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Animania Brisbane May 2009

by Luke Carroll,

Since first arriving in 2005, Animania has been faced with its fair share of ups and down. Just like its big brother Supanova it has constantly been up to the task to improve itself in every way possible, and this year was certainly no different. Back for their first of two conventions up north and armed with both a new lineup strategy and improved event list, has Animania managed to diminish their problems of the past or is there still room to improve?

It was with a sunny sky and a bit of a chill in the air that I arrived to the Holiday Inn in preparation for the day long event. Greeted with a line 100 people strong, it was not long before this grew as wave after wave of attendees arrived from the train station conveniently located next door to the event. The first thing that caught my eye however was the addition of a staff member traveling up and down the line giving entry bands to the pre-registered people. As time drew near, those with entry bands were asked to move and form a line on the other side of the doorway. Eventually they were brought up one lift full at a time and ushered onto the balcony where they were made to wait some more. It wasn't until a little past ten before the event was a go and the patient pre-registers were finally let free from their outside confinement.

As with every year, the Booth Area was the first stop of the day for most people. Within minutes the once empty room became a sea of customers as everyone weaved their way around the thirteen booth holders constantly looking for new items to buy. Once the first few waves of people had finally re-emerged from the buying arena, it was off to check out the Giant Twister activity. Unlike last years attempt which consisted of just three mats taped together, this year featured a massive room sized mat which certainly drew the attention of quite a number of players.

Eventually the game was changed to Chocobo Challenge, a sort of moving 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey' where two players -one carrying feathers and the other wearing a Chocobo tail- were blindfolded and tasked with playing 'Cat and Mouse' as two extra seeing team mates gave directions to the blinded duo. Soon enough though it was time for the Cosplay Panel in the Main Stage, the topic of which was 'Making Armour'. This talk proved to be very informative, explaining almost everything you could ever want to know for those planning on making their own armour for cosplay one day.

Following straight afterwards was Animania's own Olympia event. Unfortunately a delay in its starting time meant that I was unable to see much as I was requested to be a guest at the Animania Insight Panel. The topic, 'Anime & Cosplay Cultures in Australia' had us explaining our thoughts on cosplay and how the culture of anime has grown over the years with influence from things such as the internet. Although the clash with Olympia certainly didn't help for crowd numbers, there was certainly a dedicated audience for it all.

With the panel over I caught what was left of the packed Cosplay event before having a quick stop over at the Gamer Area. Running all day, this little setup had Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Naruto Gekito Ninja Taisen! 4 going for anyone who felt like a play. My stay was cut short however because it was time for the World Cosplay Summit preliminaries. For those who haven't heard of it, the WCS is an international level cosplay competition, and as such attracts only the best in cosplayers. Winners from these preliminaries are then entered into the finals in Sydney where a final group is chosen to represent Australia at the 2010 World Cosplay Summit in Japan. This year saw three entries from the Brisbane leg of the competition, each as interesting as the next.

Following next in the Main Stage was the Sword Demo, a martial arts demonstration performed once again by the Black Dragonfly Clan. In a welcome change, quite a number of the performances had differed from their previous shows and even a new video demonstrating defense moves made an appearance. By now however the crowds had certainly died down in numbers compared to the morning. With much of the main events over with, there was very little to keep people staying. By now the Karaoke was in full swing however, with a small pack being drawn to it almost like a magnet when the tired and true Pokémon Opening Song made it onto the playlist.

The Cosplay Chess by now also had a game going on outside. Although it suffered from some initial complications, the game managed to run quite smoothly once they were sorted. With one last merchandise check, it was off to the Awards Ceremony to close out the day. The Awards Ceremony is just as it sounds, a final gathering where the winners from all the various events and competitions including cosplay are announced. A delayed start however caused it all to run overtime, nevertheless it didn't matter since the day was finished as it was.

Although the main content of Animania has changed little over their last few visits, the addition and improvements of their supporting events have certainly gone along way to make it a much more rounded experience than previous times. Unfortunately their current location does still lead to the similar crowd issues that have plagued them from the start, however there seems to be no real way to overcome this without considering a new location. At the end of it, there wasn't many patrons I saw leaving who didn't have a smile on their face, and that's what really matters. It may pale in comparison to its big brother, but Animania still manages to have enough content for those who just want to cosplay and make new friends along the way.

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