“Can London have an anime con?”
I’ve heard this question and many who have tried to answer it far too many times. It usually gets as far as “Yeah, I’ll go!” That is as far as it gets. WHY?!
Anime North was created by several Toronto Anime Clubs, UTARPA, YAMA, Ottawa, I think Waterloo and held at UofT. This is back when there WAS a membership to these clubs. I son’t know how many times I bashed my head against the wall trying to get Western and Fanshawe clubs even talking to me let alone each other. Lets face, the mentality at the time was “What? There is another club other than OUR group.”
Just a few years later, YAMA, York Univerisity’s club numbered 8. UTARPA I heard was struggling to keep club status. Anime North became its own entity. Today there isn’t enough people to come out to club meetings let alone show up to SERIOUSLY support working together for a JOINT event which was Anime North here in London.
Now we have cons trying to grab onto the ‘anime’ crowd. The problem is …. the anime crowd is fragmented. You don’t have a singular theme in anime as you do in Star Wars, Star Trek, furries, etc. It’s ALL over the map of gendres and different tastes. WHY? Because ‘anime’ is JUST Japanese cartoons, it a media much like film, TV, music, comics (manga), etc. It’s more, it’s all these OTHER medias, ALL the gendres of film, TV music, comics yet it is it’s own.
It fragmented because no one comes out to clubs. People watch it online practically same time it airs in Japan now.
Yet, everyone wants a piece of it thinking it’s a cash cow that will bring people to THEIR event yet when anime fans do come out, they’re alienated. Told to FIT their norms. “We expect you to come to our con to like our stuff.” The same people who were being judged of being weird for liking some sci-fi geeky stuff THEN now judge those they think are being ‘teenagers’ who are enthusatic about something they pigeon hole into a classification of ‘Anime’.
I remember talking to a parent about why their kids were crazy about this so-called ‘anime and about what Anime North was about’. “They interested in another culture AND tired of the our TV shows which is geared to the LOWEST COMMON DENOMIATOR.” Once I posted the question, “Do you think your kid is the lowest common denominator?” The parent realized their kid wasn’t strange. In fact, the father said to his son, “Well, if you want that wig for your Sora costume, you’re going to have to save up for it.”
DO I think London can hold an anime con? Flat out …. NO.
Not until people start coming out to clubs and those clubs start talking to each other. In a way, we’re lucky we have a store like Neo Tokyo the Anime Store. It’s the only thing uniting the fragmented fans and clubs. The only thing is the owner has enough JUST keeping his store running. It’s not his job, it’s ours. Having been in and running the oldest anime club in London, which is as old as Anime North… getting people to even show up let alone cooperate is near impossible. In spite, relentless pushing against the current. I’ve been waiting for that answer to that question for years. So far at best, all I’ve got is “Yeah I go!” as they walk away or give a dumb or indifferent look.
Still I look forward to that day… someday.