Archive (October 2020)



Recently we were lucky enough to sit down with 'Mark' from Animangapop Management to find out their role within the event, what it takes to put on these shows and try to get any juicy gossip!

[AMP]:
Hi there, hope you have been enjoying yourself over the past few months, I know you have been very busy working behind the scenes. Could you please tell us what your role is in the Animanga Pop team, please?


[Mark]:
Hi Lucy, yes it has been a strange year so far for everyone but we have been trying to make the most of the down-time to enjoy the sunshine (when it’s out) along with family time and working with Kim, Claire and the others to prep for new and exciting shows.

My role within Animangapop is “General dogsbody” and you can find me at most events darting from one end to the other. In all seriousness though, my role would be “Executive Show Producer” and it is my job to make sure that our management team have everything they need to produce an awesome show for everyone.



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[AMP]:
Thank you very much, how long have you been running these events? and what was it like trying to start up a convention for the first time?


[Mark]:
Well… it’s History lesson time everyone. Animangapop “Officially started” in February 2014 at the Holiday Inn, Plymouth (now the Crowne Plaza). However, before that event took place there were 2 smaller events in Plymouth which were a collaboration between our retail company Keep it Secret and a Show Producer called “Mike Allwood” who had been running comic conventions since the 1990s.

We decided to create a show called P.A.C.E which stood for ‘Plymouth Anime & Ccomic Expo’ and was held at the Copthorne Hotel, Plymouth in December 2012. It did so well we decided to run another one in April 2013. Off the back of these little shows, we took the plunge, moved venues and rebranded the show ‘Animangapop’.

With regards to starting a Convention back then, it was tough. No one in Plymouth knew who we were and we were relying on a lot of local connections within the Comic book industry Mike had to get our first traders. After that, it was a case of advertising, advertising and more advertising to let people know we were here! Once we jumped into a bigger venue it meant bigger costs and more networking than you could ever think was possible to find guests, traders, panellists, etc, etc.



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[AMP]:
What gave you the inspiration to even begin thinking about running Animanga pop? What lead you to the successful event you have today?


[Mark]:
I think the inspiration came from the fact that our retail company ‘Keep It Secret’ which specialises in Japanese and Asian POP-Culture had been on the road at different events up and down the country for a few years. We soon realised there was nothing down here in the South West for local people to attend. We decided to change that. The success of the event I would say incorporates a few factors and they are the following:

  • Listen. - Listen to feedback from traders and attendees. Change what you can where you can within reason and make people feel valued.
  • Communication. - Communicate thoroughly with traders and attendees. Answer as many questions as possible. Never leave anyone hanging or not knowing where to find the answer.
  • Professionalism. - Always remember to conduct yourself in a way that people can see you know your industry. This does not mean lie though. If you do not know something the best thing you can do is be honest and learn from it.
  • Courtesy. - Always, always, always… treat the attendee’s, guests and traders how you would like to be treated yourself.


  • *Bonus* - The 6 P's. - This one is for our internal team. Ha-ha! They are probably sick of hearing it but they understand the value of it and the fruits of its labour. For those of you who know the “6 P’s” you will understand. Others will have to guess.

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[AMP]:
I'm sure you have witnessed all sorts of things hosting an event like this, do you have any stories from past events that you remember most? Any funny ones, inspiring ones where you had to overcome something?


[Mark]:
Wow… some of the stories I could tell! Most of which would not be safe for this interview and I could end up being sued by some people ha-ha!

Some tame ones include a memory of Animangapop 2015 where Myself & Mike Allwood (The 2 show producers at the time) ended up sweeping the floor in the middle of the convention after a performance by Kelsey Ellison on Stage. Even though we had plenty of helpers around. Just goes to show, you should never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

Another is about a hotel bedroom which was used as our show producer Mike's actual bedroom as well as a changing room. I remember Mike walking back into the convention with a look of shock on his face… When I asked him “what's up? He replied… “Well, I’m glad the wife is not here... I’ve just had 4 maids changing into their live performance outfit in the room whilst a Japanese POP Singer brushes here teeth in my bathroom”!

With regards to overcoming issues. There are hundreds! Nothing ever goes 100% to plan and I think it’s learning how to adapt and change quickly and efficiently so that people who attend the show don’t even know the difference.



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[AMP]:
We all know you have secrets for the next events which are now being held in different cities, for our readers do you have any info you may be able to share with us? A little teaser almost?


[Mark]:
Ah yes, even though Animangapop is having a year out (no shows in 2021) this does not mean we are not working hard in the background. As we speak we are discussing venues, Costs, traders, special guests, pricing, Panelist, advertising and a huge amount of other things to make sure these new events go off with a blast!

Hmm… a teaser… well, if you don’t already know. We have 4 x Shows up and coming. These show dates are based around the Japanese 4 Seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Animangapop 2022 for Plymouth is not moving date and is already locked into the diary so that is ‘Winter’ taken care of. You will have to keep guessing which season the new shows will appear.



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[AMP]:
Out of all the years you have been doing this, do you have a particular favourite? One that just sticks out to you compared to the others?


[Mark]:
We are immensely proud of all of our shows and extremely thankful to everyone who attends the event. Without them, we would not be able to do any of this. If I had to pick one which stands out it would possibly be our first Weekender event in 2019! After 5 years of doing single-day shows, this was a big gamble for us to move into a 2-day event as we had seen local events scale back from 2 days to 1 day. However, we believed we had great content, guests, traders, amazing atmosphere and somewhere people would like to spend the weekend with friends and family. The show was a success and that fuelled us for 2020 which was another smash hit!



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[AMP]:
Outside of Animanga Pop, what kind of hobbies do you have? What do you like to do when you want to take your mind away from planning?


[Mark]:
Ah yes... well, my mind is never really not working. Animangapop is only part of our business. It is the events arm of the company. The parent company ‘POP Nippon’ also runs a retail business and Japanese Fashion show consultancy business. As well as looking after top Japanese Street Fashion brands and managing many famous Japanese Artists, Influencers and DJ’s. It’s a non-stop POP Culture roller-coaster ride!

However, when I do get time to rest, we like to travel usually to places like Hong Kong and Japan to see family and friends. As well as enjoying time with our new-born daughter (a.k.a. 会長 !)

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[AMP]:
Finally, on a scale of 1-10, how proud are you with how Animanga Pop has grown over the years? You have seen every little thing that's happened to it, How it's changed over the years, and should we expect new things to be happening over the next few years too?


[Mark]:
Again, we are immensely proud of Animangapop. It was just an idea which grew into what you see today. I am super proud of everyone who has worked with us on this project. From those who have been with us since day 1 (Kim). Right through to people who have only joined us recently (yourself Lucy) All of which show a dogged determination and a real pure interest in what we are about and the quality of events we aim to produce. We are proud to also say that we 100% promote from within our team. Everyone has started as a runner at an event and some are now in charge of some pretty hefty work-loads.

The show has evolved over the years for sure. You have to always be on the move and adjust to the latest trends, latest fashions, latest everything within our Niche of Japanese POP-Culture whilst still keeping the roots of what we wanted to do in the first place. It’s a tough balancing act but we like to think we get it right most of the time.

With new venues and new cities comes lots of great opportunities so you can look out for collaborations, even more, awesome special guests and some fresh new branding at our new shows.



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Website: https://www.animangapop.co.uk/
Need Support?: https://support.animangpaop.co.uk/
Email me direct: mark@popnippon.com
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Oct 2020