Ruth Edmundson

GALLERY: SunnyCon 3 – Sunderland’s biggest ever celebration of Japanese pop culture

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Over 2,000 anime fans and gamers flocked to Seaburn seafront in costume as the third annual SunnyCon landed in Sunderland.

The award-winning convention is one of the UK’s fastest growing anime conventions and attracts fans of Japanese pop culture from across the country and beyond. All of who turned out dressed to impress as their favourite characters from a range of Japanese and Western animated series.

The weeklong convention, held at The Pullman Lodge, was full of significant moments that made this years event truly memorable. One gamer used the event to propose to his girlfriend who had just come off stage after competing in the masquerade contest – in front of a packed crowd she accepted his wedding proposal to an explosion of rapturous applause and cheers.

And two of the SunnyCon committee members shaved their hair off for the convention’s charities to raise funds for Aid for Japan, Sunderland Pride and Macmillan Cancer Research. Donna Yeoman, SunnyCon’s chairwoman who also was one of the team to have her hair shaved off said, “So far this year’s attendees have helped to raise £1,505 for charity and we are still receiving donations from friends and family.”

The weekend celebration of all things anime, games and geeky was jam-packed with panel talks, demonstrations, competitions, food, stalls and gaming. Organisers of the event were once again able to provide a plethora of big name guests from American voice actors J Micheal Tatum and Quinton Flynn – who drew in a huge crowd at their talks and signings.

A selection of respected and awe-inspiring costumers, better known as cosplayers, which included experienced UK cosplayer Helen Charters, award-winning Italian costumer Nadia Baiardi, Canadian based cosplyers Twinfools and Nova, and Gundam (robot) costumer Clive Lee.

Twinfools and Nova, members of the Canadian cosplay group Fighting Dreamers Productions, conducted their own costume panel at the event and Nova said: “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s very different from conventions that we’ve previously been to as no one has ever done the outdoor tent, which was a really good idea and it’s really nice being outdoors instead of being stuck inside all the time.”

And Twinfools added, “SunnyCon has a really nice atmosphere. Plus, we’ve been meeting a lot more people here than I thought we would, because I assumed it was going to be pretty quiet. However, it’s been a really pleasant surprise to meet so many people, it’s always a huge honour to and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Clive Lee, who flew in to Sunderland from Singapore, stunned many at the convention with his fully-mobile, intricately detailed robot costume, he said, “I’ve found the convention very heart warming because it is very community based and everyone is here because of the same passion.

It is very different from those conventions in Asia where they’ve become more commercialised and everyone goes to events for profit and fame. So the art of making costumes has been lost as most people just buy their costumes off the shelf. However, when I came here I love how everyone is very into making their own costume and enjoying cosplaying together.”

Fans of Sunderland’s annual anime convention can rest assured that work has already began for next year’s event.

As SunnyCon chairman Donna explains, “Next years we will be bringing more special guests, more gaming and more awesome cosplay and hopefully good weather too. We’re aiming to add some new events and a lot more activities for everyone to enjoy”. So keep the 19 – 20 June 2015 free in your dairy for SunnyCon 4.

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