In 2007 the MCM Expo is adding two more events to its calendar.  From this year's Expos it is very clear why, its just becoming too popular for the current six-monthly events to cope with the demand.  A new Midlands Expo is coming in February, just three months before the usual May Expo in London, but more interestingly there is going to be a new event in London called the JapanExJapanEx is focused entirely on Japanese media and culture and is a sign of how much anime and manga have conquered the current Expos.

As we said back in our May Feature, the MCM London Expo is just what the UK anime and manga scene needed - an accessible event supported by all the big companies where you don't have to register month in advance and with no limit on attendees.  This latest Expo was great for anime fans, there was cosplay, giveaways, Q&A sessions with voice actors, more retailers than you could shake a stick at and best of all the major anime companies announcing news and selling DVDs at a discount!

The Expo itself was noticeably busier than in May, and unfortunately the staff struggled to cope.  The doors opened late on both days (nearly an hour late on Saturday), apparently due to the late arrival of some retailers who were busy unloading stock, and even worse the early and normal entry queues were swapped round on Sunday leaving a large number of people in the wrong place.  However, it was the huge amount of people that caused the most problems.  The Cosplay Masquerade (fancy dress competition) was made ticket-only at the last minute due to the sheer number of people expected, the tickets were free, but no-one knew where to get them.

On the Sunday panicking staff forced people to move during the Masquerade, seemingly as they had let too many in.  One of the cosplayers also complained that they were restricted at the last minute from using an inflatable monster as part of their Masquerade entry, despite previously being told it was fine.

These niggles were annoying, but as a whole the event was great.  Hundreds of anime fans picked up bargains, chowed down on Pocky and generally had a good time on both days (although attendance was lower on Sunday), and retailers and companies had a successful time too.  Tokyopop sold more manga in one day than they did in the whole of the May Expo, whilst merchandise retailers like TokyoToys, Mech-A and Sheffield Space Centre were shifting stock by the boxload.  MVM, ADV Films and Manga Entertainment's stalls were always rammed with people, and the likes of Terratag, Genki Gear, Gundam Mad, Beez, MaMoo and Umisen-Yamasen were also doing great business.  The 'Anime Village' really benefited this time from the decision to move the popular and incredibly noisy DDR: UK area to the opposite corner of the arena. This left attendees able to concentrate on drawing in the massive Sweatdrop Studios area or watching the many anime sneak previews without having a cheesy trance soundtrack.

Layout-wise the Expo was much improved, and anime was given the space it deserved.  The fans seemed to be enjoying it too, once again the number of anime and manga fans far exceeded the number of sci-fi fans and there were more cosplayers than ever.  The amount of entries to the Cosplay Masquerade was huge on both days, but the number of people dressed as anime characters for the whole day was massive.  You can always judge what series are most popular with the fan community by what cosplayers dress as, and it was clear that Naruto and Final Fantasy still rank highly.  However, it was Bleach that really caught the eye, with nearly every character in

the hit franchise represented somewhere.  For those who don't know, Bleach is considered by many to be 'the next Naruto'.  Hugely popular in both Japan and the US, the story follows a psychic boy who becomes a sword-wielding ghost hunter, and it is widely thought that it will be a future title for Manga Entertainment.

However, if Manga have it lined up they were keeping their cards close to their chest at the moment (not that they were above dropping a few hints), but they had plenty of other releases in the pipeline.