J-con Derby Review – 19-20 September 2014

IMG_0471psJ-con aka Japanese Con, held on 19-20 September saw the gathering of anime fans (and later the police) in Derby at The Riverside Centre. The con kicked off at 6.30pm Friday with the hilarious bad fan fic panel from special guest Masako X, known for his abridged series online. In honour of his appearance the con held an exclusive screening of his new abridged series Kampfer. With an authentic popcorn cart, those with VIP passes were treated to a free bucket (yummy!) to indulge in whilst watching the panels and browsing round the main exhibitor’s hall that had already been set up. After seeing some familiar faces and meeting new ones, myself and the other outer-towners headed back to the local Travelodge where we humoured ourselves in a game of cards against humanity.

Up early Saturday, I headed to the con walking over with some of my new acquaintances. This year I decided to participate in J-con’s unique Battle Royale card game– 500 cards are given to attendees with the aim of the game to win as many cards as you can – top trump style! Cards included weapons featured in the film and much more from pan lids, fans and baseball bats. As well as a fun game, this was a great way to interact with people as I ended up speaking to loads of attendees to get fight for their cards to the death! I had a fairly big pile but only time would tell if I would win!

IMG_0292psAlthough the majority of merchandise exhibitors had been open on Friday, the convention opened another back room revealing the artists/indie exhibitors, one in particular that stood out was Emily Ladybird who specialises in steampunk accessories her even even gave out delicious handmade coffee flavoured fudge!

Cosplay was a big part of J-con and the highlights included the cosplay contest the event appreciated the high standard of entrants so much that the convention gave out seven awards including the champion belt for best in show. There was also an interesting prop mobility panel hosted by cosplay guests Smallfry Creations and Iron Manda. It is not just the cosplay that shined at J-con, with a strong Lolita community in the North the event continued its tradition of hosting an annual tea party for J-fashion lovers to come together in their finery to discuss co-ords and eat cake!

IMG_0584psAs a whole J-con has a very chilled out, fun vibe with a great sense of humour with events on offer such as sumo wrestling and a skit contest. The convention kept this calm and good sense of humour even when the police paid a visit after some complaints of a gun sighting in the area, of course a false alarm/misunderstanding but a reminder to us all that it is important to abide by convention prop rules and ensure we cover weapon props up (especially guns and swords) when outside of the convention and on public transport – remember just because we know they are props does not mean others do.

Moving on, I am a recent Attack on Titan fan and really wanted to attend the AOT fan panel but alas it clashed with my own panel The BIG Cosplay debate! Assisted by Chiquitita cosplay it consisted of debating topics in a courtroom style with a judge and jury layout. The topics we debated included dubbed vs. subbed anime and whether cosplay should be over sexualised if it wasn’t originally intended to be, for example Disney princesses. I found the panel both interesting and insightful with a variety of opinions in the room which is exactly why I have started to bring this event to conventions. Thanks again to all those that participated! I hope to bring this concept to more cons.

IMG_0592psAfter my panel, I rushed to the main stage to find out my fate…would I win the Battle Royale contest or die a painful horrible death? Fate was on my side and I won! Woop woop! My prize was a large collection of manga titles and The Otaku Encyclopaedia! Carrying my leaning tower of manga, I spent the rest of the con hanging out in the panel room where Chiquitita Cosplay was conducting a neko (cat) ear workshop before heading home.

To end the review, I often get asked about the facilities of conventions (food, travel and accommodation) so here goes; J-con has a small on-site café which sold hot and cold drinks, snacks and hot food like chips which were all reasonably priced. If you didn’t fancy that there was a Subway, Starbucks and other chain restaurants within 5 minutes walking distance due to the convention being on an industrial park. For those living outside of Derby, chain hotels were again within 5 minutes walking distance, I stayed at the Travelodge as mentioned earlier. The nearest tube is Derby station, I believe it is walkable (25 mins) but I got a taxi with a friend for around £5 since we had a ton of luggage between us! From London the trains can be very expensive, so book in advance, go by coach or look into getting a railcard if aged fewer than 24. Another option is to go London to Birmingham to Derby, slightly longer but cheaper if booking last minute.

The next J-con takes place 25-26 September 2014 find out more here