Kitacon has built itself up in recent years to become one of the UK’s most well-loved animé and geek culture conventions. 2014 was no exception, in fact, Kita may have upped the ante on all it’s previous years.
Taking place at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole yet again, this year’s Kitacon was bigger and better than ever. You had your gaming rooms, your traditional gaming rooms, your dealers room and the ever-popular Bring-and-Buy, as well as a ton of different video rooms and panel rooms, and a room for Cosplay HQ! There was so much to see and do that it almost necessitates bringing a highlighter, to plan out your day on the conbook schedule.
The only downside was the Hilton bar prices, which were still expensive despite the amazing discount the Kitacon organisers managed to secure for all congoers, but it is the Hilton, so expense is to be expected. Many of us defaulted to either ordering out, or buying snacks from TofuCute for much of the weekend (I imagine they received a lot of business in the end!).
The quality of stock in the Dealer’s Room, to me, has gone up since last convention, and towards the end of the weekend lots of bargains were to be had! There were even special prints done of Valve-related goodness, which fans were able to get signed by Ellen McLain (the voice of GLaDOS) and John Patrick Lowrie (the voice of Team Fortress’s Sniper).
Panel quality was good, although owing to time constraints we here at Renegade Revolution were only able to attend a select few. The SBOC live show was filmed in one of the panel rooms, and featuring live audience interaction, it was very entertaining! The Valve panel was the fans’ chance to get to know Ellen and John, and was a valuable insight into how the wonderful world of voice acting operates.
What I really enjoyed about the panels was how much freedom the panel participants were given. There was a general feel of structure-without-structure, which really helped in making both participants and audience feel as relaxed as possible, while still getting a lot of great content in there.
The parties were great fun – starting off with the ‘In Space No-one Can Hear You Party” rave on the Friday night. This was a rave with a significantly higher ratio of Pokémon dance remixes to conventional EDM (Electronic Dance Music) tunes, but this actually worked well in it’s favour as it was hard to take seriously and, as a result, we had tremendous amounts of fun.
Saturday’s main daytime event was the Cosplay Masquerade, and this year it featured more than a hundred contestants. The cosplay was of some serious quality, and congratulations to everybody who took part.
The J- and K-Rock party, “Rock-it!” took place on Saturday and was a right blast – apparently our parties are so wild that Kita’s two guest cosplayers came all the way from Italy and France just for this. We sincerely hope it lived up to expectations, and it is quite interesting having Britain come to be known as the ‘party animal’ in the European convention scene!
Sunday saw the return of the Cosplay Chess, always an exciting feature of UK conventions since its impromptu beginnings almost a decade ago. Aside from this, and leading up to the evening’s attractions, there was a general winding-down feeling as the lack of sleep and proper mealtimes caught up with us.
It’s a staple of most conventions – and a key feature of weeaboo folklore – that con-goers will get hyperactive, ill and quite fatigued surviving on nothing but sugar-highs and coffee for most of the weekend, but the truth is that, no matter how adult we believe we have become, we are still never prepared enough for the multiple events, panels and shows we want to make it to. “Plan in advance” is said time and time again by veteran con-goers (just check out Skawt’s article, “Kitacon Preview”, for more) and yet there is still so much choice.
That brings me to my main criticism of Kitacon. Stop giving us so much lovely stuff to see and do, guys! No, seriously, it is great and we love it. There’s only so much that can be done over a weekend, especially as many of us have jobs to get back to once it’s over. If it were not for those annoying details such as paying the rent, I would happily petition for Kitacon to have lasted longer.
The Kita’s Got Talent show took place after the closing ceremony, and we saw a lot of fabulous acts, including one acrobatic-act extraordinaire burlesque duo, Cosplay Blind Date, a fantastic Jessica Rabbit performing her iconic song ‘Why Don’t You Do Right”, a Portal-inspired dance sequence, and many many songs – including something from your very own Renegade Revolution editors (keep your eyes peeled for us in the upcoming KGT videos). The show organisers this year over-extended themselves for the contestants when things went wrong with registrations, audio files and the like, and although the stage was a little shorter than in 2012, the audio feedback was stellar. I look forward to participating again next Kitacon!
Later, Ellen McLain and John Patrick Lowrie graced us with a live performance of “Still Alive” from Portal, and with that, the Cosplay Ball kicked off. Professor Elemental’s Chap-hop set was an absolute delight (and if you aren’t familiar with Prof. Elemental, check this out) and there were many great DJ’s serving us an extra helping of cheese for the rest of the evening.
There is one final aspect of Kitacon that really brought a smile to my face. Over the weekend, Kitacon was promoting two major charities, Child’s Play, and Against Breast Cancer. To this end, a number of charity auctions were held, and they eventually raised a couple of thousand pounds towards these charities! This is great work on behalf of geekdom everywhere, and we should feel proud. The only slight downside is that a few outliers failed to provide payment for their winnings before leaving the convention, but we hope this has been resolved.
So that’s our Kitacon roundup. It was great to see so many Renegade Revolution fans, readers and friends there, and we hope you enjoyed it all as much as we did. Don’t forget, next year, Kitacon is teaming up with Amecon to produce two events, AmeChibi (held during Kitacon’s normal Spring slot) and Kitacon will be held in the popular Summer slot. There will be more details on this soon, but for now, we hope all attendees are recovering well, and we look forward to next year.
images © Jojo Yap and Scott Sanderson