Akumakon is the only anime and manga convention held in the West of Ireland, and took place in a across the NUI Galway campus from Friday 20 to Sunday 22 January.
Once before almost completely unknown to the world outside Japan, manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation) have become a global phenomenon.
Akumakon 2017 kicked off at 7pm at the Bailey Allen Hall, where the audience were given a taste for what they in for over the weekend.
Events ran on Friday night and from 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday, including screenings, signings, workshops, gaming tournaments, cosplay masquerade, and author panels covering a wide range of subjects.
These included the language and literature of Japan.
“The aim of the event is to promote Japanese culture and animation in Ireland,” explains James Broderick, Convention Director of the Anime and Manga Society.
It also aims to help attendees meet like-minded individuals.
Akumakon has donated over €15,000 to Irish and Japanese charities to date, and each annual event aims to be bigger and better than its predecessor.
“The idea is people make costumes of characters they really like from video games or anime or from anything,” explains James.
He continued saying “We then have a masquerade for people who make their own costumes, they come along and we have prizes for the best costume.”
The festival has grown from selling 300 tickets in its opening year in 2011 to selling well over 1,000 in 2016, its biggest achievement to date.
Guest speakers flew in from Poland, Japan and the US and these included Eric Stuart, the voice of Brock on the Pokémon anime TV series.
Mr Stuart in his speech at the opening ceremony, announced that it was his “first trip to Ireland” and invited the audience to “Rock with Brock” at his concert that took place on Saturday evening.
As well as being a voice actor, Stuart is also a singer-songwriter and has supported Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ringo Starr.
Other guests included cosplay stars Lux Cosplay and Shappi Cosplay as well as Japanese singer Aya Ikeda, who was warmly welcomed by the audience
They clapped along to her Japanese pop song at the opening ceremony.
The Bailey Allen, The Hub and the College bar hosted some of the weekend’s highlights, including Pokémon Bingo, a fire show and origami and yukata (kimono) fittings.
Secretary for the Convention, Kitty Ryan concluded, “The convention went as great as it has in the past. 1,300 people attended, a higher attendance than last year. The Aya Ikeda concert was packed, as was Eric Stuart’s voice acting panel. We always donate profits to charity, this year we are donating to Cancer Care West. We also said goodbye to some members of our committee this year as they’re graduating and we’ll miss them terribly, but if any student wants to get involved then contact the Anime and Manga society”.
-By Joseph McBrien
Image courtesy of Donald Manning.