Thousands enjoy cosplay, comics, and Japanese culture at Manga Barcelona

Catalonia’s biggest celebration of anime and the graphic novel artform returns after pandemic hiatus

Attendees at the 2021 Manga Barcelona Fair (by Pere Francesch)
Attendees at the 2021 Manga Barcelona Fair (by Pere Francesch) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

November 2, 2021 04:48 PM

With its colourful cosplay costumes, dozens of exhibitors, and some of the biggest local artists in the genre, the Manga Barcelona fair came back with another in-person edition after last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

Over 122,000 people turned out for the four-day celebration of manga and anime, the graphic novel art form and animated television series. In fact, tickets sold out within the first day of going on sale. 

In the last edition at the Fira Barcelona exhibition centre, over 150,000 manga fans turned out to take part in the celebration of Japanese culture.

The 27th edition of the fair took place amid the pandemic, and as such, some Covid measures were in force. The event was ticketed, distances must be kept, and face masks were obligatory, although they weren't always visible beneath the elaborate costumes. 

Slightly smaller compared with other years, but over 80% of the number of exhibitors present in 2019 returned to the action this year. 

Meritxell Puig, director of the fair, celebrated "the beginning of returning to normalcy" and commented that putting on the fair this year was down to the "effort, enthusiasm and desire" of all workers involved. 

Among the exhibitors, there were plenty of graphic novel bookstores and comic stores, shops selling posters, figurines, and artwork.

There was also an Artist Alley, where some of the most popular local writers and designers were present to meet the public, a space for fanzines, and an enormous gaming area. 

Manga Barcelona is a very interactive event. Cosplay, dressing up as characters from manga and anime series, is a central part of the whole fair. There was a Cosplay parade on the last day of the convention, as well as a K-pop dance competition, and an art competition where contestants draw the poster for the event in their own unique style. 

The Manga fair is about much more than just manga, as there was a special area for Japanese cuisine as well. At the Nihon Ryori stage, chefs gave masterclasses on how to cook classic Japanese dishes, such as ramen, sushi, and katsu curry.