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Otakuthon – from a Concordia basement to the mainstream

WATCH ABOVE: It started out as a small university film club. Now 10 years later, the anime convention “Otakuthon” has grown into the province’s largest festival of its kind. Billy Shields reports.

MONTREAL – One of Montreal’s most interesting — and overlooked — gatherings of the summer festival season is wrapping up its tenth edition Sunday afternoon.

Otakuthon will likely end up seeing a weekend attendance of more than 20,000 people, which is 3,000 more than last year.

Otakuthon started out a decade ago as the Otaku Anime Film Club at Concordia University.

The founders of the conference were students in the club.

“Then they graduated,” said Christine Lee, the conference spokesperson.

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“They moved onto making a real convention, a real anime convention — a Japanese pop culture convention.”

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Organizers say Otakuthon is now the second-largest gathering of its kind in Canada, and about 20,000 people attended this weekend.

Cosplay is huge at a convention like this. And it seemed like roughly half the crowd came dressed as a character from a video game.

Some characters were more recognizable than others.

There were several sections of the conference, a cinema, a video game room, an anime and manga section, and a room with board games, not to be confused with conventional popular games like Monopoly or Battleship.

“One of the most popular is King of Tokyo, it’s a game where you are a big monster such as Godzilla and you fight to gain control of Tokyo,” said Sylvain Trottier, an organizer in charge of the board game section.

Not all the participants are millennials who spend hours playing Super Smash Bros. Leslie Shand, for instance, is a retired programmer from Ottawa. It’s his fifth Otakuthon. Over the years he’s seen it grow:

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“There’s a theme almost anyone can enjoy if they want to.” 

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*Contrary to what was previously reported, it took Gabriel Provost 70 to 100 hours, not 7,200 to build his costume.

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