(Author’s Note: I was asked to make it more personal, but I did not realise this at the time of writing. The following article also happens to be my opinion as well as fact. To the staff of Kaizoku Con, well done. To my editor, thanks for giving me the chance to write this)
Anime fans flocked to Kaizoku Con, Cork’s only anime convention on the UCC campus between March 28th to 30th. The idea of Kaizoku Con was set up in early 2013 by Emmett Fitzharris and Fionn McCleane from the UCC Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Anime and Horror Society (or Sci-Fi Society for short). From their experiences of going to numerous conventions throughout the country, such as Eirtakon in Dublin and Akumakon in Galway, they felt that Cork was missing out on the action. They pitched the idea to the then auditor of the Sci-Fi Society Niall Hartnett who encouraged the idea and with the long established Warpcon run by the War Gaming and Role Playing Society (WARPS) every year on campus, they realised Kaizoku Con was a feasible idea. With the help of a dedicated twenty person committee, the Societies Guild and dozens of volunteers to help out throughout the weekend, the dream finally became a reality.
Kaizoku Con pulled out all the stops to make the weekend as fun and as welcoming as possible, including live panels, screening rooms, games rooms for board games and video games, a trade hall, and the Old Bar was open for beverages and held several events. However, the cherry on the proverbial cake were the convention’s special guests: Johnny Yong Bosch and J. Michael Tatum.
Johnny Yong Bosch is an American actor, voice actor and musician. He is best known for his role as Adam Park in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He also provides the voices for many well-known characters such as Ichigo from Bleach, Vash the Stampede from Trigun, and Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass. He has also voiced a number of video game characters like Nero from Devil May Cry 3 and Kuhn from .Hack//G.U. Johnny is also a talented musician and the lead singer of the band Eyeshine.
J. Michael Tatum is an American voice actor, an Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) director, and script writer at Funimation. He is well known for his roles as Scar from Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Sebastian from Black Butler, Isaac from Baccano!, Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club, Lawrence from Spice & Wolf and was recently cast as Erwin from Attack On Titan. He has also provided voices to several video games, notably Sir Hammerlock from Borderlands 2 and Julius from Tales of Xillia 2. He has worked on the script of several anime such as Attack On Titan, Deadman Wonderland, Dragonball Z Kai and Ouran High School Host Club.
At Kaizoku Con, there were four guest panels for attendants to meet and ask questions to both Johnny Yong Bosch and J. Michael Tatum including two separate Q&A sessions, three guest signings on Saturday and Sunday, and a panel featuring both the guests named “Voice Acting with the Greats”. As well as that, over 30 panels took place including “Brony Panel” by Robert Hamilton & Holly Whiteside from Bronies of Ireland, “Comics! An Indie Artist’s Perspective” featuring the Corkonian Marvel artist Will Sliney, “Mythology in Anime” by the Mythology Society, “The Morphin’ Legacy” by Johnny Yong Bosch and Mark McAlister. Not only that, Kaizoku Con also offered a wide range of events and games including “Kards Against Kaizoku”, the tea ceremony by the Japanese Society, “Cosplay Take Me Out”, the pub quiz and the charity auction which were both held in the Old Bar. They also showed over twenty screenings over the three days including Sharknado, Card Captors, Pokémon Origins and Supernatural.
Kaizoku Con was well organised, the volunteers were friendly and helpful to people who were unfamiliar with the UCC campus, and it ran without any major problems, except perhaps Johnny Yong Bosch’s signing going on three hours longer than scheduled due to the extensively large queue. Both Johnny Yong Bosch and J. Michael Tatum were exceptional guests at this convention. Both men were very nice, charming, funny and chatty to all fans old and new. They were willing to sign for everyone, let pictures be taken and answer any fan questions (including the hilarious Q&A session with J. Michael Tatum on Saturday night). They also participated in charity auction in which Johnny Yong Bosch auctioned off a signed replica wooden sword from Bleach and J. Michael Tatum auctioned off a chance for a lucky bidder to hug him for a whole minute. Other bids included sci-fi and fantasy movie posters from Iron Man 3, The Hobbit and 300. From the charity auction around €2000 was raised in aid of Laura Lynn Ireland’s Children’s Hospice charity.
Around 830 people attended Kaizoku Con during the weekend, which according to the convention organisers, is the highest attendance for an anime convention’s inaugural year in Ireland. It has been an overwhelmingly successful first year for the convention, with plenty of events and activities on offer, the excellent choice of guests, and the fun atmosphere around the campus during the three days. According to the Kaizoku Con committee, the chance of Kaizoku Con returning in 2015 is very certain. With the first year behind them, Kaizoku Con is well on its way of being a treasure trove among the other anime conventions in Ireland.
Louise Clancy with J. Michael Tatum (left) and Johnny Yong Bosch (right) at the Sunday signing.