Doki Doki is a small, independently run festival dedicated to the appreciation of Japanese culture.
With six years under its belt, its had time to grow into a comprehensive event, with a huge mix of stalls and entertainment.
Doki Doki Convention: The Basics
It’s run by the enigmatic Andrew Gaskell, previous shop owner in Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace, and supported by other groups including the Japan Society North West. This is a true fan effort, driven by a genuine love of the subject matter.
Doki Doki: Where Is It?
In 2018, Doki Doki was held in Sugden Sports Centre in central Manchester. It’s easily accessed from any of Manchester’s central stations, and there are plenty of parking options around the area, with a few cheaper options if you don’t mind a walk.
Doki Doki: What Does It Cost?
Tickets cost £15 on the door and £12.50 in advance, although there are also group standard tickets and family tickets available in advance which will save you more money. Children under twelve enter free with a paying guardian.
Doki Doki Convention: Getting in and around
Regardless of whether you come with print-out tickets or are buying on the door, you’ll need to queue. The queue was handily split into two, making them seem much shorter and much quicker to get through, with dedicated welcome desks on each side. Half an hour after the venue’s opening there was still a queue of around 50 people, but it actually went down relatively quickly.
While the event is much too small to warrant a dedicated app, you are handed map of the venue and a spreadsheet of talks and events as you enter, and more are available to pick up if you happen to misplace yours. Most of this information can be found online ahead of time – and I’d recommend scoping out the events before you get there – but this is a super neat way of providing that information on the day.
Doki Doki Convention: Staying fed and hydrated
DokiDoki has lots of options for food, but not very many vegetarian savoury options, and some were quite expensive.
A dedicated sushi stand also selling curried chicken parcels was reasonably priced, although had no vegetarian options for the sushi. Another stand was selling various curries and stir fries, including one vegetable curry, although they were a little overpriced. There were also incredible cakes, and many stalls with imported Japanese snacks, but I still ended up leaving the venue to get lunch – something that can be easily done thanks to the wristband and city centre location.
There are no paid cashpoints within the building but plenty of free ones outside and within a short walk – additionally most of the stalls accepted card payment, although it’s always best to bring cash just in case.
Doki Doki Convention: Staying sane
There was no cloakroom, but as it took place within a sports centre there were lockers for coats and extras, fulfilling the same purpose.
In terms of busy-ness, the day started out quite reasonable, but the crowds soon took their toll! Just before midday the halls were quite packed – and unfortunately the stale smell sweat of the sports centre started to rear its ugly head. The crush lasted perhaps an hour or two, and some vendors moved to make their stalls more accessible. Afterwards it was a lot easier to get around.
I couldn’t see any dedicated chill out spaces – your best bet if you need a breather is to leave the building entirely. However, there were also foyers that were suitable for a brief sit in. These also had charging points, although I’d still recommend bringing a battery pack if you want to use your phone a lot and don’t want to have to sit out half the convention.
The toilets were clean and there were plenty of them! I didn’t see a single queue over the weekend.
Staff were around and happy to help with any issues. Luckily I didn’t see any need for security or support, but it’s good to know they’re there.
Doki Doki Convention: Cosplay
As you might expect at a Japanese appreciation festival, cosplay was highly encouraged. There were a number of different cosplay competitions throughout the day, ranging from anime-inspired to kimono demonstrations, and many who came in cosplay just for fun. The sports centre location also meant that there were plenty of changing rooms and lockers available for those cosplayers. This is also a great place to get pieces for cosplay!
– ask for demonstrations of the Japanese weapons on display
– get yourself a piece of cake – I’d recommend anything with matcha
– try to support the exhibitors who are actually Japanese
– try your hand at some of the classic Japanese games, and video games from nearby Arcade Club
– watch the Taiko drummers and try your own hand at a video game version
Doki Doki Convention: The verdict
I thought DokiDoki was fantastic, but having so many activities and displays on one day made it difficult to hit up everything I wanted! I’d seriously recommend planning your day beforehand rather than winging it, or you might just miss something spectacular.
Jenny Mugridge – read The Collected Rantings of a Blue Haired Geek over on my website www.jennymugridge.com for reviews and interviews of comics, games, TV and film.