It’s becoming increasingly more common to see convention centres full of pop culture enthusiasts. In the case of Brisbane, Supanova has been a staple for years, with Oz Comic Con added more recently. With the (presumed) success of the Madman Anime Festival, we can now add it to the list of events in a year.
Now in it’s second year, the Madman Anime Festival comes to Brisbane, after launching in Melbourne last year; a date shared with Madman’s 20th birthday. Keen to see a festival that encourages cosplay, I went along, eager to see the just how much creativity Brisbane could muster.
Anime has a distinctive art style, with over-the-top clothing and extravagant poses, so there’s a lot to draw influence from. Most con-goers were joining in on the fun, with outfits ranging from suits of armour, to simply wearing cat ears. And cosplay isn’t just about wearing a costume. When asking for a photo, expect the subject to make their character’s famous pose.
The show floor was full of stalls selling Madman-published DVDs and art books, imported Japanese toys and figures, and badges and plushies. Seems there was something from every anime (though I’m sure that’s hardly true), especially ever-popular series, such as Dragon Ball and Pokemon.
A corner of the show floor was devoted to Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul, where you could watch clips from episodes, or check out some original artwork or take a photo with some cardboard character standees. There was even a few cars with anime decals, which I then learnt was a big deal. Turns out even your car can be a subject of creativity.
At the opposite corner was a Gundam stall, where you could not only buy a kit, but pick up a free one and put together a little Gundam of your own. It was a great way be introduced to a new hobby. Gundam kits make you feel like you’re being artistic, but there’s little to no artistry to do with it. It’s like a model plane, but in the end you instead get a fully poseable action figure of a robot with a giant sword. Your kids will love it.
Next we checked out the local art and the stalls. We chatted to a few sellers. Not all were anime based, but all were definitely drawing influences from geek culture.
Fractured Lace was not particularly anime-based, but the artist behind the wares definitely knew her audience. She was friendly and keen to say hello to anyone and talk about her process. While laser-cut wood and nature-inspired rings featured, her main sellers were fascinators, each with a colour and subject theme, some with geeky influences. Again, nature was the overall theme. Mushrooms, squirrels, lakes, she had it all.
We also stopped by a stall doing double duty. Mogo and Co and Curious Empire were run in tandem by another super-friendly girl who designs and sews her own stuff. As a super Pokemon fan, I wish I was into wearing dresses so I could buy one for myself. This time, the geeky influence definitely shone through. This girl know the audience.
For artists, cons are a great place to get their name out there. It would’ve been a very successful weekend for the two girls above. The friendliness helps, but of course the main selling point was their creativity. That said, some of the smaller stalls sold anime-inspired drawings and home-made badges. So I guess in the end, there’s a place for everything.
Of course, as someone who’s only dabbled in anime it was a little challenging to know where all the influence was drawn from, which became more obvious trying to pick every one of the characters from the hundreds of cosplayers.
We got a photo with a group of girls dressed as a marching band, but I was too nervous to ask who they were. We ran into a couple friends who came as characters from show about cooking food to burst the eater’s clothing off. And I confused a girl I thought had come as a Pokemon character, who turned out to be something completely different.
We stopped to chat to a group of Street Fighter cosplayers, where my cosplaying friends chatted about their costume-making methods. I guess it’s events like that that bring out those conversations. There’s a lot of “How did you make this?” questions.
Even so, scattered around the mysteries were the characters I could pick. We saw a few Luffy’s from One Piece, a lot of Narutos from Naruto, and a few Links and Zeldas. The recent game, Final Fantasy XV seemed to be a favourite as well, perhaps because of the characters’ plain clothes, all you need is stylised hair, and you’re one of the car-pool boys.
A big exception might have been a girl dressed as a human version of a Pokemon, Ho-oh. The backstory is that it’s the bird-like incarnation of rainbows, so big feathered rainbow wings stood out as her and her friends walked past. We chatted for a bit, when she said that costume was made from scratch, from items from a art store, but the fact that she wasn’t just the bird, but a human version of the bird made it more impressive.
Then we chatted to guy dressed as Sora from Kingdom Hearts about his costume and his history with cosplay. He had just moved up from Adelaide and was excited to be in a city that has significantly more cons he can support.
With the third one I’ve been to in about eight months, I would have to agree. Not only are these a great place to pick up some Dragon Ball figures and Pokemon cards, it’s a great place to see the efforts people go to to dress up like their favourite character. Plus, the art stalls never fail to impress.
It’s events like this that I’ll always suggest to attend. There’s something about a community of people all grouped together in a shared interest in something to give you a warm feeling. The fact that people put so much effort into their costumes and art, make it all the more impressive.