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I went to visit Connichi.

Recently, I often see young people who wear T-shirts with big kanji, Chinese characters, printed and chokers with kanji as a valuable thing. I see many kanji writings with the wrong order, unknown meaning, and sometimes I laugh at them but for European people, Kanji itself must be fashionable=cool. By the way, in Japan, too, clothes with alphabets=English writing were popular (still?). I understand psychologically that we admire culture and things which we don't have.

So, in Europe, there is an oriental boom lately. One of them is animation (comic). In Germany where I visited this time, following with entering Japanese animation in the overseas market about 2 years ago, animation has been popular continuously centered around the young generation. Nowadays, animation which is now called ` new Japanese culture' is growing in Europe through TV and the internet surpassing the traditional Japanese culture like Budo, Tea ceremony, Samurai, and so on.

Then, `Hikaru no Go' was published in the monthly animation magazine, BANZAI, in Germany, about 2 years ago. In France, too, comic books are sold and since the English version was out, recently, there are many young people who started to get interested in Go through animation in Europe. Followed by the Go boom in Japan where `Hikaru no Go' was born and Asia, I have a feeling that there will be a Go boom in Europe, too!

Now, I visited Kassel city, the old town near the center of Germany which is full of greenery, where the animation convention is held every September by the invitation of the German Go Association and the Animation Association. I heard that animation events are held almost every week but at the Animation convention in Kassel city which is on a big scale, participants numbering more than a few thousand people in 3 days, is the 2nd biggest in Germany.

At this convention, called `Connichi' which opens at 10am and closes at 2am, there are events with the keyword of animation. The average age of the participants is junior and high school students and most of them were in cosplay (wearing costumes) and 80% of them were girls. There were cosplay competition, performances of popular animation singers and animation movies were shown from morning till late at night and at the animation shops which were gathered from all over Germany and outside Germany, it was very crowded with people buying as if they don't have a chance to buy and everywhere was lively with young people.

As one of the colorful events which are held every day, a Go booth was set up every time by the cooperation of the German Go Association. The person in charge of the booth is Christoph, the top German Go player, who was a representative of the World Amateur Go Championship, and is a computer engineer. He is well known and popular among animation fans now and not only girls who play Go but also many kinds of people gather around him.

The animation convention charges admission (for 3 days, 35 Euro=about 5,000yen) and it is not that cheap. For teenagers from the country, they have to pay for the transportation and cosplay. They seemed to try to save up money for it. But because of that, they participated in many events as if they didn't want to waste time and that livens up the event. Yes, everyone was serious.

At the Go booth, too, many people stop by and enjoyed playing games of 9X9 Go board. I found people in `Hikaru no Go' cosplay, there! I was so happy that I couldn't stop asking to have a photo taken. On the last day, 9X9 Go board tournament was held and more than 60 people participated. Most of them were in cosplay and they looked colorful and it was very lively.

A lot of the people who learnt how to play Go there enjoy playing Go on the game server at the home page of animation, after that. That has, as one of the easy going games, a similar feeling to the computer games but it seems to have the added attraction of communicate with the opponent. I really think Go is so wonderful that you can enjoy it in many ways.

Actually, since I was engrossed in the comic books, `Roses of Versaille', I have been a fan of animation. By the way, when I was Insei, I was reading monthly comic magazines hiding from my teacher and when he found out, he was very angry. This time, I enjoyed fully Go and animation and cosplay! I'd love to go there again, next year. (Do you mind if I will be in cosplay, then?)

This "GO Friends Report " started !


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