I’d forgotten how much I missed Samesun’s breakfasts. The best way to get started in the morning. By this point only one of my former co-workers is still working here, but she was quite surprised to spot me in the bagel queue regardless (been freaking out a lot of the cleaning crew this way).
This morning I’m at least spared the queue since I have my badge and the ultraviolet stamp on my hand. It’s not been well received, but apparently in Canada, there’s a lot of people who buy one ticket, then share the entry badge with their friends. A lot of people can only make it to one day, so they try to save money by letting a friend use the day they can’t. Anime Revo don’t like this (and considering the difference between a day ticket and a weekend ticket I’m not surprised) so now the person who buys the ticket gets an ultraviolet stamp, and you need both that and the badge to get in. If the stamp is damaged, you can get it re-stamped, but if there’s no trace of it, you need to prove your ID. It’s a big song and dance, but I can live with it since my stamp generally stays in one piece most of the time.
I’m starting to realise just how much North America loves its performances. Yesterday had the talent contest (which I missed), and the first semi-finals of something called Death and Rebirth. Today, the morning will see the Cosplay Idol Festival, a two-hour long event featuring nothing but Idol Groups performing. As someone who has seen the MCM organisers cry at the sheer number of Idol Groups coming through the masquerade, my brain couldn’t even process them being popular enough to fill a two-hour slot.
Yet they did. And the room was packed. Never went in, but saw enough of the groups to see how much they love it. SO much glitter and frills.
I however was heading for the Dealers Room, where a panel about Cosplaying on a Budget was taking place. I’d borrowed a Gopro from a co-worker so I could film it…only to get there and realise I’d left it in my other bag, which was kind of setting the tone for the weekend. I accepted it as a sign and just sat down to enjoy the panel. The internet is not used nearly as much as it is in the UK, and it was interesting to hear about what shops Vancouverites used in order to make costumes – and when the sales were. I also learned about a shop called Value Village, which I’d never heard of before now. It’s basically a charity shop, but on a REALLY grand scale. When I check my schedule, I realise I have several hours in-between events I want to see, so I should be able to get there and back without missing anything.
Later in the afternoon was Death and Rebirth, which would be the strangest event I experienced at a con ever, but beforehand I headed back to the dealer’s room, where I ended up in yet another mystery bag trading event. This has become a big deal at the one table that’s available to swap. Once guy started with a poster and is leaving with a giant bag full of stuff – the swapping master. I continue to swap my gear as well, trying to get my hands on yet more KHR stuff (a lot of posters going round). I think I spent more time at this table than I did anywhere else. This is such a good idea for a convention, maybe some version of it should be brought to the UK?
Now, Death and Rebirth. Even now I’m not entirely sure how to explain this, the best attempt I can offer is that it’s some kind of dance/performance competition. They had a heat Friday, heat Saturday and then the final on Sunday and even NOW I can’t quite explain what the hell was going on. Basically 2 cosplayers go head to head while a song plays. They can dance, use props, strip, bribe judges with candy, and whoever gets the best points moves on to the final. It was…weird. A lot of stripping and oil and using people as chairs, but it was REALLY popular…I get the feeling it’s kind of like Minamicon’s ‘in’ jokes, you have to attend a lot to understand the appeal.
When it’s over (and oily, stripping guy and cleaning Levi make it to the finals), I have several hours before the cosplay competition, so I take this chance to get to Value Village. My first mistake is trying to walk there, figuring the nice weather will make a 50-minute walk perfectly fine. It is…but I also have to walk through some of the worst neighbourhoods in Vancouver. I have NEVER seen anything like this, the streets were lined with homeless people, sleeping bags and trolleys and cardboard boxes were strewn everywhere. I know homelessness is bad in the UK, and even bad in Australasia, but I’d never ended up in a place where the sheer scope of it was this obvious.
The one highlight of walking though, was discovering a freaking Japanese festival happening in a park on my way there. That what kind of cool, though didn’t have a lot of time to explore (and honestly, I was wearing an anime top and felt a little reluctant to go in).
When I finally made it to Value Village, I was elated I’d made the trip. This place is huge – two floors of clothing – it feels like a second-hand Matalan. In a matter of minutes, I’d found every item of clothing I’d wanted to grab in Vancouver, and had to drag myself away from all the other gear that I wanted but couldn’t have (far too many leather jackets and fashion boots). No wonder this is the go-to for budget cosplay, it’s a freaking clothing paradise.
Since I didn’t want to risk running through those neighbourhoods again, I grab a bus, only to discover my pass has no cash on it and I don’t have any coins. Thankfully the driver lets me off with it, and I make it back to the con with fifteen minutes before the Cosplay Competition starts. I’m all the way out of the queue barriers and down the wall, but still manage to get a reasonably good seat.
The competition is hosted by the same group that hosted the budget cosplay event, and the cosplays are lined against the wall waiting to go onstage. This is something I’ve noticed seems to happen at a lot of conventions when there’s no space to keep them backstage. Something else I’ve noticed is no matter where I go, it seems nobody gives cosplay competitors ANY direction on how to pose on stage. Maybe it’s a UK thing, but if you go on stage in costume, you usually want good photos, and NOBODY was staying in one place long enough to get a good shot outside of luck.
That said, the costumes were all great, with a few really standing out with the sheer ‘wow’ appeal. The Tokyo Ghoul one especially sticks in my head – I saw him the day before and frankly it doesn’t get any less impressive the more you see it. Also had a great Fate group that did a performance involving mock battles which was fantastic – even when one character lost their wig they managed to see it through to the end so well one of the judges thought it was intentional!
The final event of the day for me was at around 11pm, titled Cosplay Horror Stories. This was an interactive panel, mostly consisting of the people hosting telling stories of cosplay going terribly wrong, either when making or wearing them, and getting stories from those in the audience. They’d clearly been running this panel for a few years, because they were struggling to tell stories that they hadn’t told before (and had a guy they’d been trying to get to come for years with them to solve that problem), and were elated whenever someone who hadn’t been at their panel before offered a story. I ended up volunteering the one about how a group of Silent Hill cosplayers managed to get an entire hotel evacuated due to their costumes smelling like burning electrical wire – an Auchinawa nobody in Scotland’s con scene will forget.
Tomorrow will be my last day, and I’ll get to see the finals of the Death and Rebirth insanity, and something called the Worst Cosplay Contest. Should be interesting.