Ayacon was a UK anime, manga and Japanese culture convention that ran between 1998 and 2013.
No, not continuously. We'd never have found anyone to gopher the video rooms.
And, at the very end, some words were written by some people:
(ADVICE & PLANNING)
It’s hard to believe how long we’ve been doing this. Fifteen years? Gone in a flash, leaving fond memories (those trailers, guys – still awesome), intense trauma (want to know what it feels like to be threatened with legal action from halfway across the world, in a language you don’t speak? oh yes...), but above all shared experience with some of the most entertaining, frustrating, committed, cynical, passionate, obnoxious, amazing people I’ve ever met. We tried to make Aya a more professional event than others in the past, and I trust you’ve seen some evidence of that along the way. Most of all, though, a convention is about the people who pay their hard earned cash and turn up and make it something more than a bunch of empty rooms and silly costumes. Thank you all. I had the time of my life and I hope you did too.
A massive thanks to everyone I’ve ever stumbled into and made friends with in Brum, Numpton or Warwick at an Aya - it’s been a magnificent con to both attend and help organise, from it’s modest beginnings to the truly wonderful stride that it’s hit in Warwick. Let’s raise our glasses and toast Aya together, too good memories and great friends!
I’m sad to say that I can’t remember what my response was when Robin (the first person foolish enough to be AyaCon’s chairman) asked me “what do you think of the idea of Anime Central running a con?”. Whatever it was, though, I couldn’t have possibly imagined at the time that we’d still be here, over 15 years later, running an event many, many times the size - and at the very university campus I was attending as a student when that conversation occurred. For me personally Aya has been the source of so many memories, friendships, sleep deprivation and deep-seated psychological trauma, and I’m sad to think that will come to the end... but at the same time the con has had an incredible run, and I have no doubt that there will be much more to come. Two things made that first AyaCon possible - the legacy of previous conventions that had established the “how” and “why” of running fan events, and the sheer stubbornness (accompanied by a wilful ignorance of common sense) of a small group of people determined to make the event happen. As Aya returns to her fountain, what we have learned will remain in that pool of knowledge - just waiting for the next people to trade their common sense for four days of breathtaking, insane, terrifying, wonderful chaos.
Aya has witnessed the rise of Anime fandom in the UK. In the beginning was the nth generation VHS cassette; video rooms crammed with people desperate to see the latest shows even when the colour was lost. With a growing Anime industry and availability of titles the role of the video room has diminished; replaced with a vibrant cosplay culture that has helped Aya grow from its humble origins. I have fond memories of each location and the conventions held there. Aya has proved many times what can be achieved when a motivated committee, event organisers, staff and gophers provide the framework and the attendees bring the atmosphere. Best wishes to you all.
OK I’m just going to keep this short. I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has ever attended Aya. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been here since the start, or this is your first ever. Whether you have been a regular member, a dealer, a guest - or perhaps helped out as a gopher or event organiser. Without you there wouldn’t be Aya. Thank you all.
(COSPLAY EVENTS/PCHAN’S UNOFFICIAL PA)
To sum it up for me; AyaCon is a 1-1/2 year long project each time we run, culminating in a 4 day chaotic whirlwind fuelled by red bull, leaving you with a tremendous buzz and sense of achievement...once you’ve recovered both mentally and physically! I’m a late-comer to the committee, joining in 2009 when it was brought back to life after a hiatus. Bullied and guilt-tripped into helping by Pchan due to the lack of a cosplay focussed person on the committee, it was very interesting to see the other side of conventions and helping everything come together. (Or falling apart, remembering Pchan running into my room late at night crying about Matt Mercer missing his flight...) I’ve been at every Aya since 2002, either as a member or behind the scenes, and it’s always held a place in my heart as a great con where I’ve met so many friends. I’m also used to it holding a place in my home, with memories of so many boxes of conbags, books and badges in the flat that we couldn’t actually get to the dining table properly... Running a con becomes such a part of your life that it almost leaves a hole once it’s over, but I look forward to seeing out the final Aya with a bang and hope that there’s a band of people who are mad enough to try and pick up where we have left off.
(OPERATIONS AND SECURITY)
For me, Aya and fandom are inseparably entwined. The first AyaCon, in 1998, was also my first anime convention and the wonderful people that I met drew me into this world and eventually onto the committee. It’s been wonderful to watch the event, the membership it attracted, and everything that it has inspired evolve over the last decade and a half. While there is no small sadness in bringing it to a close, I know it will be fondly remembered.
(CONBOOK AND ARTIST LIAISON)
AyaCon was my first anime convention, as a teenager, back in 2005, so for me it’s synonymous with growing up. I made friends at that first convention who I still know and talk to today. Over the years we’ve grown up as individuals, but AyaCon has still remained a brilliant event, in a lovely location, run by a great bunch of people. I’m happy to be able to help bring the final event of my favourite convention to fruition, but it’ll be sad to reach the last song on Sunday evening. Thanks to everyone for all the memories!
Although I’ve only been involved in the running of the last three, I think I’ve been at every Ayacon since the first. I can’t recall missing any – although there are some who would say that recall is not particularly reliable in this instance. So I remember being at Ayacons at the Grand in Birmingham – which isn’t a hotel any more. And I remember being at Ayacons at the Moat House in Northampton – which isn’t a Moat House any more. And I’m starting to wonder if Warwick should worry. To be honest I can’t remember a great deal about what happened at most of them which is probably a sign that I had a good time. So although Ayacon is coming to an end, the UK anime convention scene is thriving, and I look forward to seeing many of you again at some other cons. And not remembering much about those either.
Birmingham, the Grand Hotel 1998, AyaCon was born. Anime/Japan fandom was predominately white and male at this point. Since then it has blossomed into one of the most diverse groups of people there is. I would like to think AyaCon helped play a part in this. Highlights include; seeing the cosplay aspect of fandom grow from a hand full of people to the hundreds of today. (I did cosplay once myself, but we don’t talk about that. ^_^) The scope and number of panels expanding, introducing new aspects of fandom to attendees. Presenting live music events and groups from Japan. And finally the gophers that come back time and time again. From my point of view it’s been great to see a con from a normal attendee, to gophering (I gophered at my first AyaCon and never looked back). Then as a fan dealer, anyone remember Natsuki Anime? We had some odd shit! ^-^ And finally Committee. Now you’ll find me trying to sell other peoples shit, I mean quality 2nd hand merchandise, on the bring and buy table. So here’s to the last, biggest AyaCon. Lets make it a good one.
I used to go to all the cons, buy all the DVDS - over time there became too many of both. It’s been great to see Anime fandom in the UK expand, peak, shrink and stabilize. I still recall the fun I had at my first Aya in 1999, watching the scene grow. Aya 2003 was the largest UK anime con with 580 people, which seems small now. We then had all the licensing issues of 2005 and finally venue issues that led to a break until a big return in 2009. At least through all these changes the dealer room stays the same. This is because I don’t like variety or change, which is why the Aya and Ame dealer rooms are so similar. I have a core group of dealers that I now consider friends and even at cons I am not dealer liaison I end up spending all my time in the dealer room. Possibly asleep under a table, or reading the news whilst drinking some Jack Daniels. To a certain extent I am sad to see Aya go, but after 10 consecutive years of dealer room funz I am looking forward to not having to spend evenings answering emails, planning layouts, sending invoices or hating all these new young whippersnappers buying into the latest fad, which you don’t do enough I might add. My tip for the final Aya, save some money on Alcohol and spend it in the dealer room. I and the many varied dealers thank you for it.
WOW, I’M OLD. People will be attending this con who weren’t born when we started planning AyaCon 1! As the years turn we have seen committee members, chairmen and gophers come and go; some remembered fondly, some hardly remembered at all by most of the attendees or even the committee, more’s the pity, they made it all work at the very beginning. Aya was fortunate to come into being at a time when the anime community was small enough for everyone to know each other yet still have a fantastic pool of talent to draw upon. I’m proud to say that the con has acted as a hothouse for the skills of new organisers and a template for many of the conventions that have followed. That’s not to say that Aya sprang into being straight out of our heads, we have a debt of thanks to the pioneers of the UK Anime Con; Anime Day, ConT/Shinenkai and of course, everyone’s older sister- Minami. They gave us ideas, tips, good examples and in a few cases very bad ones... Shake a committee member or an event organiser by the hand, you’ll make their day. (I’ll be the one carrying the baby. It may take a while to get a hand free! :) )
Ka Ho Chan
Well, where to begin. I first started attending Aya as a normal attendee back in 2002 and been helping out ever since then. I must have been crazy to bring it back from its hiatus and chair it for 3 more events. It’s quite sad that I have to close out Aya but with the number of new events coming up, I feel that the Anime community have plenty to look forward to. It’s not like I get to have my free time back either as I still have to run our sister event MinamiCon! For me, I have gained so many memories and friendships from the convention scene as well as a pretty weird skillset of how to setup a company, accounting, printing, video encoding, etc but the best would have to have been either trying to find ice cream for a guest at 1am or being scolded by the Border Agency... And finally, I must thank the rest of the committee, old and new, all our events runner, gophers and attendees who have made Aya so special to all of us bringing chaos and mayhem upon Birmingham, Northampton and Coventry, without them, Aya won’t be what it is today. And I must give one special thanks once again to our late treasurer Ewan Chrystal, who have provided so much for the UK Convention scene. Thank you once again!
So long, and thanks for all the fish...