I had the privilege of attending my very first J-con a few weeks ago and it certainly lived up to all the hype. This convention centers around all things Japan! From the culture and traditions, to demonstrations and tastings of Japanese food and sake. With numerous panels and stalls dedicated to planning the most into your trip to Japan, to maybe taking the leap and getting a working visa, to even moving over there. J-con did their utmost to include a wide variety of aspects surrounding the Land of the Rising Sun, to help both educate and converse with all attendees that were looking for some information. I walked away with a vast number of informative leaflets regarding language courses, handy pocket guides and travel books on the many different regions I could visit during all the seasons.
All tickets for this years event were solely sold online to those wanting to attend, with the few tickets that were left to be sold on the door, later were available to purchase online. Overall, there was a very high attendance of regular con goers that I recognised from other conventions throughout the years, as well as a younger generation, with many families also attending. This event is far more centred around ultimately travelling to Japan and they certainly had plenty of information available from the stalls and panels that attended.
The guest list included a number of high profile names in the cosplay circuit, with both Team Paraluna and Carmello Cosplay attending. Team Paraluna is a duo of female cosplayers from the Netherlands, who have very successfully competed in the International finals, like the World Cosplay Summit, European Cosplay Gathering, International Cosplay League, Eurocosplay, C4 and CICAF. Most recently they got the opportunity to represent their country at GICOF in South-Korea! (Instagram: @teamparaluna ,Twitter: @teamparaluna)
(Photo: Team Paraluna)
Carmello Cosplay hails from Northern Ireland and has been cosplaying now for the last decade, and has been making her own costumes for the past four years. If you attended J-Con a few weeks back, you may have spotted her in her most iconic Bayonetta cosplay. You may have also spotted her on the telly earlier this Summer, as she appeared on Ed Byrne’s BBC documentary on cosplay. She has been on the judging panel of many cosplay competitions throughout Ireland, as she has a wealth of experience with crafting costumes from scratch. (Instagram: @Carmello_Cosplay , Facebook: /CarmelloCosplay)
(Photo: Joey The Anime Man and Akidearest)
The main guests that certainly attracted a massive crowd for both their panels and signing, was Joey The Anime Man and Akidearest. A pair of YouTubers that are based in Japan, who are amongst the biggest Otaku channels on YouTube. Joey is a Japanese/Austrailian youtuber who is very close to hitting 2 Million subscribers, so why not check out this link to help me reach his next milestone for his channel. (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheAn1meMan/featured) Joey is known for his monthly favorites videos of the latest anime and manga he follows in Japan, which he critiques and gives his viewers some recommendations on what they should keep an eye out for. He is a massive otaku, who is fluent in Japanese, has a great sense of humor and comedic charm, who also produces some fun and bizarre videos on perhaps some of the most obscure services you can find in Japan: like renting a Japanese mom for a day. Check out the link here. (https://youtu.be/dVpMVNc-vuE)
Joey’s partner in Otaku madness, is Akidearest. And yes people, she is just as nice in real life as she is in her videos! Aki’s channel is now at 2.18 Million subscribers, why not check out this link and join. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_1HVMnw-610qx54iEiWk7A/featured) Aki’s channel features many videos on her new life in Japan, as she is now almost a year living there. She also does many otaku videos on anime events and themed cafés, as well as her monthly favorites in a series called Why, Japan?! Where she finds and tests out some of Japan’s most ‘unique’ products. You can check out her latest video of the series in the link here – https://youtu.be/2DB6snCUtr0 .You can also check out Akidearest’s other social media links here – (Twitter: @akidearest, Instagram: @akidearest)
Also as an added bonus, here is my nearly 30minute interview with both Joey and Akidearest from the morning of J-Con. Hope you enjoy it.
J-Con was a fanomable success, with an incredible turnout of fans from various age groups and interests. It is certainly well worth checking out again next year, it is also held in one of the most iconic places in Ireland – Croke Park. The same venue that Eirtakon once hosted in. Although not the entire venue is open, like it was for Eirtakon, J-Con is still spread out across two floors. They have a good sized trade hall, with many artists and stalls. There is also a dedicated Japan Zone, where the guests signing tables were also located. Right outside the main panel room was a great set up for those that wanted to spend some time gaming, either on classic video game consoles, or watching a twitch stream live. J-Con even included a dedicated board game room tucked away from the sometimes hectic hallways. Perfect for those that needed a breather.
Apart from the incredible opportunity to meet and interview both The Anime Man and Akidearest, I also attended the closing ceremony. Which had members from a few of Irelands’ other conventions come up and announce their guests for next years events. And to end a fantastic day of Japanese culture and appreciation, the Taiko Drummers group of Experience Japan gave a live performance! That alone will resonate with me for years to come and will certainly draw me back again next year. So a huge thank you goes out to all the organisers of J-Con, the volunteers, panels, stall holders, artists, guests, attendees and venue for an incredible chilly Saturday in November.