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After taking a year off, I’m back at Anime North! After Otakon last year, I had my doubts on whether or not I’d attend AN again, but as luck would have it, I got into touch with Jenn and Suich from Poke the Merch and decided to give it a shot — I just can’t say no to meeting strangers from the internet!

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As you might know, figure bloggers have a strong tendency to be smart and attractive (LIKE ME), and Jenn and Suich were no exception. They were rolling out in full force with their friends with their Magi cosplay. I confess I know nothing about the series and had only found out that the characters are actually men much later in the day.

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I was both happy and jealous to see readers of Jenna and Sui Chee greet and approach them throughout the course of the day, as their giveaway contest was a smashing success! The lucky winner of the draw took home with him a Nendoroid STRength, but the real winners are hosts of the contest. Not many figure bloggers have the pleasure of meeting readers in the flesh, and I definitely want to do more of that. Dear Santa: I want a life-sized Mikudayo outfit to wear next year. I can just see it now: FIND THE MIKUDAYO AND WIN FABULOUS PRIZES.

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The highlight of the day’s events was a three-hour program called “Totally Lame Anime After Dark”. Hundreds upon hundreds of people packed into a massive presentation room to watch hilariously awful anime clips along with fun commentary. There were all manners of badness, but one thing that stood out was a series of super-depressing Japanese beer commercials featuring animated penguins. Apparently the ads were successful enough to warrant the making of a Vietnam War film…starring the penguins. I’m not kidding — it’s serious as cancer.

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But that’s enough of me blabbing — I know you’re only here for the cosplay photos. The convention proved to be a great testing ground for the YN-560 III flash I bought recently.

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I have to say that I didn’t have much success with it outside. Using it for fill flash outdoors gave off a rather unnatural look, and using the soft box + optical trigger was way to fiddly between adjusting the power of the flash, having the trigger randomly not work, ¬†using one hand to hold the flash and the other to work the camera. But more importantly, Since the maximum sync speed is 1/250 of a second, I had to really shrink the aperture during the bright outdoor lighting conditions. This means I can’t take advantage of the subject isolation that comes with having a large aperture prime lens.

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However, the flash really shined indoors. Bouncing the flash off the ceilings made for very nice lighting, and since it’s not blindingly bright indoors, I could keep my aperture big and blur out the crowd behind the subject. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! A couple years back I absolutely dreaded taking photos indoors, but with a flash it suddenly became the preferred place to take photos!

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All in all, Anime North was pretty fun. It may not have the superior location and all-star guest list like Otakon, but it’s still a great excuse to meet friends from the internet and blind people with my toys. I’m definitely bringing more water and food next time, though — getting food is a daunting task when you’re fighting in line against the weeaboo hordes. Bringing a couple of pepperoni sticks along with a bottle of Gatorade ranks amongst the best ideas I’ve ever had.