Aug 152009

So 2009 AE marks the year where the convention takes a BIG step and changes location to the Convention Centre right by the heart of Downtown Vancouver.

As just mentioned, being in the Downtown of a large city has its perks (and of course its downs, but we’ll touch on that later). The Vancouver Convention Centre is an award-winning building for its state-of-the-art and sustainability designs from the ground all the way to the roof. It’s situated right by the waterfront. You won’t even have to squint your eyes and you can see North Vancouver on the other side of the shore! Indeed, it’s a lovely location. The building is clean, and there are staff ready on hand to help direct the crowd.

A mascot cosplayer posing in front of the unique interior
jenga-like wooden walls of the Vancouver Convention Centre

You can check out more photos of the Convention Centre here

Convention Grounds
One of the best things why AE was held at the Convention Centre was being able to bask in the air conditioning inside and hide away from the heat outside. This was a blessing for most cosplayers since I noticed there was an abundance of mascot costumes this year.

We were fortunate to get to romp almost all 4 floors (could’ve been more like 3.5?). We didn’t get all of the main floor as that was booked by a different groups on different days (I remember a Hollywood-themed party for a prom, and a nurse convention happening).

The bigger events such as the cosplay contest and dances were in the bigger halls on the basement floor. This floor also hosted the Dealers Hall and the Artist Alley. Unfortunately, the space was not divided to the hopes of most. There was a stage that was situated right beside the Artist Alley and were only separated by partitions/dividers that didn’t go up to the ceiling. Therefore, whatever happened on stage was heard by all in the Artist Alley and the Dealers Hall. This was tolerable to a certain degree, until the lights went out for some shows happening on stage. Then, the Artist Alley aisle closest to the stage were forced to operate in darkness. Both shoppers and sellers suffered from this. It was an unfortunate incident for everyone.

Cosplayers usually loitered on the main floor, outside, or the upper floors…

But of course, you can find them just about anywhere on convention grounds. (Picture was taken inside Dealers Hall)

The staff
Most of the staff that I have encountered during the weekend were pretty friendly and helpful. Albeit most of them look a little tired due to long shifts (understandable), on the whole they were doing fairly good in upholding a good image for AE.

Meeting The 404’s
At one point during the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to have an casual sit-down talk with The 404s Improv Comedy Group.
Originated from the province next door: Alberta, this group of comedy performers started with only performing at their local university animation club. They quickly grew popular with their fun twists of improv games and anime knowledge that catered well to the audience of anime conventions. They became a popular guest requested at most events.

The group shown in the pictures below is not their whole group (as their group consist of many members). They were a super friendly and fun group to talk to. I’m very glad I got the chance to get to sit down with them for a few minutes.

So be on the lookout for them at your next event! They could very well be heading there next. …Or you can check their schedule on the front page of their website.

The Cosplay Contest
I helped out as a judge once again for this contest. However, unlike the experience I had last year, things turned out a little different this year.

After the contest ended, some of the contestants came up to us judges and asked us a lot of questions about what criteria we judged on and how or what they can do next time so that they can win… I can understand how people enter a contest and would want to win. However, there are many factors to consider before announcing an entry as a winner. We honestly did not favour anyone. I was acquainted with one of the entrants of the contest but that didn’t automatically made them win. All of the skits were judged in comparison to each other and if an entrant was a veteran entry that has entered before, you should have thought of something to overcome your last and do something better… not serve the judges and the audience with something that you have done last year EXACTLY the same. No one will be impressed with repeats.

I feel ALL entries need to be videotaped and given back to the entrants to see what they looked and sounded like on stage. It doesn’t always seem as perfect as it is in your head when you’re actually up there.

The Food
As the Convention Centre was located in downtown, there were many food choices for everyone. Conveniently, there was a food court just across the street from the Convention Centre so obviously that was where most attendees flocked to to satisfy their hunger. There was also an Elephant & Castle restaurant also across the street that I dined in for dinner on Day 2.

A good note to add is the AE booklet this year was really well done I thought. There was a map inside the booklet showing the surrounding of the con center with hotels, transit, and food places. It was very convenient and a great addition to the booklet!

For my dinner on the last day, I went with some friends to a Korean BBQ restaurant to have a feast.

My Korean BBQ feast.

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