Ryucon 2023 – My New Beginning (?)

There were times when I was active in manga and anime fandom. In fact those were my beginnings (I already wrote about it). Some years ago, however, I almost completely left that part of fandom. Yet in the pandemic times I moved back closer to it.

Surprising Offer

Some months ago a friend from my old fannish times came to me and asked whether Krakowska Sieć Fantastyki (the SFF club I’m chairing in Kraków) would be interested in helping at his convention. The event is called Ryucon and is a M&A con which wants to broaden the offer by adding some SFF to it. After internal club discussion we agreed and although initially I was supposed not to be involved in the end I was helping.

Conference room with multiple people sitting and listening to the presenter.
The SFF room at Ryucon 2023.

And it was in a way a new beginning for me. It was years since I was doing anything more than being a programme participant at the M&A con. And it was the first time in my career when I was doing something more at the commercial convention. Interesting experience!  Of course I was not a member of the concom but I had a task to perform. I had to spend quite a lot of time pre-con (and now also after the con) to fulfil my duties. I am interested in repeating this next year yet the time constraints are huge!

All those moments were lost in time …

In the last few years I got more invested into M&A and maybe because of that M&A fandom became to be more appealing again. There were multiple factors that affected it. Working on the DOJI fanzine, meeting manga fans at online cons, and generally diving into the past. Ryucon 2023 was a good opportunity do the last thing.

Firstly I met some friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time (similarly to what happened at Magnificon this year). Secondly a friend had a presentation summarizing his years in M&A fandom. It was a sentimental journey back in time. Seeing all the old pictures, hearing names I haven’t heard in so many years. It was a moving talk. I am not sure to what extent it was interesting for people who were not active in those years but for me it was something I certainly needed.

A man speaking to the microphone and pointing his finger to the screen behind him. The screen shows pictures of two people and the text 'Game over'.
Yen presenting his years in M&A fandom.

And now I am longing a bit to those old times. I am wondering what will be the next M&A con I’ll manage to attend. Of course I am aware that the time has passed by. I know it won’t be the same but there is something that makes me want to go. All of this also made me to go through multiple online galleries from the M&A cons from twenty years ago.

How Big Was The Interest in SFF at M&A Convention?

The question above was something that troubled me. When Ryucon came to us with the offer I had no idea whether there would be any interest in the programme we can offer. Yet we decided to do our best to make it interesting for M&A fans and for other people who may potentially attend. Personally I liked quite a few items that we managed to prepare. After the con I may say that interest was bigger than I expected. It is good that we received rather big programme room.

Three people sitting behind a desk. The person furthest to the right speaks to the microphone.
Panel comparing European knights and Samurais.

The first items in the mornings of both days of the con and the closing item were not very popular. This doesn’t mean however there was no interest in them. They all had some people listening to them. Most of the other programme items I have seen were pretty crowded. There were no cases where we had to block people from entering but on many talks/panels almost all the seats were taken. I must admit this was a relief for me.

Working and Chatting

I did not spend too much time on enjoying Ryucon 2023 as a whole. Majority of time I was either in the room we ran or chatting to friends just outside of it. I managed to visit dealer’s room once, I attended one talk in other room, and I did some walks around the venue. That was it. Because of that I cannot describe how did the convention go. I saw many people (there were over 6000 participants in total) and a lengthy queue to the registration. What I noticed was the lack of signage in the venue. I am lucky that I can navigate most of the convention venues with ease. Yet I know that lack of signs posed an issue to some people.

A picture showing a stage surrounded by the stands. On the stage there is a big and very bright screen.
The main stage at Ryucon 2023.

The venue is something I must mention. Ryucon 2023 was held in Tauron Arena Kraków which is an indoor arena. 6000 people didn’t reach its capacity – there was still plenty of space. The building offers some great opportunities with a huge space for stage and thousands of seats around it. I didn’t attend any of the events on it but I looked at it from above. I can only say it was impressive. The programme rooms however are not very well designed. There were some rooms in the basement and total of four on the first floor. Unfortunately the ones on the first floor were not places next to each other. Two were on one side of the arena and two on the opposite side. This means one had to walk half of the circumference of the whole building to get from one room to another.

Long queue in a shadow.
The queue to the registration.

My Impressions

I cannot properly judge Ryucon as I was involved in running it and I saw only very little part of the con. Yet I have some impressions from what I managed to see. For me it was a sentimental journey that I enjoyed. Moreover I am satisfied that the programme we (in fact mainly my friend – Gaba) managed to prepare was interesting to the visitors. I am not happy with some parts of the con – especially lack of badges for most of the attendees. Badges were available only for a few groups of people – and that is a pity. Yet in the end I am willing to repeat the experience. I am not sure whether we will have the same collaboration next year but should it happen I am willing to come again.

You can find more pictures in my FB gallery.

The next post should appear in the middle of September.

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