Ayacon this year was a rather bittersweet experience. Whilst it was quite possibly the best con I've been to, it was also to be the last Aya. So here follows my writeup of Ayacon's swansong.
I arrived mid afternoon. The train was being replaced by a bus service from Lemington Spa, so being a little annoyed by now by the state of public transport I got a (slighty overpriced) taxi over to Warwick University. I checked in to accomadation, which was nice, clean and simple.
Having not much to do until the rest of my group arrived I went to my room and went over my panel. After that I had dinner and a drink in the bar. I had a bottled cider in my room and ended up slashing my finger trying to open with a spoon. This was neither big nor clever. My friends arrived later and so I had a drink with them in the Scarman building.
Friday was when events really kicked off. I started the day as Death the Kid along with my Liz and Patty. The AMV showcase was on in the same room as my panel, so I went to that first. There were some really good showing in that. Next up was my panel, a history of Shounen Anime. It went okay but for some reason I was feeling dreadful- not sure if it was the cider from the previous night or just a bit of dehydration. I was very touched though to be given an official Ayacon mug for running an event and I was also pleased that rogue-of-mind, a friend from previous conventions, had signed up to gopher for me. Following this I went back to my room for a rest and changed over to my Infinity Fai. The next thing was the opening ceremony, which was a little short but sweet. I think I bumped in to Chaos at some point during the day but I can't recall when.
The evening was filled by the piano recital, which featured a selection of anime/ game and generally geeky tunes. Following that was Anime Room 101, which was one of the con highlights. Of the things that made it in to room 101 badly drawn hentai and Otakukin were pretty much undisputed. Dinner I think was had sometime inbetween this. The last timetabled event of the evening was the yaoi panel- always an entertaining event. I was delighted to win the fanfiction competition, which given the relative obscurity of the fandom I'd written was unexpected. I received a doujinshi and a fanbook as a prize. This was followed by a playthrough of the dating sim, Absolute Obediance. This is a game I actually own but have been too lazy thus far to play. It was hilarious, especially as they got members of the audience to dub the voice, although perhaps slightly overly long (I kind of wished they'd skipped more quickly to the smutty bits). We went to both the karaoke and the disco afterwards. I don't think we actually stayed up that late but my memory is a little hazy.
Saturday morning I was wearing Juri from Revolutionary Girl Utena. Although this had gone almost without recognition at Hyper Japan, I was delighted to receive compliments from a few people who knew who I was. As is tradition I got up early to get in the queue for the dealers room. I bought exclusively manga this year. I got some Attack on Titan- which from the number of cosplays and parodies that featured throughout the con is obviously this years big thing. I also grabbed a few yaoi volumes from the smut box at the bring and buy and various other odd volumes. A few bit of cash got handed over to Tofu Cute in exchange for delicious japanese treats.
I attended "Who Want's to be Anime Millionaire"- a gameshow type panel. Seeing the questions I reckon I'd have faired quite well but my hand was never quick enough. I hung around for an educational panel on Norse Mythology in Anime, which was interesting and something a bit different. After that Bluegoo and I were obliged to go to the masquerade rehersal.
I'm not sure what we did inbetween this and the masquerade. I think we bodded around getting changed, taking pictures, getting pictures taken for at cosplay HQ, dropping off props and drinking iced latte. I fully intended to make Matt Mercer's panel this year after excellent reports from previous years but that never happened. In the masquerade we wore Fuuma and Kamui from X. Bluegoo's partner was handed over to taking picture duty. I really enjoyed doing the Aya masquerade. It was a stage setup rather than the long parade I've seen at Amecon. We were on early, giving us a chance to sit back and enjoy and admire the other amazing cosplays. Backstage was a nice room with sweets and water set up for masqueraders. I heard Matt Mercer even came backstage for a bit but we unfortunately missed him. We got a few compliments, even from the lady who was organising the masquerade who was excited to see X cosplays.
After that we gabbed snacks and put down our swords and went to Madstravaganza, which features a selection of weird and wonderful clips. Not breaking for dinner was a bad move, however, as we got out at ten o'clock to find most venues were shut. In the end we were saved by the last remaining pizza at the hot food counter in costcutter (and I was fairly full from eating pringles). We went to the disco in the evening with a friend. Being the monster I am I forced bluegoo to stay up fairly late dancing.
A much quieter day by far. We attended the Clamp panel in our X cosplays, which was a nicely put together affair. We stayed in the same room for a prop making panel by German cosplayer Kamui, who taught us about the wonders of expanding foam. She was not only informative but actually seemed to have a great personality, which she really put in to her presenting style. I always expect really well known cosplayers to be a little arrogant but my proconceptions couldn't have been more wrong.
After lunch we watched the cosplay chess, which is as it says on the tin, chess played with cosplayers. They acted out a little skit each time a piece got taken. It was pretty cool and I got some nice photos.
We watched a bit of the charity auction before making sure to break for dinner. It was entertaining to watch and some really cool merch was sold, none of it was in my price range (a cute set of Card Captor Sakura merch went for hundreds of pounds). We ate at Le Gusta, one of the campus's nicer restaurants and I had a rather tasty cocktail. We closed the evening at the closing ceremony followed by Sunday Night Live. The closing ceremony included thanking the guests and saying how much they had raised for the con charity- which as always was the British Heart Foundation in memory of the late committee member Ewan Crystal, someone I'm told did a lot for the UK con scene. As it was the final Ayacon there were some touching comments from the committee. The poor and somewhat long suffering chairman was forced in to a p-chan kigurumi (basically a cutsie onsie with a piglet design).
SNL was hands down one of the best I've seen. It consists of several short skits. There was some great comedy- the "Ayacon Island" and the Hentai stand up act both deserve a mention. My favorite was unsurprisingly Team Giblets (www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlQZLK…, which after being slightly disappointed by them at Amecon- possibly due to sound quality issues- were back on great form.
Sunday night was the "All Genre Riot", a mix of mostly western music from across the decades. I enjoyed dancing till late and bumping in to many con friends. I came across Chaos in her awesome Alucard costume. I also noticed Akemi Solloway, Japanese culture expert, dancing alongside us a couple of times. The music wasn't all to my tastes but all in all a great night was had. The moment at the end with everyone chanting "Ayacon" was a suitably great end to what has been an epic con.
So my feelings are somewhat mixed. On the one hand I had a fantastic time, on the other I'll be sad to see it end. Here's hoping in two years time some mad people will be willing to pick up where Aya left off. To the committee all my gratitude for making it a great final Ayacon!