As I am writing this, two days ago, I received some shocking news that would flip my world upside down in an instant. On the Feast of the Annunciation, shortly around noon, while working my software development duties, I received word that Anime North 2020, which I was eagerly (yet, at the same time, with trepidation) anticipating, was cancelled. All this was done in light of the COVID-19 paranoia that was sweeping through the world, Canada included. No words can describe how I feel about this news, except a mixed wave of relief, anger, sadness, and a little bit of everything. Cue Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, because today we’re going to explore this new development. Behold, this is the Requiem For Anime North 2020.
ANIME NORTH 2020: CANCELLED EDITION
I am honestly shocked, but I can’t terribly say that I was surprised by the decision. However, what I am disappointed about was how they played it out as time passed by. To give a little background on it, as the COVID-19 paranoia began to sweep mid-March, which brought sports league, public meetups, and other conventions to a halt, Anime North released their initial statement on what they would do regarding the situation. The full statement can be read here, but to summarize:
We currently intend that Anime North 2020 will proceed as planned from May 22nd-24th, 2020. We aim to deliver the same great convention experience as always, with minimal disruption due to covid-19 (“novel coronavirus”)… We encourage attendees to take reasonable steps to prevent the spread of illness, such as washing hands thoroughly. (It’s good advice anyway!).Anime North Statement Regarding COVID-19, 13 March 2020 (https://www.animenorth.com/event/index.php/news/104-statement-regarding-coronavirus)
It appeared that they were still planning to go ahead with the convention, under the pretense that in two months’ time, the paranoia would dissipate, and the number of cases would slowly decline; both of them VERY big if’s to consider. They were playing the underdog against overwhelming odds that otherwise would have spelled doom for the convention. For some, this was a small glimmer of hope that they would still be able to geek out in the summer; but for many others, doubt and confusion naturally began to form as to the intent and potential complications that could arise. It didn’t take them too long to realize this, as eight days after posting their initial statement, they posted an ominous message under their coronavirus statement where in they simply stated, “Decisions can take time to make and put into effect”. Rumors began to circulate about a potential rescheduling, or even a shift of venue, but for folks like myself, the writing on the wall was clear; it was not going to be possible, even unlikely, for this convention to go on any longer with the way things were going. My suspicions were confirmed days later, as now we will have to wait another year hopefully, for Anime North to resume.
Now, what does this all mean for me? As much as it hurts to say, there are some good things that come from this cancellation; but not enough to offset the hole that has been seared into me.
Personal safety. I guess one thing that is good out of this is that I won’t have to worry too much over the virus potentially harming any of my loved ones. It’s a bit of a relief to know that at least, by doing this, I can reduce the risk of exposure of the virus to them. To put this into perspective: I have two grandparents living with me and my family right now, and based on recent statistics, COVID-19 appears to lurk deadliest among those who are of senior citizen age. It would be very imprudent of me, not to mention uncharitable to potentially expose the rest of my family to this virus, and potentially cause death, God forbid. The only thing that’s worse than a cancelled convention would be to come back from one, and unwittingly cause death in a family.
Focus more on spiritual side of things: I can use this opportunity to improve myself spiritually. Reading some spiritual exercises, such as Thomas A Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, theology manuals, and practicing Christian devotions more frequently, while realizing that all things are, ultimately, in the hands of God, can be something I try to realize in these trying times.
There was one interesting tidbit of information that I noticed as I was processing all this, though; the date of Anime North 2020’s cancellation also happens to coincide with it being 19 years since the death of the founder of the Society of St. Pius X himself, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Considering that the church where I attend High Mass during Anime North weekend is staffed by the very priests of his order, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps, this was his way of letting me know that perhaps it wouldn’t be a wise idea to attend Anime North this year if the risk of keeping myself from the graces of the Mass is too high.
THE BAD AND UGLY
Unrealized cosplays: Listed below are the cosplays that I was planning to don during the duration of Anime North 2020. I had them all ready and lined up, and unfortunately, thanks to its cancellation, they’ll have to wait another year before they could see the light. Even sadder is that my Saturday cosplay, which was D’Artagnan from 1998’s The Man In The Iron Mask, had just been finished a mere two weeks prior to the closing of the convention. Imagine that – all the work, effort, and late nights, gone down the drain because of a mass hysteria over a mere virus. Give me a break. Ditto for my cosplay of Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, with whom I was going to hold a sign saying “Archbishop Lefebvre Did Nothing Wrong!” with.
Loss of economic revenue for vendors: A big thing about Anime North is the huge amount of vendor space. Each year, many artists, and vendors of anime-related artifacts set up shop at the Toronto Congress Centre in the hopes of attracting 30,000+ potential buyers to their items / deals, and making a huge profit at the end of the day. For some of them even, this convention is their biggest opportunity to get themselves out on the market and get started with the artist/merchandising business. Losing a convention (or in fact, multiple) will negatively affect these folks’ source of income – which they need to not only keep their businesses stable, but also to pay off their debts, dues, and bare necessities. In fact, I’d say that it’s the vendors that are the biggest losers of Anime North’s cancellation; with no buyers to get their items, no place to advertise their merchandise and get themselves out in the open, trying to keep themselves financially stable will become a difficult task for them. May God help them and have mercy on them as they find a way to stay alive.
The Year Without A Summer: Anime North has always been the highlights of my summer, something which I eagerly look forward to with great anticipation every year. I especially enjoy being able to strut around convention grounds in a cosplay that I, through God’s help and Providence, created for His glory, notwithstanding and not minding the harsh heat of the sun above me. Knowing that there won’t be any Anime North to look forward to – or, God forbid, even anything to look forward this upcoming summer, will make this summer feel like it hasn’t happened at all. It sucks, especially considering that summer is my favorite month of the year, when regular folks are supposed to go out, enjoy the outdoors, and take a deep dive under the sun to do the things that they can’t do in winter. Instead, on a nice day in May, I’ll be stuck at home, doing God knows what, hopefully nothing soul-destroying, as opposed to enjoying the nice sun outside, all because some stupid folks in power couldn’t take a pandemic seriously.
Spiritual roadblocks: Since 2018, I’ve always liked to see Anime North as my one vacation where I can have a valid excuse to attend High Mass without interference from my folks, and avoid some horrid liturgical abominations at the Novus Ordo. My readers know that High Mass has always been one of the high points of the convention; it’s a great way to give thanks to God for the wonderful weather, the wonderful weekend that I can experience, and not to mention, an opportunity to rightfully serve him at a holy, righteous and Godly Mass fitting for His honor. Now that the archdiocese has prohibited public gatherings at Mass, even suspending the administration of sacraments, coupled with the government prohibiting large public gatherings, it has become even more difficult for me to attain these graces, in spite of the grave necessity that the faithful easily access these sacramental effects. Even the SSPX chapel I attend has required now that those who wish to attend Mass pre-register for space, limiting their gatherings. I shudder at the thought of going months – even years – without the relief of the Sacrament of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. All the more with the cancellation of everything public.
Nothing will be the same this year, and the thought of having no Anime North in two months’ time really breaks my heart. I guess it’s for the best, but sometimes, what’s the best for us isn’t always going to be the prettiest. I’ll try to keep myself sane and commit all this sadness to God, in whom I can find all comfort in. May He have mercy on us all during these difficult times, and strike down COVID-19 and those who have perpetrated this catastrophe on all us faithful.