Article Quick Information
|Title:||AyaCon 2005 review|
|Category:||Convention & Events Report|
|Published:||Sun, 28 Aug 2005|
With around 1300 members present and over fifty new anime and Japanese series and films showing on five separate screens, not to mention news and quiz panels, live music and countless other events in the space of three days, Ayacon 2005 proved to be one of the biggest dates on the UK anime industry's calender. Among the companies present were the main distributors (ADV, MVM, Beez and Tokyopop), retail stores, independent retailers and games rooms. With the sheer number of things that were on offer it was well-nigh impossible to see it all but hopefully this will give some idea of the mind-boggling array of anime-related entertainment and events over what soon became a very hectic but fun weekend.
Some of the main highlights were the anime previews, which showcased the latest and most highly-anticipated new releases. The cinema hosted a superb Satashi Kon double bill of Perfect Blue and the latest release Millenium Actress, which gave proof, if it was needed, that his latest feature film is well worth looking forward to. The epic, sweeping biopic of an actress's remarkable life combined stunning visuals and Kon's unique direction to give a compelling and memorable experience.
There were not one but two separate rooms to aid the search for anime-related goodies and the lightening of fans' wallets: one housed the bring-and-buy stalls (with plenty of bargains and an opportunity for visitors to make some money as well as spending it) while the other played host to the ADV, MVM, Beez, Terratag, Sweatdrop and Tokyopop stands. Also present were retailers selling everything from OSTs and Gundam model kits to jewellery and merchandise. In other words, the first and last stops for all of your anime paraphenalia needs.
The anime and manga companies also participated in Q&A sessions in which they gave the latest announcements and news. Voice acting and fan fiction workshops were open at various points over the weekend, as was an art room which showcased the amazing talent among the Con's attendees. For those with fast reactions and energy to spare there was a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) machine set up to cater for fans of the frantic dancing craze. Thanks to Tokyopop and MVM, a manga reading room was provided for some time of quiet enjoyment of the latest graphic novels to reach our shores.
One of the most (in)famous fansub titles, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuru-chan (or Club-to-Death-Angel Dokuru-chan) proved to be a big hit, in a very literal sense. A mixture of Abenobashi-esque rapid-fire comedy, cheeky fan service and gallons of spurting gore, Dokuru-chan is the insane and blood-soaked tale of an accidentally murderous angel sent down from heaven to protect a seemingly ordinary high school student. Judging by the audience reaction, it will be a title we'll hear a lot more from in future. The latest Gainax effort, He is my Master (complete with numerous live-in housemaids, more fan service and a 'sexual harassment alligator' - I promise I’m not making this up) and Eureka 7 (featuring surfing mecha!) were also popular.
One of Saturday's main events was the masquerade: more than eighty brave souls took to the stage to show off their impressive cosplay skills: Final Fantasy, Chobits and Hellsing were all popular themes with showings of some of the AMVs of the weekend providing frequent intermissions. That evening an anime-themed pub quiz was held with the Jpop party to follow, at which point my memory became somewhat hazy...
The first two episodes of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid indicate that fans of the first series will not be disappointed with ADV's new licence acquisition, with plenty of mecha action and high school comedy. If you were a little disappointed with the frivolous nature of FUMOFFU, you will be pleased to know that the Second Raid is more in the style of the first series, and includes the appearance of some new villains who are sure to cause our heroes a large number of problems as the series progresses.
Sunday also saw a screening of Spriggan and a performance of the visual kei band Blood, which was met with great enthusiasm by those looking forward to see a flamboyant performance of gothic Jrockers in dresses. I was genuinely disappointed at missing out on that!
If there is proof required that the UK anime and manga industry not only alive and well but enjoying a time of healthy growth, Ayacon was just that. The appearance of the major companies was very encouraging, and the presence of relative newcomers Beez did not go unnoticed. The amount of effort that went into the cosplay was staggering and the overall atmosphere of the event had to be experienced to be believed. Right now I am flat broke and thoroughly exhausted but looking forward to what the next Ayacon has to offer! Many thanks to the organisers, industry reps and volunteers for putting together a thoroughly enjoyable weekend that really showed how far the UK industry has come in recent years.
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