Chances are you’ve watched some anime before. Things like sitting down to watch some Pokemon, Naruto or Dragon Ball Z. We’re all familiar with it on some level, but then there are the people like me and thousands of others all across Australia who take it all just a little more seriously.
There’s a whole world of this stuff waiting to be discovered for those who are interested. There’s not just anime to watch, but manga to read. If you don’t already know, manga is like the comic book form of anime, and these comics are what a lot of the shows are based on, just like a movie based on a book! There’s literally something for everyone in the world of anime and manga.
Just how popular is all this stuff?
In September 2011 I went along to Manifest (new window), a convention dedicated to the stuff, to find out a bit more about anime and manga.
When you start really getting into it, like I said, there’s a whole world of things to find that caters to everyone! It’s a lot like any film or TV series, really. There are shows for kids, shows for adults and shows covering just about every genre. It’s not just for kids and nerds - it really is for everyone. That’s what makes it so popular with so many people!
It's not just books and TV either. There's merchandise, tours featuring the people involved in the creation of these things, concerts featuring are anime soundtrack music and, in some cases, fans getting together to organise huge events and conventions.
At Manifest I spoke to a few people about why they love conventions so much. I got a variety of different responses, ranging from being able to go and get all the latest anime news through to just having a chance to dress up and meet up with people that have similar interests to themselves.
Every last person I spoke to would say the same thing, though. They all love anime and manga, and they all love the great, welcoming atmosphere that comes along with going to a convention.
So, what goes on at a convention?
Conventions like Manifest are large gatherings of fans at which people in the industry and merchants coming together in a fairly large place. Usually there are stalls set up which can have just about everything you could imagine.
At Manifest the stalls were definitely the main attraction for me. There were stores selling DVDs and manga volumes, but also stores selling plush toys, imported Japanese food, models, hand-made crafts and even a few artists set up selling their own artwork or letting other people commission them for a custom drawing.
But whilst the stalls are a big part of any convention, there are also a range of events that take place. Videogame tournaments are set up with something from just about every genre, with a few TVs set up in the background for people who don’t want to compete, but just want to have a go.
Costume contests - or "cosplay", as it’s called - are set up for those who want to show up as their favourite character, with prizes to be given away. This is always fun to watch because most of the contestants will even perform a little skit of sorts, acting as their character.
Special guests are always invited, ranging from artists, voice actors and other members of the anime, manga and videogame industry right through to internet celebrities. In this case, the organisers had LittleKuriboh of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series come along to sign autographs and take a few photos with fans.
I didn’t get the chance to meet him, unfortunately, but I was too absorbed in exploring! Manifest took place at the Melbourne Showgrounds with several indoor areas as well as the huge outdoor area, and there was a lot to cover. Everywhere I looked I’d see some amazing costumes, and a food court was even set up to show off some Japanese cuisine for those feeling like something a little different!
A friendly place
I spent hours just looking around at all the different stalls, trying to pick out a DVD or manga volume I might want from series I’d never even heard of before! After getting tired of that, I went and played a few rounds of Guitar Hero with total strangers who felt like new friends in just a couple of minutes!
If you’re a little bit shy or you're new to the anime scene and feeling a little nervous about the idea of going to a convention, don't worry. Manifest is just the sort of place to get into it. Everyone is friendly and willing to help out, and during my time there I felt as though I could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I even did a few times, knowing they all had similar interests and are just as passionate as I was!
Manifest is held every single year in Melbourne, usually at the Showgrounds. It gets a bit bigger every year and is definitely worth checking out if you want a friendly atmosphere, or to find something just a little bit different!
But if you can’t make it along to a convention and still want to get your fix of manga and anime, then there are plenty of comic shops in most big cities, or you could check out some online stores to get your fix delivered. Even your local DVD store or video library - or even your local library - will be able to help you track down some manga and anime to take home for yourself!
While it might be a little bit expensive, going to a convention is an experience worth having. So get a group of friends together, dress up as your favourite character and head on down to the next manga convention that comes to town! You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
For more articles about Arts & music, check out our Articles archive.
Articles Written by Grace H
Reviews written by Grace H
The content of these stories and articles are provided for information and entertainment purposes only. The views expressed are those of our roving reporters/editorial team members and do not necessarily reflect those of the Victorian Government. While every endeavour is made to ensure the currency, accuracy and authenticity of content, it can not be guaranteed. The Victorian Government does not accept any liabilities for any loss, damage, cost or expense you or others might incur as a result of the information or advice (or the use of it) on this website or in the articles. People using the site should undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content.