restaurants don’t accept reservations on convention weekends. So hit your closest grocery store a day or two before the convention and stock up on some small snacks! Something to tide you over for most the day. Muffins, candies, Pocky (A fan favourite and a must have at the convention), cup noodles, and those Singles snack packs are a great choice.
A List
No, not A-List, a list! What would you need a list for, you ask? Other than money, a list is your best friend in the Dealer’s room. Walking into that room is like walking into a treasure cove or a toy store. There’s a lot of things and you don’t know where to start! Most vendors have rows upon rows of manga and anime lined up on tables. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, all those titles could be blinding when you’re going through them and you might be deterred from them. Write a list of all the manga and anime you are either collecting or want to start. Conventions are a great place to start or add to a collection because of the mass quantities of each title available. A list is also good if you’re having a hard time looking for that specific title. The people standing behind the vendors’ tables are there to help you, so if you’ve found a vendor with the right prices, you can pass them your list and they will assemble all of them for you! I can’t tell you how much time and headaches I saved when I discovered I could do that! Walking through the long tables, looking over other people’s shoulders to find the one volume I’m looking for was way too much for me. Going into the Dealer’s Room with a list of what you know you want can also mean you’ll most likely be able to get what you want. If what you wanted was a popular title that had just released a new volume, and you remembered on Sunday you wanted it, chances of finding it are slim.

At the convention
So now you’ve done all your preparation. Time to hit the con! Here are some tips to help you ease into the convention with little trouble.
Be Early
How early can you get to your hotel? Getting there early is key to a headache-less start to your weekend. All the hotels of the area are booked full of convention goers that will all be checking in at the same time. If you can get there early, you can miss the long lines of people waiting to be checked in. Disregard the check-in time on the hotel’s website. That’s the time for when your room will be ready, but they will gladly check you in at the front desk at an earlier time.
So what do you do after you’re checked in and your room is not ready? Split up your party and have one half get in line to pick up your convention badge at the Congress centre and the other half wait at the hotel until it’s time to move into the rooms. Here’s where coming early is an asset. The line for pre-registered folk and non-pre-registered folk are equally long and often wrap around the perimeter of the building. So get in the line early and wait for the convention to begin. It would be wise to bring something to sit on and play with while you’re there.
If you are in highschool or younger and live in the GTA, DO NOT SKIP SCHOOL JUST FOR THIS. Just rush there after school. Remember, you must have an adult with you in the hotel room if you're 13 and under. Anime North is not a valid reason to skip school for.
Dealer’s Room
I’ve already mentioned this place earlier in the article. This is the large area of the centre filled with vendors from all over Canada  (And some from the US) that have brought their anime merchandise to sell. When you go in, DON’T and I repeat, DON’T spend money at the first booth full of manga or plushies that you see. Take your time to walk all around the room, asking about their prices and any possible deals. After you’ve looked at every booth, then you can go back to the vendor that had the lowest price or the best deal. Also, most people will be selling manga at US cover price. What that means is that you’ll be paying for the US equivalent of the manga with Canadian dollars. When that was first introduced to conventions, we were all floored. But now, fans are looking for better deals, and there are many people willing to provide them. So be cautious and check out all the vendors before you start spending your hard-earned money.
**From Rock-E-"Another tip, for the gamers: unless it's a super super super rare game (I'm talking Tengen Tetris, Snatcher, most Working Designs games, ICO, MGS3: Subsistence Limited Edition rare here), avoid buying games there. You may find some somewhat decent prices, but most of the time it's overpriced, especially RPGs."
Program Book
This is what you’ll get when you get your badge. A book that lists all of the events of the weekend, where they are, when they are, and what they’re about. It’s a good idea at the beginning of the con to sit down and go through all the events that are happening and maybe circle some of the ones you just can’t miss. It’s horrible to go home from a convention just to find out that you missed an event you really wanted to go to! Also, this is a good way of preventing the dreaded “Now what?” moment when you and your friends are sitting in the hotel lobby, bored and wondering what there is to do at a convention.
Comic Market and Crafter’s Corner (Originally Artist’s Alley)
Because this is the first time Anime North has had this, I don’t know much about it. I’m unclear of the rules and what to expect specifically, but I have a general idea about it.
This is the place where everyday people get to show off their art and sell it to other fans. Some people make buttons or pins and key chains that they sell here. Most artists are open for commission, meaning they take requests for specific drawings for a fee. If you commission them on Friday, they can usually have the picture ready for you by Sunday. Prices vary from artist to artist according to their skill and the details of the picture. For example, one person costs less than 2 people, and black and white (inked) costs less than coloured, and so on. I often commission at least two people because I like to support budding anime artists. If you happen to really like someone’s drawing or style, don’t be shy to ask them to draw you your favourite pairing or character!
So many people don’t know what these are, and that’s shocking! A convention is nothing without panels. Panels are basically discussion rooms where you go to a room and talk about the topic that the panel is on. For example, during a Shakugan no Shana panel, there will be people at the front of the room that have volunteered to lead the discussion, and an audience and all you do is talk about the anime/manga for an hour! It’s a great way to meet people that are just as into a series as you are and also to maybe learn something new about it. You can talk about the plot, the characters, the creators, anything that comes up about the series, you talk about. There are also panels lead by more qualified people, such as a props panel or a voice-acting 101 panel where you can learn how to do something. So don’t be afraid to check these out!
Major Events
The major events that happen at AN is the Friday Skit Contest, Saturday night Dance, and the Saturday night Masquerade. I recommend going to the first two. To even get in to watch the Masq, you’ll need to line up for a wrist band, then you’ll need to line up for a good seat, then you spend 3 hrs watching mediocre skits and costumes run up and off stage in less than a minute. Many many people make it their mission to video tape the Masq and then put them up on Y-Tube. So go do something more fun and watch the more interesting skits online when you get home.
If it's your mission however, to take pictures of the best cosplays from Anime North, hang out outside the area where the Masq entrants leave the stage. I did this one year and was able to get lots of great pictures. If you don't know where this is, you can always ask a con volunteer.
The Friday skit is a contest where groups are given a longer time for their acts and are much more entertaining than the Masq.
The Saturday night dance is just your regular dance with a DJ that plays anime and Japanese music all night! If you plan to go to the dance, I suggest you pack lighter clothes to wear because it can get VERY hot on the dance floor. And no, I’m not talking about that girl in the Yoko costume or that guy in a Kamina costume.

Taking Photos
There’s a certain etiquette to taking pictures of cosplayers at a convention. The procedure goes roughly like this:
1)You spot a cosplayer that you JUST have to take a picture of
2)You see they’re not eating or in a hurry. (VERY IMPORTANT)
3)You go up to them and ask “Can I take your picture?” They say “Sure!”
4)You take their picture and say “Thanks!” They say “No problem!” (Also very important. The thanks lets them know that you took the picture so they can stop posing.
5)You go on your way.
No-no’s of photo taking
1)DON’T take a picture of them without asking them, unless you were taking a picture of the room, and there just happened to be cosplayers.
2)DON’T take a picture in a super crowded place like the Dealer’s Room because you could be blocking a lot of people’s way.
3)DON’T go up to them if they seem to be running somewhere. If you do this and they deny your request, they’re not being rude, they just really have to be somewhere.
4)DON’T and I mean DON’T take a picture of them when they are eating! They are obviously busy with food in their mouth so either wait around for them, or look for them later. But don’t stand near them and actually wait there! That’s creepy.
As a cosplayer, please assume that there will be people stopping you on your way to somewhere or maybe when you’re just hanging out, for a picture. Don’t be shy and strike a pose! If they request a certain pose from you, only agree to it if you’re comfortable with it. It’s not rude to deny a request to do a pose you’re not comfy with. Also, people not from the convention may come up to you and ask you what all the people in costumes is all about. They’re not being rude or mean, they’re just very curious about something they probably haven’t seen. Just explain to them that it’s an anime convention. Believe it or not, much of the western world knows what anime is. If they don’t know, you can just say “Japanese animation”. Don’t be weirded out or put off by them. I know many cosplayers that take offence to people coming up to them, but there’s no need to be. Remember, you’re in a costume, so you’re bound to get all sorts of attention.

There is generally a 126 rule at conventions.
-1 shower a day
-2 meals a day
-6 hours of sleep a night
This is to keep you from keeling over on Saturday or Sunday morning and to keep you from smelling horrible all weekend. Often at a convention, all the excitement makes you forget about things like food and sleep, but they catch up to you fast and hard. If you really can't shower, many places such as Walmart of Shopper's now sell those tiny body sprays to keep you smelling fresh. It would be nice to invest in one to keep you from stinking up the con.
Some people can get away with the 411 rule. Which is:
-4 hours of sleep a night
-1 meal a day
-1 shower a day
I don't recommend that for younger con goers, but if you're over 18, that could be enough.

And thus ends my short guide for first-timers. There’s still a lot I can say, but it’s much better to find them out for yourselves. I hope you have a great time and plan to come back next year!
A short guide for first-time con goers.

Reminder, this is a VERY SHORT GUIDE! This is by no means complete and I understand many things have been left out. This is just a very general guide to give first-timers an idea of Anime North.

I also didn't include information that you can find anywhere else on the web. There would be no point in repeating what everyone else is saying.

If you want to know more about Anime North like hotels, what to pack, what prices to expect, and con rules, send me a note about what you actually want to know about.

I also don't call myself an expert, but I've been to 6 Anime Norths and many other conventions, and have learned a few things. I love sharing my experiences and have hosted this particular panel at Anime North last year and 2 years before that.

Directions to get to Anime North are here.
Add a Comment:
ilikebothg1andg4pony Featured By Owner 4 days ago
Can you buy anime figures there (nendoroids, figmas etc.)?
Thank you so much for this list!!!!!!!!! It really helped!
FairyTailFreakFTW Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013
:) I'll be going this year 2013! Thanks a lot! And really, I thought $50 would be enough! :DDDD But I guess it isn't... oi.
SpedlySquadGirl Featured By Owner May 22, 2012  Student Artist
>.< uhh...what if ur in a group cosplay and ur being someone you know nothing about AND its ur first year going AND you have no guide/ people who have expierence dead X.X
YukiPhnx Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Don't worry about it! I'm sure you had a great time anyways. I've cosplayed lots of characters I didn't know. For your next time, you can just do some research on the character so you have some poses in mind when people ask for pictures.
Lunarluminesce Featured By Owner May 18, 2012
Thank you very, very much for this! This guide, and your directions are extremely helpful! It'll be my first time at the con next weekend, though I'm only planning to attend one day this weekend (hopefully, all three days next time) This certainly helps me, and the other two first-time-con goers who will be coming with me.
YukiPhnx Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Hope you had a great time at the con!
Lunarluminesce Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
I did, thank you!
PurpleSquid123 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
..Funny..I'll be 14, exactly 2 days before the con. >XD Btw, thanks for the tips, this is fantastic 8D

YukiPhnx Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012
No problems! I'm glad you like it. Hope it helps!

And what a way to celebrate your b-day!
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