Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014 – Terrorcotta Horror All Nighter

Armed with caffiene and sugary snacks, I was prepared for the Terrorcotta Horror All Nighter which was part of the Terracotta Film Festival, 23 May – 1 June at the Prince Charles Cinema. A night which promised horror, gore, ghosts and bloodshed.

The festival started at 22.55pm and ended at around 8.30am. With intervals between each film featuring t-shirt contests and a quiz, which I epically failed at! (and I call myself an Asian cinema fan *cries*) Well done to those who got ten out of ten – my hats off to you!

Having only read the synopsis for the films showing; I had intentionally avoided the trailers due to spoilers – I wanted to keep the films as suspenseful as possible. The film I was most anticipating was ‘Lesson of Evil’, which luckily was on first which meant I had more chance staying awake.

If you liked Battle Royale and Audition, this is the film for you! Third Windows film will be releasing this on DVD soon, so grab a copy if you can! In a nutshell, the film introduces a perfect charismatic English teacher, who goes psycho and massacres the students who are introduced Battle Royale style.

The second film ‘In the Dark’ was the film I was least looking forward to, merely because I find ghost/haunting films predictable and unintersting. It may sound a tad sadistic but I much prefer the slasher/gore films! However from the audiences reaction, I think the majority did find it disappointing and scored it low (we were asked to rate each film after viewing it). I think everyone was so impressed by Lesson of Evil shown before ‘In the Dark’ was a tough follow up film. Unfortunately, I feel this was the weakest film of the evening.

Despite my tiredness, the next film ‘Killers’ had me gripped. Focused around two serial killers, the protagonist gets a taste for blood when he kills two men in self-defence. A psychological horror in many aspects, with some gore added in. I would like to watch this again, when more alert and awake.

I was beyond tired by the fourth film, and to be honest I had given up trying to stay awake! However, everytime I stirred from slumber, the protagonist was slaying vampires to win back/protect his pregnant girlfriend who thinks he is good for nothing! This films unique feature was that it was entirely filmed using CGI.

I would definitley go to this event again, but conserve all my energy for the festival I had a busy day attending another event Tea Prince Butler Cafe -  review here. I would also bring a blanket due to the theatre being very cold…a conspriacy theory to keep us sleepyheads awake, I am sure!

Additional to the horror night, my friend Aisha won tickets to Commitment, another film part of the Terracottta festival showing in the afternoon starring k-pop star T.O.P member of the Big Bang. The film was an enjoyable spy/action movie. Read her review here – couldn’t have summed it up better myself!

Keep updated with Terracotta and Third Window Films festivals and DVD releases

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Cosplayer of the week – Tabitha Lyons Interview

tabitha lyons i 1This week I inteviewed the talented Tabitha Lyons, queen of dragons and master of props. Tabitha reveals her cosplay and convention plans for the summer, what it is like to judge contests and the pressures that come with being recognised in the cosplay scene…

tabitha lyons 1Originally you were a larper, how did you enter the wonderful world of cosplay?

I officially started cosplay in May 2012 though I have been dressing up since I was a little girl (larped since I was 8). I run a prop company with my dad called Artyfakes, we created a Skyrim inspired weapon range – and as soon as the photos hit the net, everyone was throwing around the word cosplay. I’d never heard of it before so I had to check it out!

Do you have a preference?

I honestly love both hobbies! I wouldn’t have one if it wasn’t for the other. Though I would lean more toward cosplay, not because it’s new and fresh to me but because it made me feel okay to be a geek!

What is your favourite cosplay so far?

I could not choose. Whatever costume I am making at the time is my favourite! I love all of them!!

tabitha lyons 5What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?

Personally my biggest challenge is time, it’s hard to find any for my own cosplays as my job is 24/7 and I will always put customers first. I can’t believe I have only made one new cosplay this year and it was a bottle cap bikini! SHOCKING!

You mentioned you work as part of Artyfakes, a prop making company, what does a typical day involve?

Starting work at 8am answering emails and doing paper work, as soon as that’s done MAKE MAKE MAKE! I usually finish at around 8pm unless we have an urgent order.

You have accomplished many out of this world cosplay projects – including a 14ft foot dragon! Can you reveal any more forthcoming projects this year?

That was a team project with other sculptors, I’m not sure what you’ll see from me this year, all I can say is I always try to improve!

tabitha lyons 3 making

What would you say to those who think you are just the ‘face of Artyfakes’?

What’s wrong with being just the face? I know the work I do; I don’t care if other people don’t believe it. What people seem to forget is that Artyfakes is a business. Marketing is a big part of any company, and let’s face it my dad doesn’t want to see his picture everywhere and I’m sure there are many who don’t want to see it…don’t tell him I said that…

What advice would you give others who may experience cosplay ‘bullying’ or criticism online?

If you put yourself out there trolls will attack, even if you don’t deserve it. A thick skin can be good, I know mine has got thicker…

The best thing is not to feed the trolls. Don’t respond, just ban and delete.

tabitha lyons 10You have mentioned before in previous interviews, that you were a bit of a secret geek (which we have all been a bit guilty of at times), what in essence made you come out of the closet and proclaim your geekiness to the world?

Cosplay definitely got me out of the closet. The more I attended conventions and met new people I realized how many people enjoyed my fandoms – it wasn’t just me! My confidence is slowly growing and now I don’t care if people think I’m a nerd. Geek and proud.

This is a very busy summer as you are guesting at LAGC, LFCC and Hyper Japan, can you reveal what you have instore for us and what you will be cosplaying as?

This summer, Bro Con, are also flying me out to Ireland, so I’ll be at a con every weekend in July! I am super excited as I have never been before. Fingers crossed I will have a few more new cosplays in store but they are all top secret! I’m also really happy to be a judge for the ECG UK Preliminaries. I haven’t attended Hyper Japan before. and I can’t wait to see the standard of the costumes, as one of my jobs at Artyfakes is quality control. Every completed item goes through me, if I don’t give it the Artyfakes stamp of approval then it won’t be shipped to the customer. I’m expecting the same amount or even better from the contestants. P.S. I will be cosplaying as Juliet Starling- Lollipop Chainsaw for the whole wekeend at London Anime Gaming Con!

tabitha lyons 7You recently got to mingle with USA cosplayers Yaya Han and Riddle, what was this like?

Amazing, it was nice to talk about different materials as they have different names in our countries. LSCC put on a great show and it was lovely to see they cared about the cosplay scene. Fingers crossed we will see them again soon!

What was it like judging a competition like LSCC, which had a big, even life changing prize?

I was really nervous before hand, as usually I’m the competitor but once I sat in the chair I realized I was panicking for no reason. It was nice that my LARP/ Performing Arts history also played a big role in being a judge, I remembered that cosplay competitions are not just about the costume.

tabitha lyons 2You have a huge social media following and are widely recognised within the cosplay community, Did you ever expect this to happen?

No I didn’t, and it upsets me that people think I’ve bought likes. I work extremely hard and I would never do that. Words cannot describe how much everyone of those people mean to me, the community support me when I’m feeling like WHY DO I EVEN COSPLAY!

Many cosplayers dream of being a role model (or as Yaya says an ambassador of cosplay) through having a significant social media reach/influence and/or working professionally in props, but is there any disadvantages to this?

Like everything it has it’s up and downs, you become an easy target. As long as I can help the cosplay community and it doesn’t stop me from doing what I love it’s worth it.

tabitha lyons 8Those who follow you on Facebook would have seen you had been involved with something called “Ecdysiast”, can you tell me more about this?

My friend Josh, some of you might know him for his Nigri cosplay, and Lauren attend Cambridge University and asked me to star as the lead for their final project before they graduated. They are super talented and amazing Cosplayers so I trusted them, and was really grateful for the opportunity! Unfortunately they have not realised it yet but it should be on DVD or YouTube soon…

Thanks you Tabitha for a great and honest interview! I look forward to seeing you at future cons this Summer!

Photo Credits: Main black and white Image: Tascha Dearing Art Black Cat by Jon Fisher Photography, Kyra by Magic Bean Studios and Pepper Potts – Paul Beard Photography, all other images copywright of Artyfakes. 

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Okinawa Day Report 21 June

IMG_3805psIf you were in Shoreditch on Saturday, you would have heard the beating of drums and folk music coming from the depths of Spitalfields market. If you delved further you would have seen plenty of smiling faces and women dancing in patterned kimonos. Free from the usual hipsters, Shoreditch was host to Okinawa Day, a festival to celebrate and raise awareness of Okinawan culture in the U.K.

IMG_3581psOkinawa is the most southernwest islands of Japan, with its own distinctive dialect and cultural differences to mainland Japan. Okinawa is most regonised for its citizens skill in karate and unique folk music, which has become popular throughout Japan in recent years; combining original Okinawan folk sounds with American rock and jazz influences.

The event states they are “keen to encourage more of a U.K audience to participate in future Okinawa related events and to create an Okinawan cultural hub in the U.K”. They seemed to be on target, as many of the core performers were a variety of ages and of all ethicities. As I arrived in the middle of the eisa dancing, members of the audience were encouraged to join in, shown the moves and children learnt to beat the drums in rhythm.

The other performances I managed to catch was the karate demonstration by Okinawa Karate England / The Karate-do Shorinryu Kyudokan School – it was fantastic! They wowed the audience as they smashed wood with various body parts, proving why Okinawan people are known as the masters in karate! The sensei and his partner were great. I couldn’t help but laugh as he said to the audience “don’t worry she’s my wife” before thrusting the wood against her abdomen, which she of course shattered– now that is what you girl power!

IMG_3815psFollowing on from this energetic performance, Hibiki Ichikawa played the shasimen, a three-stringed, banjo-like instrument accompanied by Hideike on guitar and Akari Mochida’s vocals. The trio performed traditional Okinawan folk music. I have never had the pleasure to hear them perform before but after a little research (and fun facts from friends) I found Hibiki and Akiari are quite the pair! Hibiki is the number one shasimen player in the UK and according to her website Akari is “the only Japanese blues and folk singer in the UK”. If you haven’t heard them before, they are worth checking out.

As well as the main performance area there were stalls providing further information and introductions into Okinawan culture. For a £1 you could experience an authentic Okinawan tea serving ceremony. Although it may have been a little too hot for tea, Nice Ice, were on hand to cool you down afterwards serving Kagushi,  a Japanese shaved ice snack topped with syrup (charging £3 it was much cheaper than it is at conventions!).

IMG_3935psFor those who had been won over by the culture of Okinawa islands, Japan Journeys and Inside Japan were there advertising tailor made holiday packages which included a visit to these beautful islands. Zoom magazine, one of my fave free mags, were handing out copies of the latest issue.

The event embodied Okinawan culture, enjoyed by all and I am sure I will attend next year for a third time.

Pictures from 2014 Okinawa Day:

Pictures from 2013 Okinawa Day

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Cosplayer of the week – Leon Chiro

leon chiro 7For those who attended Kitacon you may have seen my interview with international cosplay guest, Leon Chiro from Italy. Below is the exclusive, extended version!

leon chiro 1How did you get involved with cosplay?

Ahh, those are very good memories! I started to cosplay at the end of 2010, but this was just a taster, I can officially say that I started to cosplay in March, 2011. I got involved in a very random way; I was working for a model agency at the time (which I loved) when one day I wondered how cool it would be if I took some pictures as one of my favourite characters. Then a friend of mine replied saying ‘Simple. Cosplay!’ I looked into it more and discovered a different world! After, I did my first cosplay (Tidus) at my first convention Romics (the main convention here in Rome!) and that’s where it all began…

What is your favourite cosplay?

Actually, all my cosplays are my favourite because I made them with all my heart! Every character I choose to cosplay has a deep influence on me. If I had to though, I can narrow it down to three!

1) Caius Ballad, for the high level of craftsmanship involved. I also love this character’s story and walkthrough, he is the most difficult cosplay I did and it gave me a lot satisfaction to complete.
2) Tidus, for interpretation and heart, his story has had such a deep influence on my life and at the moment FFX is my favourite game ever!
3) Dante – Devil May Cry 3. He is just a badass and he marked a highlight for my ‘Cosplay Career’.

leon chiro 2What do you do besides cosplaying?

I study Sports Science and Physiotherapy at University. I am an athlete and was previously a National Runner in athletics. Now I am a ‘Free-Runner’ and I train myself in Street Workout and Parkour! I work part time as a bartender and occasionally do some modelling work. I am also a Pro-Gamer on PSN because I am hunting ‘Platinum’ trophies in the games! For the moment I have 110 platinum and I don’t wanna stop!

What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?

My biggest challenge is myself. I always do everything with my heart, but heart is not enough for cosplay because if you want to do a ‘High Level’ Cosplay, then you need skills and patience. My challenge is to always beat ‘myself’ by creating better cosplays each time. I always want to make my fans happy and to improve my skills!

leon chiro 3What has been your proudest cosplay achievement?

I use my cosplay to compete in both national contests and abroad! Competition in Italy is very, very tough and the level of cosplays is getting higher. I feel I have a lot of things to be proud of; one is my winning streak at Lucca Comics, the main Italian convention, because I won five cups (awards) in three years of competing. I am also very proud of one of my personal achievements; which is whenever I make one of my fans smile with my cosplays.

How does the Italian cosplay community differ to the UK?

Competition. As I said before, in Italy it is a lot more competitive. That’s not always positive though because a lot of people often judge other cosplayers and this cause a lot of ‘fights’ between them. Cosplayers should be a huge family, but sometimes in Italy it seems to be more competitive than the Olympics!

Another huge difference is the number of conventions, in Italy they are increasing. I still remember last September, I was invited to a convention on the 15th and after I accepted, I was invited to another two on the same day! It was insane!

Overall, I just love the cosplay world in UK and I really would love to be there more often!leon chiro 4

Do you think it is harder for boys to get recognition for their cosplays?

A lot of people can already guess the answer so I won’t say it! But I think that female beauty has more success than male, they have more seduction power that influences their cosplay. Mainly people are attracted by the ‘sexy part’ and not only for the props. The same is for the boys; a lot of them are trying to use cosplay to show themselves off! I think it’s always easy to get recognition for our body but it’s always harder to get recognitions for our crafting skills.

You have participated in a lot of cosplay competitions, any advice for aspiring cosplayers looking to enter in their first competition?

Heart is the solution. If you want to enter something in a cosplay competition do it with your heart. Choose the character you love, not the character you like (physically). Competition is made by victories but you can also ‘lose’ and still be a winner. The most important thing is that your personal victory has to be your own leon chiro 5achievement. Exhibit your heart and communicate your emotions to the public on stage! That’s the real victory! Don’t give up, if the judges decide somebody else wins, continue to do you what you do as best you can!

Cosplay is heart. Cosplay is magic. Never forget that!

We won’t, thank you Leon for this interview! Be sure to check out Leon’s Deviuant Art page for high res images and more!

Photo credits: Leon S Kennedy by AJ Charlton Photography, Dante by Shashin Kaihi Prince of Persia by Danilo Oliver.

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Fathers of Cosplay – The Real Heroes of Cosplay

ronan 1It is Father’s Day in the UK this Sunday (June 15th) so I decided to speak to some dads around the world who cosplay with their children. I  found out the impact it has had on their family life and bonds it has created. It was a pleasure seeing their pictures and hearing their stories. I hope if I ever have children I will be able to share such a rewarding and fun hobby with them.

ronAN 2Jon Robinson, USA

Page: Robinson Creations

Number of children: 3 kids, 7 year old son and twin 4 year olds boy & girl

How long have you been cosplaying for? I have only been cosplaying for about a year. Last year they announced a local con and I have always wanted to go. I figured I might as well dress up too. I was poking around the internet looking for ideas when I came across a group of Warhammer 40k costumers called Obscurus Crusade. I knew I had to build a Space Marine. So 200 hours of work (and more money than my wife thinks I spent) later and I had a costume. I was very nervous when I showed up at the con. That all vanished as soon as the first few people said how awesome it was. I entered the costume contest as a beginner and ended up taking 2nd in the intermediate category.

Your favourite cosplay? Since I have only done 2 so far, my Space Marine is the most fun. it gets the best reactions. I even got a nod from Karl Urban as he was heading to a panel by at the con.

Do your children/family cosplay? So far my kids haven’t really caught on yet. My oldest wants to dress up when I do, but gets tired real quick of everyone wanting pictures. My daughter wanted to dress as Hulk and my youngest son went as War Machine. Mostly because we already had those costumes from Halloween.

RONAN 3How has cosplay affected your family? So far it hasn’t had too much effect. I have always had my hobbies and the kids like to see me dressed up. My wife is supportive as long as I keep a good balance between home life and some of the charity events I get involved with.

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? Kids love to dress up. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Let them decide how they want to. If all your kids have are Halloween costumes, let them wear it. Everyone will treat them as the best dressed cosplayer there. Also you don’t have to go to a con to get involved in cosplay. There are usually costuming groups around. You can get involved with many groups that do charity events to running around the woods in some scenario. They key is to just have fun and enjoy it. I truly believe that anyone can cosplay. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Start small; check your local second-hand stores to see what you can find. You don’t have to jump in feet first like I did

Alex Kopp, Germany

Page: Madman’s little Workshop

Number of Children: I have 3 children aged 9,11,13  

Started cosplaying: I started in 2011  when I built a Tanith costume for my son.

Favourite cosplay: My favourite are all from Warhammer40k . My wife and kids helped me build them and then we drove to Oberhausen (Space Ritter).

fathers of cosplay alex kopp 1Do your children cosplay: My wife and daughter cosplay Sister of Battle Armor. My Oldest Son was a Tanith Sniper and a Space Wolf Armor and my youngest son wore an Ultramarine Armor. I love to make costumes, whether it’s for me or for our children and I have made so many new friends .

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? If your children want to dress up, get them involved and make them build something.

 

Jon and Joe as Batman and Alfred

Jon and Joe as Batman and Alfred

Jon Fisher, United Kingdom

Page: Wheels Of Steel Cosplay

Number of children: Joe, aged 10

How long have you been cosplaying for and how did you get started? I started taking my kids to MCM Expo in 2010. I’d never seen cosplay before that and I was amazed by the quality and inventiveness of the costumes. My son wanted to dress up in his Harry Potter costume in 2011/12, and then in 2013 we came up with the idea of incorporating his wheelchair into a costume. I wanted to create something that would make him proud of his wheelchair, and I couldn’t think of anything cooler than a Batmobile. Once the “Batmochair” was made and Joe had his Batman costume, I had the idea of dressing up as Alfred his butler, as I would be pushing him around in his chair all day! So, really, I’m just there like a supporting actor for the star of the show.

Your favourite cosplay? Batman and Alfred, because of the response it got, and because it inspired other wheelchair users to have a go at doing something similar.

Do your  children cosplay? Joe has been Ron Weasley, Batman, a Jedi, and Iron Man. We’ve got quite a few other cosplays planned for the future.

fathers of cosplay jon

Joe in his Iron Man copslay, which father and son built together

How has cosplay affected your family? Working together building the costumes has been a great father/son project. The reaction from people at events stopping us and asking for photos and telling him how awesome he looks has done loads for his self-esteem and confidence. He’s proud of how cool his wheelchair looks. Hopefully other people will see the great way the cosplay community has responded to what we have done and be encouraged to have a go too. I’ve created photo albums of each wheelchair build on his page so people can see how I made everything.

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? Go for it! But make sure it’s something they want to do. Let the ideas come from them and don’t try and persuade them to dress as something they wouldn’t choose themselves. Obviously with babies you can get away with this one for a while, but they’ll probably hate you for it when they’re teenagers. Above all else, make it fun!

fathers of copslay tiagio

The Super Maians, photo by George Fairbairn Photography ASWPP

Tiago Cid Maia, United Kingdom

Page: The Super Maians

Number of children: I have two boys, Guilherme, better known as Gui, aged 6  and Connor who is 9 months old.

How long have you been cosplaying for? I’ve been cosplaying for a bit over a year, LSCC was the convention that got us addicted to this amazing hobby and way of life.

Your favourite cosplay: From the ones I have my Robin is still the one I prefer, but my dream cosplay is Fireball Hikari from Saber Rider – and one day I will make it!

Do your children/family cosplay?  Yes, we all cosplay as a family, both my kids and my wife. My wife Sonia started as Princess Leia, then Miss Martian and Arcee. This year she did an Imperial Chinese original character of the Assassin’s Creed, Steampunk Batgirl, Wonder Woman and next LFCC she will present her new Emma Frost cosplay. Gui started by doing Batman, Superman and Man of Steel variation, Rumble and also Luigi. This year we made a Roman Gladiator orig. character. Assassin’s Creed and a Steampunk Batman. At LFCC he will bring his new Dark Knight and Nightcrawler. Connor had his first cosplay on in the maternity ward within only 6 hours of being born, and his first convention he was 3 weeks old. He already cosplayed Jedi, Thor, Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Optimus Prime, Western Cowboy O.C. Assassin’s Creed, Steampunk Robin and Green Arrow, at LFCC he will bring his new Ant-Man. I have previously cosplayed as Robin, Roy Mustang, Soundwave. This year I made a French Musketeer O.C. Assassin’s Creed, Steampunk Green Lantern and I just finished my Red Skull.

The Super Maians by Shades On

The Super Maians by Shades On

How has cosplay affected your family? No doubt cosplay changed our lives, now we have an activity that we all share and bring us even more together. It was a great way to meet new people and make friends. It’s a way of breaking the daily routine and I recommend it to everyone.

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? It all depends, the sooner you start your kids  the easier it gets. If they grow up doing this it’s going to be natural and normal for them and they will probably face all the commotion at conventions easily. In the event your kids are a bit more reserved regarding big crowds, costumes, photos, I would start with few hours at first in small conventions.

Tony's daughter in her RWBY gear which he helped build

Tony’s daughter in her RWBY gear which he helped build

Tony Debellis, Canada

Number of children: I have two daughters aged 17 and 15, they started cosplaying at 13 and 11.

How long have you been cosplaying for? I dont really cosplay myself (but am in the process of researching a Space Marine costume) rather I am the build it guy – props weapons etc. I got started about 15 years ago building and designing Halloween displays for my front yard.

Do your children/family cosplay: They both mainly cosplay as anime characters most recent being Ruby from RWBY and the oldest as Mikasa from Attack on Titan.

fathers of cosplay tony

Tony’s daughter in her AOT cosplay

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? Best tip I can give is try to use recycled and reclaimed materials if at all possible, shop thrift stores, watch for back to school craft sales, and try to instill in them that a quality cosplay does not need to be expensive.

Pierre Courtemanche alias Halley, Canada

Number of children: I have one daughter, Stella, 1 years old.

How long have you been cosplaying for? I’ve been cosplaying for nearly 10 years, and my girlfriend for 5 years. I’ve begun in the same time that anime convention appear in my vicinity with two simple costume: a Star Trek Voyager uniform and Tuxedo mask from Sailor moon.

Your favourite cosplay? Hugues from Full Metal Alchemist: there is not that much resemblance, but it’s so fun to roleplay the character.

Wonderwoman duo!

Wonder Woman duo!

Do your children cosplay? My daughter already has two cosplays; Wonder-woman (in tandem with her mother, Patricia, also in Wonder Woman, and a hand-made Moogle costume From Final Fantasy.

How has cosplay affected your family? Becoming a family changed a lot of money that we could spend on cosplay: we use the same ones more often, and I prefer to wear something less complex and more convenient to help with the baby.

What tip would you give other parents/families looking to get their children into cosplay? From day one it was a certitude she will cosplay, and so far, it was no problem because we took the time to think our way in advance, taking shift to take care of the baby in activities. When she will be old enough, she will decide if she want to pursue this way, but as cosplayer parents, I say there is no “too young” cosplayer.

 

 

 

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Cosplayer of the Week – Valentine Cosplay

andy 5 mcm buzzThis week I interviewed cosplayer and LARPer Andy Valentine aka Valentine Cosplay. Specialising in prop making and performing Andy has wowed us with his talent to truly become the chracter he is cosplaying; performing unique skits from swordfighting to stage monologues.

andy 2 scgHow did you get involved in the wonderful world of cosplay?
Actually, my friend suggested that the pair of us go, and being a lifetime member of the geek club, I jumped at the idea and couldn’t imagine not dressing up. Making that first outfit – a version of Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2 – got me completely hooked on the many processes behind making costumes and props, and the amount of detail that you can go into, as well as learning to perform and accurately portray the character. I pretty much haven’t stopped building since then.

As well as cosplay you also LARP, do you have a preference?
They’re both very similar in a lot of ways, but also very different. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily prefer one over the other, but there are definitely elements of each that I prefer. Cosplay allows a lot more versatility as far as types of outfits, and you tend to be replicating someone else’s design, plus the emphasis is typically on the way something looks, rather than the durability. LARP on the other hand you tend to craft your own designs, and they have to be hard-wearing as well as pretty because you’ll be getting hit a lot, thus the thought process behind it alters.

Also, I love the immersion of LARP. I’m a big fan of being in character (something that I think I bring to cosplay a bit more than most people) and you can spend three or four days straight not breaking out of the person you’re portraying.

I really believe that cosplayers should try LARP, both for the experience and to help them realise it’s OK to get completely lost in a character.

andy 4Most will remember you for your skit at LFCC, what was the motivation behind this?
The thing about most open masquerade competitions is that it’s easy not to be memorable. Walking on to stage, holding three poses, and exiting the stage is all well and good, but if you do something more interesting, people are going to remember it. The LFCC skit where I re-enacted Vaas’ “definition of insanity” monologue was just the most obvious choice for that character. I’ll admit, getting off the stage and shouting at one of the judges inches from her face was a spur of the moment choice as I was completely in character and it felt like the right thing to do. People still talk about it now, so I guess it was the right choice.

What do you have lined up for us at this year’s London Anime Gaming Con?
I’m most excited for my new panel on “CosPLAY: Performing the Character and Method Cosplay”, in which I’m going to be talking about some of the methods I go about learning how to really ‘be’ a character. Also, I’ve coined this term “Method Cosplay” because I personally started to go down a very method actor path when I’m preparing for an event, and I’m going to be introducing that to people. Then there’s the usual Cosplay 101 and prop making panels that I’ll be on too.
As for cosplays, I’m hoping to dry run Prince Oberyn from Game of Thrones before LFCC the following week, and I’m super excited about debuting that cosplay given his recent popularity. Also, I’m going to be doing Sparky Polastri, the dance instructor from Bring It On, just because it’s pretty simple, but going to be good fun to play. Expect to hear “Prepare for total domination” blasting from my boombox whilst being accompanied by some pretty questionable dance moves.

andy 6 camilleDo you have any other big cosplay/prop plans?
I have a number of things in the works at the moment. I’m actually making all four of Prince Oberyn’s outfits (sun cloak, evening cloak, Joffery’s wedding cloak and armour), as well as my updated LARP armour at the moment. Once they’re done I’m starting on my biggest project to date, a 10ft tall G1 Starscream from Transformers, which I’m hoping to have done for either MCM or WLFCC towards the end of the year. My cosplay friend Spider-Trooper will be taking his 10ft G1 Optimus Prime to the same event, so we’re going to team up for some team cosplay awesomeness.

What do you find the most challenging part when making your costumes and props?
I’m a complete perfectionist, and I’m rarely pleased with what I produce. When I was working on the Fallout AER-9 Laser Rifle, I scrapped six versions of it before decided that the seventh iteration was up to standard. The other six still remain in a pile in my garden after I threw them out of the workshop window. I also get frustrated when I’m not able to do things as cleanly as I like. That said, it’s that level of detail which has got a lot of my stuff – props especially – noticed, so it pays off in the end.

Protip: when you’re learning prop-making, start by making items that need to look weathered. It allows you to cover your mistakes, and a lot of the time, adds to the effect.

andy 1 domAny tips for those a little stage shy looking to improve their future cosplay skits?
You can never overact. Seriously. Never.

Generally, if you look shy and timid it shows. If you close up with your head down and your arms crossed it means that the judges can’t see the whole of your outfit, and that’s always a shame. But if you breath heavily for a few seconds before stepping out and then throw everything that you have on stage for those 30 seconds, you’ll make a much bigger impact and be much more memorable. Remember, these things are judged on your showmanship as much as your craftsmanship. There’s no point in making one amazing and skimping on the other.

You recently entered the LSCC Cosplay Championships, what was this experience like?
To be honest, I treated it pretty much like every other competition I’ve ever entered. I made sure my outfit was to a standard I was happy with, I ensured I knew what I was doing with my performance (though I ended up freestyling all of the sword art in the end when the adrenaline hit), and just ensured I remained confident. I was pretty gutted not to get into the finals that time around, but I’ve learnt from my mistakes and will be making sure I improve going forward.

andy 7What was it like being judged by some of cosplays biggest names?
Again, I treated it no different to any other competition really. They’re just people with opinions at the end of the day. Sure, they probably knew what to look for more than most, but that’s all. I used to work in the film industry and met most of the big names in Hollywood so don’t really get “star struck” anymore. Sure, I respect people for the name they’ve managed to make for themselves in the cosplay arena, but to be honest I get so “in my own head” once I step on stage I didn’t even notice they were there.

Will you be competing again? (UK ECG Preliminaries at Hyper Japan are approaching!)
Yup, I sure will be, though probably not until next year. I want to up my game even further when it comes to performance in competitions, as such I want to take my time and make sure both the cosplay and the character are locked down tight and ready to compete with, rather than rushing to get something done for a specific date. As for what I’m going to enter with, you’ll just have to wait and see, but I have some pretty exciting ideas.

andy 8As someone who has guested at conventions and competed in cosplay contests, do you think it is harder for boys to get recognition in cosplay?
When it comes to number of followers on social media, unquestionably yes; but that’s a whole other discussion that I won’t get into now. On the convention floor though, not really. I get just as much attention as women at cons, if not more, but as I’ve said before a lot of that is down to the effort I put into the detail of my cosplays and how I portray them as I’m walking around.

To be honest, if the whole reason you’re doing cosplay is for the number of followers you can gain, you’re doing something wrong. It should be about having fun, spending time with like-minded people and expressing the love of a fandom. If I never gained another follower I’d be quite content, because I do what I do partially for me, and partially to try and pass on a few learning experiences to anyone who wants to listen and learn more about the art. After all, if we can all learn from one another then we all benefit and are all able to make cooler cosplays and props, which has to be a good thing.

Thank you for the great interview Andy! Keep updated with all of Andy’s antic on Twitter @valentineprops and on Facebook Valentine Cosplay

Photo credits: Fallout and LSCC Cosplay contest photos by Shinigami Photography, Vaas by Lucas at SCG, Vaas by MCM Buzz and Commander Shepard by Camille Watkins.

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F:EAST at Japan Centre 7-8 June – a taste of Japan

20140607_161148psThis weekend marked free samples, competitions and demonstrations at F:EAST held at the Japan Centre, Piccadially. I popped down Saturday afternoon just in time to watch the sake cocktails being shaken, with a big crowd gathered eagerly waitng to taste a sip.

20140607_160924psThe cocktails tasted devine, the core ingredient was Geikkeikan sparkling sake . Cocktail recipes were given out afterwards so you could make your own at home. If you go to the Geikkeikan website you can find lots more sake and plum wine cocktail recipes here. If you’re not much of a cocktail maker you can go direct to Shoryu restaurant in Piccadially and try some of their limited edition summer cocktails.

F:EAST weekend had a variety of tasters from matcha ice cream to gyoza dumlings! Events like these are great, as we often want to try all the Japanese food but may not necessary know how to prepare it ourselves or have the money to purchase all the ingredients.

20140607_160356psHowever, F:EAST was more than a weekend of food and drink tasting, it ensured to provide an introductory into all aspects of much loved Japanese culture. The Japan Society were on hand providing free origami and shodo calligraphy workshops. Other companies in attendance included popular UK Asian film distributors, Third Window Films selling titles from £5. If you missed out you can still grab a bargain directly on their online shop (I personally recommend – Love Exposure). Additionally, following the Terracotta Festival, it is good to hear that Third Windows will be releasing a couple of the films shown – more information to be announced soon!

Japanese culture publication Zoom, were present handing out previous issues of their free monthly, the bubbly team were also holding a competition to win a free Zoom t-shirt. The magazine is available in the Japan Centre and other Japanese restaurants/retailers around London – make sure to grab a copy if you are in the area, it is a nice informative read.

japan centre zoomNot forgetting one of the reasons everyone was there, the BIG competition to win a trip to Japan, the winner hasn’t been announced yet – but good luck to  everyone who entered!

Top tip – for those intersted in tasting the variety of sakes, I would recommend bying  a ticket for the sake tasting at Hyper Japan – it is a great way to try the variety of sakes as well as learn about the background and uses for the drink. Overall,  the session allows you to find out which brands and type you like -  this saves you buying a whole bottle and finding out you hate it!

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Interview with harpist Julia Mascetti

julia mascetti 1Vicki Anne interviews harpist and singer-songwriter Julia Mascetti, inspired by her love of alternative music and fashion, Julia rebels from the usual classical music played on the harp and opts for rock, metal, anime themes and J-Pop tunes – as well as her own original songs.

julia mascetti 3First of all, how would you describe your music?
A kind of dark pop with strong folk influences.

Can you tell me what styles of music influence you?
So many! Singing in choirs has been a huge part of my musical life since I was very little and classical choral music still influences me. The harp has a very strong folk tradition and I think you can hear that in the harmonies and the harp playing style in my songs. I listened to a lot of metal and goth as a teenager and I think that’s where my music gets its melodrama and some of the darker lyrical and musical style. Experimental female singer-songwriters are an inspiration (Kate Bush is my idol!) and I enjoy chart music for a catchy tune and a bit of a dance. I’m also a big fan of electronic music (Nine Inch Nails and Placebo are two of my favourite bands) and I have been starting to experiment with that recently by collaborating more with producers. Have a listen to my track ‘Iago’ produced by the incredible Laurie Smart. I’m hoping to do more collaborations like that, I think the harp has a lot of potential in electronic music.

The harp can be considered quite an unusual instrument in modern music, how did you get into playing it?
I never know the answer to that question! I honestly have always wanted to play the harp for as long as I can remember and I don’t quite know why. Perhaps I saw one in a concert or on TV and fell in love with it. I’m half Welsh and the harp has a much bigger presence in Wales, so maybe that’s where it comes from. It took years of begging my parents to let me start learning though, I had my first lesson aged 10 or 11.

julia mascetti 4Do you play any other instruments as well as the harp?
Aside from singing, I play the piano but not very well.

Your youtube videos feature a large range from original songs to covers, which do you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoy both for different reasons! Original songs take a lot more work usually, because I am creating everything from start to finish, whereas with covers I am taking someone else’s idea and putting my spin on it. I guess with originals I can express myself more fully and I feel a real sense of achievement, but I am proud of a lot of covers I have done too. Taking a song you love to listen to and making it your own is a lot of fun and gives you plenty of opportunity to be creative.

The lyrics in your original songs are very deep, where do you tend to get inspiration for them from?
Ha ha, I am going to take ‘deep’ as a compliment ;) I never self-consciously try to be ‘deep’ but I guess that’s how some of the songs turn out. I get inspiration from all sorts of places, books, plays and personal experiences either from my own life or the lives of those close to me.

julia mascetti 5What was it like for you to play at Enchanted?
Well the lolitas were certainly the best dressed crowd I have ever played for – and I’ve been performing at weddings for six years! I had a wonderful time, lovely appreciative audience, gorgeous venue and I really enjoyed meeting the band Heroine Syndrome who performed after me! I really like their music and they performed a great set. We’re hoping to collaborate in the future.

How do you feel about Lolita fashion?
I love it! I would never call myself a Lolita but I think it does influence my style and I own several items of brand clothing and a few Gothic and Lolita Bibles. Some of my close friends are lifestyle Lolitas and they always look stunning – I just couldn’t commit to one style or putting that much effort into my appearance every day ;) I’m glad that many people do though, Lolita fashion makes me smile and injects a bit of beauty, fun and fantasy into everyday life. When I visited by boyfriend in Japan last year I dragged him around some of the brand shops in Tokyo and it was a magical experience just to look at the beautiful clothes and beautiful lolitas. For Enchanted, I wore a skirt from Mana’s label Moi-même-Moitié, that I bought in Tokyo.

julia mascetti 2You are performing at London Anime Gaming Con in July, can you reveal any sneak peak titbits for this?
Yes, I’m really looking forward to it! As for sneak peaks, that depends on you ;) Readers, what JPop songs or anime and gaming soundtracks would you like to hear on the harp? Tweet me your requests @JuliaMascetti and I will try to fit them into my set.

Aside from London Anime Gaming Con, do you have any plans for the future?
I have a very exciting concert coming up on 20th June, where I will be performing with two other songwriters who use the harp in the incredible venue of Asylum Arts Chapel in Peckham, south London. I’m super excited about performing in this venue – it’s a renovated asylum chapel which has been taken over by two artists who curate fantastic arts events. We have called the concert ‘Harpicide at Asylum’ and we are trying to present a different side of the harp than the ‘angelic’ stereotype ;) If you’re interested, more information and tickets can be found at harpicide.eventbrite.co.uk. I hope to see you there!

Thank you for a lovely interview Julia, remember to follow Julia Mascetti on Facebook, Twitter @JuliaMascetti for all her latest news and updates. You can also suscribe to Julia’s YouTube channel. Below is a beautiful rendetion from Studi Ghibli’s Spirited Away.

 

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Butler Cafe: Tea Prince The Elegant Return Review 31 May

IMG_3354psAfter a long hiatus, the butlers from Tea Prince have returned! With their last event just under a year ago at Austen in the Abbey, the butlers were back at Boba Jam, with a herd of new butlers ready to serve!

IMG_3391psTea Prince differs to maid cafes such as Ai My Maid and Maids of England, as it is a butler café. The same rules and etiquettes apply, with the most obvious difference being the majority of the staff are males/crossplaying.

Traditional butler cafés in Japan are targeted at the female audience with the purpose to treat the ladies that attend like princesses! I found Tea Prince less gender specific, so males can still feel comfortable attending, they even have Maid Usagi and Maid Olivia serving for balance.

The café have taken elements from traditional Japanese butler cafes by adding rose petals to all the tables and for a small fee writing ‘confession letters’ on request which reveal their love/affection for an attendee. Like other maid events, Tea Prince provided chekkis (decorated polaroid photographs with a maid or butler of your choice), certain staff would sing  and dance on request  and there was even some magic tricks floating around! At other events Tea Prince previously added features such as waltzes to classical music, but due to the venue size this was not possible.

IMG_3331psAs an added bonus all ticket holdes were entered into a competition sponsored by Tofu Cute, the Japanese confectionary and kawaii brand, with the winner receiving goodies including Japanese Kit Kats and a mini alpaca.

For those who haven’t read my Ai My Maid review at the Charring Cross branch of Boba Jam, I will touch upon the food and drink served at the venue. Boba Jam’s speciality is  bubble tea, a Taiwanese tea-based beverage mixed with milk or fruit which can be served hot or cold. Often, large chewy tapioca balls are added. There are hundreds of different varieties and fillings to have in these – not just tapioca balls! Boba Jam’s food menu ranges from sugary deserts often combing unusual flavours together as well as authentic Japanese tapas and soups.

Previous maid cafes I have visited often have a higher male to female ratio, although recently this seems to be changing, so I was intrigued to see if there would be a higher female to male ratio at this event, interestingly there wasn’t, it seems no matter what your gender is everyone likes to be treated like royalty!

IMG_3326psFor the next event, I would love to see it held in a bigger venue, as there is clearly a demand. A bigger venue would allow for more activities such as gaming (which rival comapnies offer) and introduce more ‘romantic’ services added, perhaps bring back the classical music and waltz dances!

After the Tea Prince Event I headed to the Terracotta Horror All Nighter film festival – review coming soon here!

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MCM Expo Review 23 – 25 May 2014

IMG_0197ps

Eve Beauregard, Sonesh Joshi and Stacey Rebecca

Last weekend I attended MCM Expo at London Excel centre, with 100,000 attendees it is the biggest convention in the UK; heavy rain and hailstones didn’t stop attendees exhibiting an array of fantastic cosplays from a range of anime, film and comics! MCM may have its flaws, but it is a great way to catch up with old friends and make some new ones!

Highlights from the weekend included meeting the lovely Eve Beauregard who travelled all the way from Australia. Eve was assisting Sonesh Joshi on his Kuruz comic stall along with Giada Robin and Stacey Rebecca! This made up for the fact that sadly Jessica Nigri could not attend, (although it looks likely she will be at MCM in October!) it is so great to see so many international cosplayers attending our cons!

wendee lee aisha me1

Meeting Wendee Lee (middle)

I usually don’t bother to much with celebrity autographs, but there was a couple of anime voice actors who I quite wanted to meet, Wendee Lee and Phil La Marr. These autographs and photos were free with the latest issue of MyM, which I happened to have. As a Wolverine and the X-Men fan, I was delighted to meet Phil LaMarr who voices Gambit and Trask in the series, he was a lovely man who signed my WATX DVD and even did a voice from the series! I was also luckily enough to catch Wendee Lee before she jetted off back to the USA, she sadly had to leave early due to a family emergency.

IMG_1535psA main part of MCM for me is photographing all the amazing cosplayers at the event! I particularly enjoyed attending the organised community meets and socialising with new cosplayers and photographers alike, especially the lovely people at Studio Ghibli Cosplay UK and Sailor Moon United groups.

As mentioned above, MCM have one consistent flaw – the queueing system - which is one of the reasons I always attend Friday to pick up my wristband! However, on Friday, everything seemed OK – virtually no waiting time to get wristbands, the east entrance was open and security were letting people re-enter through the front, but then Saturday arrived and everything went to pot! I exited the train and was caught in congestion on the bridge, no one was able to move, or knew what IMG_0449psto do/where to go! When we eventually could move, I found that we were no longer able to enter through the front and the east entrance was blocked off! Personally, I also found it quite insulting and tasteless that despite peoples complaints about the queues and the ridiculous long waiting times attendees suffered to get wristbands and tickets, MCM filmed and wrote a boastful article about the queues on their MCM Buzz website. I understand they want to boast about the conventions popularity, but that was not the way to do it! Although I did not encounter it myself at this event, I know countlless people had problems with Excel security staff, I can only hope that this improves next con!

With such a BIG event it is impossible to get everything right, perhaps next time they will get it spot on! I remain optimistic that one day they will get it right!

Overall, it was a great weekend with great people and I look forward to the October event!

Photo credits: Wendee Lee photo by Big Guy Slim

 

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Sweet Cupcake Maid Cafe – Vanilla Concert, Nexus Art Cafe

IMG_3611Jade Tsang, new fashion writer for League of Extraordinary Cosplayers served at Sweet Vanilla Maid Café and Concert run by Sweet Cupcake Maids as Maid O’Ren (inspired by O’ren Isshi from Kill Bill!). Jade shares her experience at the event…

1015487_1415228565410535_2168711228656720831_oThe event took place last month on the 18 April at the Nexus Art Café, Manchester, maids eagerly greeted goshujin-sama and ojou-sama on arrival and guided them to a table. Attendees were handed kawaii pink menus which included a list of cakes made by Sweet Octopus, caterers for the event who make mouth-watering Japanese desserts. Two tasty treats by the patisserie were included for all ticket holders.

After guests were seated and fed the concert shortly began, the Sweet Cupcake maids danced to popular J-pop tunes while others interacted with guests, initiating games and conversation. One games that seemed very popular, which could be described as a ‘lollipop scavenger hunt’, involved attendees having to find lollipops that were hidden around the venue (and on the maids). The person with the most lollipops won a prize!

10270397_1415232342076824_1982709954684073872_nAs well as games there was a quiz for otakus to test their knowledge, with maids assisting each team – sorry for not being very helpful, my group! The final event was the much anticipated cosplay competition, won by the talented Beks Drum as Allen Walker. Beks received a fabulous prize including a magnet, bunny plushie (which I seriously wanted for myself!), Sweet Octopus goodies and a card signed by all the maids.

The event ended making memories through photo-taking and plenty of maid selfies. Overall, the event had a warm, friendly atmosphere and we were pleased to receive compliments about how down-to-earth we were, it meant a lot. All in all, as the name suggests, a very sweet event with a variety of fun and games!

Sweet Cupcake’s next event will be at Moe Moe Con in Chester on 21st June 2014, I hope to see you there!

 

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X-Men Cosplay World Record Attempt – X-Men Days of Future Past London Premiere

andrei xmen photo

Photo by Andrei Guiamoy Photography

X-Men fans united Monday 12 May in Leicester Square in an attempt to break a world record of 250 X-Men cosplayers in one place. The act was to celebrate the London premiere of X-Men Days of Future Past where James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellen and Michael Fassbender would be attending later that evening.

353psssCosplayers arrived in London from as early as 8am, travelling  from all aound the UK, some flying from as far as Dennmark just to be part of this record breaking event.

The array of characters and variations on display was amazing! From popular favourites such as Wolverine and Rogue to the lesser known characters such as Dust.  Seeing all the cosplays from X-Men movies, comics and animated series reminded me why I love this franchise so and how there really is a character for everyone!

As 12pm appraoched, cosplayers entered the Odeon cinema screen where the premiere would later be shown that night,  with just over 150 of us, we sadly didn’t break the world record, but for particpating we all received an exclusive cosplay world record attempt lanyard and had numerous group shots taken, it will be a day out that won’t be forgotten for while!

500psAfter the count and some well deserved lunch, those who wanted to, could enter the pens for a chance to see the stars strut down the blue carpet and potentially get some selfies and autographs! A few lucky participants with the best cosplays were given free tickets to watch the premiere! Congrats, you looked awesome and remember ssshh no spoliers! The rest of us still have to wait till May 22nd!

Josh Varney, community organiser of the event commented; “Everyone had a fantastic time at the premiere of X’Men DOFP. We didn’t set a record but that doesn’t meen we aren’t gonna stop trying. Infact we will be re counting at the Winter London Film Comic Con. So watch this space. Other than that, everyone looked amazing in their costumes and had a great day”

709psThe night ended at the after party for premiere fans and cosplayers at Ruby Blue, Leicester Square where it was time to take the mask and cape off and have a drink…or two!

Group photo from the event by Andrei Guiamoy Photography

All Photos from the world record attempt here

From the after party at Ruby Blue here

 

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Interview – Heroine Syndrome

heroine syndrome 2Vicki Anne, Fasion and Music Journalist, interviews Heroine Syndrome a five piece anime pop punk / post hardcore band. Combining heavy guitar riffs and aggressive rhythm sections with touching vocal harmonies and emotional melodic hooks. The band consists of Meg (メグ) lead vocals, KaoRu (かおる)on guitar and backing Vocals, Touma (当麻) plays bass guitar, Evelina (エヴェリ) on Violin and Rob (ロブ) on Drums.


heroine syndromeWho are your biggest musical influences?

Meg: Some of my favourite bands are Sum 41, Fightstar, Good Charlotte, Icon for Hire and T.a.t.u. I am a big fan of J-rock, J-Pop ­and Anime Soundtracks. My biggest influences from Japan are The Gazette, One ok Rock, EGOIST, Hungry & Angry, Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia Lufkin. I also adore anything composed by Yuki Kajiura.
KaoRu: Japanese rock, visual kei, anime, pop punk, post hardcore and baroque pop.

Do you have any unusual music inspirations?

Meg: I’d say anime. Most of the new songs I’ve been working on have been somehow inspired from favourite anime of mine. For example I have a song called “Entry Plug” which is a reference to N.G Evangelion.
KaoRu: My alter ego’s band and herbal liquor.

What was your experience playing at Enchanted?

Meg: It was a lovely experience. We got to do our warm up at The Gibson Hall’s garden, which was cool. Having an all-Lolita audience was very exciting and we got to meet a few lovely people including the wonderful harpist/vocalist and fellow songwriter Julia Mascetti  (interview coming soon!) who performed before us. I am grateful we were given the chance to perform at such an amazing event and in such a beautiful venue. I would definitely play at an event like this again.
KaoRu: Amazing, I felt like I was in a fairytale, or in an alternative dimension.

heroine syndrome 1A big part of Enchanted is the fashion, how would you describe your own style?

Meg: I enjoy combining punk, gothic, grunge and romantic fashion. Japanese fashion in general has been a big influence of mine and lately I am getting into Pastel Goth.
KaoRu: I’m inspired by the scene kids from the US, but I don’t go to the extreme.

As you know, Enchanted was predominantly a Lolita event, what are your thoughts on Lolita fashion?

Meg: I am a keen Lolita myself. I came across Lolita fashion about three years ago and soon wanted to try it out. I believe it was a huge turning point as it helped me feel more comfortable with looking feminine. I see it as a wonderful way for girls to look beautiful and impressive without being revealing and it makes me feel like a princess. Co-ordinating Lolita outfits is a very creative procedure too!
KaoRu: I would get some of that stuff for my girl, it is a very sophisticated style.

heroine syndrome 3What was your inspiration for your own outfits at Enchanted?

Meg: I wore some pieces by German indie brand Cute Lou Couture. I love her bat themed collection! Generally I tried to keep my outfit more casual/goth to be comfortable for the performance.
KaoRu: I dressed smart.

Do you feel that your fashion style influences your music?

Meg: My interest in fashion primarily started from the music I was into as a teenager so the two are closely linked for me. I believe fashion is one of the many ways to express yourself and tell your story and I believe it enhances the music when the fashion is representing somehow the message and personality of the performers.
KaoRu: Yes, it always comes together. You play and you act what you wear.

With Britain’s Got Talent currently on air, have you ever thought about auditioning for a show similar to this?

Meg: I am not really a fan of shows like that. I would not participate in one myself or with the band. Surely it’s a famous way to get exposure but I don’t support the mentality behind it.
KaoRu: I’d rather organise my own TV talent show and enslave those talents just as they do, and earn millions from their labour. But I don’t have enough money for such a big investment (yet). I don’t watch TV anyway.

heroine syndrome 4Would you like to see any Japanese acts on these shows?

Meg: I’d rather see Japanese acts concurring western fans in general. For example the way the band Baby Metal is getting quite famous around here these days is something very pleasant for me to see.
KaoRu: I don’t watch TV, so It doesn’t matter to me.
What does the future have in store for the band? 

Meg: At the moment we are in the studio working on our music. We’ll be releasing our first EP “Wrong Side of the Road” very soon. We are also planning our first video clip and working on a manga collaboration based on one of our songs! I can’t wait to share the finished product with everyone.
KaoRu: Not much, just the boring stuff: release an album, manga book, anime movie -millions of copies sold and going for a few international tours…

Thanks to Heroine Syndrome and Vicki Anne for the interview.

Check out Meg’s Facebook and Tumblr

Photographs with thanks to Saoirse Clohessy Photography

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Ai My Maid – Miko Miko Kyun at Boba Jam, 3 May 2014

IMG_9797psBack in October 2013 I attended the Ai My Maid Froyo Party – A Wild Maid Appears at Tutti Frutti, sadly this venue has now closed, so the Ai My Maid Miko Miko Kyun event was relocated to Boba Jam, Charring Cross Road, which serves Bubble Tea and Japanese delicacies.

IMG_9805psThe upstairs of Boba Jam was transformed with pink and red decor where attendees entering the venue were greeted by Butler Kenji and asked to select a lucky fortune slip for the chance to win a special prize! Luck was on on my side and I won a chekki (decorated polaroid photo), which I later had with the adorable Maid Mayumi. Escorted to our table by Maid Emi; the seating reminded me of Wagamamas, you were potentially seated next to an unfamilar otaku, and not just your friends. This was a nice opportunity to meet new people and meant you didn’t have to sit by yourself if you came alone. Additionally, each seat was given an envelope to draw a picture for the maids to hung up on the walls in Boba Jam.

The process was to go downstairs, order and pay for your food and drink, then your serving maid or butler would bring it up to you when it was ready.

For those unfamiliar with bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba tea, is a Taiwanese beverage mixed with milk or fruit and can be served hot or cold. Often large chewy tapioca balls are added which is where the allegory of bubbles/pearls comes from. There are hundreds of different variations and fillings to choose from – not just tapioca! At this event I enjoyed a Lychee fruit tea with yogurt popping balls.

IMG_9821psAs well as bubble tea, Boba Jam specialises in deserts such as ice cream and waffles often adding a unique twist or combining unusual flavours. For example, my friend had a mango sorbet and chocolate ice cream sundae!

Activties that took place during the event included challenging the maids at console games such as Tekken and classic board games such as Pop Up Pirate and Guess Who, competitors who beat the maids ten times won a special prize.

Ai My Maid are not only gaming enthuisiasts, they each have a different skill/talent to offer from singing, dancing and nail art (which seemed awfully popular with the boys!) these services were available to order from 50p upwards.

As mentioned in my previous article, the strength of Ai My Maid is their friendly, interactive and down to earth nature. From observation I find they are very attentive to those who attend alone and do not know anyone. Despite coming as a group we were still regularly checked on by Ai My Maid to see if we needed anything and that we were having a good time.

IMG_9819psIn comparison to the Ai My Maid Froyo Party, this event was much busier than the last, attendees were even choosing to stay and pay for additional time slots, and with the bubble tea and Japanese food on offer it felt like an authentic Japanese maid café experience. I was also pleased to see that there was a much more equal ratio of female to male attendees at this event! Maid cafes are a fun and friendly event which can be enjoyed by all so this was nice to see. Good job Ai My Maid, hope to see you soon!

Photos from the event here

To find out more about Ai My Maid and maid cafes read my interview with them here.

 

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Anime Convention Wedding – Bride and Groom Interview

Pouncy
Many people meet their partners at conventions, which is exactly what happened to XC and Zelly from Team Neko UK, as the duo combined their love for conventions and each other by tying the knot at Kitacon last month. I spoke to the pair about their big day and what was involved in planning a wedding at a convention!

How did you two meet?

XC: We met at Amecon 2007, in Leicester. I was a massive arsehole at the time.

 wedding1Zelly: Yeah, he really was. For an entire year I referred to him as “that asshole from Ame ’07″. I really hated him. But then we met again a year later at Ame ’08 and I didn’t recognise him at all since he had grown out his hair and shaved off his beard.

He got on the same train as me to Leicester and we got chatting over the course of the weekend. We exchanged contact details and decided to keep in touch afterwards since we both lived in Scotland and got on really well that weekend. I didn’t actually realise that I already knew him until the Sunday night of the convention.

XC: Yeah it was a really amazing coincidence! My original train was cancelled due to flooding, and I was routed to Edinburgh, and managed to get onto the train there – later on we found out that it was the last train from Scotland that made it south of the border that day!

Zelly: If my train hadn’t been delayed by two hours due to massive flooding, or his train hadn’t been cancelled. Heck, even if he went to a different door to board the train, we would never have met each other again and he would STILL be referred to as “that asshole from Ame’07″

wedding5How did the proposal happen?

XC: At Gemucon 2013, we were talking to a whole load of people (Super Seekrit Stairway Panel!) about our relationship – how we met, our first date, what was coming in future – and Zelly said something like
“Oh, me and Tom will get married at some point” and I said “So… You gonnae marry me then?” and she replied “Eh…S’pose so.” Around a week later we sat down and decided that we wanted to bring the marriage into the near future rather than long-term planning.

What made you decide to hold your wedding at Kitacon?

Zelly: Conventions are such a huge part of our life. It was at a convention that I met Tom, it was at a convention that the proposal happened. So we figured, why not hold the wedding at a convention too? And Kitacon holds a special place in my heart since I’ve attended every one of them from the start. The committee are an outstanding lot too, and I love them all to bits. I knew they would take good care of us on the big day.

XC: We have a really strong connection to Kitacon. Kitacon 2011 was my first convention back after taking a break in 2010 and feeling like I didn’t want to be part of the scene any longer – Kitacon brought me back into the fold. What’s more, we know ourselves that travel to and from Scotland is a real pain so we wanted to make it possible for our friends to be there. Since most of our friends were planning on attending Kitacon already, it made sense to have it there. And finally, the Hilton is gorgeous!

PouncyWhat did your friends and family think of the idea, especially those not part of the anime/cosplay community?

Zelly: Everyone at my work wanted to come along to Kitacon just to see the ceremony! They all thought it sounded fantastic. When I told them about our plans they weren’t at all surprised. They knew I wouldn’t do the traditional white wedding.

However, we ran into a small difficulty when it came to getting married at the convention. It turns out that if you want to get married in England, then you need to live in England. I tried to find all sorts of loopholes to get around that, but was unsuccessful. I was devastated and thought that we were going to have to cancel all the plans we had made. But then our friend Dan Harris suggested just doing the legal paperwork back home in Scotland, and then having the ceremony at Kitacon for all our friends to see. This actually worked out really well and in our favour.

XC: The ceremony we held at home was very small and just for the immediate family since they wouldn’t  have been able to attend the big ceremony at the convention. They were happy so long as we were happy.

As for our convention friends They thought it was a fantastic idea and were probably more excited at the idea than we were at some points.

PouncyWhat did you wear on your big day?

 XC: I wore a black kilt because I don’t like suits – and I wore red vest because I’m Chinese and it’s auspicious to wear red. Finally, the Sgian Dubh was a last minute thought to complete the outfit, but it came in handy when we were ambushed by vicious cake! Zelly had no idea about it and was quite annoyed when she realised that it was a proper knife.

 Zelly: I wore a big blue fantasy coat that I had wanted for SO long. The woman that makes them lives in America and everything that she makes is one of a kind, so there will be other similar styled blue coats, but none of them will be exactly the same as mine. It cost a small fortune though, but was worth every penny. I decided to wear a blue corset underneath, and a plain black skirt since you wouldn’t really see it with how long the coat was. And since I can’t walk in heels, I decided to treat myself to a pair of red converse to wear. I also made a hairband with little pac-man ghosts on it to wear instead of a tiara. It looked brilliant sitting in all my curls

PouncyWhat was the agenda of the day?

XC: We started letting in guests at 11.30, ceremony started at 11.45, and we had to be out of the room for 12.30 so they could set it up for the convention to use.

 Zelly: We didn’t actually KNOW what was going to happen in the ceremony. Because we didn’t have to get a registrar out to the Hilton to conduct the ceremony, we asked our good friend Lizzie to conduct the whole thing for us, and she kept a lot of it a surprise. We WE’RE supposed to have our own wedding vows to say during the ceremony, but I had left the notebook it was in at home. And Tom, being Tom, totally forgot to write anything.

XC: Lizzie did a great job arranging the ceremony itself, corralling everyone and generally getting things done. Lizzie also surprised us with a wedding cake and little cupcakes for the guests, and our friend Daniel also brought along Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the guests. AND just before we finished up, we were treated to a special performance by the Tom Lehrer Memorial Singers!

 Zelly: We were also asked to open our present that we received from the Gemucon committee, which was a brand new professional microphone for podcasting and ‘let’s plays’

wedding7What would you say was the geekiest part of the ceremony? 

XC: We’re both massive nerds so I don’t think there was any single MOST geeky part of the ceremony. I was personally thrilled when Lizzie started by quoting The Princess Bride – but there were some great touches and moments. My favourites have to be the Wedding Conbadges we gave to everyone invited, and the Legend Of Zelda chest ring case – it made the noise and everything!

Zelly: I decided as soon as we got engaged that the theme of the wedding was going to be Video Games. So I spent weeks making these giant 8-bit flowers to have on display at the ceremony. There were little ribbons with 8-Bit sprites in the middle of them stuck to the back of the chairs. Our Best Friends Zack and Steph, who were the Maid of Honour and Best Man, dressed as Mario and Luigi at our request too. They looked brilliant.

I noticed each attendee had a special goody bag, what were inside these?

XC: We (Zelly mostly) worked really hard on those goody bags! We got them as plain paper bags and Zelly printed & pasted our wedding artwork onto each one, and we then decorated them with the hearts that were paint samples put through a heart-shaped punch.

Zelly: Those bags were a pain to make! I was so glad when I finally got them finished. I had paper cuts galore. We spent the afternoon before the wedding filling all of the bags (around 120 in total to make sure we had enough). Each bag had a glowstick necklace, a fortune cookie, 3 mini packets of Love Heart Sweeties and a tiny tube of bubbles that had a little love heart on the wand.

PouncyWhat was the best part of having a wedding at an anime con?

XC: The best part was being able to be ourselves and share the biggest moment of our lives with our friends.

Zelly: The best part for me was knowing that after the ceremony was over, I would get to spend a fantastic weekend partying with all of my friends.

Toughest part?

XC: Carrying everything down to Birmingham from Glasgow – and getting the presents home again afterwards! We ended up with two huge suitcases stuffed to the gunwales as well as a dangerous amount of hand luggage. Fortunately we had our two best friends Zack & Steph helping us there and back.

Zelly: Yeah, transporting the stuff to and from Birmingham was the biggest issue for us, especially since I’m super paranoid that a courier would end up losing things. And I figured that we would have less stuff to bring home with us after offloading all the wedding favours. But we actually ended up with even more to bring home because we forgot that people were planning to bring us wedding gifts. Two of the gifts were so big that they took up one entire suitcase themselves. I’m just really glad we had Zack and Steph to help us back with everything.

PouncyDid you have any pre-wedding jitters over the weekend?

XC: Personally, I didn’t have time! As much as it would have been nice to sit back and enjoy the feeling, we realised that the time we’d spent on wedding planning was the time we’d usually spend on working out our plan of action for the weekend for Team Neko coverage. So once the wedding planning was all done and out the way, we then had to work out what we were doing for the convention itself.

Zelly: I didn’t really have any jitters right up until the last minute. It was when I was standing outside the door waiting for the music to start that I realised that it was all finally happening. Months of planning and stressing out were now over and this was the end result of all of that. And then I suddenly felt really nervous knowing that I was going to walk into that room, and everyone was going to be watching me. I got so worked up that I ended up running into the registrations room opposite and stealing a drink from one of the gophers bottle of water. It was a good thing that I had Steph with me to walk me down the aisle. I knew I would be fine with her there.

Would you recommend others to hold their wedding at conventions, any tips?

 XC: If it’s right for you, it’s right for you, but be aware that it has its’ own difficulties. Like marriage itself – definitely not for the faint hearted!

Zelly: My tip would be NOT to have it early in the morning like we did. We wanted to make sure that the ceremony was done and dusted before the convention opening ceremony so that it conflicted as little as possible with the convention schedule. But that ended up adding some extra stress. And then a number of people couldn’t make it in the end because their trains wouldn’t get them in on time on the Friday morning.

Thank you for a great interview and I wish you all the best for your life together! Readers do check out Team Neko UK they photograph, video and blog about cons and the community from across the country!

Photo credits to Manga Girl, Pouncy and Team Neko UK for taking lovely photos from the big day!

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Crew confidential – Alex Baker

IMG_8317Name: Alex Baker or DJ Bluestreak

Age: 22

DOB: 28/03/1992

Convention job role: Co-head of Stage for AnimeLeague events as well as a regular DJ and MC for various conventions across the UK.

Job description/key responsibilities: Making sure everything on stage goes according to plan and keeping the audience happy!

Previous/all cons crewed for: Long list but here goes! All AnimeLeague events –London Anime Gaming Con and Alcon. On behalf of AnimeLeague co-leading the stage team/MC at Newcastle, London and Cardiff Film and Comic Con and Insomnia Gaming Festival. I have also previously crewed for MCM Expo, Ayacon and Kitacon.

Day job: Administrator

Highlight of convention career: Hard to pick a highlight but if I had to nail it down, I would probably say that it would be the moment I first started stage work at conventions. In the beginning it was incredibly scary at first, I was worried if I could entertain the audience or not, and did not know how it would all turn out, but it was when I realized that the audience was actually liking what I was doing, it just made me feel so good about myself, that it made me want to continue entertaining a crowd!

alex duck faceBest bit of job: Entertaining attendees and making them happy,  also knowing that all the hard work that is put into the convention is appreciated.

Toughest part of job: The toughest part of the job actually relates back to the best bit of the job; entertaining the attendees and making them happy, it may be the best bit, but it’s also the hardest part too.

Secret fact about crewing: We all like to have a good laugh, and once crewing is finished, we start the drinking! We are just normal people like everyone else (if there is such thing as normal?)

Hobbies: Gaming, socialising, TV, films.

Fun fact about yourself: Though I may act like a confident person (especially on stage) I’m really not, I always put on a bit of an act, or the fact that I know I’m keeping someone happy, keeps me going :)

alex djFavourite anime: I really could not say, although I am currently watching Kill La Kill!

Favourite musician: So many to choose from, Howard Shore, Nobuo Uematsu,Green Day, Steel Panther… The list goes on. I am also a big sucker for cheesy 80s music.

Favourite film: Yet again, another hard question, but for now I will just go with the Lord of the Rings films ;) (My Precious!)

Favourite food: Crisp Sandwiches! Hell yeah!

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London Cosrave and Pub Quiz Review 2014

IMG_9338psSaturday night marked the one year anniversary of League of Extraordinary Cosplayers, so firstly I want to take the time to thank each of you for your support; from liking the Facebook page, visiting the website and/or sharing content. Additionally a big thanks to anyone who ever contributed by posing for a photograph, featuring in an article or even commenting on a post.

To celebrate this occasion we teamed up with AnimeLeague for a pub quiz and Cosrave (cosplay club night).

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Aisha Anime (LoEC Games Reporter) and I hosted the quiz, despite both projectors breaking preventing us from displaying our PowerPoint which had the questions and answers on, we pursued with the quiz the best we could, so thanks for your patience and participation! We hope to host another pub quiz (or similar event soon!).

The Cosrave kicked off afterwards at 9pm with DJ duo Baka Punk leading the floor with their own mixes. If you missed the Cosrave you can listen to their full set here.

DJ Kthepanda, got the crowd reminiscing and dancing with classic 90s cheese! DJ Heretic ended the night with classic rock from Steel Panther to Queen.

As promised, a cosplay competition took place at 11pm but with a twist…it was a cosplay dance off, judged by cosplay guests Chiquitita Cosplay, Kerri Veck and The Daywalker! What can I say? You guys got moves!

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Cosplay dance off!

The night was held in honour of Tru Allen, our close friend and former AnimeLeague crew member, (you may also recognise Tru from his numerous other work crewing at Hyper Japan, Showmasters and Konami) who sadly passed away due to organ failure, he will be greatly missed and his commitment and hard work to conventions and our community will not be forgotten. £200 form the night was raised, thank you to everyone who donated, a just giving page will also be created for those who were unable to attend but still wish to donate. The money will be going to Tru’s family, who will decide upon a suitable cause.

IMG_9196psWe hope to hold another London Cosrave towards the end of the year, in the meantime if you missed out check out the Leciester Cosrave on Friday 2nd May (bank holiday weekend!) tickets and further info can be found here.

View photos from the evening

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Enchanted Event by Street Fashion Europe & Tea Party Club UK Review 2014

IMG_8909psOn Saturday  5 April, Lolita’s from all across Europe flocked to London to attend Enchanted, an event hosted by Street Fashion Europe and The Tea Party Club. The event marked a collaboration between Japanese fashion communities throughout Europe with the aim to work together and a build a relationship with Japan.

IMG_8399psThe event had managed to go above and beyond to acquire special guests from Japan including  Minori -  leading idol in Shinormi fashion, Hitomi - designer and buyer for Grimoire and Yuka Ashizawa - CEO and designer for prestige brand Atelier Peirrot.

Greeted with champagne, as I entered the Gibson Hall with its glistening chandlers and  1st class decor, it felt like a very different affair to the grey dreary Excel Centre and Earls Court that I am usually accustomed to!

The venue was predominantly filled of those following Lolita fashion however there were some Shinoris lurking in ode to Minori. Attendees had gone all out, with some beautiful co-ords on display; from rare JSKs to customised head pieces, everyone looked wonderful. I don’t think I could pick a favourite outfit, but I was very fond of a bird cage bag that a girl had made!

IMG_9093psThe event itself created some wonderful opportunities for the UK J-fashion lovers with a catwalk showcasing the the latest designs from popular brands such as Atelier Pierrot and Juliette et Justine.

As a bonus, another fantastic opportunity for attendees was two dresses designed by Minori up for grabs in an auction, one fetching £100.

Taking a break after my allocated photo shoot time slot, I tucked into a selection of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed desserts; jelly baby (ooumpa loompa) cupcakes, sticky violet cake and chocolate river tarts. These treats were included as part of your ticket.

Another additional perk for ticket holders was an entry into a raffle, with so many brands donating, there was a high chance of winning a prize from bloomers to rosettes.

Although I could not stay for the evening (I had a nasty flu!), there was evening entertainment provided featuring classical musician and harp player Julia Mascetti and anime pop punk band Heroine Syndrome (interviews with both coming shortly!).

minoriAs mentioned above, the overall idea of Enchanted is to bring the European J-fashion communties together, a future plan is that the event may be held in a different country each year, I think this is a fantastic idea and a great opportunity to meet more Lolita’s and fashion lovers from around the world.

As someone who does not dress in Japanese Fashion, I was still made to feel welcome and it was a pleasure to photograph. I look forward to attending future events.

For those interested in finding out more about  Japanese fashion or similar events I strongly recommend watching Kawaii International (who attended Enchanted to film!) on NHK World Saturday 26 April at 15.10/21.10 (UTC time), repeated again on Sunday 27 April.

Photos from the event so far can be found here

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GEEK Expo 22-23 February 2014

IMG_0414psGeek expo, held in British seaside town Margate at the Winter Gardens on 22nd -23rd February 2014. More than just a games convention it provided a fun day out for the whole family.

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Robyn, cosplay contest winner

Arriving the night before we attended the GEEK pre-party at Wired Margate, an alternative bar and club on the seafront, with £2 drinks (heaven -dam you London prices!) we then headed back to the hotel – which was nicely situated opposite the venue, recommend if you need overnight accommodation for this con!) and had a girly catch up with my fellow panelists and cosplay guests.

I was up nice and early, as my panel with TigerLily Ciosplay was up first regarding cosplay photography and modelling. The stage was very cutely set up to look like a beach with deck chairs for us to sit on.  Having not done a panel since last year, I felt a tad nervous but it felt good to get back into the swing of doing panels.

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Family cosplay workshop

One reason GEEK expo’s target audience is aimed at families is due to the content at the con; including a workshop with Chiquitita Cosplay making Pikachu hats with children, the workshop had so many youngsters wanting to participate she sadly had to turn kids away! The workshop provided a great introduction into sewing, creating a perfect introduction for future cosplayers. Science experiments took place, with crew dressed as crazy scientists in lab coats,  showing children how to make popcorn and bouncy balls from simple household ingredients. Suitable console games for the younger audience were also available.

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Pokemon cosplay group

Not to worry, there were more mature games available and even a sectioned off 18+ area for the older generation, although it seemed several of the kids, were very familiar with the older age restricted games anyway…

GEEK is primarily a gaming convention so cosplay was few and far between, however I think the number of cosplayers next year will be significantly increased. The cosplay competition ran smoothly with crowds gathered to watch, with around 20 entrants.

Although it was a busy day, I and Chiquitita Cosplay managed to go down to the beach and grab some seaside fish and chips!

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TigerLily Cosplay and Chiquitita Cosplay

I don’t usually buy much merchandise, but I did pick up a cute Harry Potter inspired butter beer necklace handmade by TigerLily Cosplay. She has much more beautiful jewellery and even takes commissions which are very reasonably priced.

Photos from the convention can be found here.

Video from the con coming soon – subscribe to the LoEC YouTube channel to keep an eye out!

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Kitacon 28-30 March 2014 Review

IMG_5656psKitacon took place 28-30 March 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham. Featuring voice actors Ellen McIain, John Patrick Lowrie, rapper Professor Elemental and international cosplay guests Philippe Lauby and Leon Chiro (my interview with Leon was featured in the con book, I will be posting the uncut interview online).

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Maids of England

Kitacon has a very relaxed and friendly environment, with the convention and accommodation in the same place it gives you the freedom to come and go as you please, and after a long night partying you simply have to press a lift button to get back to your nice comfy bed! Perhaps also due to the price of attending the con and drinks, there was a lack of out of control anime fans sipping there first drops of alcohol and experiencing there first time away from home! This gave the con a more mature but still fun, vibe compared to some.

One of my favourite panels of the weekend was the MOE: Maid School by Maids of England. The panel consisted of the history of maid cafes; featuring explanations behind the uniforms and the brand positioning and target audience for the cafe in Japan accompanied with photos and examples. Maid Miyuu’s collection of maid loyalty cards was impressive, putting my stash of high street loyalty cards to shame! The panel was very interactive and involved learning greetings and chants commonly used in maid cafes. We were also taught a dance routine commonly performed by @home, a popular Japanese maid café which involved lots of moe bouncing. Unfortunately I don’t think my moves are quite moe enough to become a fully-fledged maid just yet!

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Leon Chiro

Cosplay highlights included guests Philippe and Leon, attendees seemed to appreciate that Kitacon selected strong male figures of cosplay, something which is often hard to find in UK cosplay guests line ups. I was impressed with the cosplay repair kit at Kita it was rather ‘extraordinary’ featuring everything from hot glue, hair spray to your standard needles and thread. The cosplay contest had so many good entrants, my only comment would have been it could have done with a smaller cap. At times it did feel a tad drawn out (especially after the hour delay) and with no skits to spice things up.

No con is perfect and with a year’s gap, it seems Kitacon had forgotten some things about keeping to a schedule, with the cosplay masquerade running an hour late (with no explanation of the reason being a technical difficulty till it started, leaving the audience sitting there clueless, without any filler to pass the time) there was also similar severe delays to the closing ceremony and Kita’s got talent, causing delays to the evening parties. With the chilled out atmosphere at Kitacon no one seemed too bothered, but it could have been handled a bit better. Also, as a note for the future it was VERY hard to identify Kitacon staff (with just an additional badge round the neck, which meant trying to see who was crew by staring at random peoples chests…), would be great if for next year staff were made more identifiable i.e matching t-shirts.

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Professor Elemental and Pokemon Cosplay Group

Kitacon is a tad more expensive than other cons, so a top tip if you plan to go next year is to bring food and drink with you (par breakfast as it is included with your stay at the hotel) or on the day you arrive go to Birmingham New Street – £3 return on the train and stock up on supplies so that you can spend your money in the bring and buy (which had a very good haul!) and dealers room rather than an overpriced drink. Although Kitacon committee helped out by negotiating 20% off food and drink with the hotel (however this ended at 8pm).

I would attend Kitacon again, next time making full use of my surroundings, exploring outside more for photo opportunities, as the hotel is surrounded by woodland and a lake.

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Pokemon trainer group

Overall, thanks to all those involved in making Kitacon happen and a special thanks to the attendees who kindly supported my cosplay photography and modelling panel with Palemoon Cosplay and A Shot in the Dark.

If you loved Kitacon, which I am sure you did, I recommend checking out Alcon in September. It is a tad cheaper and has similar events to Kitacon (masquerade, talent show, classical ball etc.) try and squeeze it in your con calendar if you can!

As well as a convention there was also a wedding taking place between videographers Team Neko (interview with the newlyweds coming soon!)

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