Looking Back on Kitacon Invasion 2014

There is an event that returned to Birmingham after a year’s hiatus. everyone at Kitacon was tremendously excited to attend, and seemed to have had a fantastic time. Apart from catching con flu early, and having to spend the first two nights in bed, I had a great time. This week’s article will be a souvenir to a great convention in 2014.

Still recovering from editing the con book (which looks spectacular by the way, mainly due to so many amazing articles and illustrations), this was the first convention in a long time where I was not a guest, or presenting part of the programme. Apart from one panel on KPop, Kitacon was mainly a Japanese anime convention, with some Western geekery dispersed through it. You might wonder why I’m devoting space on this Chinese culture site to it.

Actually, there was more Chinese culture going on than you’d think.

First of all it was great to watch the entire FATE series, which the Kitacon crew have filmed over two years. A parody secret agent web series, FATE deals with issues within the otaku community. Kitacon saw all three stories finally on the big screen back to back, followed by a finale which opened the festival. I’m actually in the first and last episodes, playing a vampy Chinese triad boss, who turns out to be a deadly robot assassin. Making obvious references to Hard Boiled, Hard Subbed made use of footage we actually filmed in China, the sound and lights looked fantastic and helped to add a certain air found in popular gangster flicks and  taking more than a little visual tone from Bladerunner.

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Another event that made Kitacon Invasion so special for me, was the wedding of two friends. Tom and Zelly,collectively known as TeamNeko on youtube and twitter, held a videogame themed ceremony, with adorable gamer wedding vows, the guests and bridesmaids all in game inspired cosplay. I was very impressed that Tom acknowledged both his Chinese and Scottish cultural heritage, wearing a bright red waistcoat with his kilt, and giving everyone a fortune cookie in their goody bags.

 

 

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I’ve always got my Chinese radar on, and when I see cosplays with Chinese influence, I’ll always take a picture and ask  about the series. I ran into this gorgeous cosplay from Black Butler, Lau’s cold but sexy and deadly assassin Ran Mao (her name 蓝猫 means “Blue Cat” by the way). Previously I’d been put off by the shonen ai elements my 腐女 “rotten girl” friends kept raving about in the show, but I have definitely now put the series on my list to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

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My absolute favourite cosplay has got to be this one, Vatu from Legend of Korra, a series that has drawn so manyaesthetic, philosophical and visual elements from traditional Chinese culture. The form of the costume perfectly compliments the character. I asked flippantly where his Rava was (the light side spirit with whom Vatu is locked in eternal battle), only to see him actually produce a handkerchief sized Rava in his hand, mirroring one scene from the series! The only thing that could have beaten that for Chinese fangirl pleasing,would be to have her in a teapot!

I myself cosplayed as Ukyo from Ranma ½, one of my all time favourite anime. It’s the original ensemble series, where half the cast are under a curse from visiting the Chinese hot springs, turning them into animals, swapping gender, or becoming monsters when they come into contact with hot water. This was my fourth Ranma Cosplay. My fifth,  was a version of Shampoo for the end of event ball. Someone told me that back in the 1990s, people were cosplaying Ranma characters, and very little else. One convention even banned cosplays from the series due to the sheer monotony. Winson, the British born Chinese dealer who was selling cute animal hats at Kitacon, testified to Ranma’s popularity in China, by telling me he watched the entire series in Cantonese and how it helped him learn his familial language. In fact, Viz Media is relaunching the series on its streaming service and anime channel, whilst bringing out the box sets in Blu-ray this year.

It was great to see Terracotta’s mystery box of Asian films being part of the charity auction, which raised a fantastic amount of £4800 in aid of Child’s Play and Against Breast Cancer.

IMG_1230Not every highlight for me was China based. Just being in a Dr Who cosplay group with my wonderful partner, the very comprehensive panel on magical girl series, and the fantastic cosplays were worth the trip for me. I got some great shots of blind Galatea from Claymore, and the awesome oversized Grimlock. I was delighted to hear the announcement at the closing ceremony that the spring convention slot would be filled next year by a returning Amecon, and that Kitacon would be moving to the bigger summer session, and with the change in structure you may find me bringing more cultural events.


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