Jyvaskyla, Finland. July 10-12, 2004.
Reporter(s): The Macaque

Foreword:It’s The Macaque here. This is the the story of our brave posse of three (myself and my two friends Pauli and Tomi) going to the third anime related con here in Finland, aptly named Animecon 3. I live in the capital Helsinki (located on the southern coast of Finland), and the trip up north to the city of Jyvaskyla, where the con was arranged this year, takes about 5 hours in one direction. This year Animecon was arranged in connection with Finncon, a sci-fi/fantasy convention. The event grew with about 2000 people from last year (totalling around 5200 visitors), which makes it currently one of the three biggest cons in Europe. Animecon is also the only European convention which has ever managed to secure a guest of honor from Japan (ABe Yoshitoshi). More on the convention can be found at www.animecon.fi and www.animeunioni.fi. Fri, July 10th. I pack my stuff, as I’m in a hurry to catch the train to Kerava (a town located north of Helsinki). By a stroke of luck, I haven’t forgotten a single item this time. “A 12-pack of beer and a 3 litre pack of white wine should be enough for two evenings,” I think as I’m closing the door. At the train station I find Pauli, who luckily brought his tent with him. So there we are, headed for Kerava, where we’re to meet our driver Tomi. Pauli and I certainly don’t mind paying for the gas, as Tomi has a grueling 3 hours and 45 mins ahead of him behind the wheel. A quick look at a road map, and we’re off with anime soundtrack songs playing in the CD-player. Without a single stop we drive up to Jyvaskyla. When we arrive in town, our first concern is finding our way to the con area or to the cheap lodging, mentioned on the Animecon site. At this point we have no map of the city, no clue of where the con is to be held, no idea of where the lodging is arranged, and only a vague recollection that some folks over at the local university are behind the arrangements. So there we are, driving around in an unfamiliar town trying to locate the university. Or is it? We arrive at a big house, where people are allowed to sleep on the floor of a gym for a minimal fee. We find out three worrying things. First, they don’t want drunk people inside. Very bad, since we were planning on getting drunk that very night. Second, the doors closed at midnight. Not such good news either, since it was around 9 PM at that time. Finally, the place was booked full for the following day, so we’d still have to come up with a backup plan for the next night. We did have a tent with us, so we asked the staff if we could raise it on their backyard. Since they didn’t object, we decided to sleep outside for the entire weekend. This also gave us an opportunity to get drunk as much as we liked, as long as we didn’t mind the mosquitos or the occasional rain. I slept in the tent with Pauli, and Tomi decided to sleep in the car. We put up camp, and started drinking. This is where my memory starts failing me, as I downed white wine and beer, one after another. I rember Tomi posing in his kendo uniform, and swinging his training sword around like a maniac. Fun, hehe. 


Three Brave Musketeers.
Sat, July 11th. 

I wake up really hung-over. Tired as hell, I drag my ass out of the tent as Pauli and Tomi get ready for the con. We have a two kilometer walk ahead of us, and none of us really seem too enthusiastic up about it. We arrive at the con a few hours after the opening ceremony. I head over to a drawing competition, and spend the next hour trying to draw something, but the hang-over is taking its toll. I finally give up, and decide the picture is ready. I return the pic and head over to some Xena panel with Tomi. The panel is boring as hell, and we mostly concentrate on finding funny aspects in the panelists while laughing our hung over asses off to an older panelist who looks like a definite beatnik. 

After the Xena panel, we take off to get something to eat. After a crappy kebab, we head for the main event of the day, the AMV contest. We spotted ABe Yoshitoshi on our way back from the restaurant, although none of us could really tell it was him at that time. 

The AMV contest is a real success. First ever AMV contest in Finland by the way, but you sure couldn’t tell by the quality of the vids. A few crappy ones, but most of the 23 videos were really well done and entertaining as hell. The winner of this year’s contest is the same vid that won at Fanime in San Jose. In San Jose it was the judges who decided the winner, at Animecon it was the viewers. And what an uproar the winner caused. People laughed insanely as Alucard from Hellsing is singing an ultra-cheerful-mid-90’s-euro-pop song called Wizard of Oz, by Toybox. As said by the Finnish creator of that vid, he stood behind the screen shivering with sheer excitement (and some anguish) as the entire crowd fell off their chairs. Finns dig black humor, it clearly showed at the competition. Risky Safety singing Rammstein’s Engel is a good example of sick humor at its best. After an entertaining 2 hours, the first day is over and we head back to our camp to get ready for the evening. 

Two parties are arranged that night. A non-alcoholic one, where the younger (and older) con goers can enjoy anime karaoke, and other fun things without alcohol. The other party was arranged together with one of the head sponsors of the con, SETA (the organization for sexual equality). They had an S&M party downstairs, and a more relaxed (and less bizarre) one upstairs, for the more conventional con visitors. At the party upstairs they showed some anime and hentai AMV’s. Even ABe-san decided to pop by, sadly just as they were showing some hentai AMV featuring anal intercourse. He didn’t stay for a long while and as he left the place, the staff supposedly gave him a “male survival kit” (which they were handing out to all male visitors). This package supposedly featured a plastic dildo. 

Anyway, our gang decided to get drunk by our camp, and head off to the non-alcoholic party, since we didn’t have money to spend on alcohol anyway. At the party we met a girl called Emmi, who had a whip and an attitude for spanking people, and who also seemed to enjoy biting us. We ended up hanging out with her at the party, and we even dragged her along to our camp. Once again, I only have vague memories of what actually happened that night, but I’m sure it was well worth the time. 

Sun, July 12th. 

Once again I’m waking up really hung over. The other two, Pauli and Tomi, didn’t drink that much the night before, so they were in a much better shape than I am. We take down the tent, and pack all of our stuff in the car, and drive over to the con area for the last time. 


The Man Himself.
The first big event for the day is ABe’s “guest of honor” speech. Right before the event, we spot him in the cafeteria, as can be seen in the photo. He seemed really down to earth, and as I got to learn after the con, he really enjoyed his stay. Good news for future Finnish cons, as it will probably be a lot easier to attract guests of his caliber in the future. The seminar doesn’t really produce any new info on the man or the anime he’s made, but it’s still nice to see him live, knowing him previously only by his work. 


After the event is over, people queue up for an autograph by ABe in the lobby. With so many people, and with such an elusive autograph/picture, the whole thing ends up taking way too long, and eventually some people are left without one of ABe’s angels. 

So, now we’ve seen the maestro, and we have two events left ahead of us. One being the cosplay contest, and the other one being the final award ceremony and last words by the staff. 

The cosplay contest is nice, with one clear favourite for winning the first price. With a landslide of votes, a Malice Mizercostume is announced winner of the contest, and all that is left in the programme is the closing statement by the staff. They bid all con goers farewell, and also welcome the head of staff for the 2006 Finncon in Helsinki. 2005 will not see a Finncon, nor an Animecon, due to the massive preparations needed for the arrangements. As nearly all of the work is done by volunteer labor, and so much needs to be taken into consideration with over 5000 visitors, it’s understandable the people responsible for the arrangements want an extra year on their hands to make sure all things go as planned. With a much larger amount of visitors expected for the con in Helsinki, and with the general consent of keeping the con free of charge, I say it’s only for the best. 


Over The Top?
So, our grand adventure is finally over, and we jump into the car, and start our journey back home. This time, we actually stop on the way for some coffee, but otherwise we’re destined to get home as fast as possible. Tomi had to leave for the army the day after, and Pauli and I were pretty beat. As we stood on the platform at the train station in Kerava, I could still feel the bite marks from last night. 

This is Agent Maca, signing out.