Wikinews attends Animeleague's summer 2023 Birmingham, UK Anime & Gaming Con

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Edgbaston Stadium on August 27.
Image: Ash Thawley.

In late August, con-goers — over 4,000 according to organisers' estimates to Wikinews — flocked to Edgbaston Stadium for the two-day-long Animeleague Birmingham Anime & Gaming Con in the United Kingdom. Wikinews reporter Ash Thawley attended on the second day, August 27, from 11:00 BST (1000 UTC) to 14:00 BST (1300 UTC).


The central alley of the Exhibition Hall.
Image: Ash Thawley.

The convention's Exhibition Hall featured crystals for sale, and both it and the second-floor Banqueting Suite hosted anime and video game memorabilia for sale. Also on sale in the latter were J-pop merchandise, swords — including katanas — and doughnuts. Cats Protection was in attendance in the Exhibition Hall.

The second-floor 1882 Suite had events, video and tabletop gaming areas, an Animeleague merchandise desk, and a rest area.

Meowgical Rosie

Meowgical Rosie's stall in the Banqueting Suite.
Image: Ash Thawley.

On August 26, Inverness, Scotland-raised J-pop idol Meowgical Rosie performed at the convention. Rosie answered Wikinews' emailed queries after it ended.

((Wikinews)) What inspired you to get into your subgenre?

((Meowgical Rosie)) I discovered J-pop music and idol culture on the internet one day, and I instantly fell in love. The cute outfits and upbeat songs made me so happy, and I wanted to share that happiness with everyone. It was very different from everything I had been used to up until that point, as I was a slightly tomboyish child, but when I felt the energetic cheerful vibes of J-pop music for the first time I knew in my heart that it was the path I was meant to follow.

((WN)) "Meowgical Rosie". What's the story behind the name?

((Meowgical Rosie)) I've always been a huge lover of cats, so I knew I wanted to incorporate that somehow. I also wanted to encompass that joyful, almost magical feeling I get from J-pop. The word 'meowgical' seemed to have that vibe I was going for, and my name is Rosie, so I became Meowgical Rosie!

((WN)) What do you hope to accomplish with your music?

((Meowgical Rosie)) One of the biggest messages I try to share is to not be afraid to follow your dreams and to do what makes you happy. Too often I see and hear of people making fun of others for having unconventional hobbies and interests — it happened to me when I was first starting out as a performer, a lot of people made fun of me for it. It breaks my heart to hear of those who have given up the things that bring them joy because of taunting and bullying. I feel as long as it's harmless, we should be able to enjoy the things that make us happy without fear of what other people think. But of course, I understand it isn't always easy to have the confidence to do so, and that's why I want to help others find that confidence in themselves like I did! I hope that as a performer, I can inspire others like me to be unashamed to follow their hearts and their dreams.

((WN)) Was this your first time at Animeleague Birmingham? Do you plan to come back?

((Meowgical Rosie)) It was not my first time there, I've performed at that event a few times now and it's always such an energetic crowd! Some have come to my performances on multiple occasions now and it's always wonderful to see familiar faces, but also meet new ones each time I'm there! I definitely hope to return next time.


LELE poses with her stall.
Image: Ash Thawley.
Con-goers watch LELE enter the stage.
Image: Ash Thawley.

At 12:00 BST (1100 UTC) on August 27, LELE performed at the convention. LELE, a J-pop idol who has performed in Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom, has released a few albums and extended plays, as well as three singles. LELE answered Wikinews' emailed questions after the convention concluded.

((Wikinews)) What inspired you to get into music?

((LELE)) I come from a very musical background, both of my parents are musicians and myself and my siblings are also musically trained. However, I didn't actually begin to take music seriously as a career choice until I was about 20. I've always been a huge fan of anime and it was actually the opening theme songs that inspired me to begin singing in Japanese. I wanted to write and produce music that I enjoyed listening to myself, but I also wanted to write something that sounded like it could be a 'theme song'. Often when I write music, I create an anime in my head that would fit with it and it sort of helps to keep me writing within a theme. TL;DR: Anime.

((WN)) Do you have a favourite song of yours?

((LELE)) At the moment it would be my most recently released song, Hello Goodbye. You can listen to it [...] on Spotify[.] I feel immensely proud of it. When I write music, I'm a bit of a perfectionist and if I can't make it sound the way I hear it in my head – sometimes I'll end up shelving a song for months – even YEARS, before I decide that it's worth working on again. But with Hello Goodbye, I wrote it, recorded it and polished it off in thirteen hours from start to finish! Everything sounded right to me. When I wanted to add in a little chime or jingle here and there to fill out the sound, it fit in just right. I really feel like this song was meant to be written the exact day I wrote it. But that might just be some 'musician superstition'.

((WN)) Was this your first time at Animeleague Birmingham, and do you plan to come back?

((LELE)) I believe this may be the fourth performance I've done in Birmingham and I certainly do have plans to come back and perform here again! I love the energy here, everyone gets involved and it makes the show that much more enjoyable!

((WN)) What is the best part about performing?

((LELE)) For me, the best part is when the crowd joins in. I love it so much and it gives me such an energy boost when people come up to dance with me at the front of the stage. Historically I've performed in clubs and music festivals, so the convention scene was very different for me with the crowd sitting in chairs rather than standing up and dancing. I always encourage my viewers to come and join me, jump around, be silly and let loose..[sic] because I just want everyone to have as much fun as I am!

((WN)) What are your plans for the future?

((LELE)) My plans include more live shows, both local[sic] within the UK and internationally— I have another six or seven shows this year, and still in the process of organising my 2024 performance schedule! I'm also collaborating with some other international artists and producers, so please keep an eye out for those announcements!


The event's "Big Gaming Quiz" was to occur at the same time as LELE's performance. By 12:32 (1132 UTC), an anime opening quiz had started, giving attendees ten seconds of audio to guess which opening it was from, after which the answer and video would be revealed. Some attendees sang along.

D. C. Douglas

D. C. Douglas answering questions from the audience.
Image: Ash Thawley.

At 13:15 BST (1215 UTC) August 27, a questions-and-answers session started with actor D. C. Douglas. Voice actor Elsie Lovelock was originally to take questions as well, but she was unable to attend the convention "due to personal commitments", stated the organisers.

The first question from an audience member was, "What was your favourite line in JoJo?" He responded, "Well, it was in [the introduction video]. There are kids here! It's the line where... well... [...] he answers why he's obsessed with hands, and you finally find out what it is. [...] So, because of the Mona Lisa, her hands, that's why he's obsessed with hands, because it gave him a boner... anyway, on the Blu-ray it's uncensored".

Another question was how his family reacted to his first role. He answered, "first off, my family's always known that I've wanted to be an actor since I was seven years old, so I was doing theatre at twelve, and they knew I was going to go to L.A. [Los Angeles] eventually."

Mi Yo Ri

Hong Konger Mi Yo Ri performed at 15:30 BST (1400 UTC) August 27. She spoke with Wikinews later.

((Wikinews)) This was your first performance outside of Bristol, right? How did that feel? Were you nervous?

((Mi Yo Ri)) Right[!] I'm feel[ing] really excit[ed] as this is my first performance outside of Bristol and I['m] also worry[ing] about my performance. [A f]ew years ago, I had hurt my [a]nterior [c]ruciate [l]igament and I hurt it again lest two week [sic], so I had [to] change my setlist urgently. I'm worry[ing] about my perform[ance] as I had not enough time to [prepare]. I never though[t] people [would] enjoy my performance. I had a good time [with] my performance.

((WN)) So you performed with that injury? That's really impressive. Do you think you'll come back to perform in Birmingham again?

((Mi Yo Ri)) Yes, I will[!]

Other events

Con-goers watch an anime screening (foreground, left) and play tabletop games (background).
Image: Ash Thawley.

On August 26, Cardiff-based J-rock cover band Nattoheads and rapper Shao Dow were scheduled to perform on the convention's main stage. That day, the panels stage was to feature another questions-and-answers session with D. C. Douglas which Lovelock was originally to participate in, along with panels on "TikTok & Cosplay" — many cosplayers, dressed up as characters from video games, anime, and vocaloid, attended the convention — and the history of video gaming.

On August 27, the main stage was to host Japanese singer-songwriter MION and rock artist Crae Wolf's performances and a talent show at 13:00 BST (1200 UTC), and the panels stage "Guess That Anime Character", where participants were to guess characters from a vague description.

On both days, the panels stage was temporarily set up for con-goers to play virtual reality rhythm game Beat Saber. There were anime screenings of shows such as My Dress-Up Darling, Fairy Tail, and Black Butler.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.