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Several thousand people attended the Expo this May, all of various ages and backgrounds, bringing together a huge cross-section of anime fandom.  But amongst them there were a number of people who decided to dress up as anime and manga characters (otherwise known as 'cosplaying') so they could enter the daily Cosplay Masquerade.  For all intents and purposes a fancy dress competition, the Cosplay Masquerade brought together all of those who had dressed up in costumes based not only on anime and manga, but also TV, films, computer games and a couple of original designs, to compete for a number of prizes provided by TokyoToys and ADV Films!
 

The Masquerade was split into categories based around age and type of costume, but the anime and manga section was by far the largest.  We unfortunately missed the Masquerade on Saturday but caught the Sunday one, and were given the opportunity to see the likes of Street Fighter II's Ryu stage a fight against One Piece's fighting chef Sanji, a 'robot fight' between Manga's Tetsujin 28 and ADV's Shinichi Mechazawa, as well as Yu-Gi-Oh's Seto Kaiba and his Blue Eyes White Dragon!  Characters from Naruto, Hellsing, Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach and Ranma 1/2 all graced the stage along with a 6 year old Princess Leia, several Final Fantasy characters and a Beauxbaton's student from Harry Potter.  It was great fun to watch and the eventual anime winner - dressed as Carmilla from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust - had created truly stunning costume which, unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of...

The amount of dedication and effort that must have gone into the costumes was really impressive, and was a testament to what can

be done with even simple materials if you take the time to work at it.  People dressing up as characters from anime and manga isn't as geeky as it sounds, it was done mainly as a bit of fun with the added bonus that you could win a prize!  For more on cosplaying at the Expo, check out our dedicated feature!

Cosplaying is one side of anime fandom and if it isn't one that appeals to you then don't worry, there are plenty of other things to enjoy and essentially there is no pressure or expectation on anyone who attends.  You don't have to know all about anime and manga, you don't have to have been to something like this before.  Granted, there are really hardcore fans at the expo but there are also a lot of people who just want a window into fandom without being patronised, and most fans and the companies themselves welcome them.


 

As we said at the start, anime and manga is taking over the MCM London Expo.  There is a reason though, the Expo provides an open and relaxed event for fans of all ages and levels of knowledge to attend without fear of feeling out of place.  With ticket prices per day starting at 7 for adults and 3 for children it is inexpensive, the transport links (despite the work being done to the Docklands Light Railway) are good and the venue in the ExCel Centre is large enough to take a huge number of people.  Anime and manga fans have been presented with something that they have been denied for a long time - an event they can attend without much hassle and can feel comfortable at even if they've only seen One Piece and Dragon Ball Z.  It's because of this that fans are attending in droves, and the companies are embracing it too.

If you want a true cross section of anime fandom in the UK, this is were to go.  If you want to speak directly to the companies, chat to the webmasters of anime websites like ours, animeuknews and Eyeonanime, talk to the people behind Neo Magazine, see the latest stuff and buy the latest figures, DVDs and manga, this is where to go.  If you just want to

meet other fans and get loads of free stuff, this is where to go.  Anime and manga fandom is beginning to grow in the UK once again, and if you need proof then the fact that the people behind the MCM London Expo are launching a new event dedicated specifically to everything Japanese next summer should be all you need.  The Anime Village at the Expo will continue though, and will only get bigger and better.  The companies support it more than ever, and although it was a shame there were only a couple of announcements it was still good to be able to talk to them face to face and see stuff before it is released.

The next Expo is on 28th and 29th October 2006, and we can't recommend it highly enough!  Pop along and say hi when you see us wandering about and you may even get some random Japanese freebies, but even if you don't see us you will have a good time - give it a go!!


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