Things I enjoyed today:
- While waiting in line to get in, we spotted a Midoriya cosplayer who had also brought Kermit-kun. Meme-cosplays are fun.
- Playing the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game – I put so many 10p coins into that game in an arcade at Cleethorpes when I was a kid. They also had the Simpsons 4-player arcade game – not the old cabinet one that I remember from the Fantasy World arcade, but it was still cool to see it again after so many years.
- Seeing so many artists sharing their work and relatively few corporate stalls (I will be back tomorrow to spend money, I promise).
- Places to sit! Admittedly, an arena event comes with built-in seating, but it was helpful to be able to stop, sit, and people-watch in between doing stuff, and not have to navigate groups of people sitting on the floor because there was nowhere else to sit.
- Not having to find my way to different rooms to get to stuff. Again, an advantage of an arena event over smaller venues, but there was no getting lost/dashing from one room to another to get to things in time.
- Seeing younger fans able to be so open about their geeky interests in ways I never dreamed I could when I was young. Also, seeing parents who were willing to support their kids’ interests and accompany them.
- Jolly Boat’s opening song, a wonderfully awful cavalcade of pirate puns and sea-shanty cover versions.
- J Michael Tatum and Brandon McInnis’ panel in the afternoon. This was absolutely the highlight of my day, for so many reasons. They were funny and had great anecdotes to share, and genuinely seemed to be having a good time there. The fans were generally respectful and asked interesting questions – I have watched a lot of American con panel videos on YouTube, of JMT especially, where fans just went overboard with demanding improvs for his characters, with fetishising ships involving his characters, and generally treating him like a dancing monkey, so it was great to see fans being interested in his work as an actor. Also, for someone who grew up a very homophobic community, I cannot stress how much it means to me each time I see an openly gay or bi person being able to talk about their relationships as comfortably as any straight person does, and for two men to sit in front of an audience and refer to each other as their partner and talk about their upcoming wedding and have no one bat an eyelid was just the best thing ever.
Things I did not enjoy today:
- Jolly Boat’s final song – how is it that people still think it’s okay to make jokes about transgender people and jokes about having AIDS?
- People who think ‘cosplay’ includes ‘wearing fetish gear’. Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t particularly appreciate seeing dollers at a family-friendly event.
- The Anime Quiz event. I dunno, it felt like some little clique-event that several people there were in on, and the quiz questions weren’t so much challenging as so obscure that guesswork was the only way to participate. I’ve run quizzes so I know it can be tough to find the line between ‘accessible’ and ‘challenging’, but this felt completely devoid of fun.
- No food court. A downside to arena events – they were tied to using the arena’s own food vendor, where choices were limited to pizza, hot dogs and popcorn. They did, at least, have veggie hot dogs (possibly the first time in my life I was able to have a foot-long hot dog), but I miss the fun food options I’ve seen at other cons. (Also, anime cons should really call their food courts WcDonald’s.)
I don’t really have any shareable photos from today, largely because I wanted to experience stuff properly and not through a camera lens, but also because I don’t think it’s fair to photograph people without their permission. One thing I think cons could do better on is inclusivity and awareness – we heard a lot of gendered language from hosts talking about audience members, got condescendingly misgendered by arena staff, and saw people taking photos and videos without permission (NineWorlds offers coloured lanyards to indicate that an attendee doesn’t want to be photographed, which would be a good accessibility measure that other events could take on board).
I will be heading back tomorrow, mostly for shopping but also for the taiko drumming workshop. I left today feeling like it was definitely worthwhile going, and I appreciated the number of activities on the schedule as opposed to just ‘stuff to buy’ and ‘stuff to watch’.
Have you been at YCC this weekend? Share your reactions in the comments!