The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Otafest Aurora: a day at the mid-autumn convention

“Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.”  —Author Unknown

Pre-ordering generally confers bonuses, and so, with that in mind, in conjunction with my previous experiences at Otafest, I decided to attend the winter convention, Otafest Aurora. Thus, I spent the past two weeks working away at my term papers, research grant proposals and assignments to clear up my schedule today. Contrasting Otafest, Otafest Aurora is a smaller convention held at the University of Calgary’s Downtown Campus. This shiny new addition to the University of Calgary opened in September 2010, and last year, Otafest’s organisers hosted their first convention here. Previously known as Otafest Lite, this event was re-branded as Otafest Aurora last year and is a day in length, concluding with an evening banquet and dance. Otafest Aurora capitalises fully on the more compact and modern venue to deliver an incredible experience. All of the panels, anime screenings and events are held in the main building, making it a simple matter of climbing steps to reach all of the activities. Shortly after arriving at the downtown campus, I checked in my backpack: I do not have an office space conveniently located here, so I would make use of their service to safely store my gear. Today would turn out eerily similar to the events from last time: since I pre-ordered my pass, I bypassed the registration process and was able to enter the vendors’ room within minutes of opening. I browsed through the vendors first and picked up some K-On! pins and a Puella Magi Madoka Magica pin depicting Madoka Kaname. I then proceeded to the stall selling official Otafest gear. I had been quite excited about the pin trading: the Aurora pin series was particularly well done, and I was looking forward to acquiring the Gala series, plus the Snow-Wing, a pre-order exclusive pin. However, the staff informed me that there was a substantial amount of difficulty in delivering the pins, which had somehow resulted in the pins being shipped to Mexico (there is an event hosted there that is also known as Otafest), and subsequent communication errors precluded their arrival in time for the events today. The staff suggested that I check back at four: at around this time, I rendezvoused with one of my friends who had expressed interest in attending. We set out and watched the opening ceremonies, which imparted the sense of spirit that Otafest was about. Despite being a small convention, a dedicated and enthusiastic staff gave Otafest a very warm, welcoming feeling. Even as the event coordinators were giving their speeches, I knew their minds were on the delayed pins, but they nonetheless delivered the opening talk and introduced next year’s theme with such zeal that I wouldn’t have noticed the difference.

  • Above is an image of the main entrance at the University of Calgary Downtown Campus. I spent most of the day enjoying the sights and sounds, more so than photographing things, so this time, I don’t have photos to share. Among the cosplayers I saw include Madoka Kaname and Mami Tomoe (Puella Magi Madoka Magica), Seph and Aurora (the official Otafest mascots), Chell (Portal, Portal 2), and even Christian Bale’s Batman (The Dark Knight Triology). As for what’s happening with the pins, I think an announcement will be made soon. Depending on what happens, I may place an order for them at a later date.

Once the opening ceremony ended, I brought my friend to a screening of Makoto Shinkai’s Garden of Words. This is my third time watching the film in full, and although we were watching at DVD quality (imagine playing Crysis on medium settings), the movie was still the beautiful work I had seen back in June. After lunch,  we decided to see what the Winter Maid Cafe was about. After being welcomed by a friend working there, we took our seats, placed an order for hot cocoa and struck up a conversation with some of the other patrons. In the interest of courtesy, we left after finishing our drinks: the Maid Cafe had been quite busy. Hereupon, we visited the vendors once more: after showing him around some of the merchandise associated with anime-related hobbies, his day concluded. I returned to the Otafest merchandise vendors, and they had informed me that the pins would probably be a no-show for today. They did prepare a smart contingency: surplus pins from the previous Otafest were available, and I netted myself three pins (two of which were staff pins and thus, unavailable for purchase during the last Otafest). My ride arrived shortly after, and with it, the second convention I attended. The event had been remarkable: if any of the Otafest organisers find this blog, the only thing I really need to say to them is that they have gained a regular attendee (well, as long as I’m still around these parts for the upcoming events).

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