Last weekend saw the 17th London MCM Expo, with a record turn out of over 41,000 attendees as cosplayers, comic enthusiasts, videogamers, scifi fans and free huggers descended on the Excel Conference centre in London’s docklands.

For anime and manga fans the show is more like a giant dealer’s room than a full blown con, with only one anime themed panel over the two days, hosted by the UK’s three main distributors where they announced their upcoming releases for the year. You can check out the full details of their licenses elsewhere, but highlights included Beez Entertainment bagging fan hit Durarara!! and Manga UK’s announcement of Eden of the East.

As always, some of the best information comes to light with off the record chats with industry staff, including discussions I had with people about the recent news that US giant Funimation could well be sold off by it’s parent company Navarre. Specualtion was that a possible buyer could by a Japanese company, with Bandai, Aniplex or even manga publisher Kodansha being mentioned. Either way the vibe was that it was a positive step, rather than something that western anime fans should be panicking about.

Even more interesting – to me at least – was the result of my badgering people about the possibility of my current obsession Redline getting a US and UK release sooner rather than later. Now I’m sworn to secrecy over details, but I can tell you this: the film WILL be getting a western release, it could be this year, and some big players could be involved. I also found out that director Takeshi Koike and producer Katsuhito Ishii had checked out my review over at Anime News Network, and had liked what they had read – which is hardly surprising after I’d gushed all over the movie. But trust me, they deserve the praise.

So all in, London Expo is good day out. I got to meet up with some people I only usually chat to online, and grabbed a few bargains and new releases in the process. It might not be the in depth, anime orientated con that US fans get to visit on a regular basis, but I can heartily recommend UK fans drop by and check it out when they can, if only to get bundled about with the crowds and made to wonder whether the popularity of cosplaying as Yoko from Gurren Lagann is going to result in a spike in teenage pregnancies.

Photos supplied by Andrew Proom – check out his full set here.