There was no doubt at all that if there was a con in town, I would be there without fail. This time was no different, except for the fact that this time, I was volunteering at the event, and together with Joe who came all the way from Liverpool, at that.
Joe came over on Friday and she took the full-day shift while I took the half-day one because there was an MNight Teh Tarik session that Saturday morning.
I cannot begin to describe the comfort and joy I felt the moment I stepped into Sugden, which makes this entire sentence sound ludicrous but I did not feel out of place at all; it felt like a second home. Yes ok go ahead and call me a nerd
Joe and I were stationed at the raffles booth from 1 to 3PM, where we tried getting people to sign up for the raffles draw for £1.
At 3PM, we were allowed a one-hour break so we walked around the place visiting booths and taking photos with cosplayers.
This group of girls cosplaying as Aqours were called Aquaria Project and they even had a stage performance of dancing to Aozora Jumping Heart and of course I freaked out because I am grade A Love Live trash
I met Lara again! It’s become a tradition to take a photo with her each time she turns up at a Manchester con in cosplay. She was cosplaying as Shion from No.6 this time.
I had a short chat with the girl with the pink hair and her entire cosplay outfit was handsewn wtf cosplayers are so powerful
One of the main differences of Doki Doki this year compared to last year was that the event organisers implemented a new rule stating that artists and vendors were not allowed to sell fanart, only original art, which caused quite an uproar on Facebook and I honestly still don’t quite get it either. I managed to strike up a conversation with an artist and she expressed her disappointment and confusion over the new rule, because fanart wasn’t equivalent to art theft or copyright infringement and I agreed. Even though I was technically a third party viewer (as a non-artist), I felt like the rule was pushing artists into an unnecessary corner eg. if you can’t make art that is exclusively original to yourself then you shouldn’t call yourself an artist etc
Another (equally significant) difference is a surge in the number of Mystic Messenger cosplayers this year. It made me very happy.
Joe and I also decided to try our luck with Haikyuu and Love Live mystery boxes respectively.
We weren’t really needed to work anywhere else after our break so we chilled at the movie screening room where Joe managed to catch a few winks and I got the chance to take a break too and by taking a break I meant scrolling Twitter and Instagram in the dark while seated on a mat on the floor.
At 5.30PM, we headed for the centre stage for the cosplay competition and masquerade.
Once the session ended, it was already time to start cleaning up so that was what we did, moving tables and chairs and sweeping the floor. When it was time to turn in our volunteer tags, I was actually very, very reluctant to do so because I had such a fun day and I didn’t want it to end.
I said this before but I’ll say it again: going to cons feels so natural and comfortable to me, it feels like you can be anyone you want to be and no one will give you shit for it. Because it’s literally a gathering of like-minded people dressing up as their favourite characters and getting together to talk enthusiastically and passionately about, well, anime. I loved being able to strike up a random conversation with a stranger about Mystic Messenger and have them respond the same way. Everyone is always so friendly and it makes me unafraid to show my enthusiasm for, well, anime in a real life setting (and not just Twitter!!) without being looked at weirdly. I can scream all I want about something I like and everyone would get it. It made talking to strangers and asking for cosplayers for photos less scary.
Volunteering as a runner at Doki Doki this year was also a different experience from being a mere patron. Just getting insight into the technicalities and operations of the con was already pretty cool in itself, and it felt like being a part of something pretty big. I love that feeling, always have and always will.
(Previous con: Manchester Anime and Gaming Con 2016)