The opening ceremony was held in the huge Butterworth Hall, a lecture theatre which could easily accommodate every con-goer.  Rather then have a limited amount of chairs or sit on the floor, at Ayacon everyone had a seat, plus the seating was raised so everyone could see.  The ceremony began with the committee introducing themselves as expected, but surprisingly there was no opening video which is common for the bigger cons.  The introduction of the special guests, general banter and reading of the con rules was entertaining enough, but there could have been more.  Subsequent events showed that Butterworth Hall had facilities which were the best of any UK con, so it was shame this wasn't shown off in the opening ceremony. 

   After the ceremony Animetion attended the yaoi panel.  For those not familiar with yaoi, it is a sub-genre of manga which focuses on  romantic relationships between gay men.  Yaoi is aimed at women, the characters are often bishonen in appearance and this has led to a stereotyping of its fans.  Girls carrying yaoi paddles and 'squeeing' at bishonen cosplayers in commonplace at many anime events, sometimes proving as annoying as the free huggers!  They can't all be like that surely?  Sadly the panel didn't really dispel the stereotype, as it pretty much just consisted of lots of explicit fan art and girls laughing every time a knob appeared on the screen.  There was no description of yaoi, no history of it nor

no description of the clips shown from various series.  There was no real discussion at all, just a lot of knob gags.  If you went in wanting or/and expecting that, then you would have had a great laugh, its just that you had to 'get' yaoi to have that laugh.  Although the presenters had the expertise, Animetion was just a little disappointed the panel did nothing to dispel the stereotype but heightened it instead.  In comparison the yuri panel the following day was more informative for newcomers, but this will be discussed on the next page. 

After dinner Animetion visited the games room, artists alley, cosplay HQ and manga library, all of which were in the Rootes Building (where registration had taken place) and were all open until late.  For people who didn't want to party, this building offered an excellent alternative.  The games room contained a mix of genres, with titles such as Street Fighter IV, Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).  You had to be prepared to queue though, as it was always busy.  Thankfully it was in a large room so it didn't become cramped or smelly, like games rooms often can.  Nearby, the artists alley and manga library were ideal chill-out rooms as both were quiet, probably the only quiet places to be found on Friday night!  The alley already had an impressive array of art drawn by con-goers, plus anyone could walk in and sketch away.  The library had a great range of manga (all volume ones) from various publishers, a great way to expand your manga knowledge.  Finally there was the cosplay HQ, which provided facilities for cosplayers to repair and adjust their costumes.  There was also something for those without costumes, a professional photoshoot gallery of various outfits from past events.  The people running the HQ were very friendly, offering help and advice to anyone who needed it. 

Later that evening was a concert by special Haruko Momoi, which was the highlight for many.  Momoi is a singer and voice actress, best known for her roles in Nurse Witch Komugi and Final Fantasy Unlimited

Opposite the concert was the karaoke, which was possibly the highlight of the day for Animetion.  Four straight hours of con-goers singing their hearts out to their favourite anime tunes, along with a healthy selection of Jpop/rock.

With the drink already flowing, everyone was cheering when someone got up and sung. 

With the amount of different tunes chosen, everyone seemed happy with the amount of variety. Even the repeated selection of the original Pokemon opening and the Team Rocket theme tune went down well, with everyone was joining in each time they were played.  Animetion even got up to sing some tunes, our writer Matt Dark quickly getting over his fear of being in the spotlight.  He then got a huge round of applause for his baritone rendition of ‘Melodies of Life’.  A couple of us also badly sang the classic Mysterious Cities Of Gold theme and also got the audience woofing along to the Dogtanian theme!  What made it even better was that the karaoke was held in a bar, so it was easy to grab drinks throughout the night.  This definitely made the karaoke event more popular then at other cons, which are usually held in a small room. 

 A party followed directly the concert and a chill-out room was also available for those who needed it.  The party only played Japanese music, which was not to everyone's taste as most other conventions tend to play some classic Western party tunes as well.  Despite this the party was still popular, with lots of dancing and drinking.  Those who preferred not to dance could head over to the bar in the Rootes building, which was open late. 

Not long after midnight, Animetion headed to bed to get much needed rest for the next day.  Saturday is the main day after all!