25 April 2007
Any self-respecting anime aficionado would be aware that Supanova was a week ago. Well, make that a week and a half by now. For those not in Australia, or perhaps in Australia but living under a rock, a brief explanation: Supanova is a pop-culture expo, primarily focusing on science fiction, anime and comic books. Complete with out of date celebrities and the like. Don't get me wrong, Billy Dee Williams is awesome, but he doesn't even look or sound anything remotely like Lando Calrissian anymore.
I attended for a while on the Saturday. Normally this would be an entire day affair for me, but in all honesty, despite the burgeoning attendance this convention receives (about 10,000-15,000 people over the weekend, and growing every time), it really has been faltering for the past couple of years. Given that the event itself has only been in Brisbane for a scant five years, that�s mildly troubling.
Things weren't that different with the new venue, other than a bunch of people being uncertain of where exactly to line up, but you could usually tell the pre-bought ticket line from the uninitiated by the percetage of cosplayers within. Tamarket definitely kept its title as the favourite stall of the convention, with local comic book store Daily Planet and evil overlords Madman also nigh impossible to get near without elbowing, or conversely, being elbowed in the face. There was a Star Trek club set up there looking especially forlorn, and the artists' alley was nigh deserted. The Queensland Games area seemed a disorganized mess compared to last year, and on the few walkbys I performed appeared to mostly be serving as a place for people to organise their stuff before diving back into the crowds. There were a few demos up and running on monitors here and there, but most of them were from games that have been out for months anyway. Say whatever want, but if you talk to the people in the lines, it's pretty obvious that the lion�s share of Supanova attendees are 15-30 year old anime fans after merchandise. Despite this, they keep trying to market the event to sci fi fans and kids. The mind boggles.
Even stranger was the fact that a lot of the extremely popular stalls from previous years (such as Meatbag, ShiniTokyo and Books Kinokuniya) didn't return. And that Tokyo Night Train (a relatively new anime distributor in Australia, and effectively Madman's only competitor) didn't have a booth either, yet snuck in to hand out free t-shirts from JB Hi-Fi's stall. One has to wonder why even successful stalls in direct competition with the event's biggest sponsors rarely return. Of course, in addition to the rising ticket prices and some $1500 just for the stall space, even the successful ones might be thinking the effort not worth the rewards.
All conspiracy theories aside, the highlight is always the cosplayers. I know that's certainly why you're reading this. The cosplay competition itself was cringingly bad thanks to some truly terrible skits - someone please ban the skits, it isn't worth allowing them for the two or three good ones! - and indeed, I couldn't even bring myself to sit through the entire thing. However, hanging out in line before opening and roaming the expo floor there were a plethora of really amazing costumes this year. I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked, but here's some of the more interesting ones. Photos ahoy!
Should I be worried that I'm starting to recognise a lot of the people that attend this convention by face? Either way, despite the extremely good turn out of cosplayers (there were a whole bunch of really awesome ones I didn't manage to get a decent picture of, like a Shredder from TMNT and a Yuuko from xXxholic and a whole team of really well done Final Fantasy ones), the convention itself was pretty lackluster this year, thanks largely to the absence of key stalls. It probably doesn't help that the screenings line up isn't particularly worth attending either - usually Madman just shows anime that's coming out that month anyway. This may very well be my last Brisbane Supanova. But a special shout out to all those crazy cosplayers who risk the potential ridicule - the whole atmosphere just wouldn't be the same without them. People who are willing to risk embarrassing themselves for their love of their hobby are alright by me.
Unless they're doing skits. Those people can just DIE. (Seriously, ban the skits next year, okay?)