Amecon Aftermath: The eMagi Diary

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Me and the eMagi Dino. Kudo’s to forum member Miruru for making it for me!

A little late as I have been spending time recovering however I wanted to write about my first Amecon experience here on eMagi. I didn’t know what to expect as such since I have only been to one convention previously (ALcon) and really enjoyed it for different reasons. After being told many great things about Amecon I was looking forward to quite a lot of events through the day before the inevitable partying that would ensure in the evenings.

First impressions were that you need to get used to queuing – There’s no way around it and shouldn’t be taken as a real serious negative, after all Amecon held 1,500 raving anime, manga and videogame fans! It took about an hour to get registered with a pass and you get a free Amecon goodiebag with the Events booklet, posters, various promotional goodies and a very nice Amechan Keyring. One thing that did surprise me though was…

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The amount of Sailor Moon cosplayers! Not that it is a bad thing its nice to see older series like it still recognised and indeed still popular amongst fans. It could well be that it was the original schoolgirl hero type thing but hey, I don’t see many people complaining about that. All that was missing was a guy dressed up as Tuxedo Mask…

Going back about Amecon though it slightly annoyed me that there were no electronic schedules emailed out to people with the events and descriptions about them so people can plan in advance which events to attend. The only other way to attend everything would be to clone yourself but sadly I was unable to do so. Needed more beer. To distract me from this though I was attacked from behind from a certain cheeky monkey known as Hideki of TokyoToys! Jon and Yuko were also there as we caught up briefly while still waiting in the queue to register.

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Hideki of TokyoToys posing like Hard Gay and Tom with Phil of Genki Gear

For the Friday, I should have gone to the Manga Entertainment Panel and possibly to the Library which had a Wish Tree with my girlfriend but I can’t vaguely remember what I did at all. I was working hard the previous night on Ashlea’s Star Guitar for her amazing Midori (Guitar Hero III) cosplay, of which there is a guide and rundown of it coming up after this post. Instead I just remember getting used to the surroundings, taking lots of pictures and talking to the always fun Genki Gear staff and TokyoToys staff in the dealers room.

At 6pm we headed off to attend the Opening Ceremony of which was entertaining. I can’t remember if I took any video of this so apologies for the coverage but it was entertaining as the Committee Leader and organiser of Amecon, Will, kept getting his microphone muted mid speech to much amusement of the crowd. After the usual announcements about behavour and events we moved back to the bar for some much needed refreshments and to check out the live entertainment by the Japanese band Gothika.

I wasn’t a fan.

Rocking hard at the Disco! Image credit to FridgeUK

After only stomaching 20 odd mins of it, I described the music like ‘A poor man’s Gackt’ of which my friend Tom of replied back with ‘That’s saying a lot since Gackt is rubbish!’ Two whole hours of Gothika passed and then we got into the main party that is the AMV disco. Needless to say, we rocked hard and had fun – 80’s cheese with Anime Music videos got the crowd going and the atmosphere was electric. I had to leave a little early due to circimstances but was able to get some rest after only having an hour’s worth previously. Happy days.

After a sizeable delay our Saturday antics got underway as there were so many things to do on the day. I outlined the industry panels though to report upon here on eMagi so I attended the Beez, ADV and State of the Industry Panels, quickly followed by the Masquerade. In doing and the earlier delay I missed out on these events:

Anime Live Dubbing – Voice acting and games workshop
– Anime parodies, student films, horrors of dubbing and general randomness
Kimono & Tea Ceremony – With the lovely Akemi Solloway of whom I met back at ALcon
Fuyucon Q&A
History of Anime & Manga panel
All of the Cosplay workshops

Which is quite a lot, I should have asked my friends that if they were attending any of these they could give me a brief rundown for me to report on. I found out after though that Amy attended the Cosplay Workshops only to find them mis-described on the events booklet and most were cancelled as she to owas going to write a report. In hindsight going to the Anime Live Dubbing, MADstravaganza and meeting with Akemi again would have been possible just before I started on the Panels, however since we got there late it was impossible. Lesson learnt for next year! I will recap on all the panels together that I attended as there is a lot of information there and to debate upon.

After doing my reporting duties for eMagi and a quick snack on Pocky we went off to the Masquerade and sat on the floor for an hour as things were being prepared and delayed. The quality of cosplayers and sheer number was highly impressive and I wish I could show you more quality images of their efforts. Sadly though because we were in the other room (it was split into two rooms so the cosplayers walked in the circle) they did not pose or indeed look in the direction we were sitting at which alienated half of the room for pictures. A few though did turn around for pictures and it has been put down as a suggestion for markers and reminders to be laid down on the floor. Here are though the top three winners of the Masquerade!

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First place Winner, an amazing Katamari from Final Fantasy X!

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Second place, stunning Majora’s Mask with the rather revealing Final Fantasy lady in Third

After the Masquerade of which was very well organised once running and had great commentary from Amechan, we had a choice of things to go to. The Auction, JPOP/Anime Theme party, JROCK Party and the Pub Quiz. We first went to the Auction of which all proceeds would now go to Charity which was a great cause. The auctioneer was very funny and entertaining to keep things moving forward and provided a light hearted feel to the event. Some highlights include the Amecon plushie of Amechan going for an amazing £400! The Amecon Con Badges too also went for around £400 which was equally as staggering. Other notable items were some pervy bedsheets of half naked ladies (unused? No idea) a PS2 Limited Edition Japanese NiGHTs into Dreams game and a notable auction dedicated to the Earthquake victims in China, of which raised over £200. When questioned which Charity that the other proceeds would be going towards they had still not decided and after a public vote that it should also go towards the Earthquake Victims it was decided there and then. I really hope it does as the total auction raised a superb £1,600 odd and it would be going to a very good cause. The only negative about the Auction wasn’t about the event itself, but a very annoying lady who was sitting in front of us that insisted she had the last word for everything going. I heard rumblings of people wanting to auction on a price to strangle her! Sadly it never happened.

The one-off Amecon mascot plushie Amechan! £400 that would cost you…

I would have liked to attend the Pub Quiz actually inbetween the JPOP Party however I think I just followed the group a bit too much and ended up just staying for the JPOP Party of which was amazing fun once more. I would have taken more pictures but my night got cut short again so retired to the hotel for a nice rest ready for Sunday.

Sunday was very relaxed indeed however looking back I should have gone to the Shinto and Japanese Daily Life panel with Akemi along with the Calligraphy and Origami panel however we did get back into campus rather late again. Instead we went to the Bring and Buy of which had some interesting items and went to see the Artists section on the way out. A neat thing that Amecon does is a massive blank canvas where attendees can draw, scribble and write whatever they want and it gets auctioned off.

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After that I went into the MVM Panel which again was very insightful and interesting, however many of us were suffering with hangovers! With the Guest Signing cancelled there wasn’t that much to do so more time was spent killing time at the Dealers room and in the Games room where we played a bit of F-Zero 64, Soul Salibur IV and Dead or Alive 4. They did have Rock Band there but I didn’t have a go amongst the usual DDR and Para Para Paradise machines all set up. After debating about attending the Omake I looked outside and saw this…

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Now THAT’s a queue!

After looking at that I didn’t want to go. For those who do not know what an Omake is, it is basically a series of skits of cosplayers either being in character or just having a bit of fun. Usually at Expo’s it happens during the Masquerade and many either over-run or are just not funny and cringe worthy. After the event I had mixed responses if it was worth being in the queue or not with one saying no and another really enjoying it, possibly due to the amount of Yaoi related jokes. Yes, she likes that sort of thing. A note about the queue and slight mis-management of it… People that queued right at the front were pretty much the last to get in oddly enough as the queue got flipped, so people last to join managed to get in early, much to the annoyment of those who were standing there for over an hour. There was a mistake in management and some got a bit rowdy where Uni Security got a little heavy handed. It was explained after though on the Amecon forums so I’m sure it is a lesson learnt.

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Pretty cool Yoko from Gurren Langen cosplay

Speaking of delays the Closing Ceremony also got delayed by over an hour as we all got squashed into a room waiting for the doors to open. It was funny though as Will popped his head through the doors and asked everyone ‘Are we having fun yet?’ which got quite an angry and loud ‘NO!’ from the crowd. Needless to say I think he got the message. Once underway though it was a nice touch to be kept entertained by random LOLCats images as we sat on the floor waiting for things to kick off. After thanking the staff and announcing the winners for various prizes an announcement was being made…

Ayacon returns for 2009!

Now for me, this meant little to me however my girlfriend raved about Ayacon as it is her fave convention so I’m expecting great things from this. Previously Ayacon and Amecon rotated annually however due to a few legal issues (Ayacon aired Fansubs, which is a very big no-no) it got striked off for three years. Now it seems everything is put behind and legal issues dealt with so it can return once more! There was also a nice teaser near the end where there was an Amechan dressed up in a Santa outfit, saying we’ll see you again in 2009, the same year as Ayacon. What does this mean? Well, we’ll leave you to speculate haha.

With only two events left which were the Cosplay Ball and Karaoke, we decided to attend the Cosplay Ball which was great fun. Now I can’t dance for squat but enjoyed dancing with my lady to various anime and videogame related ball music which was sung live by Amecon forum member Chocolat. She did an amazing job I must admit and many people enjoyed the ballroom dancing. Was funny seeing pairs of guys dancing together as they couldn’t find a partner however it was slightly annoying that for some reason we were all squashed into one half of the room. We were all being cornered in by other people standing around the dancers hoping to be asked for a dance, but they kept getting closer and closer leaving very little room for any of us to dance. Another minor issue was that this was a formal ball and thus required the appropriate dress code. Yet there seemed to be double standards where people just in jeans were allowed in while others were turned away at the door, be it because of their boots or shoes.

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We also had our photo taken by a professional photographer for Amecon of which I hope to have a copy of sometime to post up and keep. Was a nice touch as it was all free for attendees. After 11pm though the balloons were released from the ceiling and the afterparty commenced! More live music, cheesy tunes and lots of dancing ensued as everyone rocked hard!

Overall I had a great time at Amecon and if I do go to another convention next year I will make sure I make the most of it a lot more. some logistical things might have to change such as hotels and acommodation, as well as the reliance on others to be ready when sharing taxi’s to and fro venues. Other than some minor snags though I enjoyed the partying as ever and will look forward to much more hopefully at ALcon. The whole event though I felt was organised rather well bar the delays, of which even some ETAs or communication would have gone a long way to settle fans down. Certainly though for my first Amecon it was ace and would highly recommend anyone thinking about attending to do so for 2010!

To discuss this more feel free to drop over to the Amecon thread on the forums!