I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend we spent in Northampton. There were lots of people to talk to, two nice bars, and five video rooms. Whoever compiled the video program did it in such a way that only one thing clashed, and whoever wrote the brief summaries of series had a very similar taste to us :)
Anime series we particularly liked (see pages for reviews):
There weren't any more than that, but we also saw Maburaho?, which while being a HaremAnime had a couple of redeeming features, and [KimiNozo], a dating game conversion which was not bad at all. We also saw YamiToBoushiToHonNoTabibito, which was rather a disappointment (slightly too ecchi for my tastes), and DigiCharatNyo, which is a proper series of DigiCharat, which just didn't work. It wasn't even funny. Dokkoider? was another series which takes the mickey out of many Japanese cultural things. Not being Japanese, I found it somewhat less funny, but it wasn't too bad.
We spent some time in the dealer's room. The wonderful SweatDrop group had a table which was great fun browsing, as did MoonWolf. We came away with lots of original English comics/manga/whatever you want to call it. I managed to shift all but one of the ten copies of LookingForTheSun which I brought with me (admittedly, one copy was pushed at Piro rather than actually sold, but hey). We got rid of everything we took to the Bring and Buy except two EscaflowneMovie? posters and an UtenaMovie poster, so if anyone wants them, let us know :)
Piro and Seraphim of MegaTokyo were fun to have around. I really felt sorry for Piro, who had to speak in front of 650 people and then draw characters for probably about 640 people during the con. He did a wonderful job, and it was good to hear from him. No doubt he'll have his own take on it all when MegaTokyo gets updated this Friday (7th November).
The masquerade was very, very good. The costumes were stunning - one I particularly liked, which didn't actually get worn at the masquerade, was a HaibaneRenmei costume with black wings made of real (or very convincing) feathers. There were also a couple of triple-winged AngelSanctuary angels in the masquerade whose wings were also very good. We didn't have the usual run of Squall and CardCaptorSakura costumes, either. On the down side, that meant there were more I didn't recognise. One girl did a great Kushana (from [Nausicaa], the manga).
I spent the wee small hours of Saturday evening drawing with the SweatDrop group. I had the pleasure of meeting one Selina, who drew DemonPooka?, a webcomic I used to enjoy reading. She also did Fantastic Cat, one of the mangas we picked up from the SweatDrop table, which is a very good read. I had assumed that the author of DemonPooka? was American, so it was rather a surprise to find out she was English, she was a member of SweatDrop, and she was sitting next to me :)
The AnimeMusicVideo stream was a bit of a disappointment - not the videos, but that it was shown on a (relatively) small screen in the fan bar. Tsunami entered his Eva AMV, which was one of the better ones but suffered from the computer being a bit slow. By the end of the song, it was about 5 seconds out of synch, which is a lot when you have lip synching. There was a truly amazing piece of work there with (I think) VampireHunterD set to the Phantom of the Opera piece. He had both main characters singing duets both together and in turn, on split screens, and the lip synching was perfect.
The artroom was well managed and all my stuff was put up pretty early. There was a comments system which was good (writing a note and putting it into a box) but we're only going to get them after sorting, so that'll take some time. There was some really good artwork there, in particular the work by the people behind TelephoneIcecream?.
We found a good small cafe just outside the hotel carpark, which was tastefully decorated with very ornate bongs. They were open in the afternoon and then from early to very late evening. We only visited during the afternoon :)
At the closing ceremony, we were told that there would be another AyaCon, but the committee didn't know when. It's outgrown the Moathouse Hotel, which had a maximum of 650 people, so they have to find another venue, and they may not find one in time for next year. Whenever it is, though, we're going.