Alcon 2017 – An Anime and Gaming Convention in Leicester

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Banner to promote Alcon 2017

Alcon (short for Anime League Convention) is a major anime and gaming convention that takes place over four days usually in late August – early September at De Montfort University in Leicester. Convention activities include opening and closing ceremonies at the beginning and the end of the convention respectively; talent shows; video games; cosplays (where attendees dress up as animated characters, anime or otherwise); creative workshops and manga and anime-themed talks.

Besides Disney and retro cartoons, particularly those from the 1980s and 1990s, anime is one of my favourite genres of animation. The first anime I took a liking to was ‘Pokémon’ when I was 12 and it became immensely popular in the U.K. and worldwide at around that time. Pikachu always has and always will be my favourite Pokémon because he is so adorable despite packing a punch with his lightning power. I had a small beanbag toy of him as well as a poster and a notebook with him on them when I was 12 – 13 and I can even remember seeing the first Pokémon movie at the cinema at around that age too, which I enjoyed as much as the television series. I also had the ‘Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition’ game for my Game Boy Colour that I was completely hooked on. As soon as I hit my twenties, however, I started to like another kind of anime in the form of Studio Ghibli films such as ‘My Neighbour Totoro,’ ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service,’ particularly the English dubs, and have since collected these titles alongside many others on DVD, my most recent one being ‘From Up on Poppy Hill,’ which I find one of the most realistic Studio Ghibli films in spite of the majority of them being more fantastical.

April and Jambareeqi

Me with Jambareeqi at Alcon 2014

The first time I went to Alcon was in 2014 after having received recommendation from Jambareeqi, one of my favourite YouTubers who reviews animated films who attended the previous year, via IMDb private message when I asked him if he wanted to participate in an interview for my university dissertation about the portrayal of autism and Asperger syndrome (he has Asperger syndrome himself) in film, television and animation to which he agreed. We did the interview after one of his panels. Aside from Jambareeqi’s panels I enjoyed the opening ceremony, the talent show, a manga workshop and a ‘My Little Pony’-themed panel. I vlogged this convention and uploaded the videos onto YouTube but I received more dislikes than likes on them probably because I didn’t begin and end the vlogs properly (I do this nowadays after having gained more experience and inspiration from other vloggers); certain people could not understand me due to my speech being mumbled at times either due to my autism or previous orthodontic work that restricts my mouth movements (I now add subtitles to every video I upload onto YouTube); or my early filming and editing skills not being as up to scratch as they are these days.

In 2015 I attended Alcon again. Activities I went to were more panels by Jambareeqi such as an animation quiz that I became a runner up in and an exclusive screening of his Tamagotchi movie review; a pub quiz that I took part in with Jambareeqi and his teammates; a talk about the history of pirates, ninjas and vampires (the three clans that attendees can join are Pirates, Ninjas and Vampires); an entertaining show called Welcome to Alcon 2115; and the opening and closing ceremonies. On the Friday of this convention I didn’t take part in many activities due to stress from an unhelpful situation at the bank. I also didn’t film as much video footage of this Alcon as I did the year before but I was proud of my little vlog of WtA2115 and the closing ceremony and I got a few likes but no dislikes on it on YouTube.

I was going to attend Alcon 2016 but due to financial issues and the convention clashing with my final MA deadline at university I decided not to attend in the end so I chose to come to Alcon 2017 (£45 for all four days, £48 from 17th July) instead. I went from London Victoria to Leicester by coach (in 2014 and 2015 I went by train from London St. Pancras) and then to registrations from the bus and coach station (Leicester Railway Station in 2014 and 2015) in Leicester by taxi. Like with the 2014 and 2015 conventions I registered at Bede Hall and went to my accommodation at Liberty Park.

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My en suite room at Liberty Park

The rooms in Liberty Park are spacious with plenty of storage space and have compact en-suite bathrooms. I chose to stay at Liberty Park during all three conventions because I liked the idea of having my own bedroom and bathroom (in 2017 the accommodation cost £170 for all four nights plus a £10 deposit that is returned on departure day) despite sharing the apartment with other attendees although I barely engaged with them due to keeping myself to myself and doing my own thing (I even found some of the attendees to be very noisy, particularly in 2015 and this year).

 

My Alcon 2017 conbag, hoodie and T-shirt

At all three conventions I received a conbag, which is a bag that typically contains a poster, a conbook, a convention planner and a box of Pocky (Asian sweet biscuit sticks that are covered in chocolate and other flavoured toppings). I also received a lanyard for my conbadges, my VIP signs in 2014 and 2015 (I didn’t register for VIP attendance in 2017 again due to financial reasons and not having enjoyed the VIP Gala in 2015) and my accommodation fobs and keys as well as T-shirts at all three conventions plus a hoodie (I paid for the T-shirts and hoodie in advance) in 2017.

Without further ado, here are my day-by-day summaries of Alcon 2017:

Thursday 31st August

 

The Student union stage where many shows took place.

Upon arrival I did not have to queue to register for too long unlike in 2015 where I queued for ages. I went to my accommodation, unpacked, chilled and even did some vlogging and editing. I then went to the opening ceremony where its highlight was a clan dance-off although I also enjoyed watching videos of Alcon’s own versions of the ‘Pen Pineapple Apple Pen’ and Crash Bandicoot, “Woah!” memes as well as how the convention rules were executed. Lastly I watched the talent show and I particularly rooted for the girls who sang ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the ‘Moana’ soundtrack and Alanis Morisette’s ‘Ironic’ as well as another girl creating a work of art on an easel with glue and glitter and yet another girl doing a stand up comedy piece about a suitcase losing wheels along its journey. My heart melted when a man performed a rendition of Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’ because I found it to be a very fitting tribute to the late Chester Bennington.

Friday 1st September

 

Clockwise from top left: Gallowtree Gate in Leicester City Centre; exterior of the Student Union building at De Montfort University; the super cool stairs inside Megazone; exterior of Megazone.

I started the day thinking there was going to be an AMV contest. For those of you who are curious AMV stands for anime music video where several clips from a particular anime TV series or an anime film are set to music, particularly popular chart music. Instead of an actual contest there was a rather long and mediocre montage of anime clips that had either been fan dubbed or had music playing over them so I left after about 25 minutes and went into town for shopping and lunch. After my shopping trip I felt a bit unwell so instead of going to the Beginner’s Guide to Anime talk I originally planned to attend I returned to my accommodation for some rest and video editing. In the evening I went to Megazone to play Laserquest. I played one game and I scored zero because it had been ages since I played a similar game when I was on holiday in Butlins Bognor Regis once but it was still great fun and I was in the team that represented my favourite colour – yellow! The reason I only played one game is because the Alcon crew members didn’t specify how many games there were through the night from the start so after my game I asked if I could return to my accommodation and they said yes despite several games being planned through the night hence the running time of 9pm until midnight according to the e-mail I received for the activity and the thread on the Anime League Internet forum. Because I left early the crew members refunded me half my cost of the Laserquest, which I was very grateful for.

Saturday 2nd September

 

Top three photos: slides of the Top 10 Anime for Beginners presentation; Bottom three photos: exhibitor stalls; my mini-haul of Pocky and a cat notebook.

The only panel I attended that day was a PowerPoint presentation about the presenter’s top 10 anime series for beginners. Although I hadn’t heard of any of the top 10 anime series I particularly liked the slides that had cartoons that were mistaken for anime (e.g. ‘Steven Universe’, ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ – see above) and cartoons that are actually anime (e.g. ‘Pokémon’, ‘Sailor Moon’ – see above) as well as one where other anime series were recommended such as ‘Ah/Oh My Goddess’. I also went around the exhibitor stalls and bought a couple of birthday presents for my friend as well as some strawberry Pocky and a skull and crossbones hair bow to represent my part in the Pirates clan for myself. I had a sore throat that day so I spent the rest of the day relaxing in my room watching ‘From Up On Poppy Hill’ and some YouTube.

Update: I vaguely heard of ‘Death Note,’ ‘Soul Eater,’ ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ (and the original ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ series), ‘Attack on Titan’ and ‘Ouran High School Host Club’ when they were featured in WatchMojo’s ‘Top 10 Clichés in Anime’ but I overlooked them during the presentation.

Sunday 3rd September

 

Left: Queens Building where talks and the exhibitor stalls took place. Right: opening slide of the Top Underrated Anime talk; Jollyboat live on stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed the top underrated anime talk in the morning and although I hadn’t heard of these anime series there were some that sounded appealing to me such as ‘Umi Monagatari’ where some mermaid characters with legs live under the sea. Afterwards I was hoping to see another talk about how anime affects us however a crew member could not get hold of the person doing the talk so the talk was apparently cancelled. In the evening the opening ceremony overran due to Jollyboat, a pirate-themed music comedy duo overrunning although I filmed the last two songs they performed and they were funny if rude in parts. The closing ceremony didn’t last as long as I expected it to so the hosts just gave the final scores of each clan, announced the amount of money raised in the charity auction and gave some special thanks to guests who hosted panels at the convention as well as those who attended the convention.

In conclusion while I didn’t enjoy Alcon 2017 as much as my very first Alcon it was still a good convention and the highlights were the opening ceremony, the talent show, the anime for beginners talk and the underrated anime talk. I don’t know if I’ll attend Alcon again in the future though but I guess it depends on if my routine will change in terms of getting a job.

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