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An experience lasts a lifetime. Give Otafest tickets to a friend and experience a magical weekend of fandom together! It’s easy! Buy your tickets, and once you’ve surprised them, transfer the tickets to their email address using the information below. You can even print our adorable gift tag to give to to your friend!

Step 1: Buy your tickets online

Step 2: Print the gift tag and give it to your recipient!

Step 3: IMPORTANT: Transfer your tickets to your recipient under “My Tickets” in your Eventbrite account using their name and email address. Make sure to click the checkbox to send them a confirmation email!
See step-by-step instructions from Eventbrite

Step 4: Your recipient will receive an email to claim their tickets from orders@eventbrite.com. If you need to fix anything later, don’t worry – you’ll still have access to change the tickets in your Eventbrite account!

Questions? Email us at info@otafest.com

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Hello, everyone! I’d love to share a little story with you all: a tale which has repeated itself over and over every year since it first came to be.

In planning for Otafest 2009, back when Otafest was still at the University of Calgary, our attendance numbers had been rising steadily to include about 4 or 5 thousand dedicated fans, even despite the economic downturn. We decided it was time to give back to the community, and Otafest took its first small steps raising money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital to the tune of $1735.

What had actually happened were actions which helped define the virtues of our community at Otafest for the next decade onwards.

At Otafest Lite 2009 and Otafest 2010, we fundraised for the Mustard Seed and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, respectively. Through every donation, whether it was a loonie, quarters, or a handful of pennies, the donations came in. I recall running around with (my own) giant plastic Coke bottle-shaped piggy bank as people added their contributions; I proudly showed off its contents, shaking and jingling its precious cargo and showing off its weight. In the end we raised over $5000 for each organization, shattering our expectations. The bottom of the Coke bottle had cracked from the weight; a small sacrifice, alongside our specially infamous “charity incentive staff punishments” as traditionally showcased during the annual Closing Ceremonies. We were absolutely blown away by the generosity of our community and we knew we truly had something special.

Most recently we gathered together as friends on a couch in a living room and marathoned a video game, demolishing the initial goal of $500 and raising over $1200 in 24 hours once again for the Alberta Children’s Hospital through an excellent umbrella organization called Extra Life. Participating in Extra Life while being backed by the Otafest community has been a goal of mine for a while. To me it wasn’t just about the streaming content or even the fundraising efforts but a chance to do something amazing and fun with our staff and being able to interact live via chat with you, the audience, in a captive setting. While I know our team to be open and reachable, it’s difficult for us to forge a connection during the main event as we’re typically busy trying to run a convention, and you’re busy enjoying it. We don’t often get to thank people individually and acknowledge their contributions directly; chances like these are rare and meaningful and I believe we took advantage of it.

In the 10 years since, we’ve raised somewhere north of $110,000 for various charitable causes with a large focus on local organizations: animal shelters, youth care programs, or notably, foreign aid relief (Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi earthquake/tsunami disaster struck close to home.) With everybody’s support, I can always look back with pride in our endeavours and count my blessings to be a part of such a loving community. I know we will continue marching towards a bright future together because it’s just who we are, this Otafest family.

Thank you.

Jei Wong
Otafest Programming Coordinator

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Otafest has completed our AGM and are proud and excited to announce the 2019-2021 Board of Directors.

  • President: Stephanie Mok
  • Treasurer: Binh Du
  • Secretary: Shawn Hansen
  • Director: Justin Lo
  • Director: Vicky Lau
  • Director: Amy Pratt
  • Director: Brendan Hood
  • Chair: Jenny Chan

As Otafest enters a new decade, a new strategic direction has been implemented and we would like to announce the following Vice Chairs have been appointed for a 1-year-term to support the Chair.

  • Vice Chair, Revenue Generation – Vicky Lau
  • Vice Chair, People & Experiences – Stephanie Mok
  • Vice Chair, Marketing – David Ly
  • Vice Chair, Operations – Justin Lo

As Otafest is 100% volunteer run and organized, we are so grateful and honored to have the commitment of so many talented and dedicated people within the Otafam.

October 6, 2018
Stephanie Mok, President, Otafest Film and Cultural Festival Planning Committee

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As a young anime fan, I never imagined that such an ugly and dismissive statement would lead me to a such wonderful and inclusive community. I was like every teen trying to figure out their path in the world, but with some added roadblocks: I was queer, AND I was a nerd. While queer representation in North American media was still stuck on the stereotypical Sassy Gay Friend™, and I was too young to go to the gay bars. What was a young queer girl in Calgary supposed to look to?

To my surprise, I found what I was looking for at my first Otafest, way back on the U of C campus. Nerd culture has always carried with it a very special type of acceptance: those of us bullied in our youth recognize a kindred spirit, and the staff and attendees at Otafest have always opened their doors with open arms. On top of that, the convention gave me queer-themed anime, opportunities to stretch my wings through cosplay and volunteerism, and connected me with other queer youth and allies in Calgary.

It was Anime that brought Cosplay to North America, and the opportunity to re-imagine myself as a powerful and self-assured anime character or a beautiful gender-bending Japanese “Visual Kei” Musician. I hear stories of the freedom I found in cosplay reflected in stories of Drag artists in the queer community, and feel honored to have helped establish the early cosplay community in Alberta. Now Otafest runs no less than five cosplay competitions, including the Crossplay Contest for cosplayers of all identities, and the Canadian qualifiers for an International Cosplay competition.

Queer themes in Anime were also transformative to my young queer life. Overtly queer-themed anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena finally gave me interesting queer role models in media – characters who happened to be LGBTQPIA and were allowed to explore their queerness as people rather than being defined by it. Magical Girl Anime like Sailor Moon gave me a plethora of strong and unique women to aspire to – who didn’t need to be rescued by heterosexual stereotypes. Even more Anime gave me complex male characters in queer relationships or close male friendships not constrained by North American standards of masculinity.

Otafest itself has continually sought to evolve and improve their own accessibility and inclusivity. Long before bathroom bills were introduced Otafest had implemented gender-neutral bathrooms at the University of Calgary, carried over to its current venue at the Telus Convention Centre (arguably the nicest ones in the venue). Taking Otafest to Calgary Pride was just the logical next step, opening our doors to Calgary’s queer community and taking our own community to march with pride.

In its efforts to build community in Calgary, Otafest has created something really vital to Alberta’s queer community – a place to form meaningful connections and relationships outside of the bar scene. I’ve never questioned whether putting in the countless volunteer hours to bring Otafest to life year-round was worth it – it is. For the teenaged me, and for everyone else in Calgary who needs to find a place to call home.

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By: Sarah W.| Photo: Yugophoto|

Two decades of Otafest.

I’m writing this article from southwest Ontario, where I’ll be traveling from to get to the convention this year. I’m thinking about my friend Red who I’ll be meeting at the con, and our friend Sel who can’t join for the first time since 2008 since she’s off teaching in Japan at present. We’re barely older than the convention itself and there’s something that feels profound about that, more so than the fact that this will be my 12th year attending.

No matter how much time I’ve spent away from Calgary, coming back for Otafest means coming home in more ways than one. I’m reflecting on convergences – the flights booked, the plans made, the messages sent, everything centering around one weekend once a year where it all comes together. My oldest friends were those that I met here. When I come home, it’s a family reunion, every time, without fail. When I was younger and lived in the city, things were easier. I spent a lot of money on costumes and merchandise. Then I got older, and started on my undergrad degree in a different province, and all of a sudden there were more demands on my time and money. Now I’m in my mid-twenties, and budgets sure are a thing, but Otafest is and always has been included in that budget. Family is a priority, even when they’re not related by blood.

The first time I ran a panel, I was so nervous I swear I didn’t stop trembling until an hour after it was over. Now, I get to see some of my closest friends hosting the events that we anticipated year after year. Kinda cool. I remember the late nights in my basement, still in high school, swearing as I stitch-ripped another seam or stabbed myself with a hand-sewing needle.  A few years later, my friends and I had younger cosplayers coming up to tell us how much we inspired them to do their own thing, or talking shop and getting excited – together – about the techniques of crafting that went into a particular costume, a specific outfit, a performance or skit. Everyone involved in Otafest from the attendees to the content providers to the staff generates a sense of support, acceptance, and encouragement to grow– isn’t that the meaning of community? Doesn’t that feel good, and feel right? It’s a community that gives back. I love that about it.

Otafest has gone through a lot of growth in the last few years. Some reading this will remember the early days at the University of Calgary, with all the coinciding volleyball tournaments, the events hosted in lecture halls and classrooms, and the spontaneous bouts of performance art on Cosplay Hill at the Prairie Chicken (may it rest peacefully in whatever new home it finds itself).  Others will have more recent memories spanning through the inception of pin collecting, to the introduction of our beloved mascots (in the plural), to the monumental move to the Telus Convention Center. Still others will have never been here before (a side note: the water stations are truly a blessing).

Whether this is your first convention, or your twentieth; whether you’ve been here every year without fail, or had to skip a few; whether  you produce content for the convention through panels, or support the charity initiatives in whatever ways you can, or are here mainly as an attendee… welcome.

From one attendee to another, I hope that you feel strongly the belonging and fellowship that this convention has given to me and so many of my friends. I hope that you laugh, take yourself on adventures, get to meet some of the amazing guests, support local businesses and artists, give to charity, enter contests, cheer on performers, play games, enjoy the festival, take photos – whatever feels right to you. The quality of this convention, and the care and attention of the staff, is what’s drawn me back year after year after year – after all, many of them have grown up with the convention in the same way that I have. There’s always so much love that gets poured into how Otafest is run – I remember seeing the chairperson or other staff members getting moved to tears by the results of the charity events every single year. That’s a lot of love. I hope that you can feel it.

I hope that for you, it’s a celebration to remember.

I know it will be for me. It always has been.

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By: Jessica Roh |

Anyone who has traveled to Japan will tell you how meaningful and impactful the experience was for them. Japanese culture is as beautiful as it’s land whilst Japanese people are friendly and hardworking. Through the JET Programme, I was fortunate to get a one year contract, teaching English in Kyoto city. I believe that Kyoto city is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are many historic temples, and traditional style restaurants, making it easy to enjoy the delicious taste of matcha tea and ice creams in the region.

What surprised me the most about living in Japan was how clean and fresh everything felt, despite the population density. Every morning, people would come out to clean the streets.The elderly would roam the neighborhood to greet the children on their way to school.

And the food!! Food is prepared often, ensuring quality and freshness. Even convenience stores (konbini) sell fresh and healthy meals and snacks, which can be accompanied by a cold (or hot) drink available at the variety of vending machines on each block. The air is humid, and the skies demonstrate an array of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Nature is ever present in Japanese people’s lives. They understand the value of taking care of our beautiful planet, as well as the importance of even the littlest creature’s life. In Japan, valuing the other over yourself is a very common philosophy. and Japanese people work so that the people who are affected by their work can live pleasant lives. There is a very harmonious feeling from every sort of social interaction.

In my experience as a teacher, students work very hard in Japan. In general, Japanese society shows a huge amount of respect towards teachers. I felt extremely loved and appreciated in every single school. The students are not greedy, they do not cheat and they eat very healthy meals, which makes it much easier for them to concentrate in school -did you know that juice boxes are banned in Japanese schools because of the high sugar content? You’ll notice an overall appreciation for education in Japan. Japanese TV programs even regularly broadcasts educational or informative shows.

If there is one word that would describe what changed my life from living in Japan, it would be patience. Patience: to appreciate what we have in the moment, to take a deep breath of the fresh air provided by our hardworking trees, and the importance of helping others.

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By: Anna Sheldrick |

I am searching an abandoned apartment in Philadelphia, the occupant was found dead in a mansion just outside of town. I find a video that I think should provide clues as to why he died. Instead I find a video with alien slime and go crazy. I shoot my partner in the groin and call an air strike on Philadelphia.

The following week I’m trying to sneak into the lair of the Dragon Worshippers while my friend is out front causing a distraction. I master the lock but I open the door and smack a guard in the bum. He looks down at me with a frown so I wave and quietly close the door again. Within five minutes I’m standing on the roof and the house is on fire below me because my friend who I shot last week decided to hurl a fireball at the thugs who were chasing me.

These were my first two experiences with Role Playing games. The first was Delta Green: Call of Cthulhu, the second was good old Dungeons and Dragons. The world of RPGs can be a super intimidating place to start but once you find someone to wade into that world with you’ll fall in love.

When most people think of RPGs they think of Dungeons and Dragons and that’s all it entails but, like video games, there’s an RPG for everyone. There are Star Wars RPGs, you have Delta Green which is based on Lovecraft Horror, there is Legend of the Five Rings set in the world of Samurai Japan and the warring samurai tribes. What about Pathfinder, D&D and even a Dragon Age RPG. If you can’t find one that suits you then you can always make one up!! My friends and I have made up RPGs based on our favourite books and even one based on RWBY.

Can’t find anyone to play with? Then head on down to your nearest geek shops and board game cafes. Within Calgary there are loads of little groups that have regular drop in sessions for new and experienced players. Can’t be bothered to leave your house? I got you. Websites like Roll20 is a digital platform where you can play RPGs with people from around the world.

I have made the best friends from playing RPGs and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and get angry. It’s also been proven to be an amazing outlet for people when they aren’t sure how to express themselves or deal with an issue. As such I recommend to everyone to give any RPG a go and pretend to be another person for just a few hours a week.

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May 18-20, 2018 | Calgary
How Do you Want to Do This? Whether you’re a #Critter or love Matt Mercer for his numerous voice acting roles, here’s some key campaigns and side quests to check out at Otafest! Catch autographs, photos, panels, workshops, performances and more!

Matt Mercer’s Autographs
Friday: 8:00pm, Glen 203
Saturday: 12:00 High Noon, Exhibitor Hall autograph tables
Sunday: 3:00pm, Exhibitor Hall autograph tables
Matt’s autograph sessions require a free ticket. Find out how and where to get yours.



Matt Mercer’s Panels

 

Saturday
Critical Role, RPGs and the Tabletop Renaissance with Matthew Mercer!
Main Events, 3pm – 4pm
Lineup opens: 2pm

Come join Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer for a panel discussion on popular Dungeons & Dragons Twitch show Critical Role, the wonderful, growing community of tabletop geeks, and all other facets of gamer life.

Sunday
Otafest Community Championship Overwatch FINALS – Commentated by Matt Mercer
Main Events, 12:00 High Noon – 1:00pm
Finals begin 11:00am, with Matt Mercer Spotlight to follow.
Lineup opens: 10am
Catch the Otafest Overwatch tournament finals, with special guest commentator Matt Mercer – the voice of McCree! Following the tournament’s triumphant finish, stick around for a spotlight on Matt Mercer!

Want to compete in the Overwatch Championship? Learn more here!


Community Panels – Friday    

Persona 5: Phantom Thief Gameshow
Glen 205, 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Help the Phantom Thieves of Hearts find a new recruit for Mona! This is your chance to join the fight. But first things first, We’ve gotta test you. Can you handle the pressure?

Otafest Stream Team Live Play: Party Edition
Telus 103, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Be a part of the action! Join our stream team of Deo, G, Dylan, David, Dave, and Jess as they play through some multiplayer madness, live and on Twitch!

Synaptic Chaos Theatre – Late Night Dub Fight
Macleod E1, 9:30pm – 10:30pm    
The masters of improv take on anime dubbing! Relive moments from your favourite cartoons, video games, movies, TV shows, and anime, in a new and hilarious light. The Late-Night Dub-Fight pits members of Synaptic Chaos Theatre and Guests against each other to find out who can “improve” classic clips by redubbing them live with their imposing improv skills. No one knows what show host Ian Horner has up his sleeves, or what the cast members will say in this all-out assault on your funny bone.


Saturday

On the Mic Voice-Over Adventure
Glen 208, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Ever wondered what it is like to actually dub an anime? Join seasoned voice over professionals in an interactive panel in which you and room participants will learn the basics of dubbing. Participation of attendees is mandatory!

Attack on Titan, Finding the Bacement – Game Show
Telus 101, 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Calling all Cadets! The Survey Corp needs you to unlock the secret of the Bacement, collect the key and play your way through to win amazing prizes and unlock the secrets of the titans!

Free Play Gaming – Tabletop & Board Games
Macleod A – Boardgaming Area, 11:30am – 1:30pm, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Itching for some Dungeons & Dragons with your fellow Critters? Check out our gaming room and grab a table to run your own campaign! (space limited, first come first serve. We’ll have a variety of board games available but bring your own tabletop supplies!)

Zapp’s Spaceship of Love presents: Critical Fail!
Glen 201, 8:30pm – 9:30pm  
Does nothing ever seems to go right, and everything seems to falls apart? Come join the Crew on a comedy/improv D&D adventure where nothing ever seems to go right, and everything seems to falls apart!


Sunday

Free Play Gaming – Tabletop & Board Games
Macleod A – Boardgaming Area, 11:00am – 6:00pm
Itching for some Dungeons & Dragons with your fellow Critters? Swing by our gaming room and grab a table to run your own campaign! (space limited, first come first serve. We’ll have a variety of board games available but bring your own tabletop supplies!)

Local Voice Actor Round Table Panel
Glen 208, 11:00pm – 12:00am
Calgary’s locals voice actors discuss topics and take your questions about the industry!

Red Dragon Inn – Gaming
Macleod A – Boardgaming Area, 3:00pm – 6:00pm
What happens after the adventurers have completed their battles and quests in the dungeons and now want the treasure all for themselves? If you like board games or tabletop gaming, come try your hand at Red Dragon Inn! Register for this gaming round anytime throughout the day in Macleod A – space is limited.

Overwatch Boot Camp
Glen 203, 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Are you stuck in an infinite SR loop? Join the Overwatch Boot Camp, and let experienced players show you how to climb the leaderboard efficiently with the power of knowledge.


 


Flying to Calgary?

Air Canada offers a 10% discount on flights for Otafest attendees! Please register here for the discount code.

 

Maid Cafe
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One of Otafest’s most successful charity initiatives is our Maid & Butler cafe – an opportunity to have a taste of a unique Japanese service experience with delicious cafe food and drinks. In the Telus Convention Center we’ve been able to expand our Maid Cafe initiatives to enable even more attendees to participate in this unique experience, and to give the opportunity to contribute to our charity in a variety of different ways.

Since 2009, Otafest has raised over $101,000 at our events for various charity initiatives. Learn more about our 2018 charity, the Alex Centre for at-risk youth.

Maid Cafe pre-sale tickets are now on sale. Click here to buy – while quantities last.

Maid & Butler Cafe – VIP Cafe & Yokai Puzzle Challenge

Saturday, May 19, 11am – 4pm
Sunday, May 10, 10:30am-5:30pm

Buy tickets now
VIP Cafe sessions are a separate, ticketed initiative for Otafest attendees. You must have both a valid weekend or daily admission to Otafest and a maid cafe ticket to attend the cafe.


Maids – Otafest Aurora 2016 | Oguraya Exclusive Dessert

While the Café team have been prepping tasty bentos for our guests, a mischievous yōkai has gone and stolen some of our elemental treasures at the café! Complete puzzles and work together in teams with our Maids and Butlers to recover them all and catch that yōkai!

Your Ticket includes:

    • Maid Cafe Yokai Puzzle Challenge (social locked room)
    • Live Japanese Odori and Yosakoi dance performance from the maids & butlers
    • Oguraya Bakery Exclusive Bento
    • Calgary Marriott Downtown Exclusive Dessert
    • Drink of your choice (milk tea, iced coffee, soft drinks and more!)
    • Souvenir photo with the maids courtesy of The Camera Store,
    • Treat bag with exclusive 2018 laser-cut Maid Cafe O-Wing pin, courtesy of Chinook Crafts!
  • Gluten Free, Dairy Free and Diabetic-Friendly options available to advance sale ticket holders

Session Times:

Saturday:
11:00am – 12:00pm
1:00pm – 2:00pm
3:00 pm  – 4:00 pm

Sunday:
10:30 am  – 11:30 am
12:30 pm  – 1:30 pm
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

VIP Cafe session tickets are $25, limited to 420 attendees. 210 tickets will be available for online pre-sale on Thursday, April 19th at 5pm at otafest.com. Remainder of tickets will be sold at the Info booth at Otafest – 70 per day, first come first serve. Buy early to guarantee your spot!

Have dietary restrictions? Order an advance ticket and let us know so we can take care of you!


2017 VIP Cafe session loot bags | 2017 VIP Cafe Exclusive Pin

Saturday Night Market Matsuri

Saturday, May 19th, 6pm – 10pm
Stephen Avenue


Maid Cafe

Our popular Matsuri festival takes it to the next level for Otafest’s 20th anniversary! Come play festival games on Stephen Avenue with the Maids & Butlers, enjoy live entertainment on the Stephen Avenue stage, and check out exclusive maid cafe merchandise!

Japanese baked goods courtesy of our sponsor, Oguraya Bakery, as well as drinks will be available for sale during the Night Market!

Maid Cafe Bakery & Merchandise

Saturday, May 19th, 11am – 5:30pm
Sunday, May 20th, 11am – 8:30pm

Telus Convention Center – outside Telus 104 – 106

Buy adorable hand-made festival merchandise, and delicious Japanese baked goods courtesy of our sponsor, Oguraya Bakery.  Snacks and drinks available at Saturday’s Matsuri will also be for sale from our maids & butlers all day Sunday! (While supplies last.)

Bakery Menu:

  • Otafest Melonpan: Japanese bread (named because it looks like a melon!)
  • Nutella-Peanut Butter Mochi
  • Azuki Mochi Trio (Red Bean)
  • And more – stay tuned!

Are you coming to the Maid Cafe or Matsuri? Share this story with your friends on Social Media using the links below!