Aya Revolution - August 2009
Report by Jonathan Cullinane (nert) posted Monday 26th October 2009
Warwick Arts Centre finds itself decorated with a nostalgic mascot, as the AyaCon mermaid makes a glorious return!
The olden days of 2005 was the last venture from the AyaCon crew, but the convention certainly hasn't lost any of its lustre; high attendance and perfect weather brought out its best.
With AmeCon taking the summer convention slot for the last three years, during some of the biggest growth the UK anime scene has ever seen, AyaCon has had to deal with a lot of high expectations and an entire wave of newcomers who've only seen how Ame do things. On top of that, any convention returning from hiatus is going to have to come back with a bang! So how did it do?
Keeping the traditional con opening time of Friday afternoon, Aya made full use of the professional conference facilities of the Arts Centre, with orderly check-in lines both for accommodation and the convention itself, a multitude of car parks were made available even with maps to guide wayward souls; professionalism was high on the cards here. Multiple eateries and bars scattered across the campus and some very picturesque architecture to pose against made this venue very popular with the average con goer - sadly building works on a new student union building took a chunk out of the renowned amphitheatre steps but undeterred they were used for many a photoshoot nonetheless!
A gigantic stage and full theatre seating made the Masquerade and Sunday Night Live events truly shine, while a sizeable dance floor and separate karaoke floor kept the night-life busy. On top of that, special guests including voice actor Matt Mercer and cosplayer JoEllen Elam, both of There Will Be Brawl fame, as well as singer and seiyuu Momoi Haruko and some superb performances round up a very special line-up for the weekend.
Of course reading a report here means you're interested in the cosplay side of things, let's get onto that shall we?
Cosplay HQ was our base of operations for the AyaCon weekend, taking up a full event room to fashion into showcase areas, photography studios, costume repair zones and organisation of all costume-related events across the board, there were a liberal sprinkling of panels and cosplay events going on throughout. Photo displays sent in from Cosplay Island members were set up as a centrepiece while choice costumes were put on display with progress photos and full construction details, while photos from the day ran on a huge TV display kindly lent by the centre itself. The repair kits certainly saw a lot of use, and the photo studios were open to cosplayers and photographers alike and were quite packed the entire time!
Many thanks of course to all those who dropped by or helped out, a lot of friendly faces were to be found in our little hideaway and it really puts a special shine on the weekend to be part of that.
From attendees themselves, some gigantic groups were to be found here and there this time, no half-heartedness here! - including selections of characters from Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler, Sailor Moon, One Piece, Super Smash Brothers and Soul Calibur - while elsewhere Steampunk is showing some heavy influences on original characters once again! A surprising amount of Disney characters were very notable this time around, you typically see a lot of them at the Expos but a welcome surprise to see so many at a major anime con. Zelda had plenty of love too, coinciding with the SSBB groups helped their numbers of course.
Since AmeCon has upped the game by adding an Omake to the stock event lineup for the summer conventions, Aya responded with introducing Sunday Night Live, a mixture of skits and talent performances on a big stage with an even bigger audience! Poi displays, vocal talent, some live music, a bit of dancing and plenty of comedy filled the evening right up until one of the most tense auction bidding wars cons have seen in a long time, as the rather large Team Rocket group battled in monetary combat with a Polywhirl for possession of a giant Pikachu plushie that could easily have passed for a bright yellow Totoro!
With a great venue, great entertainment, great weather and of course great cosplay, all in all AyaCon made its return in true style, so the question is can we expect another outing in the near future? We shall have to wait and see.