A little while ago I wrote a beginner’s guide to going to anime conventions. However, there are bigger events than conventions, and these are the Expos. In Britain, the best known of these are the MCM Comic Cons.
Now, before moving on I should point out there is a slight impartially issue on my part. MCM happens to own MyM Magazine, for whom I work for as their manga critic. I just want to make that clear from the outset. It should also be stated that I attended my first ever Expo just last week, so this is a guide from a beginner to beginners.
MCM organises several events across the British Isles. Every year they hold two events in London, two in Birmingham, and solo events in Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, and the event that I recently went to, in Manchester (I do not know why there are no Expos in Wales before anyone asks). These events range from between one and three days depending on the scale of the event. This year sees Manchester expanding from a one-day to a two-day Expo.
Like with the smaller conventions, there are a range of activities for all sorts of people, whether they are into anime, sci-fi, cult shows, video games etc. You can get just about all the information about these things in my previous article. The main difference is the scale. MCM is a big company, which can afford big venues, big guests, big events, big… everything really.
There are many more stalls and guest artists for starters. There is a lot more stuff for gamers, especially video gamers, with companies providing previews of forthcoming releases. At the Manchester Expo last weekend there were stalls covering the “Pre-Sequel” to Borderlands, and a new game called Evolve, the interesting aspect of which is the multiplayer where a team of up to 4 players fight against 1 very powerful player acting as an alien monster. Not only that, but there is an event called “Robots Live” – like a live-action version of the old TV show Robot Wars in which people fight with home-made machines.
When it comes to cosplaying, the major events like the masquerade are taken a lot more seriously. For this event, the cosplay has to be entirely homemade, and the prize is entry into a Europe-wide cosplay event.
Then there are the panels. Unlike those at conventions, which deal with smaller events such as particular series or genre of shows, most Expo panels are Q&A talks with special guests. So for example there was a panel from some of the stars of Game of Thrones, another from some of the cast of Red Dwarf, and a third with English-speaking voice actors from anime and video games. Out of all these things, perhaps the oddest thing I learnt was that Red Dwarf‘s Chris Barrie would be interested in reviving another old sitcom: The Brittas Empire.
A different sort of panel consisted of three people from UK anime distributor Manga Entertainment talking about forthcoming releases. It has to be said that their announcements were somewhat disappointing, as many of the things they said were just confirmations of stuff they were bringing out anyway. Probably the most interesting release for regular readers of this column is the release of the very popular and critically acclaimed Attack on Titan (No. 11), with the first half debuting on DVD and Blu-Ray on 15th September, and the second on 27th October.
After visiting a convention, going to an Expo is nice way of encountering even more people, making more friends and meeting big names. The Manchester Expo is however still small-fry to the massive three-day London Expos.