Anime Evolution is a 1-day event and is all about celebrating Japanese Arts & Culture. The event is called Harumatsuri, which is made up of the Japanese words for Spring and Festival.
This year’s Harumatsuri was held on March 25th, 2023, and was open 10-6pm at the Nikkei Museum in Burnaby, B.C.
Admission was $15 and kids under 5 were allowed in for free.
This was my first year attending Anime Evolution and I had a really great time. Yes, there were some teething issues and a slight lack of organisation, but for the most part guests were happy and enjoyed themselves.
I cosplayed as Ash Ketchum for the event, to send off the legend that just achieved his goals of becoming World Champion! Pokémon will always hold a special place in my heart, and I’ve always wanted to cosplay Ash…Next time I just need to add a Pikachu!
I also chose Ash, as Mirai Cosplay Café (interviewed previously by me!) were holding a special Pokémon themed pop up café, so how could I not!?
Location & Accessibility
Travelling to this location from Vancouver can be a little long winded if travelling by transit. I left my house around 10:20am that morning, expecting to arrive an hour later. But my bus that was supposed to take me to the Skytrain was delayed by over 30 minutes. Travel disruptions can unfortunately be a regular occurrence on the weekends (Thanks City of Vancouver!), so you really must plan ahead if travelling to this location from Vancouver.
The venue is around a 15-minute walk from the closet Skytrain station. On a sunny day, it would be a nice walk, but I was rather unlucky and ended up having to do the trek fighting against the rain and hailstones. I was soaked by the time I got there and once inside had to head straight for the bathrooms to dry off using the hand dryers. (I wish I had of packed a small umbrella!)
I had considered paying for an Evo (Car Share App) which would have cost me around $20 each way for the 30-minute drive. But, for some reason this location is not in Evo’s “Homezone”. The nearest place to park within their home zone was still around a 20–30-minute walk, so it made more sense to transit, even with the delays.
For those who are lucky enough to be able to afford a car in this expensive city, the Nikkei Museum has underground public parking.
The museum is also wheelchair friendly, although the crowds on this day would have made it difficult to navigate, I’m sure.
Organisation unfortunately was a little poor. You could tell that there were definitely some teething issues around the organisation of the event, maybe due to the last few years of covid restrictions. These weren’t just issues I had spotted, there were many other attendees that I spoke to that felt the same way.
The biggest issue was that there were hardly any signs printed with the days schedule. The only schedules I found printed were in black & white and on two pieces of A4 paper, it was small and hard to read. I understand the schedule was available online, but this is not something that is easy to do if you are in cosplay and must go digging through your bag to get your phone out every time you want to check. You would also struggle if you didn’t have any data and didn’t download the schedule the night before.
I would have liked to have seen larger printed signage, signs with arrows etc and schedules doted around. I know the venue was small, but there was a large turnout. I wasn’t the only one aimlessly wondering around upstairs confused about what rooms had panels, and where certain things were located.
The Mirai Cosplay Café is another good example of things not being very easy to find, and it was literally by the main entrance. This was mainly because the door would be closed for their 45-minute sessions, and it was not clearly signed. I arrived 10 minutes early to my reservation at Mirai to find some people had been queuing for nearly an hour, because they weren’t aware they needed a reservation. People were not happy about this and I am unsure on where the blame lies, but it is something that would need to be addressed for future events in order to keep guests happy. 😊
The final issue I would like to bring up is the fact that the staff were not in uniform. It was difficult to see who was actually working at the event. Any staff I did interact with were wearing normal clothes and as far as I could tell had no name badges, lanyards, or anything to clearly show that they were staff. That’s not to say some of them didn’t have them, but the people I communicated with didn’t have anything. Maybe the lack of signage wouldn’t have been such an issue if staff had of clearly stood out and could assist guests.
|The only sign I saw...|
There were 2 panel rooms on the day with several activities available, from interactive games to dance workshops. The rooms were a little difficult to navigate though, due to having no schedules on the doors. Again, if you had checked the schedule on your phone this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue.
I didn’t sit in on any panels, but I did have a little peak into the “Name that Videogame Tune?”. The room was basically full, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting involved.
I did hear the rooms were a bit hot and not very well ventilated. Someone had posted online after the event that they had tested positive with covid and were concerned for their fellow con goers due to the poor ventilation. Hopefully this wasn’t the case!
Gaming tables could be found up on the stage at the back of the vendor hall. I didn’t really get a good look as I didn’t know much about what games were going on or if we needed to register to go up there. But I could see some people sat up there playing, so I hope that they had a good turnout.
As far as I can tell, it was an additional cost to play some of the games. I don’t play D&D or anything like that (even though I would like to!), so I don’t know much about these games. You can check out the full gaming schedule HERE for more information.
Table Top gaming will feature the following MTG Events:
It was awesome to see such a good turnout of cosplayers for Harumatsuri!
It was a little surprising to me, as this is just a one-day event, and the weather was shockingly bad in the morning. But it was great to see that people braved the cold and still showed up with their amazing cosplays.
There were a lot of young new cosplayers too, which was awesome to see!
You could tell a lot of them are very new to the cosplay scene and I did overhear someone mention that some of them could use some tips on con etiquette. We have a really helpful “Con Etiquette” guide on our website written by our Chief & Editor Rebel.
I would highly recommend checking it out, even if you have been cosplaying for a while and just want a little refresher! 😊
Even though the turnout for cosplayers was good, it was a bit of a shame they didn’t have any cosplay guests, parades or contests. I feel like adding something for the cosplayers to get involved in would really help make the day extra memorable.
Photo areas would also be beneficial for cosplayers and cosplay photographers. It was ok once the sun came out in the afternoon, as people were then able to head on to the lawn to take photos. Otherwise, there was little to no space inside for taking decent photos.
|@cosplay_shmosplay @rainavicosplay |
@ruruKigururumi, @_kenzumii, @canadiancosplay
Artists & Vendors
My favourite thing about this day was the excellent variety of artists and vendors!
Honestly, I don’t know if its because some of them can’t afford the tables at larger cons, but there were so many different stalls selling all sorts of quirky items and art pieces.
Although it was super fun browsing through the many stalls, they were a little crammed into the small space. Some vendors did not have enough room to see their customers, as they had to put up walls to hold their art. I chatted to a few vendors about whether this was an issue but most of them were okay with it and said it was just a minor inconvenience.
The small space also meant the room got very crowded at times, which could be a little overwhelming. I’m not sure how this can be fixed for future events, unless it’s just the case of picking a larger venue.
There was a map of all the vendors spots available on the website, but again, more signs would have been helpful!
|@heycakethis & @sugarbooshoppe|
I loved the fact that entertainment involved having live music playing in the foyer throughout the day!
I was told that the reason the bands were playing right at the entrance, is because it would have been too loud to put on the stage in the vendor hall. So, although it was a little strange to walk into con with live music right there, it seemed to be the best location for them.
I’m not sure if there would have been a better place to be honest. There was one room downstairs which had Martial Arts classes running on the same day. Maybe if that room had of been free, it would have made for a good dance space, and they could have made it into a little Anime Rave Room.
The other entertainment from the day was Mirai’s “Pokémon themed” Cosplay Café!
If you had a reservation at the café, then you had the opportunity to pay for performances. Our table paid for 1 song and 1 dance, which cost $3 each. It was the same staff member who performed for us, and they were awesome!!
I do wish that the café had offered a group performance, or at least one free song/dance at the beginning of the show. I think this would really help people settle into the experience and it could also encourage people to pay to see more!
There were also games and competitions to participate in in the 45-minute timeframe.
Guess that Pokémon was a part of their raffle. It was a little hard for me as I only recognized one Gen 1 type on the sheet lol. A couple of people at my table did manage to guess them all correctly and the winner got to pick a Pokémon plushie!
The rest of the game selection was a little disappointing I have to say, but winning prizes when you compete against a staff member was a fun idea. 45 minutes really isn’t enough time to sit and play a proper boardgame anyway, especially when there were some delays with taking and receiving orders.
One other suggestion I would love for Mirai Cosplay Café to consider, would be a better set up for their Polaroid Photo Op. I think setting up a backdrop with some props would have made this more popular!
Also, offering these whilst people are waiting for their food or upon entering might be more convenient. Someone wanted to buy one at the end of the session but the phone that was taking payments was the phone needed to take the photos.
|Cute little prize I won at the Mirai Café|
Mirai Cosplay Café – It was a little bit disappointing to hear that they had sold out of sandwiches by 2pm. People that ordered the sandwich deal on my table basically received half a small cheese toastie each and still had to pay the full $8. I’m assuming they should have received a full toastie, but because what with it being the last two orders, they had to split it ☹
I overheard staff saying they would have to order more food from the caterer. But I know the people on my table were a tad disappointed and I doubt they would have received more food by the time the next lot of guests were coming in.
Drink cups were also extremely small, we joked about them being shot size and drinking shots of apple juice. To be fair, this did make us laugh a lot, tee-hee.
The snacks were a decent size though. I had the Banana Loaf which was very tasty, and I think totally fair for the $6 price tag (including the drink)
As well as the cosplay café, the other options I saw for food included a Crepe stand, Japa dogs and there was one more food stall out front selling, I believe, dumplings? I didn’t get a good look, all I saw was meat & fish and being Vegetarian I couldn’t eat any of that.
There were water refill stations by washrooms as well which was handy!
|Mirai Cosplay Cafe Menu's|
|The Team at Mirai Cosplay Café!|
I really did have a lot of fun at Anime Evolution! It was a great turnout for cosplayers and mostly a fun and positive atmosphere.
The variety of artists and vendors really excelled for a smaller con. The live music added to the atmosphere and the panel rooms seemed mostly full and engaging.
The crowds did get a little crazy inside at times, so I was grateful for having that outside space when the weather improved. Honestly, I don’t know if people would have stayed all day if it wasn’t for the sun coming out. It really made for a nicer experience seeing cosplayers out on the green enjoying the weather and avoiding the crowds inside.
I would recommend the organisers of this event to just pay a little bit of extra attention to the small details. I did acknowledge one or two unhappy guests because there was “nothing to really do apart from buy things.” A little bit of a harsh statement, but that was their opinion.
More signs are needed with the schedules on them, staff members would ideally be in uniform, and a little more thought into creating areas for cosplayers to take their photos would be a good idea. Also, providing a safe place to rest too, a lot of cosplayers were crammed into the hallways on the floor, and this isn’t ideal when you have this much foot traffic.
Thanks so much for reading, see you all at Anime Revolution this August!