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Convention Report: Ayacon 2005

Date: 2005 August 27 19:33

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Ayacon, one of the longest running UK Anime conventions, has repeated itself after a one year absence due to Amecon last year, and has certainly come back with one hell of a bang. Spanning three days from the 19th to the 22nd of August at Warwick Arts Centre just south of Coventry, this convention provided not only a bountiful selection of Anime, a masquerade and of course karaoke but also panels from a large variety of different sources, a pub quiz, two parties and even a concert from gothic j-rock group Blood. Boredom was never going to be an option...

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Some people started arriving quite early on Friday and spent a happy few hours milling about getting food and watching the extensive array of cosplayers and crossplayers that had turned up for the event. The event officially started at 6PM with the opening ceremony (although the video rooms had been screening anime from noon), and started with the events organisers introducing themselves and reiterating the convention rules before showing trailers for each of their favourite anime showing at the con along with the quite insane Aya institution: Versatile Exploding Bishounen Zwei, which made the audience roll about laughing (though if you missed it, it’s available for download from the bottom of the Ayacon

homepage). Following this introduction the video programme commenced once again with the rather strange Densha Otoko (or Train Man as previously reported
reported) live action leading the way as well as the karaoke and the dance and j-rock parties ensuring entertainment well into the night.

Saturday led with the bulk of the panels which ranged from the old usual suspects such as ADV, Tokyopop and newcomers BEEZ and other industry panels such as games and manga to others charting things such as music, voice acting, cosplaying and the history of manga (the last not particularly impressing the Otaku News crew much due to a few gaping errors and inaccuracies), and lastly but by no means least, the Sweatdrop crew ran panels on both printing and inking.

Concurrently with these panels the video rooms were still running and showing, amongst other things, what can only be described as the absolute show-stopper of the video program: Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan (Clubbed-to-Death Angel Dokuro), the charming story of an unfortunate young man, an angel from the future, and her huge spiky metal bat, which she uses to, well, read the title! Dokuro-chan managed to pack out the video room to such an extent that all the seats were full, as well as the floor space in front of the screen and the stairwells too, leaving only a packed standing-room at the back (this popularity probably due to the trailer being screened at the opening ceremony).

The masquerade followed with the many cosplayers displaying their many levels of dress-up skill under a hail of camera flashes, immediately following this was the pub quiz, with tables of competing, drunken fans answering questions on every facet of anime including obscure music and voice-actor questions, to which my team came second, though probably more by bribing the judges with beer than by actual knowledge (I still doubt Ann Widdecombe had any part to play in singing any opening themes at all). Next came the music video exhibition showing various efforts that fans had entered, this ran at the same time as the j-pop party that played lots of great anime theme tunes as drunken fans shook themselves in some very embarrassing ways, this nicely rounded off the day.

Sunday started off quite slowly, probably something to do with the residual effects of the night before, really starting with the auction that sold off amongst other things a very disturbing sheet and pillow, and well, a large cardboard box that was used in the convention (and presumably contained a Dell at some point) for a silly amount of money. Following the auction came the piracy panel held by our own Joe Curzon and ADV marketing representative Hugh David, this was as usual, informative although this time round they were joined on stage, quite unexpectedly, by a man who was either uninformed about the facts of piracy, or just wanted to make a complete prat out of himself. It is definitely worth noting the number of girls waiting to get into the yaoi panel when we left, I think it was all of them, and a few either disturbing or desperate guys. The panel quiz was next, with teams from Ayacon and Amecon on either side engaged in a mixed up comedy show that seemed to be a mix of the funnier quizzes produced by the BBC.

The Blood concert came next after a hour long unknown delay, and while not exactly to my taste, certainly seemed to entertain their core group of fans that pressed themselves, hands in the air, against the security people in front of the stage. Due to the overrun from Blood, the closing ceremony was short and sweet and of the "We’re done now, go home!" variety, leaving those of us stuck in the area to sit in one of the many bars and discuss the convention and other anime related miscellany.

Overall this was a great con, with loads of people and I only wish that I could have seen more things than I did, but as so many things ran concurrently I could not see everything including a screening of Millennium Actress in the on-site cinema, the masquerade and many of the panels and screenings that clashed with other things, but I’m sure that there will be chances to seem similar and more at other cons. All in all, this was a fantastically organised con with a great venue and events, Warwick University has some great facilities with loads of bars and well furnished rooms, and should I still be around in 2007, I’ll definitely go again.

Source: Ayacon
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