Thoughts on my first time at Manga Barcelona (December 8-11, 2022)

By Vanessa Szajnberg

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It’s been a long time I been to an anime convention abroad. I think last time was 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and I have to say I was not disappointed at all with Manga Barcelona. If anything I saw all the inadequacies in American anime conventions.

The price to attend Manga Barcelona was a low 12 Euros a day (just under $13 USD) with no in and out privileges (which is something every other con I’ve been to has). The location for the convention was in a convention centre which was easily accessible by the metro. The event itself had so many activities, special guests, exhibitors, and food vendors, I was shocked at how much the ticket gives you just for one day’s worth!

It was intimate and fun, and everyone was very respectful! I did not smell any BO either which is a common annoyance at American conventions I attend usually.

On the Friday of the event, Yoko Takahashi was performing and doing an autograph session. I naturally was front row centre stage for this concert seeing the lady who sings the opening to Neon Genesis Evangelion right of me and it was absolutely magical. Another new experience for me was hearing anime songs sung in Catalan and it was amazing! They were La Kame Band and even though I did not understand anything at all it was wonderful! It was a great way to spend part of my afternoon!

There was no pushing or shoving or going to any special areas, it was just the back of the convention centre exhibit hall area and very civilized. Unfortunately, I had missed the post for the free ticket drop for the signing but I found out later that it ‘sold out’ in a few days, oh well my loss. You would not get this intimate experience at American anime cons at all!

I had mentioned activities earlier so lets talk about those. In another hall in the convention centre they had set up boxing like rings to re-enact your favorite anime activities… so you had tennis, volleyball, soccer (football), sword fighting, and because why not lightsabers (pretty sure that blurred the Disney line haha). They also had photo booths to recreate anime scenes which were cute!

Their “artist and fanzine” alley was interesting because the artists who were there had to have had their art published, and the fanzine arear was like a classic American anime con art gallery with a lot of absolutely beautiful art! 

Of course, Manga Barcelona had manga but since it was all in Spanish I could only look at the pretty covers and Google translate the titles to hope to find English or Japanese versions later. The Spaniards seem to have a better manga library than the states though!

Now your probably wondering about the food because again it’s single entry, they had an extremely large food hall serving Japanese and Chinese food and while they moved a bit slowly at least the food was good and cheaply priced. 

The exhibitors are where things felt pricy and then made me reappreciate the cheaper American anime con prices. That import VAT for Spain is painful, and naturally, the exhibitors are passing it down to the consumer.

I enjoyed Manga Barcelona thoroughly and would return to it again!

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