Neomo attends a UK con he hasn't been to in like forever. And tries to blend in.
Welcome to the UK, where it rains all the time. Or at least looks like it’s about to rain.
It’s been too long since I’ve gone to an actual anime con in the UK. You see, the vast majority of my con activities involve travelling 5,000 miles to Atlanta and attending Dragoncon, where anime is relatively not covered like those strange shows and movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and everything else in between are. While the UK anime community is not as…umm…great as it really ought to be, I was actually looking forward to attending Amecon. The last one I attended was way back in 2007. The community as it is now was just getting on its feet, and a lot of us weren’t sure that it would be as successful as it is today; we all thought it would be some super-secret underground scene. Pfft. We were so naive.
And in a way, I still think we are.
The organisers of UK cons usually don’t see much point in bringing in big-name guests; this is usually down to the limited budget they have available. In the past, cons have brought the occasional one, like Monica Rial (who seems to love coming to the UK) or some other English VA. Instead we focus much more on panels focusing on the fans themselves; small panels organised and run by the fans and for the fans, and then at night we all remember that we’re British and head to the nearest pub. I’ll talk more about the 2 VA guests that came along in the next Amecon post though…
I ended up arriving on-site on Thursday, because I put my name down to volunteer, so the real action happened on Friday. The convention took place at a university campus, so all attendees were assigned to the nearby student dormitories. Student dorms are student dorms; empty shells with shared bathrooms and kitchens. It can be grating sometimes, especially overnight when attendees come home after some heavy drinking (and forget their keys so they have to knock on the door a lot to wake someone up to let them in…)
Amecon sold out early, as it’s one of the big UK cons to people go to, 1,000 people weren’t like sardines in a tin, even if we had to share the site with some other people (summer school students, and a student graduation formal dinner on the Thursday). It’s worth noting the cosplay that took place was on par too, while not award-winning, quality was definitely there.
Here are a few of my favorites:
We’ve only just got Miraculous Ladybug here (on cable, mind you), so seeing a duel cosplay like this was especially cool. I think these two are rather relieved that the UK weather is what it is, that is to say heavy rain on the day I took this. Again.
Truth be told, the Madoka Magica cosplays weren’t as great as I had hoped, too many Mami Tomoes, naturally, and the Devil Homura there was especially cringe-worthy, but out of the 2 Charlottes I saw, I loved this one the most. Minimal but still has an aura of cuteness around it.
Overwatch was represented as well. As it probably is in every single anime con around the world now, no doubt. No D.Va’s or Widowmakers were to be found though, but the sole Mei I saw caught my eye eating sweet-and-sour chicken in the Asian fusion restaurant. I might be biased however, because Mei is my favorite girl. Easily.
Despite having completed registration and everything the previous day, Friday sent me down with a fever, so most of that day, I had to stay in my dorm to recover…luckily I wasn’t down for any shifts that day. Saturday came, and it disappeared, and so I did as much as I could across the campus; Japanese TCG 101, the history of CLAMP, magical girls pre-Sailor Moon, figure collection and photography, taking quality cosplay photos on cellphones, even a panel for weebs to develop self-confidence! I was , surprised at what was on offer. Sure there were the staple ones, like maid cafes, yaoi/yuri panels, AMV making, and voice acting 101, but I ended up being very busy, and not just because of the shifts I had put my name down for volunteering.
I like to think that the UK anime community has become rather tight-knit, largely down to its size. Some organizations here prefer to keep to themselves, but we like to help each other out, and Amecon is no different. They take advice from other committees in order to make their con run smoothly. Not everything went right though. Amecon clashed with an event in Manchester that a lot of dealers go to, so not much was available on sale. A planned Lip-sync battle competition was ultimately cancelled due to lack of interest (because, to be honest, no-one watches the show here), and was replaced last minute by a K-pop party, which was 10 times more fun. And several people complained about the MAD/Nico Nico video event as well; the staff didn’t anticipate that many people to be interested, and thus because it was in a tiny room, it was crowded. Another little problem arose, if you didn’t understand yet, the Brits’ love alcohol; parties until 3-4am after bars close, causing a couple of attendees to be even thrown off site!
Aside from those tiny things, Amecon ran very very well. While there was no room for video screenings, it was made up for in variety of panels/activities available in the limited area the convention had. The choices of bars and restaurants were excellent (and inexpensive too). The video games room had room for over 30 different kinds of game, whether it be DDR, Smash, Mario Kart, hell they even an authentic Initial D machine (that I forgot to take a picture of). The traditional games room had just a huge variety. In the end, I was ultimately very happy I went, despite the hiccups that happened.
Coming home was a different story. A very serious incident happened on a train line (which I would rather not talk about) which meant I didn’t arrive back until the evening. It just happened to be on my birthday too. So as I type this on August. 02, I’m treating today as my birthday instead.
But even with the fun I had, Amecon will be the last British con I go to. A couple of people I met have told me the UK community is going to die a slow death; sad to hear, but a part of me agreed with them. September sees me going back to Atlanta for Dragoncon, and next year will see me going to LA for Anime Expo. As we don’t get industry-based cons here, I’m keenly interested in what AX will be like (whilst at the same time panicking…at least I have a year’s headstart!).