Pub? Club? Perhaps a spot of shopping? Nice. Me? Oh, I just went to a strange world of fantasy and make believe. Yeah, it was just off the M6…
Of course, I am referring to the annual anime/Japanese culture event known as KitaCon. As this was my first visit to a con, and I had only the excited babbling of my friends that had been before to go on, I had very little idea of what to expect. To be honest, even had they been the most articulate and sensible of speakers, they would still have been unable to prepare me for the assault on the senses that is your first convention.
After a somewhat dull drive from Harlow to Birmingham, an equally dull check-in to a hotel nearly two miles from the event, and a long, confusing walk to find the hotel in which events would be unfolding, my first glimpse of the Hilton Birmingham Metropole set the tone – there on a balcony some three floors up stood a character from the Naruto anime, eating what appeared to be a doughnut.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
The Hilton Birmingham Metropole is a dark, brooding building outside, and a lavish marble affair inside, usually catering to business types visiting the NEC next door, or flitting off to Birmingham International airport. So to see this character casually stood there watching the comings and goings of the main entrance is something that is sure to have confused some of the normals!
I won’t ramble on too much, since Hibiscus has already done a marvellous job of re-capping our weekend at Kita in her recent post, instead I’ll pick out a few bits, mainly costumes that we wore, and got photos of (took a lot less photos than we planned, mainly because we were either in costume ourselves or were a little overwhelmed!). I’ll also divide the con into its three days…
I was wearing my rather dashing Orb Nation uniform, for my cosplay as Kira Yamato from Gundam SEED Destiny. It’s the least impressive of the three costumes I took to the con, and the easiest to wear. But as the Friday only officially started at 5pm (despite the hotel being awash with con-goers all day), and I knew I’d be sitting in the bar quite a bit, it seemed a good choice.
Darren (our housemate, and fellow con first-timer) opted for his Kingdom Hearts Squall Lionheart costume (I think that’s right – I’ve never played Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts!), and I think he chose that one because he simply couldn’t wait any longer to strut around with his Gunblade! And here is the only shot I have of him in that costume…
Hibiscus was rocking her Duck Kigurumi – you can see a pic of it in her post that I linked to earlier.
The Friday was a bit strange. We headed through the airport, onto the tram to the railway station, then through the NEC (the quickest route from our hotel at the airport to the Hilton), slightly nervous that airport security wouldn’t take too kindly to having three strangely dressed loonies wandering through, one of whom was toting a life-size gunblade! But either they weren’t bothered or they’d been given a heads-up by someone, and we passed through unmolested. And as soon as we reached the NEC there were others in costume! We were no longer the only ones!
But the con didn’t officially start until 5pm, and we reached the Hotel at 11am… the hotel bar that day was awesome. We were sat next to a table seating Deadpool, Captain America, and the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S team, Thor and Iron Man were queueing for booze, and the student council from Ashford Academy (Code Geass) were snapping photos down the hall. It was a very bizarre experience.
I don’t remember much of the party that night because I was rather drunk. Although I do remember Dal being ground upon as we were leaving by two young ladies clad only in t-shirts and underpants, begging him for kisses (he was dressed as Ezio, and they were excited by this). And I’ve just discovered as I write this that he had totally forgotten that happening. That’ll teach him for drinking more than me!
Amazingly, despite not getting back to our hotel until gone 2am (we only made it back that early thanks to a student who showed us another route back to the tram, since the one we were going to use was closed – thank you sir, whose name I’ve forgotten!), we were up, costumed, and back at the Hilton by 11am again! This time Dal and I had planned our costumes to coincide. I was rocking my Altair Ibn la Ahad (from Assassins Creed for you infidels not in the know)
Whilst he was appearing as the next step in the Assassins Creed story, Ezio Auditore de Firenze;
The amount of photos we were asked for that day was a bit insane, and rivalled the number of snaps that I get asked for in my trooper armour! Neither of our wristblades survived much past lunchtime, hence the variation in our poses to using our other props. Hibiscus was once again exposing the world to her Duck impressions in her kigurumi, although she headed back to the hotel after lunch to catch some sleep since she’d been up half the night vomiting (I’m such a good boyfriend that I was oblivious to it until she told me in the morning.)
The Masquerade – Kita’s chance for it’s attendees to strut their stuff on the stage and show everyone their amazing costumes actually blew me away. We’d already seen some stunning costumes – Caboose from Red vs Blue (A Halo 3 Spartan) springs to mind – but some of the costumes in the Masquerade were a whole other level. In particular the Garrus (Mass Effect) costume. Wow. Just wow.
That night at the party, Larter convinced me to stay in costume so we could look doubly cool. And it worked. Plus, walking back, through the darkened NEC dressed as Altair was pretty freaking cool!
The last day dawned, and once again (this time thanks to energy drinks and tea) we were at the Hilton bright and early (11am is bright an early to me after two nights of partying), and this time it was Hibiscus and I that had paired up our costumes, representing the Essex Ghostbusters in our custom EssexGB uniforms.
Larter was out looking for flesh as a Hunter from Left 4 Dead. Unfortunately, none of us managed to get a picture of the undead fiend, so you’ll just have to imagine what he looked like (unless of course he wants to send me a photo!)
The belt on my costume was a total pain in the arse. It has so much stuff hanging from it that in the corridors and panels it was constantly getting snagged on other people, chairs, tables, and everything bloody else. And I couldn’t sit down in it. Every time I sat down that day I had to take the belt off, and use a chair just for it to hang on! We didn’t get as much attention in these costumes, as it’s primarily an anime con, and a lot of the attendees were probably a tad to young to have been Ghostbusters fans in their youth, but the people that did recognise it were really bloody excited, which made all the hard work put in to building them worthwhile (including a scratch-built ghost trap, and Hibiscus’ customised kids Proton Pack).
The closing ceremony was a tad rushed (due to the technical glitches that had plagued the whole con the start time was delayed by nearly an hour), and it was sag to hear that there won’t be a Kitacon V next year – the committee are taking a well-earned break next year, but are looking to run it in 2014 (I’ll be there!), but the mood was immediately lightened by following the ceremony with Kita’s Got Talent – Kitacon’s answer to the dreadful Britain’s Got Talent. Hibiscus also discussed this in her blog, so I won’t go into details here, but there were some bloody good acts.
Sunday night’s party was the Road to Redemption Ball. So Hibiscus and I dolled up suitably – a dress for her, top hat and velvet frock coat for me – whilst Larter went for the suave styling of Ezio once again. The Ball was bloody amazing. I’ve never been to a party, gig, or anything where everyone felt such goodwill towards everyone else there. It was quite moving. Especially the massive linking of arms and group hug that lasted through and ended Bohemian Rhapsody.
So, there we go, we survived our first con, and will definitely be attending more in the future. While we decide which ones we want to go to, we’ll be off to MCM Expo London in May (stop me and say “Hi” if you see us!), and are already planning out next cosplays….