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Gold Coast Supanova 2012 – The Inaugural Gold Coast Leg of the Expo in Review

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Gold Coast Supanova 2012 - The Inaugural Gold Coast Leg of the Expo in Review 1

Originally the Gold Coast never really had many events tailored to the pop culture crowd. We might have had an event or two that was tailored to a specific niche audience but most of the time we would be forced to trek up to Brisbane in order to attend Supanova or the Animania Festival. However it seems that with the Gold Coast almost becoming a pseudo-city of sorts, opportunities for the local area to host the events has increased – giving the chance for both locals and those in other areas of Queensland to have a greater number of events to attend.

For example, last year we were able to host the inaugural leg of the EB Games Expo which saw thousands of people checking out the latest game products at the Gold Coast Convention Center, the Gamer’s Life Convention held at Bond University which was aimed more at those who wanted to enjoy gaming over checking out games… and now biggest of the lot (Sorry I may have missed some events in the list – take it as a sampling) was this weekends Gold Coast Supanova leg for 2012, announced last year to hit the Gold Coast, which has taken over one of the usual two Supanova Queensland legs and has catered to everyone from the cosplayer and anime fan – to those who are fans of Harry Potter or Twilight and just want to go up and hug their favorite stars from the films.

Thanks to the team behind Supanova, I was able to attend both days as a media outlet, getting to check out everything from the panels, to the main floor to the cosplayers. Unfortunately as my camera has more or less kicked the bucket and I am currently still in the process of acquiring a high quality digital camera for events such as this in the future… I don’t have all that much to show you other than photos taken from my mobile phone, but I would like to take the opportunity to discuss with you the running of the event, trends in cosplay and events of note which will hopefully give you an idea of what went on – and might even encourage you to attend the event next year.

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Perhaps the biggest issue with any Supanova is the queue to get into the venue. While the EB Games Expo which was also held at the convention center had strict limits imposed as to how many people could attend the event at any one time (Around 5,000 from memory), Supanova has never had a policy such as this so of course queuing up proved…. interesting. With my last media pass for the event I was allowed instant entry, but this time I entered the queue and while once in it, it was pretty smooth sailing – actually getting into the queue was a big issue in my book. From memory with Brisbane Supanova there were two queues with one each running on each side of the street with staff easily able to direct people to either pay or pre-paid queues… but that same system could not be shared at the event and I found that signage could have been a lot better alongside that a number of people ended up waiting in the wrong queue (Including myself at the start). So in future events, more signage will stop angry people at the front of the queues. Other than that, the queues do indicate the popularity of the event in South-East Queensland and I hope they take that into consideration for future events.

Now onto the main floor which as with previous events is more or less about the shopping – featuring everything from the releases of local anime companies Madman Entertainment, Siren Visual and Hanabee to clothing, accessories and makeup. To my surprise, there were not many stalls dealing with imported anime releases other than Neo-Tokyo and a few other stalls with the occasional interesting item anime release on offer. However imported figures and manga seemed to be of greater availability and prices ranged from cheap to moderate in my opinion. Perhaps one of the most exciting stalls I got to visit during the first day was Cosplay Animart who were instructing players on and selling the Bushiroad Weiβ Schwarz and Vanguard TCG series, which I know Bushiroad were interested in distributing in Australia so I am glad they finally have made the move to do so.

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Image Source: Hanabee Facebook Page - The Hanabee Team and their Special Guests

While you always expect crowds at the major anime distributors, and for most of the time Madman Entertainment and Siren Visual had a consistent flow of people checking out their wares but what was of most interest was Hanabee, the new company only recently launched by ex-Siren Visual CEO Eric Cherry and how busy they would be with only The Guild and Red vs Blue offerings (As distributors of these titles in Australia). Actually perhaps aided by the fact they had two very awesome guests doing free signings (Marshall Rimmer and Joel Hayman from Rooster Teeth) their booth was teeming with people almost the entire day usually only taking a break when the two guys held their panel which of course every fan would be attending themselves. The staff also did a good job engaging their audience with photo taking, recording for an upcoming “Favourites of Red vs. Blue” video that will be uploaded to their website and a few promotions through Twitter and Facebook.

For the other anime companies as I said before they had a consistent stream of sales and people at their booth. With their new release of Puella Magi Madoka Magica in stock, Slykura alluded that this was evidently a very strong seller, with sales solid across the board. I also noticed that while they had only a number of Studio Ghibli artbooks, they were usually very quick to sell and I noticed several people looking at and purchasing them in the early hours of the first day. The team at Siren Visual also noted solid sales for a number of their titles – Angel Beats and Clannad were notable but also Welcome to the NHK which when I was there seemed to be rather low on stock (and to be honest, I share the interest in Welcome to the NHK…. it is a very unique and interesting series). I also saw people taking note of their hentai collection, which if you didn’t know they stocked them can be viewed from their official website HERE.

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Madman Entertainment and Siren Visual booths

Just as you would not scribble a fine artwork on a piece of lined paper with a bunch of blunt pencils (Unless you were going to that effect), instead of sharing photography of the expos cosplay talent from my mobile phone, I will redirect you to the Supanova: Pop Culture Expo Facebook Page where some people have uploaded their own photographs for your enjoyment. Instead, I would like to discuss a number of trends that I noticed during the expo. While it was very much possible to run into the same person several times during the event while never running into mates even once (Including a good friend of mine Steph who after scowering around the floor several times I never got to see…), I did notice several trends in the cosplays choices. Some trending and more awesome cosplays I saw included:

  • Particularily on the Saturday, there were several adorable Totoro cosplays roaming the halls.
  • Gothic Lolita fashion also seemed to be on the rise over both days. (Steph)
  • Pokemon was a popular option, primarily with Pikachu however several trainers and what looked to be a well designed Growlithe (According to the debate in the queue I was in) were some of the others floating around.
  • Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter also appeared several times during the day outnumbering the other characters.
  • Given they had stalls selling them, Cat Paws/Ears/Tails were very popular (*Shhhh* I actually bought myself a pair to see if they were comfortable… warm fuzzies) along with Steampunk goggles and other accessories – both of which were on sale at stalls during the day.
  • According to a friend of mine (Tony), the number of Touhou cosplays seemed to have declined from previous events given how many times he seemed to circumnavigate the hall.
  • There weren’t as many Madoka cosplays as I was expecting, however what I did see was of great quality.

These were just a few mental notes I made during the event, and as I said certain trends could have been me passing the same person in the crowd several times. BUT, taking into the account that it wasn’t exactly a cool weekend (Actually it proved quite warm and humid), I was very pleased with the quality and/or novelty of cosplay presented at the convention and has set a high bar for future Gold Coast Supanova’s. If you are reading this and were one of those who were awesome enough to cosplay – give yourself a big pat on the back!

While I get the feeling that some people stereotype cosplayers as primarily a group of teenagers / young adults, it was great to see both kids and older guests at the expo taking part in the whole cosplay experience. I have personally never cosplayed before, but seeing everyone getting along and having fun has made me contemplate doing it at next years event (I am sure it is possible to do media coverage in cosplay attire right? *Shifty Eyes*)

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Source: Madman Entertainment Facebook Page - A bit blurry perhaps but still...

As you can tell from the image above, Madman Entertainment held the Madman National Cosplay Championship here as with most Supanova events, and Queensland provided us with an interesting and well designed selection of cosplay. The winners were Miley and Jeremy who featured their characters and skit off the anime series Hitman Reborn and proved to be very well designed. This in particular highlighted one of the advantages the Gold Coast Convention Center had over the usual Brisbane venue from when I last attended Brisnova. The Gold Coast center had elevated seating so everyone had a clear view of the stage, in lieu of Brisbane where all seats were at the same level – providing much better opportunities for photo opportunities.

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As the expo is only held for two and a half days and tries to cater to the broad variety of people attending the event, the panels tried to cater to a number of different demographics in lieu of targetting specifically fans of anime or specifically fans of a certain franchise. Perhaps unfortunately what day you attended really did impact on what sort of panels you got to enjoy but those that I did personally view were fun and I might have more details on them in another article. In particular both Cosplay Competitions were enjoyable to watch along with the anime trivia and the cosplay chess held on the Saturday. Some of the more ToS-related panels they had on offer was the Rooster Teeth panel with Joel Heyman and Marshall Rimmer (+ a trailer for Season 10 to boot!) and the hourish long panel with Cristina Vee and Christine Cabanos who were very enthusiastic and both took the opportunity to sing anime songs together and answer questions. Other panels I visited included those for Wil Wheaton and Oliver & James Phelps, although more direction could have helped with the former as I ended up in yet again the wrong queue (>_>) – apparently the one for the Phelps session afterwards.

Moving back to the floor and moving away from the main vendors I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with those who set up stalls in the Artists Alley and I hope many others took up the opportunity as well as they had quite a lot on offer. Unfortunately my funds were a lot lower than I had hoped so I wasnt able to take advantage of as many of their offerings (and in turn review them and include them in summaries such as this), but enjoyed talking with the stall owners and getting potential candidates for coverage in the future – for example the web-comic Mira Tales had a stand there and I was browsing through the first bit of it last night so hopefully will be able to continue through with it until its completion at the end of the year – along with several other novelists, artists and clubs (Who can seriously pass up on admiring a giant TARDIS and Darlek?).

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I get the feeling I may be missing a few items in this summary, however given it is now 1:30AM and I am exhausted after two days of running around the expo I shall end this article here. Overall, it is the first year of hopefully many more to come, so the few issues I had with the day will hopefully be resolved with next year given their experiences over the last few days. But still, these were only minor issues given everything else which made it an enjoyable experience (Albeit being better if I had a better camera on my behalf). I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with a number of people at the different stalls, queues and through general conversation and I hope it goes to prove that the Gold Coast is more than prepared to host events such as this in the future!

Sam
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fourteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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