Sunday, 30 May 2010

London Animé MCM Expo Event

It's May 29th 2010 and waking up at 6am is so much easier when it's already light outside. I managed to catch my train at 7:55 and arrived at the event at about 9:15am.

The train journey was slightly amusing, you could tell who was going to the Animé Convention because of the costumes they were wearing, and boy did they go full out! But more on that later.

Since I had been unable to buy a pre-sale ticket, I had to buy a ticket when I got there and when we joined the queue, it was huuuuuuuge. We queued for about an hour and a half. During that time, we discovered that almost everyone had a sign saying "Free Hugs!" and unfortunately for my friend Jennie, she bought a T-Shirt the day before saying "Free Hugs for Everyone!" She thought it was cute, but didn't realise that people would actually give you a free hug. She managed to cover herself up pretty well so no-one could see what was written on her shirt, but there were hugs going on everywhere. Sure, I'd rather there were hugs going round than, say, bullets, but it did seem sociably awkward at times.
And some people even had signs saying "You've lost the game!" Um...what game? I wasn't part of a game...moving swiftly on...
In the queue we tried to decide what characters to go as next time (we went as ourselves) so I thought I could perhaps go as Misty from Pokémon. Simple outfit, I'm a redhead, seemed like a good idea. Oh wait, I spot a Misty over there...and over there...and there, too...
All in all, I counted about 5 Misty's. So, then I decided that I could perhaps go as Rikku, but spotted about 3, so again I thought maybe not. I even thought of the female character from the amazing series DeathNote but I saw her wandering around as well.
Bottom line: If you're thinking of going as a unique character that no-one will think of, you've got a hard job ahead of you. At least one other person will have the same thought as you. Just make sure your costume is GOOD! No-one likes to see a half-arsed costume; you either go the whole hog or you don't.

We finally arrived inside and the place was busy! As some of you may be aware I attended an Animé Convention in Southend but it was really tiny, so going from that to this was a bit of an eye opener. London Expo is HUGE, there were so many people squashed up against each other and there was an awful lot of traffic - moving around wasn't easy.

Since the age of about 12 I have been in touch with a pretty well known voice actor named Kyle Hebert (Teen Gohan and the Narrator from DragonBall Z and many more) and he was also here at this convention, so it was going to be the first time we'd ever meet which was pretty exciting!

Kyle told me his first signing session was at 11am and luckily we were let in quite near that time, so I asked where it was gonna be and Jennie and I ended up by this stage.

Except that it wasn't a signing session.

Three guys came on stage and started talking Animé and what was happening with it, new releases and stuff like that, and I was thinking "I'm preeeetty sure I'm in the wrong place." Yes, I was in the wrong area. Effort to meet Kyle Hebert Failed Attempt #1.

I knew the next signing wasn't till about 3, so we spent our time wandering around the place trying to see what else there was to do. There was some Japanese drumming going on which was interesting, and we also managed to get our names written in Japanese and...drum roll...wear a Kimono! Besides meeting Kyle, wearing a Kimono was one of the things I wanted to do most. My Japanese dresser yanked, tugged and pulled at my lovely purple kimono and before I knew it, I was done! I know it was a simple kimono because real ones (like Geisha) have so many things to go with it, but I still felt pretty Japanese! In fact, because I was dressed up I felt I blended in more.

Not that I had a problem with not blending in but I did feel like I had just entered another planet, like as if Jennie and I were aliens and our mission was to invade this world and try and see how these life forms live. Have you seen "Mars Attacks"? Where towards the end you have an alien dressed up as a woman pretending to be a human although it blatantly isn't. That's exactly how it felt. Like we were invading the hardcore world of Animé.

So anyway, our photographer led us out while Jennie and I shuffled behind in the very restricting kimono, and he took a few shots. Here's one of me in my kimono!


The amazing thing I learned about kimono's is that they're incredibly expensive. I knew they were anyway, but apparently the ones we were wearing cost about £2000! Nuts! And cheap ones are about £400. So guys, if you're thinking of getting one and have the money, look in some vintage shops!

It took quite a while for 3pm to come round but it eventually did, so Jennie and I found the RIGHT place to meet Kyle and we queued up. Kyle spotted me and waved hello, but because it was busy we couldn't really talk so I just continued to queue.
A few minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder and there was Kyle - a guy of just beyond 6" towering over a short young woman like me (5"!) who had found the time to introduce himself in person in case the queue had to be cut. I stood there thinking "doesn't this guy have things to sign? xD" but was very grateful and pleased that he took the time to actually come over. He soon went back to his seat and it turns out that the queue was indeed going to be cut and unfortunately we didn't make it. Still, we continued to hang around until 4 o'clock when a worker came up to me asking if I was a friend of Kyle's. Turns out that Kyle had invited my friend and I to join him at his Press Conference so we could actually spend time in each other's company. Oh the perks of knowing someone inside the industry! Backstage passes please.

Considering that we had pretty much been round the block about 5 times (The Expo, I mean) it was good to be somewhere else! Kyle led us upstairs into a large room where there was a round table with a group of men sitting around it. Kyle double-checked to see if it was okay for us to be there and we got the green light, so in we went!

Once again I felt slightly out of place, but to be honest it was an interesting scene (away from the free hugs and B.O.) and it was just really cool to see what voice actors/celebrities have to deal with in reality.

Not that voice overs really are celebrities. They tend to be quite anonymous as opposed to film stars or pop stars that always have their faces in every media outlet possible, but in the world of Animé you could consider some names to be pretty large, and considering that Kyle has done voice overs for DragonBall Z, Naruto and goodness knows what else, I guess his name is pretty well known.

Jennie and I sat there in silence for about half an hour while Kyle answered every question in detail, despite being asked these questions a thousand times before. As soon as the interview was over the Journalists completely changed their characters which was quite funny to watch! They went from serious interviewers to fanboys asking Kyle to have their pictures taken with him and requesting autographs. This guy that I've known for about 10 years was being requested pictures and autographs. Hilarious! Of course I always knew he was going to get that kind of attention, but I just view him as a normal dude. It's nice to know that "secret starlets" like voice actors have an effect on people like any big celebrity would. I hope that makes sense.

You can read the interview here by click these links:
(9 minutes in onwards, 2 guys from the first link have created a Podcast and they talk about Kyle, AND you can hear some of the interview!)

So the people left and it ended up just being us 3 in this massive conference room talking about a lot of random things like British Landmarks, British Food, the fans, other Animé Conventions, British Currency, accents and even milk. Yes, milk. But don't ask. Something to do with percentages. Kyle also filmed us 3 in the room and this was the result!

Kyle was then whisked off to do his absolute favourite thing of all time (Cosplay judging) and that was pretty much our cue to leave! Check out Kyle's website at to get to know the guy more and discover what else he's done. Ya never know, you might have heard his voice!

It was a pretty eventful day and quite a successful one too! Honestly guys, good things happen to those who wait. You might just have to stick around for a decade or so.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You look gorgeous in Kimono. - It's actually not a formal Kimono. We call it Yukata.
I can put a formal one on for you, when you come to Japan oneday. ;)
Glad you had a great day!

CazStacey said...

Thank you very much! Ah yes I've heard of Yukata :) Thanks for reading and commenting, whoever you are! :D x

Matt W said...

I went to this a couple of years ago. I didn't realise there would be such a big queue and missed the Stargate people:(

And as if you know teen gohan voice actor lol. Legend.

CazStacey said...

Yes Matt I do indeed know Mr. Kyle Hebert :) And yes, I am a legend, but I've always been one...not because I know a voice actor...what a shame it's taken this long for you to realise my amazing status!!

Aoi84 said...

I was at the expo too (sat) but didn't know what time the kitsuke demo was on! So I missed out.
You don't look too happy on the video when your being dressed. :)

CazStacey said...

It's funny, because you're not the only one who said I don't look amused when getting changed into a kimono, but I actually really liked it! It was just a different experience and I didn't know whether to talk to her or just let her get on with it lol