With my first event review in a while I thought it would be appropriate to head back to an old favourite, the ever growing and never dull SMASH!
Every year, right smack bang in the middle of the gap between Supanova and OZ Comic Con those who truly hunger for cosplay but cant quite find the time or money to get out of Sydney manage to get their cosplay fix by joining in the fun that is SMASH.
Okay so its largely a celebration of Anime, most of the guests are either voice actors for popular anime, musicians associated with Japanese pop culture, directors or creators in industries related to Manga and anime or well known cosplayers renowned for costumes that resemble anime characters.
There were at least five sponsored cosplay guests this year and eleven featured guests to round out the numbers of flown in talent for us to enjoy. Some were complete mysteries to this author but not being a hardcore anime fan that’s to be expected.
Given how long the lines were for some of the panels in the smaller theatres upstairs from the main hall there were hundreds, if not thousands of dedicated fans ready and willing to show their love for all things anime.
The halls were packed from early till late both days we attended with some of the crowd spilling out onto the adjacent roof even with the icy winds that swept through the open air sections of the con. At least the rain was brief and for most of the weekend the sun was out and more than welcome.
The ICC seems to have finally matured into a venue that’s just about right for cons of this size, anything bigger and you need the wide open areas and more relaxed staff of Olympic parks Superdome but for SMASH its a fairly appropriate size. If it keeps growing at the rate it is though, a reassessment will have to be made down the track.
Thankfully this year there was no talk of kicking out photographers for being in the halls shooting and other over zealous tactics from previous years, the tog’s also seemed to have realised they need to leave some of their gear at home or shoot outside if they bring more than a basic SLR and a few lenses. There was plenty of room on the roof for the big boys with their lighting equipment and tripods.
One cool addition on that front was that when you got your photo taken by SMASH’s official photographer at the booth just outside the main hall you could then go straight to a Canon sponsored printer booth to get a hard copy in your greedy little hands. A welcome bonus indeed!
The list of bonuses for those with the motivation to go looking never seemed to end. For budding voice actors, famed local Voice artist Aimee Smith ran a panel on both days with her Sunday competition panel drawing a huge crowd of hopeful guys and girls who dream of one day making a living behind the mic.
Winners of the crowd decided contests received game vouchers and original artwork for their efforts and with the game designers who provided the scripts used carefully watching the footage post event, maybe a handful will realise that dream. This writer thoroughly enjoyed the talent on show and hope the concept becomes a staple of all future cons.
Other things more exclusive to SMASH like the theatres running around the clock anime and the art battles between various artists plucked from the bustling alley crammed with stalls will never fade away. While I cant imagine spending half a day inside a darkened room watching movies just metres away from all the action its clearly a refuge for some to come and escape the chaos and crowds in the main hall.
Once that need for respite is sated though its time to head back into the maelstrom and taste the rainbow that explodes into your eyes as soon as you enter the central hall. If its not the well designed feature walls covered in art popping with bright colours at various points around the hall or the cool little shops selling all sorts of loot then its the endless parade of out of this world cosplay.
One after the other they wander the halls and top deck showing off the thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears they put into their costumes.
The care and passion for their chosen fandom is evident in the incredible amount of detail visible on the costumes, from intricate hand sewn dresses to expensive looking LED lighting and smoke effects to hours spent in make up chairs or suffering dry eyes and the singular discomfort of oversized coloured contact lenses.
These fans truly do suffer for their art.
It is not a lost cause though, they bond over a shared love and we get to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Head on over to this Facebook Album now to check out the rest of what we caught over the weekend.
A few other highlights that shouldnt be missed include..
- The Gaming section, from VR booths to Indie RPGs and mobile gaming there were dozens of new games for all formats to try out along with plenty of well established classic to play for free. There was also a bunch of gaming tournaments happening. Both onscreen and off with card battle games, Tekken and Overwatch all becoming the subject of knockout tournaments to find out who was at the top of their game on the day.
- The Craft area, origami, puppetry, drawing lessons you name it, if you could make it WITH paper or put it ON paper then there was a table for you volunteers to help get you there.
- The Bandai Hobby area, showing off this years best miniature models in well designed and beautifully made dioramas this was legit eye candy for fans of Gundam models.
- Itasha, moved outside onto the large roofed area this year the shiny metal wrapped in Anime designs wowed even non car fans but this gear head loved seeing some of Japans finest automobiles and even one errant Volvo showing off their owners favourite characters in full vinyl glory.
- The list could go on, from Tea Ceremonies to live music to maid cafes and Q&A’s with famous voice actors or anime directors you were never at a loss for something to do.
If you did make it to SMASH head on over to our Facebook page and tell us what you thought of it or simply post a comment below. Also hit up the SMASH website and fill out their survey so they have more of what you DID like and LESS of what you didn’t next year!
If you haven’t been yet then I hope this nudged you over the line and you seriously consider checking it out in 2020.
I guarantee you won’t regret heading into the city however brisk the morning air is, the warmth you will find inside the ICC wont just be coming from the ducted heating.
With all sincerity