Interview with Mel Rowlands (Anime League)

AnimeLeague Photo

First off tell me about yourself, and the core team at AnimeLeague?
My name is Mel. I’m part of the organising team and my main job I Stage Management, so this ranges from getting guests (voice actors, cosplay guests etc), timetabling, running the stages and I run the social media pages. I also help with the other areas too and we all help each other. The rest of the core team consist of Craig, Stephen and Mike. In between conventions we answer any questions from attendees and arranging traders and just make things run smoothly for each convention.

What is AnimeLeague?
Created By Fans, for Fans, Animeleague exists to help bring anime fans, gaming fans, cosplayers and general geeks together. We do this through online forums, social media, real-life meetups and conventions to help build one big family and community of friends together. It’s mainly just a bunch of people being nerds together, no judgement, no bullying just a community for people to be together and be themselves.

Why did you start AnimeLeague and how long has it been running?
I started Animeleague when I was 16 when they did their first Bristol event back in 2015 (I think?), I always wanted to go to their London event but at the time didn’t have the money so when I heard there was a Bristol Anime Con I was excited. I then started volunteering to crew and that’s when I started to stick with the community. I then joined the forums and made friends with the stage team there as I wanted to be a stage manager of some sort when I got older. Then it just grew from there I volunteered for more things to help with, became a mod on the forums, meet organiser and then started presenting until Mike offered me to do more and now, I’m part of the Animeleague Core Team. You feel part of a family that is there for you.

AL started as a forum back in the early 2000s and this gradually grew to small meetups, then bigger meetups turning into minicons and now we have almost 13 conventions a year and we’re still growing. It is quite incredible to think London Anime & Gaming Con started with just 10 people meeting up in a pub to a full blown 4,500 attending at The Rocket Complex.

What areas do you cover, and of those areas which has the highest average turnout?
All over the UK we just recently released our Leeds and Sheffield events. London, Bristol, Cardiff, Norwich, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Newcastle. The biggest turnouts I would say London Anime Con & Manchester Anime Con as those are one of our biggest show apart from Leicester.

What do the meet-ups involve?
Meetups are just casually meets where anyone can go and make friends. Usually involve a bit of shopping then chilling at a pub to play board games and just chill and have fun. There are some bigger ones which involve cosplay masquerades and more games, but the main idea is to make new friends and these really help before a convention in that area, so you aren’t on your own at a convention.

How long does it take to organise and what goes into organising an event?
I couldn’t really put a time on it as it can vary between event. The main thing to understand is sorting out dealers, making sure they have a spot, they have paid and there is a table unsold or the event will look small. Stage is important as if you don’t have any content or guests at your event there’s not going to be a lot going on, compared to other events I feel our stage content is more for the audience to get involved rather than just watching something on stage. You want everyone to be involved and then you have more fun. Registrations is also important if you aren’t selling tickets you aren’t going to have people attending, many people have loads of questions just because they want to make sure everything is OK so we got to be active on those social media pages and emails to answer questions. There’s also the advertising for the event we have volunteers who hand out flyers in their area, Facebook/google ads etc. And also, the general other departments making sure they are all working and organised.

How many events do you run per year?
It varies but this year it is 13 events.

Are you looking for volunteers and if so where can people apply?
We are always looking for volunteers the more the merrier! It is also a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends. If you are interested in joining either go to the events website you are interested in crewing at or visit and click on “Get Involved”.

For potential volunteers, what do they get in return for volunteering?
You get a lovely Animeleague Crew t-shirt, if you do extra time or flyering you get an extra t-shirt for that event you helped at. Nice conbadges that is probably my favourite part of AL. We also give out references for any future jobs etc. Getting inside experience of how a convention actually works which is always interesting I feel.

Lastly, a fun little question recommend me five anime and tell me why?
Black Butler because you have a demon butler and a kid ordering him about. It feels all your inner emo assets and it’s just a great anime! Great music, great concept if you like the Victorian times era this is one for you.

Hunter x Hunter it is basically Naruto or Bleach, but I feel very underrated. Lots of fighting, but very heartfelt and a lot of their lessons taught you can use in real life.

Say I love you, I wouldn’t say the anime does its justice due to it just being 12 episodes but it’s still lovely how they portrayed the manga. A little romantic story between two students and this is really relatable and if you need more the manga is still going.

Death Note, now if you haven’t seen this you can’t call yourself and anime fan. This is one of the first anime you watch and for good reason it is so good in the story. Apart from the second half to the end because I will say does fall flat a bit there, but you can’t deny it is still action packed, psychologically amazing and the music you will still be listening to it.

Code Geass, this is basically Sherlock but with robots. Very much a revenge story with fighting robots at first, I didn’t think I was going to like it as I’m not really into mecha animes or anything like that Transformers was always meh to me. But it is because of the main character and the story and I can’t wait for the new film after all these years of waiting.


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