Winnipeg anime convention is back after a two-year hiatus and sets attendance records

Winnipeg anime convention returns after two-year hiatus, breaks attendance records

Ai-Kon is an annual Winnipeg convention which showcases Japanese anime, pop culture and other media. It was the first time Ai-Kon has been back to the RBC Convention Centre since 2019, breaking attendance records.

The annual anime convention offered fans artwork, panels and a chance to come together and cosplay as their favourite characters. This year’s celebrations included a fashion show and lip sync duel with RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Rock M. Sakura.

The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this weekend. This milestone was postponed in 2021 by the pandemic.

“I think it’s really enjoyed by the community. They’re very thankful it’s returned,” said Justin Ladia, Ai-Kon’s communications officer and graphic designer. The entire event is run by volunteers who are passionate about anime and costume design, he said.

Justin Ladia, Ai-Kon’s communications officer and graphic designer, said the turnout at this year’s festival has been ‘incredible.’ (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Ladia stated that this year’s festival saw so many people miss it, they came back in large numbers, breaking the festival’s attendance records from before the pandemic.

“At this moment, we’re at 7,001 [attendees]. He said that they stood at 4,800 in 2019.”

Dominic Richard, Brody Trach and Krissy Hnatiuk are part of the Costume Alliance, a non-profit which calls itself “Winnipeg’s premier costume group.” These three wore comic book-inspired costumes. The BoysOn Sunday, we were at the festival and were delighted by its return.

Trach, who was dressed as Homelander, said he enjoys cosplaying because of the endless possibilities.

He said, “You can be any character you want. You can do anything you want.” It doesn’t matter your race, creed or whatever you are.

Hnatiuk dressed up as Starlight has been attending the festival every year since 2003. It was strange to see people’s faces without masks again, but it was a joy to see everyone back.

She advises anyone who wants to make their own costumes that everyone should start somewhere.

She said, “I wasn’t really good at starting out, but I kept going,” “You will eventually master the art of doing things.”

After two years of postponements due to pandemics, it was like returning to Aikon. Masha Chyrkina, a cosplayer, said that it felt like “triple the emotions” when she returned to AiKon. She was wearing Jinx from League of Legends. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Masha Chyrkina first moved to Winnipeg five year ago to begin cosplay. She stated that anyone can cosplay if they have the desire. This year, she dressed up as Jinx from the game. League of Legends.

You don’t have to buy anything in order to get started with cosplaying. You can cosplay as long you have fun and put your best effort,” she stated.

Chyrkina stated that it was “explosive” to return to the festival following the pandemic and felt like she had experienced triple the emotions. She said that the festival experience is chaotically enjoyable and that it’s safe and friendly.

Chyrkina loves that cosplay allows her to show more of herself.

“And I love seeing this childish excitement in people’s eyes when they’re like ‘You’re my favourite character  — I get to meet my favourite character in person!'”

WATCH: Cosplayers and gamers are happy to make a return to Ai-Kon.| Cosplayers, gamers and anime fans happy to return to Ai-Kon:

Ai-Kon breaks attendance records after pandemic hiatus and returns to Aikon

The RBC Convention Centre hosted the Winnipeg convention, which showcased Japanese anime pop culture and Japanese animation. This was the first time the event has been held since 2019, breaking attendance records.

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