SMASH! Convention Coverage

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Presenting the best animanga event of Sydney: SMASH!

First off, I apologize for leaving Prisma Illya reviews to the winds just because I had to fly to Sydney but there have been upsides to my visit here. The foremost being SMASH! (Sydney Manga & Anime Show) convention coverage (#smashcon in short), on 10th August, 2013. The bus-ride to the city was non-eventful except for the L (Death Note) and Grell (Kuroshitsuji) cosplayers chatting each other up but while walking towards Darling Harbour, I feared there being less attendees because so few were out and about in the downtown. It was not even 9am and being a Saturday, I expected nothing less but reaching the convention center pulled my faith back on fandom enthusiasts because there was a huge crowd outside lining up to go in. For the first time readers, SMASH! is an event that was started by an artist seven years ago, who wanted to create a convention for artists and anime fans alike. Quoting from the official site:

SMASH! is run by SMASH Inc, a non-profit organisation created by fans for fans, aiming to create an open and affordable avenue that serves as a meeting point for fans and encourages art, creativity and community involvement.

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I forgot to photograph a game poster by Mindscape, which came along the entry-kit but you can clearly see, it was a packed schedule

While chatting up Susan Ma, PR Coordinator for SMASH!, who graciously arranged a media pass for Metanorn, even when I applied just two days before the event! I found out that SMASH! has expanded on yearly basis and on its seventh year, it easily boasted around eight thousand (7800+) attendees. It’s no surprise that more people visited with a stellar guest line-up. “Our goal is to inspire excitement about Japanese pop culture and thus making SMASH! an experience for animanga fans. We are improving and expanding every year and with new alliances, expect more every year.”

And I would definitely expect more if I’m around for the next year because they are moving from the scenic Darling Harbour’s Convention Centre to Rosehill Gardens for a two day event in 2014. I can see why Susan stressed on bigger place with more attendees and an expanded guest line-up. I definitely felt one day was not enough as I couldn’t experience everything I wanted to but more on that later. Let me start from the beginning of getting the entry-kit and later shenanigans.

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// Vendor Hall - With the help of media pass, I had an early access to all areas but the first place I landed up on was the huge Vendor Hall. Stalls till your eyes can see with animanga paraphernalia literally goading you to take them home; from cute little plushies to elaborate costumes, T-shirts, posters and figures to make you drool buckets. My first trek around was with wonder, awe and the wish to TAKE HOME EVERYTHING! I liked the arrangement of the Vendor hall with the main shops in the middle, while artists and smaller booths around them in a circle (check the map here). I found merchandise on almost all the major titles including the recent rave of Free!, Shingeki no Kyojin, Monogatari with old favourites like Madoka Magica, K-On!, Kuroko no Basuke and the usual shounen suspects.

Vendor Hall also housed the Gunpla stall and workshop. What is a convention without Gundam? So, they definitely had a center-stage on activities along with a gaming arena near the entrance. As expected from most convention, the merchandise was over-priced but for people who do not want to go hunting in niche markets, this was the right place to get their hands on fandom goodies. My only let-down was not finding anything Steins;Gate to get it signed by Feyris-nyaan.

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My lining up time paid off well :3 (Top two showcase the Morita signed Bakuman, while bottom left has Momoi and Hidenori autographs)

// Signing Room - It seems, half of my convention time was spent lining up to get autographs from the special guests. The signings were arranged pretty nicely with advance tickets to be collected from the SMASH! staff and then lining up on scheduled times for it. There was no specific signing from Loverin Tamburin, but I lined up fair and square for shaking hands with Morita, who was pretty happy to see my Bakuman Vol.12 featuring Hiramaru, Momoi’s Feyris-nyaanism and Hidenori’s serious hello. Some fan reactions were pretty hilarious but I got most chuckles by reading the printed dialogues on placard signs, while we walked towards the celebrities, either put up by SMASH! or Japan Foundation Staff but the gist was a mix of: Konnichiwa! Kakkoi! Sugoi! Suki desu! Fan desu! Yume mitaiii!, etc. It was fun to be prepared and some Japanese speaking people had a kick out of it.

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// Main Stage - This place was booked for AMV Screening (there was a competition and participants even won awards later), Momoi and Tamburin concert, Morita panel, Charity Auction and the Madman Cosplay Competition, which I completely missed. Out of these events, I was able to see Momoi perform and let me tell you, she definitely has a lot of energy and gathered a crowd around the stage while performing. Some guys found a light saber and neon-lights to dance along with her. She performed some songs from her latest single and a special service song from Steins;Gate. She mostly spoke to the audience with her Feyris-tan voice, which was kawaiiii for real! 

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// Morita Panel - I skipped the Tamburin concert but could never miss the Morita panel. He live-dubbed two scenes from Bleach (Rukia entering Ichigo’s room for the first time and him being beaten around by Ururu for training), and Tiger & Bunny (Christmas present for Bunny-chan and princess-carrying Tiger) each, while a bonus from Baccanno! with the Felix proposing scene. He was randomly asked some questions by the anchor but it was sad to see no questions were taken from the audience.

Morita explained how Tiger and Bunny was conceptualized with a target market of salary men in their thirties and fourties with a touch of American superhero comic feel. It was to cheer on these men who work hard, but who would have thought that this series would capture a dedicated female crowd who are mostly filled with fujoshis, drooling after the fried rice that Kotetsu cooked for Barnaby, pun intended… ;) He even enacted how he would talk to a guy and girl separately (a lucky girl was picked from the audience for this), and let me tell you, this ikemen knows some real moves and you can’t expect less from him being a very popular seiyuu after all. He ended the panel by making everyone in the audience stand up and scream BANKAI. He played the crowd pretty well.

// Hidenori and Hanabee Panel - After Morita panel, I could only attend two panels; one from Hidenori, while the second one from the Academic Panelists on Evolution of Cats in Japanese Imagery. I wasn’t present the entire length of Hidenori panel but I got in the middle of him talking about highlights of his animation career, both Evangelion productions, Ah! My Goddess, Steamboy and even Gankutsuou. He drew a quick Evangelion animation sequence on his notepad, of Asuka punching Shiji. So appropriate is all I have to say.

On my trek to the Hanabee panel room between signings and buying more goodies, I wasn’t surprised to see Nyanko-sensei from Natsume Yuujinchou depicted during the Cats Imagery discussion. The panelists started with the cute side of things from nekomimi then transitioning to the scary version of their demon/cursed forms from old lore. Interesting to note, Natsume Sōseki, the renowned novelist from Meiji era (you might better know him as the write of Kokoro in Aoi no Bungaku), wrote a witty book on cats, “I am a cat, but I have no name”. Though, no reference of Nekomonogatari came, which was surprising when they even covered bake-neko. Most probably due to the PG-rating no sexual references were made so the favourite topic of yaoi-lovers in terms of who’ll be the bottom/neko/uke was not even touched upon.

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// Other Events - Of course, it’s not humanely possible to attend everything. I couldn’t even glimpse the Screening theater and multiple hobby and cosplay workshops on card games, doll making and a dedicated Arts room for doodle submissions. There was a Gaming arena, Karaoke room and a Maid Café as well. But alas, the time just flew by and I couldn’t kage bunshin myself at multiple places. As I had to leave a bit early, I completely missed the Cosplay competition, the main stage area was jam packed due to it but at least I have some photos thanks to Yvonne who attended it.

// My SMASH! 2013 Stash

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From top right, along with the HHHNNNGGG beautiful Shiki figure and autographs, I got my hands on Gilgamesh chibi from Fate/Zero, Izaya, Asuka and Kaworu badges, a Barnaby tsundere mini-figure, GARcher from Fate/stay night figure, Bakuman vol.12, FMA last volume and Ginko, Tiger, Levi and Kuroko bookmarks.

On my multiple treks to Vendor Hall, I shelled out most of my available cash (around$200) on random merchandise along with manga, chibi to mid-sized figures, including my most prized possession of this convention, the Ryougi Shiki figure in a beautifully traditional kimono, wielding Kanesada Kuji (the katana you glimpsed in movie five, Paradox Spiral). The latter I purchased after much thought, the responsibility of which lies with some of my twitter pals.

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// Final Thoughts - For a first convention experience, this was pretty smashing for the lack of a better word. I was literally on my feet for more than eight hours but there was no tiredness or fatigue. Hours zoomed by without even knowing and it was already 5pm and I had to run. One thing I would like to highlight is the friendly staff, who really did a job well done. The only turn-off was no photography of celebrities so I can’t boast to people while posing beside Masakazu Morita that I met him. ;__;

I was glad to get a partner in crime, Elleran, who I hung out with throughout the con. She’s a budding artist and the Shingeki no Kyojin doodle of Mikasa and Eren she submitted was pretty rad! A big shoutout to her as I’m using two of her images, along with Yvoon (who I couldn’t sadly meet). I also met an aniblogger friend Raph, who is pretty cool. We plan on talking about seiyuuism to no end very soon.

I caught up to Susan before leaving the convention and she has the below message for Australian enthusiasts:

“I see the potential of fandom on rise with most of the attendees being kids of 90s, starting off anime experience with Dragon Ball Z, then slowly learning about anime and deciding to check out more material. The transition to dressing up as your favourite character to hanging out with likeminded people, fandom culture has definitely expanded and the reason, every year the attendees are increasing. So, if you are in Australia and haven’t attended SMASH yet, I definitely recommend doing so. SMASH is the epitome of fandom with arts & crafts, games, merchandise and cosplay. It’s not every day that you attend such an event so come on down next year and celebrate the amazing culture with us.”

Overall, I had fun, even with my pockets empty I HAVE NO REGRETS! And hopefully will attend next year too. For an ending note, do share your first time convention experience and in case you have a story to tell as we are all friends here. And now to the cosplay images and videos you guys are dying to see. Do look beyond the spoiler tag as there’s more. For additional convention images, check out our Facebook album.

Thoughts on your first time animanga convention experience? (Select four max)

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// Bonus Vidoes //

SMASH! Cosplay Part 1

SMASH! Cosplay Part 2

Click for more videos Show ▼

// Bonus Cosplay Images //

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Kuroshitsuji butlering… 

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Madoka party going strong

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Red Saber not so canon but at least there was Kiritsugu and Gilgamesh

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Some Free! love 

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Oh hi there, megane-kun~

Click for more images Show ▼

Content Credit:

  • Videos: deerstalkerpictures (for cosplay part 1&2) & Ip Samuel (for Love Live! performance)
  • Images: Yvoon (for Free!, Magi and Cosplay stage image), Elleran (for live dub image), and Capsule Computers (for Fate/Zero cosplay image)
  • All other images are copyright Metanorn. Ask for permission before using! As I can’t add all images here, check our Facebook album for more images.
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35 Responses to “SMASH! Convention Coverage”

  1. joojoobees says:

    It looks like it was a great event. I’m glad you brought Shiki home with you. I kind of feel she travelled to Australia just to meet you.

    • Kyokai says:

      I had a lot of fun and now that you say it, I feel the same way. The moment I saw her on the display case, I knew I was going to take her home! ><

      • BlackBriar says:

        I like your anime instincts, Kyo. Are they ever wrong?

        • Kyokai says:

          NEVER! ^^

          Especially when it comes to Type-Moon anything.

          • BlackBriar says:

            I’ll take your word for it. I was testing your devotion to Type-Moon and it’s unwavered.

            • Kyokai says:

              Don’t test too much or I might use the terrifying Death Perception on you. :P

            • BlackBriar says:

              No promises on that. I might be a masochist and push my luck.

            • Kyokai says:

              Oooh, someone’s really asking for it. Now we just need Skylion as audience to tsk tsk later. xD

  2. belatkuro says:

    Looks like you had a blast there. The pics look awesome too. And not a bad haul of purchases and merchandise. Lol at Rei from Free! in the butterfly swimsuit. And Red Saber is still awesome.
    I’m actually going to a convention as well tomorrow, though there’s no guest panel and all that stuff. Just a local sponsored event in here. I don’t actually go to a lot of conventions but I try when I feel like it. Might or might not get some pics and I hope to get some worthwhile items while I’m at it, if there are some.
    I actually purchased the guidebook for the second season of Fate/Zero last time I went in April. Of course it’s in moon but it was worth it.

    Will you be posting the Illya reviews? I so want to talk about it here, especially episode 6.

    • Kyokai says:

      Oh yep! For a first time, I had more fun than I ever expected! Every character I recognized, I smiled to myself. Loved the fact FSN and Fate/Zero still went strong. I even saw some Fate/Prototype cosplay with the shirtless Gilgamesh and male Saber.

      So, how was your convention experience? Do let me know and was it your first time or you had visited before?

      Why all Type-Moon stuff expensive? But for fans like us, shelling you some extra is still good enough.

      And yeah, I’ll post a round up soon and then continue blogging Illya till it ends for sure!

      • belatkuro says:

        Sorry for the late reply, was quite busy and didn’t check this out.

        This is the second year that I went to that convention.
        It was okay I guess. Cosplays, bands playing anime songs, and lots of stores selling merchandises. Cosplays are a bit leaned to the mainstream shows like Naruto and the popular shows of the season like SnK. I did see some good cosplays of Rin and Saber in her casual outfit in F/SN. No pics though as I’m not much of a photographer.
        There’s even an auction corner where they bid different items, from tarpaulins to mousepads to BL mangas to a Boku no Pico tumbler. I didn’t get anything or purchase from the stores though as there was nothing that fancied my interest. Then again, I don’t even know what I want to buy myself.
        Overall, I still had fun. Just wish I were with someone

        • Kyokai says:

          No problem! But but, there’s a Boku no Pico tumblr!? WHAAAAATTT?! I have no words!

          And yeah, solo roaming is good but it’s always good to share the experience with someone. So, hopefully you find a partner in crime next time! ^^

  3. Toori-chan says:

    First off, congratulations on your debut to AniCons. You must have been exhausted when you returned from the event right?

    SMASH Con looks really good. The venue looks pretty well organized (how many people could the stage seats accommodate?), the guest lineup is really interesting and my gosh that schedule sure is pack! Probably because it’s a one day event but this event definitely needs a second day because there is no way a single person can experience all that was offered.

    I remember going through Comic Fiesta 2011 in Malaysia, restlessly walking around for hours for two days and finally felt drained completely when I went home on day 2. Really, when you go for these conventions, you just don’t feel the fatigue until it’s really over. Not to mention, that was also the time I first used a DSLR borrowed from a friend which was a very good experience with the endless shooting of the event and cosplays (plus lots of technical problems along the way due to my inexperience of using the camera). Since it was my first Anicon, I don’t have a benchmark to compare with but I really enjoyed it. Now I’m still attending Anicons that are not to far from my house.

    • Kyokai says:

      Why, thank you, Toori-chan! The exhaustion caught up to me at night but the whole day, I was up and about like anything.

      The venue added a different flair to the whole event, the cosplay videos look smashing just because of it. The main stage area could seat up to 3,430 people at a time so the reason it was jam packed for the Cosplay Competition. I’d look forward to a two-day event for sure!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I do agree with you on excitement and exhilaration that just doesn’t let up until you are home and sitting down somewhere. So, did you take too many pics with your DSLR and now are you comfortable enough with it for your future cosplay snapping experience?

      • Toori-chan says:

        3,430? That’s a lot! Wish our Anicons have such a huge stage area… Yes the cosplay videos are gorgeous.

        I don’t know if it counts as too many or not. Looking back at what I took and comparing it to the photos I took from recent photos… it’s sort of less… I haven’t been using a DSLR since that day but I have been using a superzoom digital camera since AFA Malaysia 2012. Currently I take photos of the event most of the time so I’m still inexperience in taking cosplay photos. Maybe I’ll strive to snap better when I get my own DSLR.

        • Kyokai says:

          With a turnout of 7,000, even this kind of seating was not enough for the entire public to check out cosplay competition.

          I guess you don’t really experiment with someone else’s gadget but tend to be more free with your own stuff? Though, I hope you have more with your own camera and snap off more pics in future. ;)

          • Toori-chan says:

            I do experiment with my friend’s DSLR and I’ve learned a lot about photography due to that experience but it’s true to say that owning one definitely will give me the motivation and the freedom to snap more.

            • Kyokai says:

              Keep it up! ^^

              Btw, I’ve just updated the turnout number, which was close to 8,000 (7800+) to be exact.

  4. zztop says:

    I trust the Sydney weather was not too cold for you?
    Did you get the chance to do other sightseeeing there?

    • Kyokai says:

      It’s pretty cold for me! I’ve usually lived in tropical countries where it’s perpetual summer so this type of cold is new to me but I’m almost used to it now.

      I’m still in Sydney so taking my time in visiting Darling Harbour, IMAX theater, China town, beaches and multiple shopping malls. Do you live here?

  5. Overcooled says:

    Yeah, totally jealous of you seeing Morita do a live dub. You guys got some awesome star guests over there! I’m double jealous! Man oh man does the place that con is at look pretty. It looks like you’re inside a super-advanced spaceship or something.

    Hmm…I wonder if Anime North has media passes and if I could get one.

    • Kyokai says:

      I tweeted to you when he was dubbing the Tiger & Bunny scenes, as I knew you’d’ve loved to be there. Who knows maybe Anime North capture some nice guests too? And yeah, Sydney Convention Centre is HUGE and due to proper management, SMASH! turned out pretty awesome.

      Also, I can definitely get you media passes for AN. Just give me their PR email address and I’ll do the rest. When is the next one?

      • Overcooled says:

        Yeah, but I didn’t realize you were actually there! Thanks for telling me about it though :3

        Ah, thank you! The next AN should be in late May again. I’ll let you know closer to the time…maybe around January since that’s when I start buying my earlybird tickets.

        • Kyokai says:

          Teehee, it was a last moment spur thing, I wasn’t originally planning to go at all. xD

          And sure, poke me around January and I’ll get in touch with AN PR to get you passes so you won’t need to buy tickets. :3

  6. Mint says:

    oh my god that Free! cosplayer. She must’ve made that costume so quickly *__*

    I’ve still haven’t gone to a con yet (too far away from anything weh) but maybe that’s a good thing for my wallet because I would go insane in the vendor hall. Love reading posts and seeing pictures of them though! I hope you guys cover more in the future.

    • Kyokai says:

      That and the ED song costumes! I was so impressed by the cosplayers that I can’t describe. So detailed and professional!

      And you should definitely take out some time to go to one (whatever comes to your distant nearby), because it really fuels your passion and of course all that drool-worthy merchandise! But yeah, we’ll definitely keep it up with our convention posts. ^^

  7. BlackBriar says:

    I get so jealous of you guys being able to go out to cons whenever available. There’s no such luck for me where I am, though. It looks like you had a blast at Sydney, Kyokai and 7000 antendees is nuts. Now that’s what you dedication. Everything in SMASH seems well organized and fun. I look forward to more posts like this.

    • Kyokai says:

      If it’s not nearby, find something distantly nearby. I mean look at me, even if I didn’t visit Sydney specifically for this convention, I did jump on the opportunity.

      I definitely had a blast and impressed by the SMASH! staff management. We’ll keep you entertained with more such posts for sure. :3

  8. Tofu says:

    hehehehe… I knew you’d love it Kyo! xD Sadly I wanted to attend as well but it just HAD to be during the week I had multiple assignments due T____T

    Will try to go next year since they’re making it two days now.

    I just finished attending Manifest over here in Victoria Australia and cosplayed for the first time (as Bertholdt Fubar). Funny thing is, there was a SnK photoshoot at the Madman booth and because we didn’t have any Eren’s and no one recognized me as Fubar, they got me to act as Eren cuffed and being kicked by Levi ><

    I could hear the fangirls squealing in the background over Levi, and I gotta admit, it was weird at first but fun in the end to be able to experience so much with my first cosplay :)

    Unfortunately the only good thing about this years Manifest was that we got the pixiv artist KD who has been commissioned by Danny Choo to draw some illustrations for him to attend. Bought two lovely posters from him with his signiture~ It's so beautiful~

    • Kyokai says:

      Ah well, next year! I think if Yoko ever comes, you’ll go crazy and foam at the mouth. xD

      And yeah, I saw all your pics on FB and the SnK cosplaying sure looked strong there. Didn’t know Madman was so active here but the photo booth was almost same and the staff was pretty friendly.

      Now that you have the cosplay down, what are your plans for next year? Not sure if I’d cosplay though… >>;

  9. AllenAndArth says:

    wow Smash seems to be wonderful from the post, i liked a lot…Boss-Lady is scarily good as always
    ahhhh…i wanted to go…and maybe do a Mokona cosplay… i tried to do a Itachi cosplay once…never felt so violated T-T

    • Kyokai says:

      My expectations were met surprisingly so definitely impressed with this convention. And with experience, I did see a Itachi cosplayer getting hounded by people. What was your experience? xD

  10. berrish17 says:

    OMG the last cosplay from Free! when Rei tried that swimsuit!!LOL

    Morita live dub?!awesome!!

  11. […] The Shiki figure Kyo bought at SMASH! […]

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