On 6th February 2010, the second Anime League Club London (ALCL) event took place at the Slug & Lettuce near Tower Gateway, London.  Animetion did not attend the first, but was told that it was similar to the now defunct London Anime Club (LAC) events.  We had never attended a LAC meet either but had heard good things about the old LAC events.  So, carbon copy or not, we were looking forward to ALCL

The venue, despite being smaller then it looked from the outside, appeared to be quite roomy upon entering.  Before we were able to explore we had to sign in at the registrations desk, which was handled quickly and efficiently.  I was surprised to receive a ‘mini’ con book, which contained a guide to the day's events, a 2010 preview of other Animeleague events, a write-up of WOTA London and our very own interview with Cosplay Fever

Opposite the registrations was a chill out area, which was surprisingly quiet considering it was a raised open space and not a room.  Here anime was screened onto a projection screen but surprisingly the titles on show appeared to be fansubs.  Animetion was surprised to see

this at an open public event considering the trouble a large UK event got into for screening them in the past, but as far as we know some of the titles showing weren't available in the UK on DVD or for legal streaming at the time (examples include Juusou Kikou Dancouga Nova & To An Kagaku No Railgun).  Some readers may also be disappointed to hear that the screenings were generally muted, but this did not stop an active audience for them throughout the day.  The only downside was that seats became harder to find as the day went on, as there were not many other tables in the rest of the pub due to the other events.

Just past the end of the registrations desk was the bar and, opposite that, a gaming area.  The video games were in a raised area and consisted mainly of beat ‘em ups such as Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros.  This worked well as the area was effectively sealed off due to wooden railings, but passers-by could still see what gaming was on offer.  Next to the gaming area was a Rock Band/Guitar Hero style setup which became crowded when gaming tournaments took place.  Being in-between the chill-out area and the bar, this wasn’t the best if one had to carry an array of beverage through the throng.  The tournaments did not last long enough, nor were frequent enough, for this to be a major issue though. 

At the rear of the venue was the events & talks area, which played host to a variety of activities throughout the day.  Japanese lessons, cosplay competitions, live singing, a pub quiz and guests talks all drew a large crowd.  The talks by MasakoX and LittleKuriboh, creators of web parodies Naruto Abridged and Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged respectively.  They spoke rather generally on a variety of topics, which gave LittleKuriboh's in particular an almost stand-up like quality.  It is no surprise they are set to become regular guests at Animeleague events. 

A break and a drink were needed at this point, so it was off to the bar!  Being London we

were expecting the drinks to be pricey, but was surprised that a pint of London Pride was only £2.20.  Shock!  This was definitely a surprise and meant that attending ALCL needn't cost the earth.  Meals were around the £8 mark, which is to expected, although the range of food available wasn't huge and mainly consisted of the usual pub food. 

Afterwards we headed to the dealer's room to check what merchandise was available.  Despite being relatively small the room contain a decent amount of dealers including Gundamnation, Kamika-Z, United Publications and Otaku UK.  This gave a decent spread of figures, kits, DVDs, manga and more to buy.  The only downside was that one side of the room was poorly lit, leading to one customer using their pocket torch in order to browse DVDs.  Further up the room was the artist's alley, which was small area for people to chill out and draw as they pleased.  There was a small amount of art on display, but most people were out in the main bar watching events or gaming. 

In the evening there was a party held by WOTA London, which was said to include anime, gaming and classic tunes.  Animetion had to leave before the party kicked off unfortunately, but, given WOTA's reputation, we are pretty certain it would have been a great way to round off ALCL

Overall we found ALCL to be a mixed bag.  The day was crammed with events and the attendance was good, but we are uncertain if the venue is suitable.  Although it never reached Expo levels when it came to congestion, it was, at times, crowded near the gaming areas and the bar.  There was also the lack of seating as tables for chilling out were often unavailable, meaning standing room only unless you were gaming.  That said it was a great social event, with many attendees simply hanging out just to meet fellow fans.  It wasn't uncommon to see people introducing themselves to others at the bar and having a geeky chinwag.  Plus there was always something to do of some kind, be it gaming, watching anime, purchasing or watching an event.  There was no deadspace at all and events ran quite well, with few delays. 

If you are a Londoner, ALCL is definitely worth the entry fee as you will get your money's worth through the varied and extensive timetable of events.  For those travelling greater distances though, it depends on how many anime fans/clubs are in your local area.  If you are looking purely to socialise with anime fans, then find your closest anime club (trust us, there are more then you think).  If you want a taster of everything a full three-day anime convention offers, then it is worth checking out ALCL for that.