Madman National Cosplay Championship Finals 2010by Alys Nicole,
The 2010 rendition of the Madman National Cosplay Championships was held in Brisbane in November. The eyes of the cosplaying community zoned in to this weekend as the best cosplayers in the country converged for an event that was set to be even more memorable than the previous year's competition. As such, we've invited nationally acclaimed cosplayer and one of the judges of the competition, Alys Nicole to be our correspondent and let us know just how it all went.
Intense was the word of the day. It was often used to describe both the standard of competition as well as the Brisbane weather when it came to the finals of the Madman National Cosplay Championship. Unofficially dubbed “LeatherCon” and “InsaneMan” by fans this year, it was plain see why when we saw the level of dedication the competitors put into their costumes. Some contestants even decided to forgo flying and endured several days of driving to transport massive props, armour and backdrops from interstate. We arrived backstage as the competitors were carefully setting these up.
The event has already reached household name status for cosplayers Australia-wide despite only being in its second year. The Madman National Cosplay Championship is now a stand alone convention in its own right and the growing number of attendees showed this. Special international guests on the bill included American anime voice actress Stephanie Sheh and world famous international cosplay model Alodia Gosiengfiao. The latter is no stranger to major competitions having been on both the judging panel as well as the competition stage. It was Alodia's first time in Australia and she was grateful for being given the opportunity to visit us here. Alodia shared her thoughts with me backstage regarding the competition and her personal cosplay experiences:
ALYS: Tell us, what was your first cosplay and where did you make your debut?
ALODIA: My first cosplay was seven years ago, back in 2003. I dressed up as a Ragnarök priestess and I wasn't really proud of it because it didn't look too good so I didn't keep any pictures. *Both of us laughing* Seriously! If I ever found them I would delete them, I would never post them online! Anyway, after that everything became better.
ALYS: So what age did you start cosplaying?
ALODIA: It's been a total of seven years now; I started when I was fifteen!
ALYS: How do you approach choosing a character? Are you fanatical for detail?
ALODIA: Well as much as possible we like to keep the details accurate. How we look at it, the totality of the character. Sometimes I have to lose or gain weight seriously, because there are some characters I would like to do, they are very muscular and I don't think I would look too good *laughs* but I do try to be as accurate as possible.
ALYS: I understand this is your first time in Australia! How do you think cosplay and conventions differ between Australia and the Philippines?
ALODIA: Well first of all I'm very impressed by the contestants that were here [in pre-judging] a while ago and even the ones standing outside, who are not even competing, they are extremely well dressed! So far based on the quality and the details they are the same. The only thing I notice that in the Philippines, more people are into robots!
ALYS: What about cosplay appeals to you? Is it your fans, new series, wanting to keep challenging yourself or to keep doing something new and different? ALODIA: Well that's the basic description of cosplay for me and using your creativity, because I'm really into art, fashion, make up, cloth hunting...everything about cosplay really! The main thing I love about cosplay is that I get to meet new friends all over the world and it doesn't keep you just in one country. Cosplay is here in Australia, Japan, USA, everywhere! It's really amazing how cosplay can bring cosplayers together, it crosses borders!
Next, Alodia hosted a packed Q&A panel populated by her many followers and those curious to catch a glimpse of the cosplay celebrity in person. A few of her loyal fans had even flown in from interstate and overseas to see her. She struck me as a very gracious and genuine individual, always smiling as she answered the many questions put to her. Never once did she come off as having airs about her. She spoke of her impressions of cosplay as varied between Australia and other countries and yet spoke of “us cosplayers” in the community as a whole. The mutual feeling was that no matter where one hailed from in the world we were all part of this global subculture. It was heart-warming to hear.
After her panel I went backstage where some finalists shared their thoughts on the competition in between photo shoots for the media. I was touched by the kind and supportive backstage atmosphere between contestants of such high calibre. Everyone was there to help each other dress, put on make-up, assemble back-drops and do any last-minute touch ups. It was a unique experience to be a part of such a positive competition and the feeling was not lost upon the teams. Many mentioned in our talks about the new friendships they had made and how they felt proud to be part of the Australian cosplay scene. Some even said they were overwhelmed to be onstage alongside some of the other finalists, having been long term admirers of their work.
Sentimentalities aside, it was now time for the main event and real reason we all were gathered today: the Madman National Cosplay Championship Finals. The enigmatic MC John Robertson informed the rapt audience that a few thousand had tuned in to watch the live stream on Supanova's website internationally.
With the addition of the 'Wild Card' element into the competition, one by one the finalists gave us dazzling spectacles of armour, leather, wood, LEDs and tailoring. These were combined with emotional performances which showcased their passion in representing their anime, not just in costume but also in character too. No one envied the judges' position as all contestants were brilliant.
At the end of the day though, someone had to walk away with the grand prize of an all expense paid holiday to Japan for two. That deservedly went to William Wong of New South Wales; he broke down in tears onstage when his name was announced. His winning entry was the fibreglass behemoth, Siegfried from Soul Calibur. William mentioned clocking up hundreds of hours of game play to study the light refraction through his character's armour as well as many months of painstaking experimentation and construction on his costume to get it to turn out the way he wanted. He even composed his own music for his performance and involved his school orchestra to record it. No one can argue about a lack of passion!
“I think my confidence took a really big blow during the later phases of the preparation period, having come second so many times,” said Will when asked about his expectations. “For me, on the weekend of the competition, everything I could do had been done. I wanted to win very badly, and I was extremely intimidated.”
Certainly the contestants relied on the support of family and friends to push through and Will was no exception. “The three of us (with Kenny & Tsubaki – runner-ups) gathered at Kenny's house every weekend where all of us would work on our costumes. I saw the whole of their journey and they saw all of mine. We were like a family.”
So from here, where is Will heading off to? “World Cosplay Summit is the next stop. I want to have a go at being selected as the Australian Representative team to compete in Japan with Tsubaki.” And so we can only expect to see more of this man and his amusing personality; his conviction and passion for cosplaying will ensure that he'll be someone worth following for years to come yet.
‘Madman’ is most certainly an apt name for this competition, but then as anyone who frequents the kaleidoscopic world of cosplay and fandom will tell you: “Most everyone's mad here.”
ANN|AU wishes to thank Alys Nicole for taking the time to jot down her impressions of the day as well as doing the interview with Alodia and the other contestants. We also want to thank William Wong for speaking with us regarding his win. Photo credits go to Bryan Jones. Lastly we would like to thank Madman Entertainment for letting us report from the competition.