Alex Witney On February - 21 - 2010

A Savage Journey to the Heart of the Anime Dream (MCM Midlands Expo)

Telford, ‘famed’ for it’s iron bridge museum, isn’t the first place I would immediately think of for the best place to hold an expo (with the sole exception of an iron bridge expo). However despite it’s geographical insignificance the international centre where this years Midlands MCM Expo was held, was more than up for the job. Having little experience of expos, especially ones centred around the wonderful world of anime, my expectations of the event were all over the place. However after walking through the entrance and seeing Princess Amidala and Master Chief walking hand in hand, I knew this was going to be somewhat of a learning experience. The place was packed, and this was just the lobby, antendees ranged from groups of tweens dancing to families looking confused.

Strolling past a goggle* of posing stormtroopers, I walked into what felt like a large car boot sale, stalls as far as the eye could see selling everything from signed Michael Jackson photos to figures from your favourite anime show. Having no money, being the poor student that I am, I had to take a raincheck on all the wonderful goodies and have a look at what else the event had to offer. After being distracted by a rather good ‘Darth Maul’ costume, I found my bearings and made my way to the arena that had been set up for the robot wars inspired battles that were scheduled throughout the day. And although it was worth a watch, they were pretty boring and really for the kids. With the sound of singer Bentley Jones (I’ve never heard of him either) reverberating around the centre I headed over to the video games section.

3D Dot Heroes was the game that I most wanted to play. And I did, for about 5 minutes. The demo on offer was limited and made it hard to really get a true feel for the game. What does the game remind me of? I hear you ask. Well it’s pretty much Zelda, a kind of 3D re-imagining of sorts. From the way it controls, the two weapon slots, the sword, the NPC’s, the music and even the way the screen scrolls just screams Zelda. And, if they can get away with it, then it’s not bad a Zelda clone. From what I played it seems good enough to warrant further interest, and the way the enemies explode into pieces upon death was very satisfying and looked damn cool. EA was present, showing off Army of Two: 40th Day and couple of other games, but everything was sealed in a container and only letting 4 people in at a time for 15 minutes meant that there was always someone in there (I did however get^ a couple of freebies from there stall).

I reluctantly had lunch at the grossly overpriced food court, and then headed over to see the guests. First off was Tommy Knight from the Sarah Jane Adventure. Not interested, however as the kids get an autograph for free the queue was rather large. The queue for the other guests present were pretty much non-existent, Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter) and Warwick Davis (Also in Harry Potter and a bunch of other films). After saying a quick hello to Longbottom, I turned my attention to Warwick. Getting his autograph, photo and just chatting to the guy made the whole expo worth going to, and I’d recommend saying hello to him if you ever get the chance.

A few minutes later Matthew and Warwick went on stage (Mr Jones had finally stopped performing) and talked about their time on the Harry Potter movies and taking questions from the audience. Although quite interesting, nothing decent about the new films was talked about and the questions asked by the audience were pretty tame. All in all it was worth the 2 hour trip to Telford for me and although you are sure to enjoy yourself much more if you’re into anime/manga and dressing up, it’s still worth the £4 entry fee. Hopefully next year will be just as good, but maybe with a few more video game stalls for us ‘nerds’ out there.

Highlights:
-A toddler dressed as Boba Fett getting his photo taking with the Stormtroopers.
-Meeting the very polite, expo veteran that is Warwick Davis.
-Warwick accidentally calling the Cosplayers weirdo’s.
-Heads flying off the boxing robots.

Lowlights:
-The expensive food, should have known, should have taken a pack lunch.
-Free hug awkwardness, seriously it’s not really original when half the room has a sign.
-Overdone costumes. Sure dress up as your favourite anime character, but please realise that the popular animes (Naruto, Bleach, Death Note) are going to be done to death. Just think, if you dress up as L from death note, you’re not going to be the only one.

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*If someone knows the true Collective Noun for Stormtroopers, please leave a comment. ^Thieved
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