Back To The Kitacon has been a fantastic experience, rivalling Kitacon 2015. From the wonderful world of anime to the creative cosplayers roaming the halls of the Hilton Metropole, even a trip down to the video games room. Yes, Kitacon 2016 had it all and now it’s all over for another year. Well, not quite. We’ll get onto that later in this article, but for now, let me summarise and recap all that happened and why YOU should go to this event next year.
Day 1, The Arrival
Registration – Painless, Simple
I arrived outside the Hilton Metropole at approximately 10am, which was super early. People had only just begun to gather and we were able to get into the familiar entrance of the Hilton. I knew it was going to be a good event, but one thing I didn’t expect was the amount of walking I would be doing this year. This is not because of Kitacon, nor the Hilton, so don’t panic! If you go to this event, you’ll not have to walk as much as Dave and I did, but read on for information about alternative accommodation.
So we arrived and we went straight to the registrations zone. I foolishly didn’t have my eTicket printed out, so I felt a bit bad. I approached them and sheepishly told them I’d forgotten to print the eTicket, but they were very kind and didn’t mind it being shown on my phone. I’m sure this happened to plenty of people, however they did ask for people to print off their eTickets. I had tried to, but my printer ran out of ink! D’oh! I went, grabbed my fancy press pass and my con bag and off I went! To those of you who haven’t been to an anime convention before, usually when you go, you’ll be given a con bag, which is a bag that usually has branding of the convention, along with some goodies and information about what was happening at the event. Credit goes to Tofu Cute for their amazing Pocky hand outs. Thanks guys!
Joel, I Guess
After this, since it was still nice and early, I sat down for a game of Magic: the Gathering before eventually bumping into our own Joel. Or more, he walked right over to me, insulted me with a deadpan look, before saying “Hi Tim”, with a chuckle. Oh, Joel.
I thought to myself that I’d try to save some money this year. Kitacon is fantastic, as is the Hilton, however since there are so many events I’m off to over the coming months, I thought I’d be careful. So we stayed at a Premier Inn, which was about a 25 minute walk away. Not so bad, but that was only if you went through the Birmingham NEC. There’s a map that literally recommends you take a taxi to and from it. To their credit, the taxi was pretty cheap, at just £6 per time. The first time, we were told to walk all the way around the building, but then after that, learned of the cut through the NEC. If you need to save a few quid and want to go with a nice, known hotel chain, I would highly recommend the Premier Inn NEC/Airport. Even when using a taxi to go back and forth, I saved money this way.
Opening Ceremony, Followed By Party
We headed back and had a wander around, before making our way to the Opening Ceremony. Don’t forget to check out the Day 1 Gallery to see the pictures of the opening ceremony. With this in mind, it was already quite late. The travel back and forth had taken me and Dave a while, as we walked it to begin with. The first time took us probably about 35-40 minutes of constant walking, as we were given some bizarre directions… And then the second time, when we found the way through the NEC, we had cut it to about 25 minutes.
With an impressive opening with some hilarious footage, the fun and games began! I accidentally missed the briefing for Quantum BLEEP, which I was gutted about. Moving on with the convention, I thought, “it’s time to get ready for the party!” Parties in Kitacon are wild…
Day 2, The Masquerade
Sweatdrop Studios, Manga Publishers and Distributors
A quick shout-out to a really lovely panellist called Sonia Leong who is an Illustrator as part of the first UK manga publishers and distributors, Sweatdrop Studios. She held a fantastic panel, of which gave me some ideas, on how to make a manga comic. It was a really fun panel, with lots of anecdotal evidence and proper examples. One thing that always shocked me is how a comic artist knows how to place a panel. Sonias panel covered everything and it was a really interesting panel. Thanks to Dave for taking me to that panel. We later saw her in the dealers hall and I bought a very cute postcard from her… And she gave us a freebie, a whole comic! Expect a review of the comic soon, Sweatdrop Studios!
The Cosplay Masquerade/Cosplay Competition
We love cosplay. No really, we do. The masquerade was phenomenal and we’ve got something close to 150 pictures from the Cosplay Masquerade/Competition on our Facebook page, so please do go check it out and give us a like over there! But if you’re not a fan of Facebook, here’s a quick gallery (which is much smaller than our Facebook album) of the cosplayers from the Cosplay Masquerade.
Before the masquerade, we were given a sombre announcement about a situation at the event. There were threats of closure of this amazing event because of a lot of casualties over the Friday night party, due to alcohol poisoning. I’m a huge fan of supporting geek culture and indeed allowing people to enjoy a good drink (or ten)… But the state that people were getting themselves in meant that Kitacon almost had to be shut down. It was a really sad thing to hear, which people took to heart. As such, take this away as a lesson: Please, if you are a drinker, drink responsibly. Don’t over do it as you could get events that you love closed down. I’m so pleased that everyone who went to the parties on the Saturday and Sunday nights had a good, fun time. There were no casualties by drink from then on. But still a lot of drunk people!
A special thanks to the St. Johns Ambulance men and women, as they worked hard to look after everyone at the event from then on. The staff at the Hilton also were on the lookout for everybody’s well being, so a serious thank you to them as well. The community spirit is fantastic so after the bad situation, everyone looked out for one another and there were no more issues, which really, in my mind, cements how serious the community is.
The Party, Rock On!
On that note, this was the night of the rock/metal musical. We went to the Karaoke, but I have to admit… I don’t know enough anime theme tunes beyond Pokemons “I Wanna Be The Very Best”, the English DragonBall Z theme and… Well that’s probably about it. No wicked tunes from Joel or me, we shied away. Perhaps when we have memorised more anime theme tunes. One day. Instead, we had an awesome party!
Day 3, It’s All Over
Dealers Hall, Shout Out To All Them
The final day, we went into the Dealers Hall and went around, buying bits and bobs. I have to say, the sheer volume of amazing dealers in the community is staggering and it makes you want to be a part of that excitement. The awesome merchandise on display truly makes for an incredible sight to behold. There is a whole album dedicated to the merchandise up on Facebook, but I’m going to dedicate a post to them over the coming days (as a second article for a day soon!)
Thanks to the Dealers Hall, I’m currently wearing a Genki Gear t-shirt, which is simply adorable. Release the attack kittens!
Mold Making panel
There was a panel I was really keen on attending, more than all of the other panels of the convention. I made sure I got to go to this one, the mold making panel. You might have seen on the front page for this week, I mentioned I’m going to discuss mold making this week. I’m seriously looking forward to putting that article out there and giving mold making a try for myself as the panel, run by Mollins of Rogueprops, made it very interesting and easy to understand. Before I begin working on props, I will remember my ‘sefty‘ by buying a respirator, a proper apron and so on. I’m hoping to eventually move to prosthetics, so I can create much more intricate cosplay pieces.
Funnily enough, I mentioned this in the first nights gallery, but Rogueprops weren’t the only people to make a spelling mistake this past weekend… It’s okay – Go ahead and find all of the spelling mistakes in this article and put them in the comments below!
Closing Ceremony, Followed By Dinner With Professor Elemental & Mr. B
We then went to the closing ceremony, of which I’ll let people see those pictures over on Facebook. The great Professor Elemental and Mr. B gave us a fantastic panel. Professor Elemental got in a spot of bother, sadly, as he was stuck in traffic on his way to the convention. So their panel was sadly delayed, although they really made up for it. When they finally got into a room, we weren’t greeted with a cup of tea, but rather a spot of dinner and a nice pint of ale to wash it down with. No that wasn’t for us, that was for them. We watched them eat dinner and you know what? I want to see it again. Not because it’s fun watching two grown up men have a civilised dinner (Although it was surprisingly amusing), but because their conversation felt so natural because of this, that it was one of the most genuinely lovely panels.
Then they went onto put on one of the greatest live performance collaborations I’ve heard. These two are incredibly talented. They support events such as Kitacon and these two gentlemen are fantastic. Joel has arranged to have a Skype conversation with Mr. B. Hopefully the great Professor Elemental will join in with a Skype call, too! Thank you, to both Mr. B and Professor Elemental!
I always think a convention does its best when you can take away something from it. This years convention, I’ve learned to be more organised, as the convention was incredibly well ran and had fantastic gophers. Everyone worked hard and worked together, making for a truly unique, unforgettable experience. Kitacon will be back next year and Joel, Dave and I will try our darnedest to get back there. We also found out some details about AmeCon, which we will attend next year. If you’re considering going to Kitacon, please do. You will not regret it and there are convenient and cheaper hotels nearby. The facilities are great, the meals are good in the area, the community is fantastic… And overall, this has become my favourite yearly event. The next Kitacon however is in… 8 months time. Yikes! Saving up begins now!
Like everything in life, all that is good has to come to an end. It’s been a fantastic year for Kitacon and even with that scary situation aforementioned, it’s been a wonderful breath of fresh air to have gone Back To The Kitacon. We’ve still got some more stuff from the event, which we’ll be covering off in posts over the coming weeks, but please, if you feel you want to add anything, or if you were there and just want to say hi, leave us a comment below, over on Facebook and Twitter.