J-Popcon is Denmark’s largest event for Japanese popular culture and has existed as a convention for 13 years, drawing more than 3.000 participants to Copenhagen for a weekend of fan meet’n’greets, concerts, cosplay competitions, karaoke, gaming, friendly meet-ups and yes well, just plain geeking out. It is planned by a team of dedicated volunteers.
For more than 3 years I have been involved with building new ambitions, visions, events and work flows for J-Popcon, while re-designing the experience to keep the event interesting for the ever-growing community of participants.
– Energizing and inspiring the volunteers
– Re-building the brand and inventing and implementing a new theme strategy
– Long-term management visions and new budgeting strategy
– Event planning tools and workshops for the volunteers
– PR strategy and sponsorships
The 2014 theme was “high school cultural festival” and it was chosen for it’s versatility and recognizability in the community as it is a common theme in anime/manga. It was designed to create openings for audience participation and co-creation on several levels and to test the possibility of theming an entire convention, as previously this has been done with only sections of an event or a show.
The 2014 theme incorporated elements commonly seen on slice-of-life high school anime/manga and especially relating to how those schools host their open-house-day/culture festival:
All participants were welcomed to the Nishibashi Bunka Koukou (Vesterbro Culture High School) as new students.
All volunteers wore specially designed Nishibashi Bunka Koukou (Vesterbro Culture High School) uniforms.
The school had a news paper with news and gossip about what happened the previous day and high lights for the present day.
The venue was decorated to look like it had been decorated by students with home-made artifacts and signs and food stalls (a common thing made by students in these animes) were brought in.
All events where themed as being presented by one of the schools clubs or the school student council. The school clubs consisted of either real clubs that were invited from all over Denmark to host events and have a booth in the community corner (this includes martial art clubs, origami and kimono clubs, as well as a tea-ceremony club) or J-Popcon school clubs, which were created for participants to join for the weekend by showcasing their loyalty with a club-armband. The clubs were complete with their own club rooms and their own events, such as the “J-Pop fan meet-up”, hosted by the “J-Pop club”.
Volunteers actors were brought in to portray typical anime characters, such as “Tsundere”, “the student council president” or “the school king/hot guy” and act out im-promptu scenes such as a “love confession” or a “student rivalry”. One of the school clubs, the “photography club” had the added storytelling of really being a cover for having a “fan club for the king of the school”. Their club room was covered with pictures of the actor portraying this character and there was make-believe articles about them in the school news paper.
A surprise event for sending up lanterns was announced and followed by a yokai (japanese demons) masked ball/school dance, complete with red-carpet introduction where photographers were snatching photos of the well dressed students (participants) and included scary yokai’s actors as well.