Montreal is a gorgeous city and, as the most populous city in Quebec, it’s also a busy city. When summer comes around, it only gets busier. Around late-July, early-August (it was the first weekend of August this year), the Palais des Congrès de Montréal plays host to Otakuthon, Quebec’s biggest anime convention. At the same time, in a park on the outskirts of the city, Heavy Montreal is blasting music. Go figure.
Otakuthon is now 10 years old, with the first edition held in 2006. As of 2015, it is the 10th largest convention in North America. That’s a lot of conventions to contend against and choose from, but for me it came down to how close it was to where I live and how easy it was to navigate the city it’s in. The Palais des Congrès de Montréal is downtown (thank you for that), making it nice and easy to get to, even if you find the metro system overwhelming.
Otakuthon 2016 saw 21 315 people in attendance—one of them was me! With so many people, the general feel of the con can go from a casual get-together with friends, to something way bigger. As far as cosplay is concerned, the chances of seeing a character you know are pretty high so it’s the perfect opportunity to make some new friends. It’s also a great place to watch groups of people talk. You might not hear everything they say, but how people act around those they know differs from person to person. It’s also interesting to watch someone who is on their own. They don’t move the same way someone in a group would. Seeing people react to large crowds is something to learn from, just like keeping tabs on your own reactions to crowds of people—especially when they stop right. in. the. aisle!
Panels are another great spot for inspiration. Since the con hosts everything from screenings, to Q&As and interactive panels, the types of people you see attending each will change depending on the subject of the panel, the host’s abilities, or even the type of panel. I was surprised how competitive the “Name That Tune” panel was. I got a laugh when they played the opening theme from The Vision of Escaflowne while it was four guys up on stage. While they might have watched the show at some point, the pop-style love song clearly wasn’t something that stayed in their heads.
All in all, if you enjoy larger conventions, Otakuthon is a good place to be. It caters as much to those happy to attend alone as it does to those who enjoy taking it all in with friends.
Catherine Arbour is a Professional Writing student with a background in animation and a bias towards fantasy. She frequents as many conventions as she can, mostly in the Ottawa area. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing video games, reading, or knitting as part of the Spiritual Centre’s Knit ‘n’ Knatter.