Minami Con reached a milestone this year as it extended its tenure as the longest running UK anime convention to an impressive fifteen years.  The organisers had to overcome a personal tragedy in the run up to the event, but as they say the show must go on, and go on it did.

The first day of a convention is always a bit slow, and at Minami Con the schedule consisted pretty much entirely of anime and Japanese drama screenings until the early evening.  The screenings this year were quite diverse, with two screening rooms showing a selection of recent and forthcoming UK releases and one showing some live action Japanese drama series.  However, because of the landmark nature of the con there was also a room screening a selection of retro anime titles, in particular the kinds of show that the con was originally set up to promote.  The titles shown in this room ranged from Ranma 1/2 to Irresponsible Captain Tylor, it made a refreshing change to see some older stuff instead of the usual modern series.  The retro room seemed to be a hit with many congoers too, and it was by far the most popular of the video rooms across the weekend.

The Minami Conbag and some of its contents

The schedule remained quiet until about 6pm, and this gave attendees plenty of time to arrive, register and look through the con pack.  All conventions give attendees a bag of goodies, and Minami Con's this year was pretty damn good as always.  The bag contained the usual leaflets for anime retailers and other events, as well as the standard convention planner.  However, it also contained plenty of items you don't normally find, such as a special mini desk calendar featuring convention artwork from previous Minami Cons, and a Con Book CD-Rom.  The CD-Rom contains all of the usual stuff you find in a conbook, such as factual and comedy

 articles, image galleries and committee information.  This one has some intriguing articles, especially the ones about the fan etiquette and the Itasha craze that sees Japanese car owners pimping their rides anime style!  The best thing about the conbook though is that the gallery section links to the internet and populates itself from picture uploaded to Flickr by fans.  It's a really clever idea and adds some interactivity to what is just a normal booklet at most cons.  The conbag itself is also pretty cool, as it is a canvas messenger bag rather than the usual carrier or tote bag.  Add to all this the metal pin badge given to all attendees and you have plenty to keep you happy!

Despite all the screenings there wasn't a great deal to do until the party and variety show at 6pm.  This is one of Minami Con's real unique events, and combines an opening ceremony with pretty much a children's party!  A buffet is laid on for free and there are tonnes of games to play, including Super Sentai Pińata, Haruhi Suzumiya Twister, Sentai Skittles and Pokémon swing ball.  After everyone has eaten their fill and played the games for a while the committee do the usual introductions and host several interactive games using members of the audience.  The celebrations were tempered somewhat by the tragic death of convention treasurer Ewan Chrystal just months before the event, and convention chairman Babbit led a moving tribute dedicating the convention to Ewan's memory.  Ewan was an active and well liked member of the convention committee and one thing he wouldn't have wanted was for

 everyone to be morose, and so the games began in earnest.  On stage games included a giant version of rock, paper, scissors, Iron Cosplay (in which people have to make a costume as quickly as possible from a load of random stuff) and an art version of chinese whispers that saw one person draw a picture and the next having to copy it after seeing it for just a few seconds.  The next person copies the copy and so on.  The games were great fun, and it was hilarious to see Totoro morph into Pikachu in the art chinese whispers!  The party and variety show took us up to 9.30pm, at which time the room was reset for the disco  to take us through the rest of the night.

The chinese whisper art game

 Minami Con is unusual in that it only has one major party, and that's on the first day.  The party and variety show gives way to a more conventional disco later on which doesn't quite live up to the ones at other conventions.  The problem is that the main room is reset and the disco takes place in what will be the dealers room on Saturday and Sunday, a space roughly around a third of the size of the room used for the party.  It has its own bar but is separated from the main hotel bar by a corridor, which pretty much means that the audience splits between the two.  In real terms this meant that the amount of people in the disco room dwindled as the night progressed, and by midnight pretty much everyone was in the main bar.  It's a shame, as it would work better if the whole room was used for the disco as well as the party, but the committee have to get everything ready for the morning as Saturday is when the convention really kicks off.