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Con Report β AmeCon 2007
By Matt Kamen
August 18, 2007
Amecon, the UK's largest and most successful anime convention, was held last weekend, returning once again to the campus of the University of Leicester. As the third instance of the convention, there was a degree of familiarity to the proceedings from repeat attendees but the organisers provided enough new content to keep things fresh.
One of the big draws was the live performance of Gothika, an Electro/New Wave/Industrial band heavily influenced by the Japanese Visual Kei movement. Other new additions included Mecha Bingo – the classic game with a giant robot twist – and a meet up/discussion for the growing fandom of elaborate and amazingly expensive porcelain dolls.
Building on the kimono demonstrations and tea ceremonies at 2006's event, there was an expansion in Japanese cultural talks and panels, hosted by Akemi Solloway. Akemi offered an insight to the real history of the country our beloved anime comes from and was surprisingly candid about its negative aspects, such as the treatment of women in the work place. Such a diversion from the endless parades of cosplayers was a very nice touch and something that should be thought of for more conventions.
On the note of cosplay, we come to one of this Amecon's main flaws. Despite being a three-day convention, the majority of the cosplay events were crammed into the Saturday. The morning was taken up by the cosplay competition; lunchtime had preparation for the evening masquerade, then the masquerade itself – originally scheduled to start at 7pm but delayed by an hour and twenty due to technical difficulties. For con attendees wishing to participate in the cosplay events, their whole day was eaten up by it. The sentiment seemed to be shared by many cosplayers I spoke to, and I would hope the next convention would spread them out a bit more.
There was some disappointment at the last minute cancellation of voice actor Chris Patton being unable to attend due to health concerns but the always lovely Monica Rial was on hand, making her third appearance at the show. A staple of the convention, Monica hosted question and answer panels over the course of the weekend as well as presented the cosplay masquerade.
Representatives from most of the main UK anime distributors were on hand to hold panels, interact with fans and announce new acquisitions. Beez announced that the UK might be getting Tokyo Tribes 2, depending on the success of a trial release in France first. ADV Films had the lion's share of new titles to reveal, including the second season the Ah! My Goddess, Pumpkin Scissors, Welcome to the N.H.K, Project Blue Earth, Red Garden, 009-1,Tokyo Majin, Gurren-Lagann, Blade of the Phantom Master, 5cm per second and Moonlight Mile. 5cm Per Second, the new film from Makoto Shinkai, will also hopefully be screened in cinemas as a high definition digital presentation.
By far the biggest announcement of the convention was the news of a second anime television network launching in the UK. Anime Central will launch on Sky on September 10th from 9pm to 6am. Initial plans are for a 3-hour block of programming repeated twice through the night, with a view to expand should interest hold. The existing Anime Network is also due to grow from its current weekly four-hour block on Propeller to twice weekly with a longer block of air time and newer series.
While there were some technical hitches over the course of the weekend and some less than ideal organisational choices, Amecon remains the best anime convention the UK has to offer and I look forward to its return.
New UK DVD Picks for 20/08/2007
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society
Longest name in anime? Probably. The movie to the popular Ghost in the Shell TV series, set two years after 2nd Gig, acts as a sort of prequel to the original movies with a plot focused around the coming of the original villain, the Puppet Master. Extras entail interviews with Production IG, the anime powerhouse behind the series, comparative views of the storyboards to final film, behind the scenes featurettes and bonus shorts.
The Tick – Complete Season One
The underground sensation hits UK DVD, without a massive delay from the US release. While it's most likely going to be the same content as the US release and therefore missing the episode "The Tick VS The Mole Man", there has been the occasional instance of a UK DVD release not being tied to the same licensing restrictions as an American release. It's scant hope, but a truly complete first season would be a most excellent thing.
The Last Mimzy
Was anyone likely to go see a movie with a title like this? Really? As its box office reception seems to indicate, the answer is no, which is a shame as this was a surprisingly enjoyable movie with some smart (and, admittedly, some not-so-smart) tricks to display in the often overplayed time travel field. The DVD is a great opportunity to give the movie a try, even if it's only a rental. The disc is laden with a buttload of extras, including audio commentary from the director, deleted scenes, a music video - 'Hello (I Love You)' - from Roger Waters, director profile and ten featurettes focusing on the scientific theory behind the film's plot and the making and casting of the film itself.
That’s it for this week. Thoughts? Comments? Hatemail? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org