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One of the many gorgeous cosplayers on a warm and rainy Vancouver day in September.

One of the many gorgeous cosplayers on a warm and rainy Vancouver day in September.

Today I noticed the Kumoricon folder in my September photos on my computer and realized you haven’t seen these great photos yet.  My deepest apologies.

Without further ado: Kumoricon 2015

A trio of unnatural blondes

A trio of unnatural blondes

Isn't she perfect?

Isn’t she perfect? Like a porcelain statue.

Imagine the time it took to make this one.

Imagine the time it took to make this one.

The rain did not dampen spirits.

The rain did not dampen spirits.

These girls exemplify Kumoricon for me and I just love this photo. Pink hair, attitude, and most of all: FUN!

These girls exemplify Kumoricon for me and I just love this photo. Pink hair, attitude, and most of all: FUN!

Lucky shot. I spotted this person right as they spotted a friend, and the two jumped into the air with happiness and ran to each other for a hug.

Lucky shot. I spotted this person right as they spotted a friend, and the two jumped into the air with happiness and ran to each other for a hug.

Long time readers will be familiar with our annual foray into bringing anime alive through cosplay (costume play). As in years past, the characters selected do not stay within the anime realm alone, but cover any kind of popular thing that can be found online or in print. Well…one guy came as an enormous raindrop, so really, come as you are.

Kumoricon is the name of the three-day anime convention that is held each year in Vancouver, Washington over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Once again the gathering has grown too large for the venue, and the 2016 convention is destined for the Convention Center in Portland. Tara has been going every year as a participant, and I go to see how many fabulous characters I can photograph.

I am terrible at recognizing which characters are being represented, but Tara is a pro. I showed Tara one of my photos, and they said: “Oh that’s Pacha’s wife. You know, from Emperor’s New Groove.” I have watched that movie two dozen times and did not realize that’s who I was looking at. And when I looked, I saw she had done a remarkable job with the costume, and was perfect for it, since the woman I photographed was heavily pregnant, as is Pacha’s wife in the movie.

When I do recognize the character, it increases my pleasure a million times. Like this one below. Hands down, my absolute FAVOURITE from the day I was there. It’s Garnet, from Steven Universe. As if you can’t tell with a split second glimpse. As if!

This is the best Garnet cosplay there ever was.

This is the best Garnet cosplay there ever was.

...I add the cartoon one to help you see my point.

…I add the cartoon one to help you see my point.

For lunch, Tara and I went to an Italian restaurant. I suppose it was obvious we would find these folks there too.

For lunch, Tara and I went to an Italian restaurant. I suppose it was obvious we would find these folks there too.

One thing I love about this convention is that it often catches innocent townspeople by surprise. They are usually delighted (sometimes scared), and pull out their phones to take pictures so that they can prove to the people at home that they really did see it. Kumoricon is across the street from Esther Short Park and the park becomes a logical place for the cosplayers to hang out and play games and eat lunch. Mario and Luigi (Mario videogames) might toss a volleyball with Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony) and Godzilla, and Spiderman might share a pizza with Naruto, and some Homestuck trolls. Local people will ride through on bikes, or stop at the Farmer’s Market – also held in the park – and their eyes widen with amazement.

These young people spend months putting their cosplays together, and will typically have a different one for each day, and often an extra for the “ball,” held after hours for 18+. When I wander through with my camera, they are eager to pose for a photo. They will stop in the midst of anything when I approach, and I think it’s because they see the photography as validation for everything they have done to prepare. Tara says there are a lot of complaints for when people take pictures without asking, so I always ask. But that’s my MO in any case. I try to get the pictures up on my flickr page as soon as possible, because these kids will hit their hotel rooms in the evening, and scan the Internet looking for pictures of themselves. During anime and comic conventions, my flickr views go up by thousands.

We live an hour away from the city now (Vancouver and Portland straddle the Columbia River), so Tara spent four days with friends of mine who live in Vancouver to make it easier to get back and forth. I was only able to make the trek once, so my photos are from a single wet day.

An artist from the artist's tent, which is open to the public.

An artist from the artist’s tent, which is open to the public.

This cosplayer's hat is a nest.

This cosplayer’s hat is a nest.

She seemed a little shy when I approached, with a voice so quiet I couldn't hear it, but honestly: who could doubt the bravery it took to wear this cosplay?

She was shy, with a voice so quiet I couldn’t hear it, but who could doubt the bravery it took to wear this cosplay?

Every year there is someone from Spy vs. Spy. Do you remember those old comics?

Every year there is someone from Spy vs. Spy. Do you remember those old comics?

Aren't they wonderful? I interrupted them while they were jumping off rocks and trying to get photos that made them look like they were flying!

Aren’t they wonderful? I interrupted them while they were jumping off rocks and trying to get photos that made them look like they were flying!

From Gravity Falls

From Gravity Falls

Playing in the waterfall

Playing in the waterfall

Check out her hooves!!

Check out her hooves!!

Cinderella and the Prince

Cinderella and the Prince

Girl In a Wetsuit, by Elek Imredy, in Stanley Park

Girl In a Wetsuit, by Elek Imredy, in Stanley Park

Thursday we were able to spend the whole day in Vancouver, and that was a boon, because this huge fabulous city deserves as much time as you can give her.

One of the first things that struck me was the number of apartment high-rises sprouting like shiny stalks from a garden. On both sides of the highway bridge, grey and glossy in the daylight, home to how many tens of thousands of apartment-dwellers, I don’t know. Right away M and I could see that people want to live in Vancouver.

Apartment high-rise buildings in Vancouver.

Apartment high-rise buildings in Vancouver.

We agreed that it would be a good idea to take a Hop On Hop Off bus tour, to get a sense of the place. I think those tours are a great idea for your first time in a big city: get off and look around at the interesting places, and then get on the next bus when you’re satiated. We took the trolley tour so we could push back the windows and take lots of photos.

I was struck by the creative architecture in Vancouver. I’m not used to so many modern skyscrapers in a single city reflecting so many elegant, sweeping curves. No fish-eye lenses used in the photos below: those are curved buildings. Seems like I’ll spot one stunning example in any given city, but here, there were many. Too many to catch them all from the window of the trolley.

One nice stop was the lookout over Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park. This is a 1000 acre forested city park on a high hill overlooking First Narrows, separating North Vancouver from Vancouver. The huge park holds gardens, biking and running along the seawall, memorials, wildlife, and some really old Western Red cedar trees.

We were hungry by the time we arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf on Granville Island, and it was the perfect place to be hungry. M was fascinated by the large open-air market, and commented how it was similar to the one he had seen in Arcata, California. I am used to these markets, so it was fun to be amazed again, through his eyes. We stopped at the butcher to ask for a recommendation on where to get a good steak. M owed me a steak from a little mishap on day one (someone forgot their camera battery charger and we had to turn around and go back). This resulted in our finest meal of the trip: steak and lobster perfection. The flavour was not better, but equal to the oysters earlier, but the presentation was fine dining this time.

We took the last trolley out of there, and the driver was hilarious and gregarious. Since it was the last trip, he delivered each person on board exactly to their final destination, even if it wasn’t part of the tour route. Score!

By then it was evening and we had to blast on out of town. Before we knew it, we were going through the border crossing. The man at the gate headed directly for the back of the Jeep, pulled out the luggage, and lifted the storage lid in the back, like he knew exactly what he was doing. The only thing we had hidden back there were nearly six pounds of Tillamook cheese! It had been my idea to keep it in the back, likely the coolest place in the car. For 10 minutes we had been grilled with pretty official questions, and then we were asked, “Why do you have so much cheese?!” M and I burst out laughing. “It’s Tillamook!” I answered. “Have you tasted it?”

As we made our way south in m.p.h. rather than kilometers, we debated whether to bang out the last few hundred miles and go all the way to Portland that night. M asked if he would miss anything by skipping Seattle. I said, “Well, it’s a city on the water. It’s beautiful, eclectic, West-coast laid back, diverse, and energized. The architecture is awesome. The food is outstanding. And since you like outdoor markets so much, Seattle has one of the best.”

I texted my brother about recommendations for places to stay, and – as I suspected would happen – got an invitation to stay at their place! Woo hoo! Their place is a treasure. They rent a three-bedroom home (we won’t disclose the amount, but the owner has neglected to increase the price for years) with a full yard and fruit trees and a garden only blocks from the Space Needle. It is surrounded on all side by apartment buildings, and the entrance to the house drops down a hill, so you can’t even see it from the street. As we were chatting before bed, we found out we were walking distance to Kerry Park – a famous overlook spot for the city – so M and I went for some spectacular nighttime views.

One Wall Centre

One Wall Centre

Carina

Carina

Waterfront in Stanley Park

Waterfront in Stanley Park

Gardens in Stanley Park.

Gardens in Stanley Park.

Marine Building with the MNP Tower behind it.

Marine Building with the MNP Tower behind it.

Couldn't find the name of this one - love the bronze colour.

Couldn’t find the name of this one – love the bronze colour.

When the Crazy Squirrel Lady travels, she notices the foreign squirrels. This handsome black critter caught my eye.

When the Crazy Squirrel Lady travels, she notices the foreign squirrels. This handsome black critter caught my eye.

I casually mentioned that the lock was more valuable than the bike. "Not to the kid who owns it," quipped M. And he's right.

I casually mentioned that the lock was more valuable than the bike. “Not to the kid who owns it,” quipped M. And he’s right.

Super funny art. Each figure is an image of the artist himself.

Super funny art. Each figure is an image of the artist himself.

Downtown, with the Harbour Centre Tower

Downtown, with the Harbour Centre Tower

The Lion's Gate Bridge in Stanley Park

The Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park

Steam-powered clock

Steam-powered clock

Vancouver's Chinatown

Vancouver’s Chinatown

Seattle skyline from Kerry Park

Seattle skyline from Kerry Park

My brother and his girlfriend's oasis in Seattle.

My brother’s and his girlfriend’s oasis in Seattle.

A face at Kumoricon 2013

A face at Kumoricon 2013

DSC_0970Every Labor Day there is a three-day anime convention in Vancouver, Washington called Kumoricon. In it’s history the con has also been held in downtown Portland, but the event is now too large to cram into the city. The 5000+ exploding population of comic characters seem to have found a permanent place at the Hilton in Vancouver.

I don’t attend; I’m not a big enough fan of manga or anime to want to immerse myself so completely. But my daughter most certainly *is* a big enough fan, and this is her favourite event of the year. I helped her with costume details by doing a little sewing and driving her to a costume shop and allowing a solo trip on the Max to try and find a wig. My other means of support was providing rides to the event, which is a little selfish, because after she headed off to the con, I wandered around and took photos.

I have over a hundred photos on my flickr site, if you want to see more.

My daughter and her friend on day 1: Rose, from Homestuck and Princess Peach from Mario games

My daughter and her friend on day 1: Rose, from Homestuck and Princess Peach from Mario games

My daughter's costume on day 2, from Lackadaisy

My daughter’s costume on day 2, from Lackadaisy

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more Homestuck trolls

more Homestuck trolls (Homestuck was very big this year)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kyoshi warriors

Kyoshi warriors. These are the best cosplayers I have ever seen. Incredible costumes. I should know, since I made one of these for Tara three years ago.

Jade as a troll

Tara’s friend Jade as a troll. Look how far they take these costumes: wigs, horns, contacts!

Gabby as a troll

Tara’s friend Gabby as a troll. Love the ears!

One of my many guises

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