SMASH 2016 – Socialising with the Fellow Cosplay Community from Near, Far and Wide

It’s over already?! Σ(゜ロ゜;) Where did my weekend go? I’m now starting to feel post-con blues, oh woe is me! In the previous years I enjoyed much of the panels and activities SMASH had to offer however, this year I attended but I didn’t do much of anything the convention had to offer. I realised now that going to SMASH is more than just going to the many events and I have a newfound appreciation of the convention itself simply by ignoring the timetables altogether. I was so hyped up on Saturday morning that I woke up so early in the morning and I couldn’t sleep! And I spent the rest of the day so drowsy with a headache! Oh SMASH, why are you so exciting?!

At SMASH, there’s definitely so much to experience, so much so that the mere span of 2 days is not enough! I’ve seen many people come and go in SMASH, many people seem to tire of the same activities and their interest seems to wane after a few years. I was also beginning to feel the same way however, what I think makes SMASH special and worth coming back every year to experience is the community itself. Sure you can chat and see images online but that’s nothing compared to seeing it with your very own eyes, getting up close to other people to have fun with each other. I had an absolute ball outside the hallways of the convention, it I must say it’s the most fun I’ve had than my previous years at SMASH. I’m constantly amazed by the efforts each and every cosplayer put into portraying their character, even if they didn’t make the cosplay themselves, they still looked amazing! I’ve also seen some more serious cosplayers who made the props and weapons themselves. I got to hold their props, and it’s amazing to see how the simple and mundane materials we see everyday get turned into props. I had fun asking these awe-inspiring cosplayers for how to make cosplays, props and where they bought the materials to make them. I was fortunate enough to meet Setsu in her Rory Mercury cosplay which she made herself and even had a closeup look in person at her very cool looking halberd. It must have taken a lot of creativity and planning to make it, and because of that I can’t help but be amazed!

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A full team ready to make some sick plays at SMASH!

There were also cosplays based around online trends and memes, and given that this year we saw the release of Blizzard’s long-awaited new IP, Overwatch, there were many people cosplaying the many different characters from the game. My dear friend Patrick cosplayed Soldier 76 and I kept on losing him in the crowd because so many people wanted to get his photo! One of the first Overwatch cosplayers we bumped into was NCKSTR cosplaying as Mccree with a funny clock that always points to “IT’S HIGH NOON”. We bumped into quite a few other Overwatch cosplayers, including including Fem 76, Kawaii Pinku Reaper, an “Imp” Mercy and even a Gremlin DVa complete with Doritos, Mountain Dew and a Nerf pistol. Unfortunately for Patrick, the 76 jacket gets too hot to wear, and so being the sexy beast that he is, he took it off revealing a shirt saying “#1 Hot Anime Dad” in the Overwatch font and he was instantly a lady-killer. He was almost too much to resist and had all the ladies in his sights! I think by the end of the convention he got Play of the Game! Overall I’ve learned that there are so many different ways to cosplay and not just portraying the character as they are originally designed to look like as accurately as possible. There are other ways such as Low Cost cosplays which are so terrible to the point that they’re actually so good. Jokes and memes turned into cosplays poke fun at the characters. And those who prefer to buy their cosplays help extend their passion to others and also help cosplay and prop makers to improve their skills whilst making a living. Thank you everyone for such an eye-opening experience!

There are a few things in SMASH that could be improved, and one of them is the location. Please don’t get me wrong, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse is an amazing venue to hold a convention, however it is very hard to get to via public transport. From where I live I have to change trains and buses a few times and during late night hours trains are infrequent and almost non-existent, so it’s difficult to get home. Another aspect that can be improved is the food on site, for what it’s worth the food is terribly overpriced to the extent that it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say it’s “Highway Robbery”. Unfortunately many of us had to walk to the nearby Mcdonalds or KFC, or bring our own lunch from home because the food is not very affordable from the stalls. I don’t know why stalls like these have to over-charge for food, however I think if the food was affordable and of acceptable quality we could have had more time and money to enjoy SMASH even more. Unfortunately the trend of overpriced food at conventions and festivals still persists in SMASH and as far as I remember, it has always been this way, and nothing has ever been done to fix it. I hope these problems will be solved by next year. To the SMASH staff, I’m counting on you!

If you asked me about the panels, I would say they are simply like university lectures and they’re mostly consisting of information that you can get simply by asking Google-sensei and the community. Personally I think that the panels should be more hands on and practical so they won’t feel like attending a classroom but instead to be a more immersive experience. The panels can be exciting and quite motivating for the people who attend and it’s even more so by allowing the attendees get their hands dirty to make something during the panel, you can give them the confidence they need to begin. While I did enjoy these panels in the previous years, I didn’t really want to attend them again this year. There was an armour making panel run by Takahiro (Goldy) Sakai in which you would be guided while you make your own gauntlet out of foam but that required online booking and unfortunately I missed out. Oh well, maybe there’ll be more panels in which you get to make something to take home with you in upcoming SMASH conventions.

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WE’RE ALL SOLDIERS NOW!!!

Bradley and Hansen the amazing pair from Anime at Abbotsford have been working hard and this year they made Good Smile Company’s appearance at SMASH a reality. This was very exciting because it’s the first time a Japanese pop-culture Manufacturer has ever set up a stall at a convention in Australia, and it was very exciting to see Wonder Fest exclusive figures being sold during SMASH. One of the things I’ve always wanted to get my hands on are the blank Nendoroid faces which you can draw whatever face you want on them and put them on your Nendoroids. I was surprised that there wasn’t any limits on how many faces you can buy, and at $3 per each, it was a cheap and fun activity if you like collecting Nendoroids. With good plastic modelling skills you could take advantage of these blank faces by using them to build your very own custom Nendoroid. My friend Patrick bought 2 and upon realisation that he could buy more, he instantly spent the rest of his SMASH budget by buying 5 more faces. I hope I can buy more of these faces after SMASH, I want to have some more adorable and derpy fun with my Nendoroids!

To me I think the best way to enjoy SMASH is to do the things you won’t be able to do at home or in everyday life. You do things like watching Anime at home however it’s not everyday you see a large number of people with common interests gathered into one place, so it’s great to go out and make new friends. I had fun asking the cosplayers for tips on how to make their cosplays and props, and took some great photos. I’ve definitely learned a lot and many fellow Anime fans I’ve spoken to had so many interesting stories to share, and many of the inspired me to do my own cosplays. It’s been quite an eye-opening experience seeing how different people approach cosplay, from the people who enjoy making memes and banter into reality to those who are absolutely hardcore, all of you are amazing individuals and I’m glad to have met quite a few of you during SMASH. It’s kind of sad to go our separate ways after the convention, but I hope to see you all again! ( ≧Д≦)ノ

Until next time, my fellow Anime, Manga and Japanese Pop-culture fans! May we meet again someday!

Good Luck, Have Fun!

~Hayashi Sora (林そら)

P.S. A few shoutouts to the people who gave me their cool business cards!

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