Supanova Gold Coast 2012by Luke Carroll,
Over the past 10 years Supanova has gone from strength to strength. Starting out with a single event in Sydney the massively popular pop-culture convention has now grown to encompass almost every state on the mainland. This year marks not only a decade of entertainment but a new stop being added to the convention's ever growing list of locations, the sunny Gold Coast. And along with it a chance for Queensland's newest little brother to show veteran Brisbane how its done.
Friday – Opening Night
Although not much has been said about it, this Friday opening night not only marked a new milestone in Supanova's short history but also had the privilege of sharing the same day of their first ever convention in Sydney way back in 2002. While nothing flashy was done to mark this occasion, I'm sure the staff will have a few drinks tonight as a reward.
Right from the get go, it became obvious that comparing tonight (and the rest of the weekend for that matter) to Brisbane would be rather unfair. Not only does its big brother has years of experience and refinement, but this is first and foremost Supanova's first visit to the Gold Coast and as such changes and mistakes are all but assured as they learn the ropes of their new home.
So it was of no surprise to see that the early hall access the convention is so accustomed to up north has been forfeited for just the ceremony and events. Of bigger surprise however was the omission of resident MC John Robinson, who unfortunately had a schedule conflict and was unable to make it. Not that any of this stopped a crowd 400 people from showing up to the night and kicking off the event.
Proceedings kicked off with a quick talk from organiser Daniel Zachariou, who let it known that the Gold Coast has had the greatest pre-order of tickets than any other event in their history. Afterwards attendees were greeted quickly with a selection of guests including Cristina Vee, Tristan Jones and Richard Horvitz. Following this, the Charity Auction was held, however the many hiccups in presenting the auction items and the less than enthused crowd unfortunately put a big damper on proceedings.
I'm sure many people will see Friday night as a bit of a let down. Its lack of an early trader's hall and a less than enthused crowd will certainly not win over those trying to compare it to Brisbane. As stated earlier however, leniency should be given for the fact this is the conventions first visit to its new home and as such problems and changes are to be expected. Tomorrow though is a new day, and the first real test to see if the many months of planning has paid off.
Living up to its reputation, the Gold Coast presented awaiting fans on Saturday with lovely sunny conditions. And just like its brother up north, a line was already forming hours before the doors were scheduled to open. With the sun however bearing down with increased intensity, it wasn't long before those at the front were gifted a passage inside the centre to be within inches of the main entrance.
In conjunction to this, the cash line was also in action, getting those who arrived early a chance to join the entrance line before thing really get out of hand. In a similar ploy to the EB Games Expo last year held here, only one main entrance was given into the exhibitors' hall, and those paying by cash or prepaid tickets were required to line separately before joining the final entrance queue. This of course had the unfortunate effect of having many attendees needing to line up twice before being able to get inside.
And once inside things certainly didn't improve. With only the one entrance in use the hall soon became a bottle neck as stalls close to the opening caused large jams in traffic as people stopped to look at merchandise and talk amongst themselves. This one entrance problem was only matched by the one exit given at the other end of the hall, a considerable distance away. Thankfully the functional air-conditioning meant that the trip through was at least pleasurable.
For those wishing to wait until things settled down, Supanova had four extra areas you could visit around the centre. The Madman Anime Area screened episodes all event long, the Madman Cosplay Theatre held many of the anime related and video game related events, the Film Ink Features held many of the film guests Q&A sessions and the Supanova Seminar room held many of the book authors' talks.
Our itinerary however would have our first stop being the Anime Trivia which unfortunately suffered from low crowds as people crammed into the exhibitors' hall instead for a chance to get their goods early. Thankfully things picked up towards the end as people began arriving for Richard Horvitz, the voice of Zim from the cult favourite cartoon Invader Zim.
Following this was the much awaited Gold Coast leg of the Madman National Coplay Competition. As usual the performances of the competitors here were top notch and the outfits a sight to behold on their own. Despite only drawing four competitors for this round, I have no doubt the eventual winners Miley and Jeremy will be giving the other qualifiers a good run at the finals in Brisbane later this year.
Afterwards, we were treated to a Q&A session with Bleach director Noriyuki Abe and the voice of Ichigo, Masakazu Morita. With translators at hand, the two happily answered any and all questions thrown their way during the session. Masakazu even gave a few funny renditions of his fellow cast members amongst reciting a few popular lines of Ichigo's.
Next on the itinerary was another Q&A session, this time with Madoka Magika's Christina Vee and Christine Cabanos. The pair entertained the crowd well, even performing an a cappella version of K-ON's 'My Love is a Stapler' much to the cheers of those in the room. Finishing the day off though was the Madman Cosplay Competition which as usual featured a massive array of characters and some humorous skits that brought quite a few cheers from the near capacity crowd. Even more of a sight however was seeing the day all wrapped at exactly at 6pm, which to me marked exactly another 14 hours before I would arrive back for Supanova's final day on the Gold Coast.
Arriving back to the exhibition centre bright and early, we were once again greeted by an eager group of attendees waiting outside for the doors to open. Unlike the day prior though, the doors this time stayed closed until around 9am. Not that it caused any issues though, as the smaller crowd were able to comfortably fit into the hall this time and enjoy the shade until proceedings began.
With many of yesterday's events also happening today it became apparent that there would be plenty of time for breaks and to check the centre out properly during the day. Whilst I did cover most things yesterday, it wasn't until I got to explore at my own pace did I start to realise that hall certainly felt a tad smaller in overall size to the RNA showgrounds. This seemed to have more to do with the signings area being put into the same hall space than the actual floor size of the hall.
The seminar and anime rooms also appear to lack any real markings as to their locations, with the two easily mistaken to be accessed from other areas on the map. One big advantage of the exhibition centre though was certainly the extra exterior space. Travelling between halls was at times a very spacious affair and the enclosed outside area proved a popular destination for cosplay photos.
Eventually it was time for the always present Kamehameha competition, which in turn was followed by a rather popular talk with Joel Heyman and Marshall Rimmer from Rooster Teeth. Christina Vee and Christine Cabanos also appeared once again for another Q&A, and topped their a cappella presentation the day prior with a full version of the same song. Finishing off the day was the Madman Cosplay Competition, where over 30 contestants took to the stage to the cheers of the crowd.
Overall, Supanova's first outing will certainly be met with mixed feelings. Whilst the event itself was a success, those comparing to big brother Brisbane will be left a little disappointed. The silver lining however is that many of these issues will undoubtedly be looked at and fixed for next years event. And if everything eventually gels we may not be calling the Gold Coast the little brother for long.