After a two year break, the anime convention Amecon has returned to entertain us all yet again.  Unlike last time though the venue has now moved from Leicester University to Keele University, the change being made in order to improve the con experience for all.  So what are the differences between the two venues?  Keele University for one is located in a far more rural area, which made it more difficult for those travelling by public transport to get to.  The committee however, compensated for this by putting on a free mini bus to shuttle con goers from the Stoke on Trent railway station to the event.  This is something that Animetion used frequently throughout the weekend and is noted as a convention first; as no other con has gone to such an effort for its attendees.  As the convention was held in a more rural area, it provided plenty of locations for cosplay photo shoots, which the Leicester campus lacked in some ways.

 The convention itself used three of the main buildings on the Keele Campus; the Sports Centre, the Student Union and Dorothy Hodgkin's.  Unlike Leicester the buildings were further apart from each other.  Upon arrival to Amecon, Animetion headed straight to Sports Centre in order to register.  Unfortunately, the new venue could not remove the issues of queuing, with over an hour waiting time.  However, once registered you had everything you needed to start the weekend.  This included con badge, con bag, con book, schedule, Pocky, t-shirts (if pre-ordered) and room keys (if staying onsite).  Special mention goes to the con-book which was a full colour

book with good articles, comic strips and artwork of the Ami-chan, the Amecon mascot. 

On site, there were both en-suite and non en-suite accommodation available to book before the event.  The prices of both of these types of accommodation were extremely reasonable and included breakfast.  During the weekend, Animetion stayed in the non en-suite accommodation and found it a step up from the standard of halls available at Leicester.  This was due to a number of reasons such as having a sink and towels in each of the bedrooms, free tea and coffee and room service.  The free breakfast offered each morning was a great way to start the day and was held in the beautiful Keele Hall, a stately home more normally used for corporate functions and weddings.  It was very spacious so could easily accomodate con-goers and serving them a breakfast buffet consisting of a full fry-up, cereal, crossiants, fruit juice, etc. 

In terms of food venues, there were three main places where food could be bought (excluding breakfast).  Unfortunately, the only venue which offered the greatest variety of food including some healthy options was only open between 12pm and 2pm each day.  The other two venues mainly offered greasy food such as pizzas, chips and burgers.  The price of all the food on site though was reasonable in price though, and there was the option to buy from the small onsite supermarket.  There were also pubs near the site, but these involved either driving or a bit of a trek if you were on foot. 

Technology played an important part in Amecon this year.  Around each venue were a number of TV screens.  On these were updates to the schedules but also a live Twitter feed, showing updates from the con-goers at the event.  Finally, there were barcodes all around the campus for people to use their smart phones to receive updates and enter competitions.

So, having registered and taken in the sights, it was time to check out the events. 

The first day, Friday, is often the quietest day of the entire convention.  This is to allow people  to travel to event without missing too

much.  For those who arrived early the video games room was available.  In here there was plenty to entertain including Dance Dance Revoultion, Street Fighter, Taiko Drum Master and Rock Band just to name a few.  There was also a traditional gamers room where people could play trading card games, such as Magic: The Gathering or Yu=Gi-Oh, as well as board games and fun games like Jenga.  Also open from the first day onward was the manga library and wish tree room, which made a welcome return to Amecon.  It was a great place for people who just wanted to relax.

During the first day Animetion attended the Takarasuka Revue Panel.  This panel presented to the audience everything that you needed to know about the all girl theatre troupe.  It had a good balance of interesting facts; along side with live action clips from the shows each of the troupes have performed.

Once the panel had finished there was just enough time to grab something to eat before queuing for the Opening Ceremony.  Unfortunately, this was a bit of a damp squid for Animetion as after 30 minutes of queuing, we were lead to a room which was not part of the main hall were the ceremony was  being held.  We instead watched the whole show from a large screen, which proved to be a bit of an atmosphere killer.  To make matters worse loud music was played over most of the opening ceremony so that most of the key and important announcements made could not be heard.  This was thankfully rectified five minutes before the end of the opening.  Uniquely, Amecon had arranged for a representative from the charity this year to make a brief speech and presentation on the chosen convention charity, the Donna Louise Trust.  We believed that this helped create greater awareness then usual of the chosen charity, as such representatives do not normally appear at opening ceremonies.  We are certain that this contributed to making a large amount of money for the charity over the entire weekend.

After the opening ceremony followed the AMV disco, which is an Amecon staple.  This year the parties kept on going till 3am in the morning, which was really good for people who liked to party.  If singing was more your style you could go to another room within the student union and sing your hearts content.  Meanwhile, for those who like to chill there were the bubble and cocktail bar areas where you could sit down and catch up with friends.  The range of cocktails that could be bought were impressive and all at a good price of 3-4 each.