I have been to Sci-Fi conventions before (mostly Dr Who themed, I’m not ashamed of this) but I had never been to an Anime convention.
Bearing this in mind I showed up at the Rocket Complex to photograph and review the second day of London Anime Con 7 (LAC7) half expecting to walk into a small hot room full of people playing Pokémon…I could not have been more wrong!
Upon checking in Azeem (our talented videographer) and I were handed a venue map that listed several activity based rooms split over two floors. There was even a stage hosting dance and musical performances some of which were being live-streamed to Japan!
There was a gaming room equipped with over 50 computers, a screening room showing both vintage and modern Anime films (I didn’t spend too much time in here but I did catch the end of one film where a Japanese girl was trying to decide if she could still love her boyfriend now that he was a zombie and just wanted her for her brain), a card tournament area and a shopping zone, which appeared to sell everything an Anime fan could desire.
Armed with my map the question now became, where to start? It was very hot in the Rocket Complex and it didn’t have air conditioning so we decided to go upstairs hoping for a cooler reception.
After climbing the stairs we found ourselves in a large hall watching two girls dressed in what I can only describe as bow peep costumes dancing around on stage whilst holding cuddly sheep. They had clearly put a lot of effort into their choreography and this enthusiasm was not going unrewarded as they repeatedly received arm thrust salutes and cheers from the audience.
After that treat for the eyes we decided it was time to talk to some Anime fans. The first person I spoke to was a women posing as Echidna from The Bouncer. For those of you that don’t know, The Bouncer is PlayStation 2 game that is centred on three bouncers working to save their friend from a corrupt corporation. Echidna is the supervisor of the group, noted in the game for her arrogance.
Luckily the lady standing in front of me appeared to only channel Echidna’s fashion sense as her demeanour was welcoming and friendly. She was at the convention as a guest. I asked her whether she had attended the London Anime Con before and how it compared to any other conventions on the circuit. She told me this was her first time as a guest at LAC7 but that she’d been coming for years and thought it was one of the best out there.
“It is smaller but much more specific which means you get real hard-core fans here and that makes it more exciting”.
After bidding farewell to our red haired friend (there was a queue of Echidna fans forming behind us) we found two artists who offered to ‘Anime us up’.
Intrigued as to how we’d look in the genre, we sat down and were sketched. I think you can see from the photos that the artists caught our good sides!
We then took our seats for the Cosplay masquerade, unsure what to expect but certain we wouldn’t be disappointed. What followed was clearly a highlight of the weekend and I think it’ll work best if you picture it – In the wings of the stage were attendees dressed in the attire of their favourite Anime characters, they were clearly nervous but also eager to show off their costumes.
Then a stage announcer appeared, switches on the microphone, clears his throat and begins to bellow “IT IS TIME TO GET EXCITED”. The crowd does exactly that, erupting into cheers their clapping becomes deafening and the once background trance music is ramped up to volume 11.
Over all the commotion the Cosplay-ers were thrusted out onto the stage. They walk over to the left hand side and strike a pose intrinsic to their chosen character. The audience continue to cheer throughout the show and looks of enjoyment fill their faces as their favourite Anime characters are brought to life. It was a deafening experience and one that I really enjoyed.
As the masquerade drew to a close and the judges went into intense discussion over the winner we decided to leave the Rocket Complex and the convention in search of some fresh air.
Overall I would say my take home impression of the London Anime Con was one of acceptance. Everyone there loved Anime and wanted to share their passion for it with like-minded people.
There was no competition about which genre of Anime was best or whose character was the coolest. It was just a good time for everyone and if you like Anime I would strongly recommend checking it out for yourself next year.
Check out our video highlights from our adventurous day:
Words and photography by Jay Stone
Video by Azeem Mustafa