Mangatellers! The Greek Manga creators talk about the ultimate Greek Anime and Star Wars conventions, Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon, Cosplay and their work!
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS !
One of a kind, either in Thessaloniki or in Greece in general! Mangatellers! The Greek Manga creation team and organizers of the one of a kind big Greek Japan / Anime and Star Wars conventions, Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon, in Thessaloniki!
Starting on September 21 & 22, 2013, in Aristotelous Square and indoor locations, Run Thessaloniki, is the first major festival of Japanese culture and anime in Thessaloniki, but also in Greece! After another two annual one-day festivals around the White Tower, it moves to the Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center for its 4th year, lasting two days and turning into the first Japan / Anime convention in Greece! Run Thessaloniki: AnimeCon is expected to return for its 5th time to Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center once conditions allow it!
During the same year, earlier, on March 6, 2016, at WE in Thessaloniki, ForceCon takes place, the first and only Star Wars convention in Greece, returning a year later, much bigger and for two days at the Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center!
Cosplay & Artist Alleys, Exhibitions, Screenings, Shows, Presentations, Panels, Workshops, Videogames, VR, Interactive Attractions, Interviews, Guests, Merchandise, Food and much more, all related to Japan and Anime ( Run Thessaloniki: AnimeCon ) or Star Wars ( ForceCon ), suitable to all tastes!
Among them being our favorite Cosplay, with the most recent Run Thessaloniki: AnimeCon gathering the 2nd largest number of Cosplays in Thessaloniki during its two-day run, with 124 Cosplays, as well as the most recent ForceCon gathering a significant number of dozens of Cosplays respectively!
Cosplay Shows are among the things visitors can find, which they can watch during the two events! The Cosplay Alley at Run Thessaloniki: AnimeCon provides the opportunity to check out the work of various cosplayers, while at the same time, Cosplayers//GR was present until their most recent events with its own booth, providing a Cosplay Photo / Video Booth, Cosplay Photo Albums / Galleries & Videos and more!
There are many “firsts” related to Cosplay as expected in both events, but also on behalf of the team itself!
The 1st Japan & Anime festival with Cosplays present in Thessaloniki, RuN Thessaloniki & Japanese Anime Marathon Day!
The 1st Star Wars Conventions with Cosplays present in Thessaloniki and Greece, ForceCon
The 1st Japan & Anime Convention with Cosplays present in Thessaloniki and Greece, RuN Thessaloniki 4: AnimeCon
The 1st Cosplay Alley in Thessaloniki, at RuN Thessaloniki 4: AnimeCon
The 1st themed Cosplay Photoshoot Area in Thessaloniki and Greece, at RuN Thessaloniki 4: AnimeCon
The 1st participation of a Cosplayer team at a non-profit charitable cause focusing on children in Athens and Greece. Cooperation between Mangatellers and Make-a-Wish Greece with Star Wars Hellenic Academy and other Cosplayers to fulfill a little child’s wish to live a Star Wars experience
Let’s talk about everything with Mangatellers, Fillis Hatzopoulos and Rafael Voutsidis!
Find Mangatellers on the following media! Page - Page - Facebook Facebook - Youtube - Twitter - Instagram Check out the organizer's profile and events, with all their info and thousands of photos & videos, on our website, HERE!
ANIME, JAPAN & STAR WARS !
1) Tell us a few words about Mangatellers! What do we need to know about you?
The core of Mangatellers is Karyofyllis – Christos Hatzopoulos and Rafael Voutsidis. We are the writers, producers and event organizers of Mangatellers. Our main activity is writing and producing original manga and our secondary activity the organization of events themed around Japanese Pop Culture, Art & Tradition. The team started unofficially in 2008, while we were studying and doing research on writing & producing manga. In 2012, we made our debut with the oneshot manga WiFi Wars in collaboration with main artist Manos Lagouvardos and assistant & touch-up artist Nikitas Efimidis. Many collaborations with various artists followed and the production of four manga series & oneshots: R.u.N. ( 2012 ), Thessaloniki Through Time ( 2014 ), Sphere of Salvation ( 2016 ) & Mythos ( 2020 ).
2) Tell us a few words about Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon, their history and contents! When and how did they start? What themes are they about? Are those themes based on the organizers’ personal interests, and if so, when did you start taking an interest in each of them, before your first event?
The organization of our events is mainly based on personal interests.
RUN Thessaloniki‘s concept started in 2013 when we received an offer by the Thessaloniki: European Youth Capital 2014 institution to create the oneshot manga THESSALONIKI THROUGH TIME. To celebrate the manga’s release, we thought of organizing an outdoor event at Aristotelous Square that would act as a call to fans of Japanese Culture & Tradition, to have fun under “Japanese vibes”. RUN Thessaloniki’s success was so big that we managed to organize the event for four consecutive years and create a tradition in Thessaloniki related to Japanese Pop Culture, Art & Tradition. Anyone would encounter and get to know many aspects of Japanese Culture during the event, from our manga and merchandise from Japan, to participating in many workshops such as bonsai, origami, Kanji calligraphy and trying martial arts, as well as fine cuisine from Japan. Of course, cosplay was a core element of RUN Thessaloniki, with Thessaloniki’s beach being full of anime characters taking photos with ordinary passersby.
ForceCon: A Star Wars Fan Convention, is an event dedicated to Star Wars. As fans of the Star Wars epic we were thrilled when Disney announced the release of the sequel trilogy. After the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, early 2016, we called all Star Wars fans in Thessaloniki, young and old, to celebrate together the new era of Star Wars under the auspices of Disney. At ForceCon: A Star Wars Fan Convention, visitors were able to experience the magic of Star Wars through various attractions, shows, exhibitions and of course acquire plenty of Star Wars merchandise from exhibitors! The event returned a year later in 2017 with ForceCon II: A Star Wars Fan Convention, just days before the premiere of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
3) What led you to proceed with organizing Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon? How long and what exactly did it take until the first of both was possible? What can one find at both of them and how do you think they differ from other events of similar type or theme?
The thing that pushed us in both cases is our huge love for the subjects and content of the events. On one hand we have Japanese Pop Culture, Art & Tradition at RUN Thessaloniki event, and on the other hand we have the Star Wars fandom at ForceCon. The preparation time for RUN Thessaloniki’s events was eight to ten months, while for ForceCon it was less, mainly due to there being more limited content, Star Wars’ theme being more familiar in Greece and the experience we gained from RUN Thessaloniki. The necessary budget is essential so that each event can be realised, whether it comes from organizers, various exhibitors and sponsors or ticket revenue. Once the budget is secured, fresh and original ideas are needed to invest this budget on. Because our ideas are based purely on our love and knowledge around the events’ content, we always went on with original attractions and shows.
All entertainment events related to Pop Culture in Greece have something different to tell, especially related to western Pop Culture. RUN Thessaloniki was different compared to other events in that aspect, as it focused purely on Japanese Pop Culture, Art and Tradition. In contrast, ForceCon: A Star Wars Fan Convention, which is a smaller event, is almost indistinguishable from other large scale events, with Star Wars being a common subject at all of these events, with it at ForceCon just being more focused.
4) What were the biggest, but also the most difficult Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon you have done so far? What defines them as such?
The events that are most difficult are the ones that have a long duration. For that reason, among RUN Thessaloniki’s events, the most difficult was RUN Thessaloniki IV: AnimeCon and among ForceCon’s, the most difficult was ForceCon II. Both events lasted for two days and took place at the Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center in Thessaloniki. They are more difficult, because there’s more fatigue, more intense stress of preparation and more “running”.
5) How much effort, time and money does it usually take to set up Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon? What is the usual preparation plan that you follow?
Effort, as well as time and money are volatile variables in an event. It all depends on what you want to achieve, what shows you want to include, how many guests you will invite and how many attractions you want to build. Also, the nature of the event is a key factor, e.g. whether it will be an outdoor event open to everyone or whether it will take place indoors with tickets. The basic plan is how you can implement your ideas, what budget will be needed for that implementation and what goals you set as an organiser.
6) How did you feel during the first Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon and how after their end? How did you feel respectively during the later ones in both cases after the change of their form and their transformation into large conventions? Describe these experiences to us.
The first three events of RUN Thessaloniki ( RUN Thessaloniki & Japanese Anime Marathon Day in 2013, RUN Thessaloniki II in 2014 and RUN Thessaloniki III: Japan Fest in 2015 ) were outdoor events open to all visitors. RUN Thessaloniki IV: Animecon ( 2016 ) was the only time it took place indoors, at Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center. Respectively, ForceCon I ( 2016 ) & ForceCon II ( 2017 ) took place indoors from the start. In 2016 WE hosted ForceCon I, while in 2017 the Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center hosted ForceCon II.
As with any activity happening for the first time, there’s anxiety, stress and accumulated fatigue in the beginning. After an event’s closure, the only thing that remaining is the feeling of joy and impatience for the next event. The emotions we feel, seeing events we organize grow and evolve are mainly gratitude towards all our partners, exhibitors and visitors. Without them nothing would be able to take place, be realized and evolve. Their support to our events is invaluable, because it’s thanks to all that, that we can celebrate our love for Japan and Star Wars together!
7) What’s your opinion, in proportion to Greece’s size, about the size and level of the audience of the scene towards which Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon are addressed?
We aren’t sure if we can talk about their size in Greece through our events, as both RUN Thessaloniki and ForceCon are mainly targeted to Thessaloniki’s audience. We know that Thessaloniki has many fans of Japanese Pop culture, art and tradition. Besides, Northern Greece is famous for its huge love for anime & manga, either because of university students studying in the city or younger fans growing up watching these series, the same way we grew up too. Our goal through RUN Thessaloniki was to educate the audience not familiar with Japanese Pop culture and it fills us with joy watching that audience grow each year.
As far as ForceCon is concerned, the Star Wars phenomenon is something global and of course it has many fans in Greece. We were very surprised to meet so many fans especially at ForceCon I ( 2016 ), because we hadn’t expected such large attendance. We believe the hype due to Episode VII: The Force Awakens contributed to that attendance.
8) Are you satisfied with the people’s response to Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon during all these years, as well as with the number of Cosplays attending?
Peoples’ response to RUN Thessaloniki’s events was great, especially during the first three, mainly because of the content. As we mentioned before, there weren’t many events dedicated entirely to Japanese Pop Culture, Art & Tradition. That way, people interested in those themes, had a place to celebrate their love for them. We are pleased with the number of visitors who didn’t know about Japan, as over the years more and more people participated in the event. Nevertheless, we would have liked the audience’s growth rate to have been higher. However, this is also attributed to the fact that the media in Greece doesn’t promote eastern Pop culture as much as western Pop culture. Western TV series and comics are more familiar to the Greek audience, than anime series and manga.
ForceCon, as we mentioned before, is an event with a specific target group, so attendance was reasonable, with a large attendance during the first year of the event being a surprise.
Cosplays are a main attraction at every event in the scene. Since the beginning of our events in 2013 we keep supporting the scene with original shows and activities for cosplayers in collaboration with Cosplayers//GR, which is always by our side. As organizers, we try to avoid Cosplay Contests, trying to have fan vibes for cosplayers during our events. Both at ForceCon, but more so at RUN Thessaloniki, participating Cosplayers had a great time along with visitors.
09) When and why did you decide to include Cosplay in Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon‘s themes? What more do you think does the presence of Cosplays provide to Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon?
Cosplay has been the focus at RUN Thessaloniki since the beginning of the event, with passersby taking photos with heroes from anime & manga in Aristotelous Square & Thessaloniki’s beachside. Cosplay was also the main theme of shows we organized that included choreography on stage. It was something special watching stunts on stage from your favorite heroes from those series. Also various activities, but also suggestions from Cosplayers//GR were always welcome and implemented by us as much as possible.
At ForceCon, the presence of the Cosplays brought the magic of Star Wars to our event. Jedi, Sith, Imperials and Rebels came to life in front of the audience, and took pictures with them. At ForceCon, the combination of cosplayers with Star Wars constructions by Antonis Paschalidis ( Artworx AP ) and lightsabers by Epsilon Custom Sabers, always stole the show.
We included Cosplay in all our events to create a pleasant atmosphere for both visitors and cosplayers. As organizers we never considered cosplayers as attractions, but wanted to organize events aiming for cosplayers to have a good time through original activities.
10) What can one find related to Cosplay at Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon? Are there any specific activities and events related to it? Do you think they are sufficient or is there something more that you would like to provide regarding Cosplay? Do you think that Cosplay as a theme will continue to be a key part of Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon for a long time?
We offer various creative activities at our events for cosplayers, such as the Happy Greek Cosplay video, Cosplay Parade & Cosplay Show on stage, messages against racism and body shaming, Cosplay Alley, Greek Cosplay Special Guests, Anime Becomes Reality Photoshoot and much more. As we mentioned above, the goal of cosplay’s presence in our events is for cosplayers to have a good time.
We would definitely like to have more activities for cosplayers and we hope to make it happen in one of our future events. There are lots of fresh ideas and we hope to implement some of them in the future.
The cosplay scene changes over time. What we want to maintain in the long run is the promotion of cosplayers’ creativity and to promote them as a fan activity and not as an attraction.
11) Is there a long term goal or personal dream you want to achieve through your events?
Our personal goal is for more and more people to enjoy our events. Our dream as organizers is, the moment a visitor enters the venue, to forget his daily worries and transform into a hero from anime or manga or Star Wars and experience the magic.
12) Is there any important or funny experience that happened during Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon that you will never forget?
The whole experience of organizing is a creative process that can never be forgotten and we miss it by now, due to the pandemic. The most important thing are friendships born through the organization of the events both with partners, exhibitors and guests, as well as with visitors.
However, if we had to choose something from this journey as organizers that we consider special, that would be the presence of Argiris Pavlidis, the voice of Yugi in Greece, at RUN Thessaloniki IV: AnimeCon. Argyris Pavlidis is a talented actor and a special person who we were happy to have on stage of the event. We will never forget the shiver going down our spine when he shouted on stage “IT’S TIME TO DUEL”. We still don’t believe it, that we experienced such a moment.
Finally, among the top funny and unexpected happening in our events is the cosplay appearance of Mr. Giannis Boutaris as Sanji from One Piece, during the presentation of the manga “THESSALONIKI THROUGH TIME“.
13) What is the first thing you would tell to someone who seriously considers visiting Run Thessaloniki and ForceCon for the first time? And what can he expect to see there in the future?
To get in a good mood and come celebrate and have fun with Japanese Pop Culture, Art & Tradition at RUN Thessaloniki or the magic of Star Wars at ForceCon respectively! First ans mostly, we are also fans of the events’ themes, so we act accordingly. We try to offer visitors spectacles that we as fans would like to see too.
Once the pandemic period is over and we are again able to gather together to celebrate our favorite interests, we would like to create even more creative and original spectacles for all visitors!
14) Is there anything last you would like to share with our readers?
Let’s not lose our hope during those difficult times we are going through. At some point, the pandemic will end and we will return to the normal rhythm of our daily lives. Patience is required and not giving up!
EVENTS BY MANGATELLERS ! INFO, PHOTOS & VIDEOS !
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