Animania Brisbane 2007 Day 1
by Luke Carroll,
Nearly two years ago in wake of the ever growing Supanova convention, a new event appeared on Brisbane's shores. Going by the name of Animania the event proved to be quite popular, so much so that it was soon expanded to two conventions a year in Brisbane. This year was not only reduced back to the one Brisbane convention for 2007, but it was instead expanded to a full weekend event. With the last few Animania conventions turning out to be sub par to what was first shown in 2005, I was quite intrigued to see just how they would tackle a weekend event. As I would soon find out though, for every step Animania takes forward, it takes two of them back.
I arrived at the venue half a hour before the doors were to open and was promptly greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of close to 100 people. This soon doubled as wave after wave of patrons quickly came in to join the line. In a wise decision by Animania staff, the line this year ran around the outside of the hotel which freed up the foyer area that was completely full the last time. However it was not long before the cracks began to appear. Just prior to opening, a large group of people were dragged from the original line onto the other side of the door; forming what many thought was a pre registered line. We soon found out that the line was actually for the children prepayments and to annoyance of a few they were let in ahead of everyone else. The crowd soon became restless as not only were many of the pre-registered people not given any special entry privileges, but the same problems that faced everyone last year came back with a vengeance. With the elevators being the only way to reach the fifth floor, the line moved at an extremely slow pace as a crowd of around ten people were let in each time to catch an elevator to the convention floor.
Arriving to the convention floor a good 40 minutes after the event officially began, we began the lengthy process of registering our details, paying, and then getting our wrist bands and bags. The bags told of only a grim fate as they contained two items, the Animania guide and a Madman discount voucher. Once past the registration tables I was greeted with what was supposedly the games room, an assortment of four televisions almost side by side running three Gamecube games and a Playstation 2 game. Fortunately a few scant meters to the left was where many attendees rush to; the booth area.
For the past few events in Brisbane, Animania has had what many could call a minimalist booth turnout. This year was no change with a total of six booths for people to browse at; the most popular being the Madman booth. A stroll down the few metres to the other end of the walkway greeted us with an open area split into various sections. The open area itself was set up with tables for doodlers to get their creations cracking while each of the bridging rooms were running a scheduled anime at the time. Only one of the rooms was dedicated to anime screenings though as the other rooms contained the main stage and the karaoke gear for later.
The first event of the day was the tired and true Olympia, a series of short games that aim to do nothing more than to excite the crowd and have fun. The first game of the event was Warriors of the Clan; a basic game where the crowd either had to be an Emperor or a Ninja, and the randomly chosen group would continue on. The remaining players then became contestants for the second event, Live Dubbing, to which a clip would play and two contestants would try to put words into the character's mouths. The third event, Deaf, Dumb and Anime was nothing more than Charades, with the Mexican Tsunami event acting as a Mexican wave designed to get the crowd back into the spirit of things. The final event was Ezy Way, in which a bowl was filled in custard and lolly frogs were dumped in. The aim was to remove as many frogs as possible without the use of your hands, with straws provided. I was surprisingly chosen for this event, and won it easily enough when I thought outside the box and to the crowd's shock and surprise, drank all the custard and poured the frogs into the nearby container.
With the Olympia over it was time to, well, do nothing. This is where a large part of Animania falls flat every year. Unless you have a need to see the anime screenings that are running, love drawing constantly or you are a real fanatic of Smash Bros or Double Dash, there is very little in alternative activities to keep a person from becoming quite bored for long periods at a time. A walk around to the screening rooms showed that they were all roughly half filled with the booth area slowly losing the packed crowd it originally had. Forms began to go around quickly for a Mario Kart: Double Dash tournament. This tournament was not listed on the event guide, and was hastily run and put together in a way that it felt like more like an afterthought than a real event.
The Cosplay competition was next. As with most conventions the Cosplay event draws the most crowds and Animania Brisbane was no exception. However Cosplay events are meant to be exciting and fun, but that definitely was not the case here. Animania has a very relaxed approach to the cosplay event and does not apply much in the way of limits, so it was no surprise that the crowd lost a lot of interest when the first group was nothing more than a large sample of randomly picked people who chose to do a skit which encased talking to every single cosplayer there. The atmosphere was the very contrast to what you'd expect in a Cosplay event. On many occasions, the people behind me would comment on just how bad some of the efforts put into the skits were, since many were obviously made up on the spot, and many were done without microphones, making it impossible to hear a thing. The lighting of the main area was also quite terrible. The main lights were turned off, with a few spot lights set up to light the stage. Not only did this make it hard to take photos if you weren't up close, but it was almost impossible to see most of the crowd from the stage. To the surprise of almost no one, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts cosplayers made up at least 80% of the entries for the event. This would have been fine had there not have been such a long list of entries. I don't think I've heard the words Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts that many times in an hour than I did here. The event eventually finished half an hour overtime, not that it mattered though, as the event I finally was waiting for was to soon begin, Halcyon.
Halcyon is a Sydney-based group that have performed at a number of previous Animania events using covers of a number of English songs from popular anime as well as self-created representations of Japanese opening and ending themes from a mix of anime and popular music. Only three of the band's members were present for the event however; Amanda Setiadi as the vocalist, Michael Lee (aka "Muki") as the acoustic guitar player and Lindsay Nighjoy on the bass guitar. With the video screen on the side showing slow moving images, the band played a large number of covers from shows and games including Fullmetal Alchemist, Ergo Proxy, Kingdom Hearts, Stellvia and Inu Yasha. Their best song however was by far Lain's opening, Duvet, where the vocalist Amanda hit a lot of the notes perfectly, giving me quite the shivers in the spine as she sung it. It was a great performance that I would love to see again. With Halcyon also running overtime, the scheduled screening was scrapped and it moved straight on to the awards ceremony, which luckily was short and brief.
With the final event over it was time to leave. Day one was finished and there wouldn't be too long to wait before we were to be back in line waiting to get back in for day two. Animania once again proved that there is a moderately sized anime fan base in Brisbane that continues to grow. As expected, the day didn't go smoothly, improvements still need to happen and it did become crowded at some stages due to the small convention space. This all didn't deter a fair few anime fans from staying most of the day, many leaving with a smile on their face. Honestly though, the Halcyon performance and the attempted improvements definitely makes this Animania close to the best Brisbane has had. Tomorrow however is a new day and with no Madman Panel planned I will be very interested to see how the day will hold up, especially for those who chose to attend both days this weekend.