MORE than 2,000 fans of Japanese comics and cartoons will soon descend on Sunderland.
They will be here for SunnyCon, at the Seaburn Centre, on Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24.
The animation convention has seen a surge in VIP ticket sales after announcing that fantasy author Marisa Meyer and anime dub actors Vic Mignogna and Cristina Vee will be on stage to discuss their careers.
Now in its second year, SunnyCon will bring together anime and manga fans from as far afield as America, Australia, Sweden and Egypt.
Founder and chairman Michael Tuckwell set up the convention as an extension of his store Tucky’s Anime, after spotting a gap in the North East market.
He said: “This will be SunnyCon’s second year and its rapid development to date has been fantastic, even during what remain challenging economic times.
“To know people are travelling from all over the world to come to Sunderland and be a part of the convention is a real coup for us.”
He added: “We’re confident it will be a great way for the anime fandom to experience a varied set of demonstrations in the manga and gaming industry.
“The most encouraging thing is that from a team of seven, we’ve pulled together a convention that would usually need the hard work of 30 to 40 people to arrange.
“I really believe our passion for all things anime is why we’re able to offer that something different, and we’re really looking forward to playing host to some of the world’s most passionate anime followers in a genuine software city.”
Michael added: “SunnyCon is proof that anime events don’t have to take place in the likes of London and Manchester to be a success.
“Sunderland really is capable of playing alongside the big hitters.
“People are genuinely interested in seeing what the city has to offer, and this event will do a great deal to enhance the city’s reputation as a leading place for software and technology.”
Sunderland City Council is supporting SunnyCon in being the first convention to supply a free overnight campsite for all attendees. A site will be set up next to the Seaburn Centre to accommodate visitors travelling a long distance.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “The North East was once starved of anime events, so it’s a pleasure to lend our support to what we hope will be a long-running series of conventions.
“An increasing number of software and gaming firms in the industry are emerging in Sunderland and making an impact on a national and international stage.”
Alongside the daytime segments of the convention, there will also be a party hosted on both evenings, with March 23 seeing the first ever fan-made Miku Hatsune concert take place.
Popular around the world, Miku is known as one of the most loved pop stars despite being completely computer generated, with a singing voice created using synthesizer software.
The concert will be the first time Miku has taken to the stage in the UK, as SunnyCon brings her to life in Sunderland.
General tickets are still available and cost £25, with under-13s tickets available for £10 each.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.sunnycon.co.uk/tickets or www.tuckysanime.co.uk.