Montreal’s anime convention Otakuthon is back at the Palais des Congrès for three days of cosplay, video games, loads of shopping and more.
With over 25,000 people in attendance, Otakuthon ranks second behind Toronto’s Anime North as the largest convention in the country.
For co-chair Stefan Latour, the goal is simple: “To put together a festival where more local people could share their love of anime and manga.”
For many, anime and Japanese cosplay are tools for self-expression and human connection.
“Freedom,” Adam Millet said of the draw of the festival. “We all get to dress up as what we want, who we want, and it’s one of those weekends that’s not Halloween but you put a lot of time and effort. You get a lot more acknowledgement than a regular Halloween trick or treat.”
Isabelle Sansouci sees Otakuthon as a way to connect with fellow fans.
“I guess to express the love for a character you have and a series you have, ’cause you can connect with people you don’t know, talk about the series, talk about the characters and it’s really fun,” said Sansouci.
And for others, it’s a way of life.
“It’s another lens to which to view the world,” said Latour. “It’s a way to tell stories that are familiar but somehow different through a cultural lens that is unique to discover and also fun to learn about.”
Sansouci has been a loyal participant.
“We’ve been to Otakuthon since the beginning when it was a free convention, small, small convention at Concordia,” said Sansouci. “We’ve been every year.”
For Cas Williams, hours of costume and makeup is a thrilling challenge she’s willing to accept.
“We like the whole community aspect of it. We get to meet other cosplayers with similar interests and stuff like that,” she said. “And the challenge of it — like this one especially was like, ‘I wanna be that seven-foot monster — we need to figure out how to do it.'”
Cosplayers looking for a serious challenge can set their sights on the international stage.
“The masquerade is to showcase cosplayers at all levels on a local competition and the world cosplay winners are a pair that will be sent to Japan next year to represent Canada on that stage,” said Latour.
The convention is celebrating its 13th birthday and the numbers have been growing every year.
“Anime went from being something that you’ll have on a VHS ’cause you know somebody, or a show that you’ll record in the morning because Pokemon was on, to being a tab on Netflix, to being several large streaming providers,” said Latour.
The event will be running until Sunday.