ALcon 2008 Anime Convention Feature – Part One
eMagi recently got back from the fun that was ALcon 2008 after previously attending last year’s debut convention and will now give you a series of reports and analysis of the whole event. While there was not an official report here on eMagi about ALcon 2007, there was mixed feedback about it about how it was run and organised in its first year. However, since then a lot of constructive feedback was given to the committee and Chairman Mike Towers so they could aim to improve things next time out. Did they manage to pull it off and keep the dealers, companies and indeed the fans happy? Read on to find out!
Our preview about ALcon covered the basics and the history of the convention and now we will begin our coverage of ALcon 2008 in a series of parts from myself and TaroTard! After this, a series of reviews will be done for individual events and then a final summary of what we thought about ALcon 2008. However an introduction of the committee is needed as there are only seven members in total that help organise the whole event and are worth a mention.
Mike Towers (FreeSaiyan) – Chairman
Len (Amano Jyaku)- Head of Logistics
Sarah (Yu Qiao Mao) – Head of Accommodation
Danni (Ehryn) -Secretary
Tom (Twistedtomsky) – Head of Volunteers
Rumplestiltskin (ShadowJam) – Events Co-Ordinator
Ruth (Captain Shoebox) – Publicity & Head of Liaison
All of them did a great job in organising and keeping things running a smoothly as they can. A shoutout to the gophers as well is in order since all conventions and expos wouldn’t run as smoothly without such volunteers. Now onto the convention itself!
Being at ALcon
The whole convention was geared towards being able to have fun in a relaxed manner and to socialise with friends and indeed new people you have never met. To help with this it was a blessing in disguise that the original building that was secured for the convention was made unavailable by the university so they had to move to the Business Centre. This however made the event work in its favour as it offered far better facilities as well as logistics – You had the Business Centre which held the majority of events, the Quay Bar and then the New Wharf which held the accommodation rooms, all of which were along the same street which made travelling to and fro a breeze.
Nearby there were such shops such as the local Spar, Sainsburys, cashpoints, pubs and a large park for outdoor activities. Sadly the weather was not as pleasent as it could have been so we didn’t have our usual frisbee games! So as you can see in terms of logistics it worked out very well.
The opening ceremony kicked off with an introduction of the committee of ALcon and the general house rules that people were expected to follow. Last year there was a serious incident where a fire extinguisher was let off in one of the halls and it was stated clearly that any such antics this year would result in a life ban at ALcon and would take steps to prevent them from attending any other UK convention – a step in the right direction to discourage general idiocy that can happen. For those who have not attended conventions, there can be a large group of people that have never been away from their parents or stayed overnight anywhere so it would have been their first time away from home. While this can be a great experience it can also be negative depending on the company you have and indeed the antics that go on. The block that I stayed in however had no issues (thankfully we were all grouped together as friends) and I only heard some negative things about other blocks, but that is to be expected anywhere you go when a large group of people come together. While some might argue that this kills off many of the general randomness that happens at conventions, it is a step to prevent injuries due to over enthusiasm and possible ugly alcohol related incidents. We all know how they can turn out! In all seriousness though I personally did not witness anything out of the ordinary bar people just enjoying themselves and having a good time, and that’s not a bad thing!
As a concept at ALcon there were various teams that were voted for on the forum that were dubbed as Clans. Last year the Clans were Pirates Vs Ninjas. This year a new Clan was introduced which were the Vampires (the eMagi Staff were part of the Vampire Clan). How this worked was that each clan would receive points for helping out such as being Gophers, or winning tournaments and games. It is all just part of the fun having various members pit themselves against each other and helps bring commeradery between people, even if they didn’t know each other.
Looking at the schedule there was a clear layout of events within the Business Centre and the Quay Bar. For example every day there would be a single room dedicated to anime screenings, JDrama screenings, the Videogames room and then various panels scattered in various rooms, all of which were easily found and well signposted.
With this layout it gave consistency as the main things such as the screenings were in the same building and indeed the Artists Alley became a general hangout zone as we were allowed to eat and drink in that room only. In fact the Quay Bar and the Artist Alley became an easy meeting point for many during the weekend due to the logistics.
The dealers room was vastly improved over last year which please con-goers and the dealers alike. Last year, sadly due to how the building was setup, the dealers room was split into two seperate rooms, one being much smaller than the over and more obscure unless it was pointed out. Due to this, one room got more volume of traffic than the other but also they were still too small for everyone to setup their stalls and for people to move around in. While it was still pretty small, it was better organised and laid out and I believe all the dealers had a great return in term of profits.
The amount of dealers though were actually down from last year’s and some big names were missing from the list such as Otaku.co.uk, ADV, Beez and Manga Entertainment just to name a few. However many of them did provide DVDs for screenings which is of great credit for supporting the smaller conventions. The list of dealers that attended were as follows:
- Chibi Kawaii
- Team Giblets
- One Stop Otaku
- Sweatdrop Studio
- Neon Martian
- Genki Gear
- Astral Gypsy
- Dimension Manga
We met up with the ever lovely people at Genki Gear (Phil and Lydia) as we try to speak to them at every convention and expo we come across. Their enthusiasm rubs off and indeed their cute, charismatic and witty designs do attract a large number of people. They also had a sale on, where end of run T-Shirts were Â£3.99 each or 3 for Â£10 were on, which proved to be a hit.
GundamNation were in force as ever with an impressive stall that actually spanned outside the main dealers room too into the Artists Alley! Gurinder was there along with friends to sell the latest Gundam merchandise all the while playing some of the latest and classic Japanese music to get people in the mood. We often meet up with Gurinder at various shows also however due to how busy and spread out people were, sadly I couldn’t get to say hello to him at this show. Hopefully at the Midlands MCM Expo!
Other notables were Niki Hunter (VK-UK) with her original artwork on sale as well as her line of clothing merchandise, Neon Martian with a great range of products of various franchises and of course Sweatdrop Studio selling their independent comics. It was pretty crowded at the dealers room so I was unable to take any pictures however the dealers room was almost always full of potential customers parting their hard earned cash for the latest products. Dimension Manga are the new boys in town after only setting up in January and are pushing hard to establish their brand in the market. I met up with Dil, the owner and creator of Dimension Manga, whilst looking at their product line and offering feedback. They have invested a lot of money and went straight to print doing it the hard way however they have generated a lot of interest and have future plans to expand greatly. We traded business cards and it will be interesting to see where they go on from here.
Manga Entertainment, MVM and Beez were not in attendance themselves however they did contribute greatly to offer DVDs to screen out to the fans. I know Mike Towers and the whole committee were very greatful to them for contributing to such and extent. A breakdown of titles shown over the weekend are as follows:
- Origin: Spirits of the Past
- X-1999 the Movie
- Read or Die
- Astro Boy
- Street Fighter II
- Ghost in the Shell
- Naruto: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow
- Death Note
- Love Hina
- Black Cat
- Ninja Scroll
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Saiyuki Reload
- Cowboy Bebop
- Witch Hunter Robin
- Char’s Counter Attack
- Wolf’s Rain
- Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya
- Eureka 7
As you can see the sheer amount and quality is pretty good however I personally didn’t attend any of the naime screenings because I have seen many of these animes already and wanted to spend more time at the other panels and events going on, instead of watching anime. However those that did watch the screenings were not dissappointed too much, even though there were some technical issues and slight over running. However they were pretty flexible and left it open to the audience to choose which animes they wanted to watch when any hiccups happened.
There was also a welcome addition to ALcon where Japanese dramas were screened too as many of them are actually adaptations of anime series to begin with or very entertaining original series in their own right. TaroTard attended a few of these and the JDrama Panel also of which a review will be coming shortly. Here though is a list of JDramas that were planned to be screened over the weekend:
- Nobuta Wo Produce
- Kimi Wa Pet
- My Boss My Hero
- One Pound No Fukuin: Episode 1 (replaced with Kimi Wa Pet)
- Water Boys: Episode 1
- Maou: Episode 1
- Akihabara Deep: Episode 1
- Stand Up!: Episode 1
- 1 Litre of Tears: Episode 1
- Hana Yori Dango: episode 1
- NANA the Movie
A very good list of JDrama’s here with worthy mentions such as My Boss My Hero, Nobuta Wo Produce, Hana Yori Dango and NANA. On the Saturday there were some issues however where some JDramas were not screened at all or replaced. Since I did not personally attend any of them I cannot say for certain which ones were replaced or not shown other than One Pound No Fukuin which was announced at the JDrama Panel.
The Games Room
Sadly I was unable to attend any of the tournaments at all over the weekend, which was rather frustrating. I did however manage to meet up with Twistedtomsky and briefly chatted to him about the course of events and how it was all running. The tournaments included Guitar Hero III (which replaced Guitar Hero II), Mario Kart Wii, Narutimate Accel 2, Halo 3 and Smash Bros Brawl. As it stands I also do not know the winners of the tournaments but if I do go next year I shall try to cover at least one and to get a bout of gaming in too. Last time they had the SNES which was perfect (have to love Street Fighter II Turbo!) however this time the retro consoles were a no-show as ALcon managed to obtain a Sony License so there were many PS2’s about. They did at least however have Street Fighter Alpha Anthologies due to my request but sadly I was unable to have a quick go and meet like minded fans of 2D fighting games. Certainly next time! Oh and also, I have beaten Tom of Animetion so many times I’ve lost count but he wants a rematch of Ken Vs Ken. I’ll have to show who’s boss…
This pretty much wraps up the first part of a series of reports on ALcon form myself and the staff. Look forward to more updates within the week covering things like the rather popular Yaoi Panel, Iron Artist, AMV Nights, Pub Quiz and much more!