While in Europe Manga, J-culture and sci-fi conventions are a-plenty and pretty well represented in all the bigger (and some of the smaller too) countries, I have to say that the French are pretty undisputed when it comes to putting conventions together.
Throwing Manga and sci-fi into one big mix may seem quite strange, but they pulled it off seemingly effortlessly, mixing both in the hall of Porte de Versailles convention centre where the event was held.
I wouldn’t say that the venue was extremely large, I’m inclined to think that bringing it purely down to space it was actually smaller than some of the Belgian cons, but they used the room they had so well that they managed to fit so much into it that it was a true feast for the eyes. While manoeuvring around in the crowds was sometimes difficult due to the high attendance rate, you could still manage easily and most people there were super friendly and considerate of others, which made getting through the crowds a far nicer experience. What is also worth mentioning is that it was very easy to leave the con and come back inside thanks to the stamp system (UV, so you’re not stuck with a clearly visible event stamp on your arm or hand days later) and that outside there was plenty of room to hang out or eat something.
But resting spots and food were also abundant inside the convention, and the offer was very well varied: from normal foods to oriental dishes, ice cream and bubble tea to normal drinks. I didn’t look at the prices but judging from the amount of people sitting down with a bento box or walking around with bubble tea they must have been reasonable.
The shops were slightly more varied than the ones you see on Belgian conventions as well and they did a great job on inviting guests and organising their events. They had several big maps up to help you navigate and if you still needed help you could easily address a friendly member of staff to help you out.
Another great point to the convention was how they organized events that come with quite a bit of volume such as showcases and assorted. The stages were not only at the far end of the venue out in the open, and pretty much next to each other, but they still managed to set up for maximum comfort (and set-up/clear up specifically tailored to the event at hand in a manner of moments without bothering anyone) but if you weren’t specifically near them, you weren’t bothered by them in the slightest. That was absolutely fantastic because there is nothing as annoying as having to shout the entire convention just to be heard by the friend next to you as something going on is being loud throughout the entire convention, some Belgian conventions (like FACTS) can definitely take a leaf out of Paris Manga’s book on that one with their all over shadowing overly loud cosplay competitions.
While the convention name suggests it is focused on just manga and sci-fi that’s also not the end of it, it was a veritable cross-pollination between science-fiction and J-culture in all its aspects. And yes, it was clear that the J-culture fans were in the majority but that bothered no one as people got along perfectly fine. It was definitely a very friendly and open minded convention that catered well to all ages. If I happen to be in Paris again when it’s happening, I’d definitely attend again.
I was surprised to find only one other steampunk aside from myself and the handful of dieselpunks were cosplayers, but the convention was definitely welcoming to the movement, that much was certain.