This weekend we attended our 2nd Animeleague convention. Following on from Manchester this weekend’s convention was held in nearby Liverpool. This was also the first time we went as a family and also my first time in cosplay.
Saturday began with a 5am alarm call which is hardly the hour you want to get up on the weekend. We needed some time to wake up and get the kids out of bed and then change into our costumes… Yes you read that right we were making our way there in cosplay as we didn’t think that there would be any changing facilities available. Alex went as Hououin Kyouma (Okabe Rintaro) and I went as Daru (Itaru Hashida )from Steins:Gate, Heather went as Toshiro Hitsugaya from Bleach and my lovely wife Susan went as the packhorse and “keeper of stuff” lol.
We set off around 7am to catch the tram into Manchester so we could arrive at Piccadilly station in good time. I had booked our tickets through Trainline.com weeks ago and had made all the travel arrangements. Saturday morning greeted us with the perennial Mancunian favourite of you guessed it… rain. No where near as bad as the day before where I got soaked twice on the way home from work! Arriving at Piccadilly station we made our way to Platform 14 to catch the 8:56am service to Liverpool Lime St station only to find out that it had been cancelled due to signal issues. Without thinking about it we got on the next train at 9:07am and it was only then that we realised that our tickets weren’t valid as it was a different operator! The conductor went through the on-board ticket process which was going to cost us £12.50 each or the option of getting off at Warrington Central and catching the next train. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the conductor let us stay on the train as it was still going to the same destination anyway!
Arriving early we slowly made our way to the Holiday Inn (just across the road from the Station) and made our way to the reception where we waited to get in line and have our tickets checked. Eventually we made our way up two flights of stairs and got into the hotel’s conference area.
My first impressions was “wow this is a bit small” as a venue. Compared to the Sugden Sports Centre in Manchester this was probably less than half the size. There certainly wasn’t as many vendors there as before and it did feel a bit cramped at times moving around. It certainly did make taking pictures indoors with limited available light a bit more challenging. A good job I had my flashgun with me!
In terms of the other visitors we seemed to be swamped with cat girls in their cliques and a full squad from Attack on Titan haha, if we were to be attacked by a giant titan we could have thrown the cat girls out as bait and used the squad for the main assault lol. Still I guess it’s to be expected that some cons have a greater proportion of characters from a certain show than others.
Stopping right at the front of the stage we took in the first two acts. Madly Scientific (aka Evelyn) was on first and sang a selection of theme songs. Highlight was when she noticed there were a few fans of Steins:Gate and mentioned that there was a Daru in the audience (me! Yay!). She then threw in a surprise and sang the theme tune to Evangelion and then following on with belting out Steins:Gate zero and the Steins:Gate theme songs.
Following on from Madly Scientific was Maid Fuka who covered other theme songs from Love Live and MLP (yes that’s right folks!). Kudos to her for getting her younger sister to join her for her first stage performance in a duet.
After that we decided that it was time to browse the stalls and see if there was anything that caught our eyes. I did finally cave in and treated myself to some Gundam model kits (for future review).
Me and Heather also attended a couple of panel talks, one on body confidence and how to deal with people challenging you about your choices or dealing with unwanted/unhelpful attitudes which proved to be interesting. I tend to look at characters I think I can pull off, ideally with as little as possible as well as ones that my physical frame is best suited to. I’m not massively overweight but considering my heritage my family have something of a stocky build. I think that the example responses used were in my opinion trying to out logic the critic but sometimes you’ve just got to realise that haters are gonna hate just because they can. I personally think that a well placed “screw you buddy!” or “pick a window you’re leaving” does the trick. Obviously if the person in question is under 18 then speaking to the nearest adult or parent is the better course of action. Really the people who make these remarks are probably the same ones who buy their children outfits for a school event or party. Try making a remark about someone’s little darling being the wrong body type/shape or colour to play Snow White and see how far that gets you… Anyway rant over!
The second talk was about cosplay on a budget and believe me cosplay can get seriously expensive! There was a guy in a furry suit and that cost him around £1200! So learning how to make you money go further was going to be useful. It also surprises me when someone can simply throw together a cosplay that they think is a bit naff and everyone else starts going up to you and saying how awesome it is! I mean what’s that all about!
My kids watched “Jollyboat” (comedy duo) performing their set which was “puntastic”. I liked the song about Denerys from GoT, when they finished it and Alex heckled them saying “what was her name again!”
Up to now things have been fairly positive however, there were a couple of things that were either a bit of a let down or could have been a bit better planned/managed.
Although I was a bit late in joining the icebreaker event (my fault) on the forum, by the time we got to Friday everything seemed to “fizzle out”. I was hoping that maybe the organisers might have done something about getting members of the icebreaker events together on the day using things like a sticker with which team you were in so you could find someone that you may have been chatting with easier.
I did manage to have a chat with one guy who was also taking pictures and was wearing a No Game No Life t-shirt, sadly I didn’t catch his name or his website so if you’re reading this or know him give him a poke!
Heather was a little disappointed in that we didn’t get to see Corvidae Cosplay Emporium that day (or perhaps because we did a “Man Look“), I wasn’t sure what they were planning on coming as and I have a sneaking suspicion that they may have come on the Sunday instead. They’ve been a huge influence in getting us more involved in cosplay and me in prop making. I hope we will catch up with them another time as I’d love to pick Ryan’s brains on prop making tips.
If that was Ryan of Corvidae Cosplay Emporium then all we can do is this…
How did we miss you…? Maybe we’ll catch up with you and Olivia next time!
We decided to call it a day around 6pm and make the journey home. Thankfully the train was on time and we eventually made it back home around 8pm and ordered in a takeaway. I rounded the evening off with several cans of Guinness and a couple of episodes of Ben-To.
Ok so how do I rate this convention:
Venue: 4 out of 5 stars – Good location but a bit cramped, could have been a bit bigger!
Event: 3 out of 5 stars – not bad but could do with more variety of things to do.
Stalls/Vendors: 3 out of 5 stars – due to the size of the venue, no mention in the Con Book as to who would be there on the day. Would be nice to know in advance.
Atmosphere: 3 out of 5 stars – Not bad just a few too many “Cat Girls” no offense. Convention “buddy” system kind of failed on the day. Could have done with some kind of icebreaker even on the day for newbies! Perhaps a job for some of the crew maybe?
So in conclusion I would say that this is a nice little event if you want to start small. You can see everything in a whole day even half a day to be honest as most of the best cosplayers seemed to disappear after a while. You need to be realistic in your expectations as to what you want to get out of it but that’s the same no matter what event you go to that’s just how it is.
I’m going to start looking at other events now that are larger to see how they compare to these smaller gatherings.