Originally, this week’s blog had ConBravo, an anime convention in Hamilton, as its topic. I was going to discuss things such as who I would be cosplaying that weekend, what events I was looking forward to, and what I hoped to be able to see there. However, one thing led to another, and by then I decided not to go to ConBravo despite my initial interest.
Hopefully everyone else who is going to ConBravo will have a good time – but I’ll stay home, hang out with friends, and attend High Mass on the coming Sunday at my de jure parish in Toronto. Instead, what I’m going to talk about this week concerns the topic of the way I decide which conventions to visit, such as what principles and what factors play when preparing and deciding which convention I should go to, and which one I should stay home from.
HOW DO I PICK WHICH CONVENTION TO GO?
Unlike most other attendees who visit conventions at whim, my appearance at a convention is strictly dependent on several factors. For the record, money is not an issue at all; I currently make enough money at my current place of employment, that I’m able to afford it; however, there are other factors that affect such.
- Presence of the True Mass. I will NOT attend a convention in a city that doesn’t have a regularly scheduled Tridentine Mass (Low or High) within reasonable distance to the convention. This, in my opinion is the most important factor that affects my attendance; I will NOT compromise my convention experience with attendance at a banal, idolatrous and borderline-blasphemous Novus Ordo worship service. Nor will I willingly commit a mortal sin by skipping Mass on a Sunday just so I could indulge in worldly affairs. That attitude is not Catholic and I don’t stand for it.
- Proximity to Toronto. I live in the GTA, and as such, the first thing that should pass is the convention’s proximity to Toronto. No point in forking out $600 total to cover food, train tickets, hotel room and extra cash for subway fares to High Mass on a Sunday. For now, Toronto-area conventions is my first priority.
- Size. For me, size matters. The larger a convention, the more exciting the panels, events, Dealers’ Rooms, and the more hype the crowd will be. I would prefer being stuck in a hall filled with 30,000 other anime fans for an entire weekend rather than roam around a sparse, nearly empty hall with very little to offer.
- Venue. If it looks aesthetically pleasing, or I’ve had good experience in the past visiting that place, then I think it’s worth looking at. But it’s not the be-all and end-all.
- Event Quality. I don’t really put much emphasis on events; I prefer to roam around and check out what other people are cosplaying that weekend. However, if there are some events that are karaoke-related, skit-related or even random enough to catch my attention, you’ll bet you’ve got my interest.
In this way, rather than go con-crazy every month, and chase conventions just for the sake of such, I can control my senses and make sure that I only go to the ones that are worth it in my opinion. In fact, I was largely inspired by St. Francis De Sales, a Catholic bishop of French origin, and his counsel to be prudent when it comes to social gatherings, such as (during his time) dance halls, the closest reference I could find to a large gathering like an anime convention:
If you have to go to a ball (my commentary: or any kind of public event such as a convention) on some occasion, and you cannot reasonably excuse yourself, take care … With modesty, with dignity and with good intention… for a short time, not until we are tired or dizzy… Let it be rarely.St. Francis De Sales
HOW THAT AFFECTS SMALL CONVENTIONS
By putting a limit on myself, I can look at the event in greater detail, and make determinations on whether or not they’re worth checking out or not. Small-sized conventions are a good example of such. I’ve only been to one small-sized convention in my life (International Fan Festival), but I’ve also been able to see, from photos on social media, what other small conventions like, say, KimiKon in Toronto, ConBravo in Hamilton or GenreCon in Guelph are like.
Some conventions like GenreCon or ConBravo can already be easily eliminated from my convention travel plans because of the lack of a Tridentine Mass that I can attend on Sunday. But for those that do have a Tridentine Mass in place, the question broils down to things like size or event quality. And if I feel that these factors aren’t satisfactory enough for me to spend $45+ on for a single weekend, then it’s better to just attend High Mass, avoid the temptation of inadvertently wasting my time and resources, and leaving with little to no good/worthwhile memories that I can reflect on.
As a matter of fact, in my most recent trip to a small convention, I only stayed on Sunday for exactly 20 minutes before going home to celebrate Easter Sunday with family. That’s… pretty bad if you ask me.
HOW THAT AFFECTS BIG CONVENTIONS
On the flip side, this filter works great because it severely limits the types of conventions that I can go to; conventions with a large attendance, and the ones that hold enough hype to warrant me checking it out. In this way, I can make the most of my convention experience rather than spend the time there asking myself, “Why did I do this”. The fruits are quite evident; whereas a small convention like International Fan Festival, or even (from what I’ve heard) KimiKon only has at best karaoke, a cosplay masquerade or a performance from a dance group, the large convention will have things like a hype rave event (not my kind of thing), Cosplay Battle Chess, anime song cover competitions, game shows (of which I’m hoping to be able to do for AN2020), and of course, a wild range of surprising appearances of people cosplaying your favorite character, or one you didn’t expect to show up.
Of course, some big conventions like Youmacon in Detroit, Otakuthon in Montreal, or Anime Expo in Los Angeles won’t be on the list, but hey – Anime North, Fan Expo and Toronto ComicCon are still around for me, and for now it’s fine. And given how great of a time I’ve had at the former two, as well as my ability to attend the True Mass and take part in fun, worthwhile competitions to leave a positive mark on my weekend.
In the past, I used to want to be the guy that attended every convention, hoping to chase that wonderful feeling that I experienced at Anime North and Fan Expo in 2018, and relive it again and again and again. However, in recent times, I’ve come to realize that there are other things worth more than being able to chase every convention that I can – and as sad as it may be to skip out on some of these potentially wonderful experiences, I feel that it’s necessary for my wallet, for my personal life and most importantly, for my spiritual life and to not lose sight of putting God first in our lives – no matter what the occasion may be.
As St. Francis De Sales says in the above quote, don’t chase every pleasurable event that’s going on in this world. And I agree – sometimes, we just have to make a few sacrifices and limit ourselves; that way, the celebration and joy we feel after this long wait will be even better than blindly chasing joy every moment of our lives, for no rhyme or reason at all.