About Otafest








Raised for Charity

At Otafest, there is always a feeling of warmth and community. No matter who you are, you are accepted and loved. For some, this is their first time meeting others like them. For others, it’s a chance to catch up with old friends.

Our Story

Otafest was born in 1999 when the University of Calgary’s Dedicated Otaku Anime Club decided to have a 1 day film festival showing Japanese Animation (anime) to the public.

Over the next decades, Otafest grew into a larger festival run by a non-profit organization (The Otafest Film and Cultural Festival Planning Committee) and while we still showcase anime, it’s just a part of the festival experience.

Otafest is an annual conference for anime enthusiasts. We are a creative outlet for fans, where you can show your passion and appreciation of the hobby. We are a space for you to show off the costumes you have made, the music videos you have created, and the art you have painted and drawn. Otafest is a forum for discussion and education. We host educational panels introducing you to the basics of the Japanese language and tips on how to use computer programs to enhance music videos and CG art. In the past, we have hosted guests who explained the process of donning a kimono, demonstrated the intricacies of tea ceremonies, and Iaido (the art of drawing a sword from a scabbard). We have also invited guests involved in the voice acting and animation industries to speak of their experiences.

Otafest is a marketplace. We gather dozens of vendors together from all over Western Canada to facilitate the best bargain hunting in town. And, of course, we haven’t forgotten our roots: Otafest is an anime festival.

Each year, we host charity events and fundraisers during the festival to be donated to that year’s selected charity. Dedicated rooms such as the Maid Cafe donate their proceeds to the charity as well.

We hope to see you this year!


Otafest acknowledges that the land we gather on is the traditional territory of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Piikani and Kainai First Nations), as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations). The City of Calgary is also the home of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

Calgary is home to many First Nations peoples from across Turtle Island. We acknowledge that settlers on the land occupy and directly benefit from the process of colonization.

Each year, Otafest selects a charity to give back to those in our community and beyond. In 2019, our charity of choice was Miskanawah (formerly Pathways) and we encourage you to consider making a donation if you are able. We aspire to continue supporting local Indigenous communities in the future.

Commitment to Anti-Racism Improvements

May 31, 2021

Hi folks, thank you so much for your patience!

This time last year, Otafest made a commitment to be better allies. We’ve done a lot of work and study on anti-racism work this year, and will continue to do so. After elections last year, the incoming leadership team collectively put in over 300+ hours of both anti-racism and inclusivity & diversity training. We held a total of 6 sessions over half a year so that all staff could have a chance to share in our learnings, and contribute their learnings too. All staff members in a decision-making capacity completed the training.

Procedurally, we took some time to dive through our internal policies for procedures that could contribute to systemic racism. We identified a key barrier in our internal progression policies that could contribute to difficulties for POC to climb the ranks, and eliminated that. We continue to be mindful that systemic racism can be unintentional in nature, and the only way to address that is to actively view our decision making from an anti-racism lens. We’ve learned from our training that to be better allies, we should focus on doing the work, rather than talking about doing it, so we hope our actions were felt by the community in our programming this year, and will continue to be felt in the future. This summer, our plan is to continue with more advanced anti-racism training surrounding restorative justice practices.

At the Board level, we created a dedicated anti-racism committee, to make sure these initiatives don’t get forgotten. Late last year, our membership elected the most diverse leadership team Otafest has had. On the Board, 6 out of 7 of us are visible minorities, and on the wider leadership team, 7 out of 9 of us are visible minorities. This specifically includes individuals who are Asian, Black and Persian. 3 out of 9 of us identify as queer. Each of us bring our lived experiences to try to continue to make Otafest as inclusive as possible, bring diverse viewpoints to our most critical decision making, and to be better allies.

And to do so, we know that anti-racism work must be ongoing and evolving. We will continue to provide annual updates on our progress.

Thank you for your time,