Supanova Melbourne 2012by Mark Sombillo,
At this point with Supanova well and truly established in Melbourne, it's high time to see whether the event will continue to improve or if it's prone to stagnation. Once again the convention was held at the Melbourne Showgrounds in the massive halls that saw thousands of people flock through over the weekend. Unexpectedly the weather was at least not blistery or wet like in the year before so we start our journey in high spirits.
We came in on the Friday evening to pick up our passes, despite a small paperwork issue was smooth and quick enough to allow us to see the opening ceremony. As in every Supanova, the guest stars are often the biggest reason for attending. However to be able to get close to them the best way to normally accomplish this would be to get their autograph. The queues to get the tickets to get these autographs are normally long during the weekend and prone to selling out fairly quickly so being able to pre-purchase these tickets on the Friday night so they're already guaranteed to get the autograph (though they'll still need to line up the next day for it) is an excellent improvement. The atmosphere was certainly heading towards a fun filled weekend.
Saturday opened up in even sunnier conditions than the day before. The lines were already stretching out to the open grounds, while expected it is also predictably short lived and everyone very quickly poured into the massive trader's hall. Admittedly while the inner city convention centres would be easier to access, they really don't compare to how much room there is in the Showgrounds which still manages to look crowded just from the sheer number of attendees.
There weren't too many big releases this time around so for the most part the exhibition hall was just the place to shop for merchandise that you haven't bought from eBay yet. This was also where you obtained your celebrity autograph and the lines were truly enormous in part because James and Oliver Phelps were the big ticket celebrities. For the uninformed, they played the roles of the Weasley twins from the Harry Potter movie franchise and there was no shortage of fans for them.
As far as we were concerned however, it was the Madman National Cosplay Championship that was the event of the day. Being the premiere cosplaying event in the country it is a predictably filled with high calibre performances and expectations. Consequently the number of entries in the Melbourne leg has often been fairly low. Only two groups eventually made it on stage. Samurai Pizza Cats was the show portrayed in one of the performances. The cuteness and a few well placed memes and memorable things made it fun to watch.
The show however was stolen by The Rose of Versailles performance by Aly and Giorgia. It was practically a theatre performance in its own right and if you've seen the series, you'd probably say it was as fabulous as the extravagant style of its progenitor show. Highlight was when one of the cannons filled with rose petals exploded on stage. We confirmed afterwards that the other one of the two cannons should have fired as well but malfunctioned in the last minute. With song performances from Les Misérables and Moulin Rouge however, it was easy to gloss over this technical difficulty and agree wholeheartedly that they deserved winning the round.
The day was capped off by guest panels by the voice actors of the recently released Madoka Magika series and then the normal cosplay competition which was continued to be hosted by John Robertson to the delight of all. He's definitely a veteran and a well liked presenter in this field now, though admittedly perhaps he's up for a bit of upgrade before things become stale.
The first agenda of the day for Sunday was the Madman title. There was quite a bit to be excited about especially when the release and possible cinema showing of Berserk Golden Age Arc Trilogy was announced. Other titles of note were Stardriver, Legend of the Legendary Heroes, Aquarion Evol and Oreimo. Madman's online Screening Room has definitely hit its strides now with free streaming on many new release titles.
After that we made a quick check of how the Oliver and James Phelps panel was going. Thankfully the two sported differing hair styles which at least made separating them slightly easier. Being twins however meant they invariably were a package that most fans would like to keep together and the packed theatre certainly showed how popular they are.
The cosplay competition again occurred near the end of the day and was as usual was well attended and had a fair number of entrants. It was a smooth show which barely ran overtime (a feat not often accomplished in cosplay competitions). It however ran long enough to impact the next event which was the karaoke competition. The performances were shortened to basically just the first verse and chorus, much to the chagrin of the contestants. It was lovely to hear the people sing but this is probably the only real thing about the entire weekend that had me severely disappointed. Karaoke is a bit of an impromptu event but the contestants regardless practised their performances and it didn't feel right to see them being rushed out that way.
After that, the day's end arrived and we made the trek back into the city, tired but satisfied that Supanova has once again delivered a quality weekend. With the price of a weekend pass around the $50 mark, you definitely get your money's worth with all the events on offer. In previous years I've made the comment that Supanova was more about being an “expo” rather than a convention by which I meant its focus was towards promotion (of traders and guest projects; basically a big live ad campaign) rather than events aimed at entertaining fans. I still stand by that statement but I also realise now that just because they're promoting a commercial agenda doesn't mean it won't be entertaining. In fact it's very entertaining. Maybe not super-exciting like it was at the start of its life in Melbourne but as long as we're entertained we'll keep coming back for more.
A big thank you to Raymond Fung for extra photos and Chantel Simeoni for supplementary report on the cosplay competition