Anime Events Feature

Animecon UK – 2023 | The UK’s Largest Anime Manga And K-Pop Expo?

Today was the first every Animecon UK. Saying they’re the ‘UK’s Largest Anime Manga And K-Pop Expo’ is no small claim, but it certainly grabbed our attention. They kindly invited us to cover the event as press, so we can tell you how well it lives up to this claim.

Comic Con has Competition?

Animecon UK took place in Birmingham at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), the same place where MCM Birmingham Comic Con was held. There were many similarities between the two events, and I recognized many of the same vendors. However, as the name implies, Animecon UK was certainly more anime-focused. From the constant pumping of anime songs to the art seen all around, there was a strong theme here.

As with most similar events that I’ve been to, the main area was full of places to buy things. There were figures, plushies (including a very cute Sailor Saturn one I wish I had the cash for), art prints, manga, and more. But that wasn’t all they had.

Animecon UK 2023 - Voice Actors

Vocal Talent

Animecon UK managed to pull in quite a lot of talent. They had signing sessions for voice actors like Maile Flanagan, Ryan Volt Levy, Zach Aguilar, Elsie Lovelock (who does some great cover songs), and more. For those who prefer sub to dub such as myself, it may be easier to say ‘main character voice actors from Naruto, Demon Slayer, Chainsaw Man, and other major anime titles’ to appreciate the scale.

It seems like some of these were quite popular, judging by the size of the lines to meet them. Others perhaps less so, but I did see one chatting with some fans for quite a while, so it was nice that they took the time to since they didn’t have as much of a line.

It would’ve been nice to see some of the vocal talents from the Japanese side here too, but I imagine that would’ve been more difficult to arrange.

Outside of voice actors, they also had an appearance by rapper (and manga author) Shao Dow who had a stall where you could meet him, along with appearing on stage.

Animecon UK 2023 - Nijisanji EN

Play with VTubers

There was definitely a highlight for VTuber fans. Enna, Meloco, and Luca from Nijisanji EN appeared for a ‘talk show’ twice a day. This was shown on a large screen with seating around it. When I took a look, they were doing an audience participation game, guessing the audience’s answers to questions.

Everyone seemed to be really into it and they were great at getting the crowd going.

Shows, Talks, and Other Fun

The main stage often seemed to have something going on. Whether it was voice actors, podcasters, or others, there was always something to sit down and listen to.

They had a Crunchyroll screening room to relax and watch some anime in too. I’m not sure if it was just bad timing, but it seemed fairly quiet there. They were showing a lot of first episodes from popular anime. It was nice to relax there, but I didn’t stay around long since it was all shows that I and most anime fans would have already seen.

While K-Pop was in their tagline, I didn’t see much of it. But it did have some dancers showing off their moves and a booth about where to take lessons locally. I’m certainly not going to sign up, but it was fun to watch.

Of course, you can’t have dancing without singing. There was an area set up for karaoke. My ears begged me to leave that area as soon as possible.

Another interesting thing to watch was a manga live draw. Shinosuke Uchida was creating a giant piece of artwork on the wall, so I stayed and watched for a while.

Animecon UK 2023 - Aurolart

Artist Alley

According to the official website, there were just over 90 artists in the artist alley, and it certainly felt like there were tons.

I bought a few little things here, but there were tons that I would’ve loved to get. I picked up some Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura, and Ranma 1/2 pieces from Aurolart and Final Fantasy ones from YoshikuSenpaiBeth had some very cute pins too, but they were out of stock of the one I wanted.

Side note here, but I was really happy to see anything Ranma 1/2. It’s one I loved, and I only hear about it rarely these days, such as in relation to Onimai: I’m Now Your Sister.

Those are just a few highlights, but they had artists selling plushies, t-shirts, stickers, and even crochet wall scrolls in a wide variety of anime art styles.

Outside of the more visual art, they had a few other items. One of note was ‘A Song for Nightfall‘, a Native American-inspired book described as Alice in Wonderland mixed with the legend of Icarus. The author Alexander Linton was there and I had a short but interesting chat with him.

The artist alley was one of the absolute highlights of Animecon UK.

Animecon UK 2023 - Cloud Cosplayer


The other main highlight for me was the cosplayers. They were absolutely out in force, despite no competitions like some other conventions.

Some professional cosplayers were in attendance, and they had a ‘Crunchyroll Orange Carpet’ for people to take photos on, but what I enjoyed most was just seeing all sorts of people in costume.

Ranging from about 6 to 60 in age, there were cosplayers of all levels. I saw three very impressive versions of Cloud Strife, a few Persona cosplayers, quite a well-done Madoka, and even a character from Uma Musume. All the standards were around too, such as tons of Genshin Impact and Demon Slayer costumes.

Animecon UK 2023 - Maids of London

Maid Cafe

On the topic of costumes, Maids of England were in attendance. Which is very different from Animaid Cafe. One was a maid cafe normally based in London, while the other was a topless guy (who got catcalled at least a few times) selling dakimakura and similar items.

I spoke briefly with one of the maids there who was friendly and stayed in character the whole time. Their guests all seemed happy too.

I was surprised to see it was very quiet there early on, but it got very busy later. If you’re attending Animecon UK or another event where they appear, it might be good to get in early.


While Animecon UK is not a gaming event, there was a little gaming there. Most anime fans do enjoy some gaming, both anime games and otherwise after all.

CyberpowerPC brought a bus filled with consoles and their own PC systems to sit down and play games on. They had quite a few arcade sticks and fighters notably.

Unusually, a single indie developer was in attendance. Bubblegum Zombie Hunter had a stand with their demo, which is also available on the Steam Store. It’s a twin-stick shooter with pixel art, and I personally really enjoyed playing it. They mentioned coming to Steam and then other platforms such as Nintendo Switch later.

Player Ammo was giving away tastes of their gaming energy supplements too, along with letting people get cinematic videos of themselves in a setup where cameras spin around them while they pose. This did fit in with the anime theme, as they’re doing an official collaboration with Baki. They mentioned features such as no sugar, boosting focus, and health benefits related to nootropics. Without trying over the long term I can’t say how much it helps, but I can say that it tasted great, especially the Baki Blue Raspberry. They’re currently looking for brand ambassadors of all sizes if you’re a content creator and interested. 

Little Snags

While Animecon UK was fun overall, there were a few little snags. One of them may come down to staff training. None of them knew where anything was. Several didn’t even know there was a screening room, despite it being advertised quite heavily. In one case I was directed to use the con book to find a map when looking for something else, but it doesn’t include one (there’s actually a map on the website listed under ‘Exhibitors’, but it also didn’t list what I was looking for).

I hear there was also an issue with managing the initial queue.

It was the first AnimeCon UK, so I’ll give them some slack here. It’s something I’d like to see improve next time though.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure about the whole country, but Animecon UK is definitely the biggest anime-centric event I’ve found in the area. It’s pulled in a lot of talent for its first event, packed in tons of vendors and artists, and had some other ways to have fun too. It’s a good day out, especially if you enjoy your anime shopping or want to meet anime dub voice actors.

Many thanks go to Animecon UK for providing a press pass for this event.

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