Over the weekend of the 8th & 9th April me and my daughter attended our first Anime convention at the Manchester Anime & Gaming Convention organised by Animeleague.net. While in the past I’ve been to Rush conventions which mostly centred of listening to tribute bands and consuming lots of beer into the small hours while waxing lyrical over which album was the best, anime conventions are slightly different as there is far more going on.
Spread over two days, the program of events has something to cater for everyone. My daughter had wanted to try out cosplay and went as the character Nekozawa from Ouran High School Host Club. So a few weeks ago I helped her out with getting the necessary elements of her costume and making sure it all looked the part.
The journey into Manchester on the tram proved somewhat “interesting” with the strange looks my daughter was getting while dressed in her character. I could sense people taking a look and silent saying to themselves “what the f***?” Needless to say when we arrived at the Sugden Sports Centre we were surrounded by fellow cosplayers and felt very much a part of things.
Once inside the venue it was time to navigate our way around the various stalls that vendors had set up. There was a very wide variety of anime/manga goods as well as some fantastic artists displaying their work. There were two Japanese themed food vendors, one catering for sushi/noodles & curry and the other with authentic Japanese cup ramen not to mention the obligatory Japanese confectionery. We decided to go more for noodles & curry which was very nice although for £6 I would have liked to see a slightly larger portion.
The gaming area was something of a trip down memory lane with assorted gaming consoles ranging from the Sega Megadrive and Nintendo NES going through to the Xbox One showing how far gameplay and graphics have advanced. Personally I’m still an old school gamer and like games that don’t relay on having two extra sets of arms to play on the controllers.
There were plenty of cosplayers around including some who seem to do the convention circuit in order to make a name for themselves. The vast majority were happy to have their pictures taken given how busy the first day was.
Apart from cosplay, there were guest talks on RPG and board games. Some of the participants recollections of past games were hilarious. We also sat in on a panel discussion on Black Butler cosplay with a group of enthusiasts which was very entertaining.
For those who need to chill out there was another area where you could either play a selection of board games, watch a selection of subbed anime or play on the arcade and pinball machines.
The highlight for me was to meet Olivia & Ryan from Corvidae Cosplay Emporium who were last year’s winners of the UK Cosplay Championships. Out of all the costumes I think that theirs were fantastic!
The sum the event up I think it made for a really good and enjoyable two days. I would rate it as a 4 out of 5. Why you may ask? Well firstly I believe that there is always room for improvement and secondly it’s hard to judge an event on the basis of a first visit.
One thing I think would have been good to do would be to have something like a “buddy” system for people new to cosplaying where they would be paired with another more experienced cosplayer and basically introduced to other people.
Update: 25th April 2017
Since the convention I’ve joined the Anime League forum and there is a section for new members going to their first event to join up with other established members and given a tour of the event and what they can do and get involved in.
We’ve booked another outing to the Liverpool convention in June as its only an hour away by train and just over the road form Liverpool Lime Street station. So who knows we may see you there!