MCM Expo May 2010

This past Saturday found me at the MCM Expo in London, a massive collection of Manga and Anime exhibitors, cosplayers, comic authors, game previews and more. It takes place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands, and your first experience of the day is being surrounded by cosplayers on the DLR. I had been to last years show, but even so this in itself is a wonderfully bewildering experience. Perhaps even more fun watching the reactions of the other commuters on the train wondering quite why they are sitting next to a kid with foot-tall spiky hair and a four foot long sword.

Once inside the centre itself, you join the world’s longest queue to change your ticket for an wristband. It is fun being in the queue, seeing all the fantastic and not-so-fantastic costumes going by, but I could have had even more fun if they’d sent me an wristband instead of a ticket and let me go in straight away.

Inside the exhibition hall was a bewildering array of stalls full of everything Manga one could wish for. Being old and weary from my ultra queuing, I headed to the back of the hall for a nice sit down, which happily co-incided with the second half of the industry panel on anime. Very interesting to hear the British industry perspective on the state of the industry and their potential market for anime, which seemed to be a blend of slightly beligered mixed with a pleasing amount of optimism. An interesting question on their take on the Digital Economy bill brought a lot of responses, including the very memorable response on downloading from Manga UK: “People are used to doing it everywhere. today you’ve got people hanging around in costumes outside who won’t pay for a ticket, yet the organisers still have to pay to look out for them in case a fucking 10 foot carrot decides to top themselves”. On a more serious note all of them seemed refreshingly up to date and knowledgeable about how the Internet relates to their world (which from a business point of view hasn’t always been the most up to date always), with one of them pointing out “we have to offer as good a digital service as the pirates to succeed”. this holds so true in most areas of digital business, if it is easy to steal your service, you have to compete by making your legitimate business at least as easy, comprehensive and enticing to use as your pirate competitors (see iTunes for how mainly to do this).

I then moved on to watch an exhibition match by the wrestlers of the FWA, which was a pleasant surprise for me to see, especially as I thought they had gone bust a few years ago. They had, but this was them back together again, and hopefully heading in the right direction.

The important business for me of the day was making the most of both the great stock of the main publishers, and wandering through the comic village where many indie authors and artists sell their own comics. The latter is a great place to discover and browse comics you just might not find otherwise, and I picked up a good few new ones to try. I also picked up several volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and Pluto, my favourite mangas at the moment.

Along the way I met up with some friends and had a good time touring round, chatting and enjoying being pointed towards new anime to try.

A good fun day in London all round, may well nip along to the next one in October.

UPDATE: Posts on the expo from other people I met up with there, Tim Maughan and Andrew Proom. Also met socialistgamer and Sheentaku.

Sci-fi London 2010 Manga All-Nighter

It is Sunday evening, and I’m now still processing all I saw last night at the Apollo cinema in London. A fantastic night of entertainment, liked some of the films, didn’t like others, but the overall evening, and the organisation deserves mentioning as being wonderful, everyone that set up the night deserves props for the hard work they did to make it such a good night.

Okay, props done, lets get to reviewing what I saw there. Let’s get the disclaimers out the way now, I really am not an expert on Anime, I’m just reacting to these films as a cinema goer, what caught my interest, what didn’t.

Redline

Blimey this was good. Redline is the ultimate car race of the future, held every five years. If I’m being harsh, it minded me of Rollerball, in so much as the races are everything, and the rest was filler just getting you to the races. But feck me they were stunning. Visual treats drawn in an amazing fashion, with a earbleed soundtrack, echoing through every inch of your soul. Nothing subtle about this, all action, all entertainment. Loved it.

Bleach 2.0

Not for me, bit weak. Mysterious bloke appears that bloke is a bit worried about, runs away, needs help to beat mysterious bloke, beats him in the end. Lots of battles, nothing outstanding in the animation, just didn’t engage me.
Musashi

This was odd, and in many ways very unsuitable for 4am in the morning. However it was very engaging for me, a documentary of a 17th Century swordfighter whose techniques laid the groundwork for what became the Samurai. Quite a lot of explanation of historic texts by essentially a Wii avatar. Strange, but it worked, because the source material was so engaging. When I have more energy tomorrow I’m looking up loads about this legend, because the detail just got to me. If you’re awake and up for a bit of learning, this will be even better.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

Rubbish. Really bad. In wrestling, they have the term Spotfest where two wrestlers don’t link together a match, don’t work hard to draw you into an engaging match, they only concentrate on trying to do cool moves. This was a spotfest, but the spots weren’t that good. Everyone changed sides a hundred times. I’m told you need to know the anime to get it, know all the backstory, and this was entertaining fan service for people that know what is going on. Even with that in mind, this was just a load of spots, and ones that weren’t that good.

In summary, see Redline. Rocked my world.