Kitacon took place 28-30 March 2014 at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham. Featuring voice actors Ellen McIain, John Patrick Lowrie, rapper Professor Elemental and international cosplay guests Philippe Lauby and Leon Chiro (my interview with Leon was featured in the con book, I will be posting the uncut interview online).
Kitacon has a very relaxed and friendly environment, with the convention and accommodation in the same place it gives you the freedom to come and go as you please, and after a long night partying you simply have to press a lift button to get back to your nice comfy bed! Perhaps also due to the price of attending the con and drinks, there was a lack of out of control anime fans sipping there first drops of alcohol and experiencing there first time away from home! This gave the con a more mature but still fun, vibe compared to some.
One of my favourite panels of the weekend was the MOE: Maid School by Maids of England. The panel consisted of the history of maid cafes; featuring explanations behind the uniforms and the brand positioning and target audience for the cafe in Japan accompanied with photos and examples. Maid Miyuu’s collection of maid loyalty cards was impressive, putting my stash of high street loyalty cards to shame! The panel was very interactive and involved learning greetings and chants commonly used in maid cafes. We were also taught a dance routine commonly performed by @home, a popular Japanese maid café which involved lots of moe bouncing. Unfortunately I don’t think my moves are quite moe enough to become a fully-fledged maid just yet!
Cosplay highlights included guests Philippe and Leon, attendees seemed to appreciate that Kitacon selected strong male figures of cosplay, something which is often hard to find in UK cosplay guests line ups. I was impressed with the cosplay repair kit at Kita it was rather ‘extraordinary’ featuring everything from hot glue, hair spray to your standard needles and thread. The cosplay contest had so many good entrants, my only comment would have been it could have done with a smaller cap. At times it did feel a tad drawn out (especially after the hour delay) and with no skits to spice things up.
No con is perfect and with a year’s gap, it seems Kitacon had forgotten some things about keeping to a schedule, with the cosplay masquerade running an hour late (with no explanation of the reason being a technical difficulty till it started, leaving the audience sitting there clueless, without any filler to pass the time) there was also similar severe delays to the closing ceremony and Kita’s got talent, causing delays to the evening parties. With the chilled out atmosphere at Kitacon no one seemed too bothered, but it could have been handled a bit better. Also, as a note for the future it was VERY hard to identify Kitacon staff (with just an additional badge round the neck, which meant trying to see who was crew by staring at random peoples chests…), would be great if for next year staff were made more identifiable i.e matching t-shirts.
Kitacon is a tad more expensive than other cons, so a top tip if you plan to go next year is to bring food and drink with you (par breakfast as it is included with your stay at the hotel) or on the day you arrive go to Birmingham New Street – £3 return on the train and stock up on supplies so that you can spend your money in the bring and buy (which had a very good haul!) and dealers room rather than an overpriced drink. Although Kitacon committee helped out by negotiating 20% off food and drink with the hotel (however this ended at 8pm).
I would attend Kitacon again, next time making full use of my surroundings, exploring outside more for photo opportunities, as the hotel is surrounded by woodland and a lake.
Overall, thanks to all those involved in making Kitacon happen and a special thanks to the attendees who kindly supported my cosplay photography and modelling panel with Palemoon Cosplay and A Shot in the Dark.
If you loved Kitacon, which I am sure you did, I recommend checking out Alcon in September. It is a tad cheaper and has similar events to Kitacon (masquerade, talent show, classical ball etc.) try and squeeze it in your con calendar if you can!
As well as a convention there was also a wedding taking place between videographers Team Neko (interview with the newlyweds coming soon!)