Travelling to Gateshead from Alnwick is already quite the adventure (especially when things don’t go as planned), but it was with equal parts enthusiasm and nervousness (and more than a bit of tiredness) that I arrived at the Gateshead Central Library for this year’s Anime Attacks (alongside several cosplayers who I managed to stumble across), with no real expectations of what I’d see and hoping that my knowledge of Japanese media wasn’t quite as out of date as I thought it was.
After a quick opening ceremony, I quickly acquainted myself with the day’s timetable and hit the stalls. A huge variety of stalls were around, with sellers offers products from the typical such as card games (mainly Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon), manga volumes, board games (I was particularly grabbed by a Cthulhu-mythos board game I happened to spot!) to more specialised products, includes wallets and bookmarks (which I will admit I went for, as a Miku wallet and Prosecutor Blackquill bookmark were too good to pass up!). There was also Meian Maid Cafe located nearby and some opportunities to check out VR technology, among other things, so things were certainly busy there.
I also dove into a couple of panels that were being held throughout the day, some of which were very illuminating (I particularly enjoyed Cosplay 101 and Transgender 101, as both talked about things that I was familiar with, but hadn’t taken time to consider in proper detail) and some of which were just fun to sit down and watch (What Panel Am I? was a panel I had to dash out of due to clashing with another panel I wanted to attend, but a panel with a strong focus on improvisation always brings to mind stuff like Whose Line is it Anyway? and Mock the Week, both shows which I really enjoy). I sadly wasn’t able to get to everything, but there was definitely a lot available, including furry panels, showings of anime by MVM Entertainment and workshops in making Japanese food being just a small selection of what was available to attend.
There was also a quiz, a karaoke, a talent show and a cosplay competition. Although I only was able to attend the last two, it definitely was worth it, as the talent show brought out some truly great talent (with the winner, who danced along to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s “PONPONPON”, being an all around great act that I really enjoyed) and the cosplay competition showed some really excellent work that I found myself really admiring the effort that clearly went into them.
Adding to everything was the great atmosphere to the whole convention. It definitely felt like a place where everyone wanted to be and was enjoying their hobbies with like-minded people. Even I found myself getting caught up in it during the talent show (though I didn’t perform myself) and the energy throughout the whole convention was truly great. Even the weather, which tried its best to rain a couple of times during the convention, did nothing to dampen spirits over the course of the day.
By the time the day came to an end at 6PM, I was worn out (which wasn’t helped by the walk back to Haymarket afterwards), but I left feeling like it had been a truly great day and had developed a better appreciation for Japanese media than I had had before the convention. With some great panels, great entertainment and an excellent atmosphere, it’s fair to say that this was one of my favourite events of the year and I definitely plan to return next year. I had an absolute blast!