August 8, 2020

By MARIANA C. MORALES

Around 300 fans came together from all parts of Ontario for Waterloo Region’s first anime and gaming convention at Emiko’s Mini Convention (EMC).

Held at the Delta Hotel in downtown Kitchener on the weekend of Jan. 20-22, fans were able to dress up as their favourite characters, watch anime shows, sign up for gaming tournaments, buy merchandise and have a great time.

Most anime conventions are farther away in more populous areas such as Toronto which has the largest anime convention in Ontario. “Because Anime North is so far away, we wanted to make something more local,” said Cristina Reyes-Lyder, a student at Conestoga College studying early childhood education.

EMC was held by clubs from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College as well as by anyone who wanted to get involved.

The organizer of the event, Ronald Hoppe, who goes by his stage name RCEHoppe, said in this area there’s not really a venue for individuals to express this type of art form. This year marks their first year going public, but fourth year featuring the convention and it had a positive outcome. In the beginning, it was just anime, and then they added gaming and finally comics. They hope to make the event bigger next year by adding sci-fi and horror.

Conventions are like a form of expression where people can be themselves with others who are just the same. It’s not only for anime, but also some of the cultures taken from Japan.

Asian ball-jointed dolls are very realistic-looking dolls that are influenced by anime produced mostly in Japan, South Korea and China. They can be customized, however, according to the owner’s wishes. Items such as clothing, hair style, hair colour, eye colour, shoes, accessories and even facial features can be chosen.

Joy Fenton, a judge for a competition featuring the dolls at the convention, brought her creation Ryu, who wore a red and black gothic outfit with white, silky hair and “dreamy eyes.”
She said many of the dolls should have won first place, but it was hard to choose the best one.

Sometimes people ask her what kind of woman in her 50s collects dolls and she simply said it’s appreciating the human features. Because they are so life-like and customizable, she carries them around instead of dressing up herself.

Emiko’s Mini Convention will be held again next year with plans to make it even better.