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 Animetion arrived in time for the opening of something we had been waiting for - the dealers room.  Only open on the final two days, it was probably the best dealers room we had ever seen.  It was wide, spacious, light and contained a huge number of stalls offering everything from figures to manga.  Notable dealers included Beez, Neon Martian, MVM, Otaku UK and United Publications, which covered DVDs, manga, figures, art books, plushes, keyrings and more.  Many artists, such as Sweatdrop Studios and Dimensional Manga, were also there selling manga, prints and other merchandise.  Clothing was catered for by Genki Gear, Khaos Kostumes and Team Giblets, the latter of which also offered art commissions.  Other anime events such as Kitacon and MCM Expo also had stands promoting themselves. 
 

The dealers room also contained the bring and buy, which was possibly the biggest Animetion has ever seen.  Spanning the length of an entire wall it was a great opportunity to pick up a huge range of bargains from CD's, DVD's, manga and merchandise.  It also contained a decent amount of rarities, including a number of items difficult to get hold of outside of Japan.  The fact that it was combined with the main dealers just proves how big the room was, as the two are usually separated.  All in all it was a well organised dealers room which made great use of the space available, as well as offering a fantastic array of anime goodness.  We certainly spent a good amount of time in there throughout the weekend! 

The first Saturday panel we attended was the live anime dub which seemed to a be a mixed bag.  It started off with a few segments that were reminiscent of Whoís Line Is It Anyway? with people in the audience being able to come down and take part in some scenes.

First up, people were challenged with taking part in an evil henchmen interview, where they would either do it based off their cosplay (which included an hilarious Poliwhirl interview)

or they would take a card and try and do it in a certain style.  Next they formed up some teams to work together to create an evil-weapon (MacGyver style) from a list of items and explain how it would work.  My favourite of these used Barbra Streisand, with a collection of hollow tubes to amplify her voice into a death beam. 

The dub itself was a mixed bag.  After seeing a chance to see the clip they would be dubbing over, people could volunteer and come down to the stage to act as one of the characters on the screen.  Unfortunately, they didnít seem to get that many laughs, with only a few lines really getting any laughs, which included a quite obvious 'Falcon Punch!' and a very well placed 'Itís Pedo Time!'. 

 Running opposite the first half of Anime Dub Live was the professional artists panel.  The hosts, Sonia Leong and Emma Vieceli, spoke to an audience of budding artists on how to become a professional artist.  The panel was less about drawing and more about business which is a topic not often covered at artists panels, making this one of the most interesting panels of the weekend.   The hosts spoke about how social networking was at events, having an online portfolio and how to self-publish should big publishers not take your work.  They also spoke of timelines publishers expect when an artist is producing a graphic novel (six to eight months).  Even though no-one at Animetion is an aspiring artist, we still found the panel of great interest due to the business and promotion Leong and Vieceli both discussed.  The talks on copyright and dealer costs for shows in particular.  
 

Soon after the professional artists panel, Animetion attended a fairy wing panel was held by JoEllen, an hour long cosplay panel on how to make material wings.  It covered issues such as how to make the wings strong and durable yet not too heavy.  This was a panel where the facilities really came into play.  Held in the lecture hall it had a projector where JoEllen was able to show all of the different types of wings she has produced from her own website.  Furthermore, she was able to draw and show us on the large screen the techniques used to create
these stunning wings.  During the entire panel Jo was more than happy to answer questions and even handed around her own mermaid   

hair band to demonstrate what you can do with the techniques on show.  The only regret here is that she did not have time to cover how to create feather wings.  The panel was an hour long, but could have lasted an extra hour longer no problem in order for Jo to cover the wings.

A very different panel was also running that afternoon, a segment in the gaming section focusing on the mechanics of the classic game Go, a game which fans of the Hikaru No Go manga will be familiar with.  Ayacon was lucky to have current UK Go champion Matthew Macfadyen in attendance to talk about the strategies, rules and history of the game.  Go originated in ancient China and is said to have been created over 2,500 years ago.  It became a very popular game throughout east Asia and has slowly been making its way west, where it is generally known as Othello.  The game itself is quite simple to play, but can be very difficult to win.  The goal of Go is to take over as much of the board of possible by placing groups of stones over it, but in order to win, you need to create and defend as much of your own space as possible, while also trying to encroach on your opponents own territory. 

After the demonstration, our writer MattDark (a Go beginner) was given the chance to play against a seasoned player.  Even though he lost, there was still a sense of accomplishment as he did hold his own and did occasionally catch him off guard with a few surprise moves.  It proves that Go holds the basic making of a timeless game - easy to learn, tough to master - so anyone can pick it up. 

Running opposite the Go panel was another new idea - Fandom Grok Talk.  Basically for 10 minutes, anyone can come down to the centre of the room and talk about whatever the hell they like.  Although this is common for programming conferences, it is one of the first times it has been seen at an anime convention.  An interesting section, as if you grow bored of what someone is talking about, you know that you only have to wait ten minutes at most before the next person comes on.
 

Another interesting section was from mithrandir2k, head of Amecon, who came along and spoke about the reality of AI (artificial intelligence) and the comparison to AI in anime, telling us about how anime try to portray AI as something close to human, where in reality, AI does not think in the same way as us and would make decisions based on thousands of possibilities.  The best example being going through a door, a person will simply go to the door and open it to get through, but a computer will think about every possible angle before making a decision, and would probably end up breaking the door down!  It certainly gave everyone there some stuff to think about, and works as a good way to just talk about something in front of people who want to listen.  Animetion hopes to see Grok Talks at future conventions. 

While part of Animetion attended the Grok Talk, the other half attended the yuri panel.  The panel with a introduction to the sub-genre, a history of it (dating back to early twentieth century literature) and the differences between yuri and shonen-ai.  The hosts went through descriptions of recommended yuri, such as Strawberry Shake Sweet, Saki and Girl Friends and quoted Crunchyroll as a good

 resource for yuri.  In comparison to the yesterday's yaoi panel, this was definitely more informative and did a better job of covering its subject matter.  Unfortunately the last half of the panel was a cosplay blind date show, which was fun enough but it was a shame the yuri talk did not continue as it more could have discussed. 

After the afternoon panels came the cosplay masquerade, which for many is the major highlight of any convention.  Being held in the huge Butterworth Hall, the same location as the opening ceremony, and with nearly 1,250 attendees overall at the convention, this was a huge event indeed.  The venue was one of the best Animetion has ever seen used for a masquerade, with the seating allowing every spectator a seat and the stage space allowing ample room for those who took the stage.  Running at two hours, there was a staggering variety of cosplay on show, ranging from old to new anime, video gaming and sci-fi.  Notable cosplays include Appleseed, Freakazoid!, Nausicaš and, most unexpectedly, Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  There were also a number of group cosplays as well, include Soul Calibur and a steampunk group.  The cosplayers were interspersed with performances from guests, including Taiko Drumming and another chance to see Yaya Han.  It truly was a major highlight for us and entertaining all round.  The cosplayers where having a whale of a time on stage and it was great to see the unexpected performances also.  Sometimes, no matter how good the cosplayers, watching cosplayer after cosplayer can be weary on spectators, so breaking it up with different acts is a great idea and it was disappointing to see end.  Not to worry though as there still a whole night of entertainment ahead. 
 

The pub quiz the first of the Saturday evening events and a very popular event as it was completely full.  Crowded was an understatement, especially when they decided to choose the smallest bar at the con, which was filled with pillars, which meant people were constantly getting in each others way in order to see the questions on the lone projector screen.  Although the questions were also announced by the presenter, it was still frustrating as visuals were shown on the screen. 

 While it started somewhat enjoyable, the fact that the room was packed and the numerous obstacles blocking peoples view did take away the enjoyment for Animetion.  It wasn't really

helped that the only anime questions in the quiz required that you were completely up to date on the anime scene.  Many questions were on the latest series being shown in Japan, so it must have been quite taxing for those which only purchased DVDs and did not download anime. 

After the pub quiz there was not one but two parties to choose from.  The ground floor of the Student Union building hosted a J-pop party and the upper floor played a variety of J-rock, hip-hop and other genres.  Both parties were great fun and full of energy, with glowsticks everywhere!  For those who didn't fancy a night solely comprising of Japanese music, they could head over to the Rootes Building where the bar, games room and artists alley where all open until late.  Being able to drink in a bar where a party wasn't being held was a great choice to include, as not everyone wants to party.  Ayacon certainly had a wide choice of evening entertainment on the Saturday, which lasted until 2am.  It had been a long busy day, but there was one more day to go!  Click next below to read about the final day. 


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