The past weeks were hectic but in the Dutch anime scene developments are made. Some reflections on Tsunacon are in order and on YaYCon’s past initiatives to raise funding to bring fan artist Hamlet Machine to The Netherlands.

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Tsunacon reflections

Over a week ago, I attended the Dutch convention Tsunacon. I did not have time to draw out many observations since I was promoting the fan convention that I chair, YaYCon, but I loved being there. Tsunacon started as a casual forum meeting that grew into one of the largest fan conventions in The Netherlands. The organization purposely sticks to one day a year but draws a huge crowd. This year it was hosted for the second time at the University of Rotterdam. The organization had made good improvements in the food and had made use of the different floors of the building more extensively. I was happy to see how it had evolved and tip my hat to their team again for sticking to their formula while developing the quality each time.

In terms of fan practices, what struck me was the increase of arts and crafts. This year there were far more stands that featured fan jewelry, kawaii accessoiries and handmade merchandise. I did not see many doujinshi this year, but Circle Pegasi, Marlon Theunissen and Tea Tales were present amongst others with charming new stories and prints. What I liked about the dealer room was that there were quite some small vendours that imported very specific items (e.g., Japanese charms or stickers), which was quite neat to see. I thought the balance between big companies and local artists worked quite well.

The cosplayer that stood out the most during the day was inspired by Journey. I was surprised to see that this rather minimalist game translated so well into a costume.

Starfighter at YaYCon

At YaYCon, we’ve been experimenting with a crowd funding project. This year’s edition is called Back to the Future and as always, we actively try to implement our science fiction theme in the convention space. One of our favourite webcomic artists, Hamlet Machine from the yaoi space opera Starfighter, seemed the obvious guest to have at our convention but we didn’t have the budget to fly her in at all. Luckily fans were willing to invest in her travel and get a small print in return. We aced it 100% the minute she announced it and are still open for donations.  Hamlet Machine will sign prints and booklets at the convention but also do a little panel, so we are very happy with that.

It’s surprising to see that this funding principle works so well. I’ve often had doubts about it and also thought that for a local initiative it might not be helpful. The good thing is that we kept it cheap and give something special in return, I guess, which is something that I’d recommend to anyone. I mean crowdfunding is nothing new but the idea with a good Kickstarter is that you also invest in a real project and outcome. Our outcome is not just a travel and a panel, but also having providing fans with exclusive fan memorabilia. This gives a little extra, affective spin. And that’s also what a good Kickstarter works like, add something extra for investment and allow a large investment to be rewarded in a very special way. This solidifies the relationship between the artist or designer and the fan investors.

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