I had the opportunity to attend this year’s London Animé & Gaming Con at the Rocket Complex in Holloway Road in London. The last time I attended an AniméLeague event was LAC was back in 2012…
Those that attended this time were varied from cosplayers (animé and gaming characters alike) to the hardcore gamers who participate in tournaments and LAN multiplayer systems (and hence were congregated in the gaming sections).
The gaming sections had some of the latest games on offer such as Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst, Tales of Symphonia Chronicles and DBZ: Battle for Z (all in the Bandai Namco range). Jake from CAPCOM (their Monster Hunter Community Manager) was also there, hosting Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate sessions to promote the game and the MH community in general. As well as the latest games, there were a lot of games of the retro variety ; from all generations from the Atari 2600 to the PS1/N64. I spent quite a bit of time playing Point Blank for the PS1 with the Original G-CON gun, which was neat. In addition to this there were vendors selling retro games and consoles for those wishing to build up their collection or to find that rare gem they’ve have been pining for.
The animé sections had cosplay competitions and television screens all over the bar area and the side room featuring several animés, AMV and a dose of Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged. In the upstairs section was the stage for the competitions and special guests taking part in panels. There was also the merchandise section which had various items from the latest animés and mangas, such as clothing items and even custom masks for the cosplaying crowd.
While some attendees may feel that this convention, and other animé conventions in general, are side-lining animé in favour of gaming, conventions in general have to find a way in order to diversify their audience and sponsors. The fact that many of the sponsors related to the gaming industry, such as GAME and Bandai Namco, may have irritated some hardcore Otakus, but in the end I’m sure most would agree it was for the greater good. Also there were some schedule changes in both the gaming tournaments and animé sections which annoyed some attendees, especially those who could only make it for 1 day only. But that kind of thing is a normal aspect of conventions, given their crazy nature, so it’s unlikely many were too surprised.
One of the problems attendees have had with the London Animé Con in the past was the lack of space and, hence, the crammed feel it can have with so many attendees and so many events occurring in a limited space. This year the London Met team had actually opened up part of the main University building, which had the gaming zone and tournaments in order to free up the space in the main building where the animé and cosplay sections are. This was definitely a long awaited welcome change as it helped the flow of the convention improve. That said, some of the passages could get crammed at times (especially out towards the courtyard due to the burger shack), hence the need for crowd control at times from security.
Overall, while there were some flaws, it was a good time and it will be interested to see how Animé League take advantage of the additional space in future events.