måndag 28 juli 2014

NärCon 2014 – The Day After Review

I have now slept and had time to reflect on the past convention, these are my thoughts.

It was larger than ever before, and you could feel it. 7000 attendees, there were people everywhere, but it never felt overcrowded thanks to the event being more spread out over the university. This did however make NärCon lose some of its coziness, it wasn’t a huge deal for me but I’ve read that some think NärCon has lost its roots.

One of the main focuses this year was the food, but I didn’t really feel that there was more or better food. The food places were more spread out, there were always a long line, or they had run out of ingredients. I ate 2 NärCon burgers, they were very dry. I also bought a salad at the salad bar, but they didn’t have any salad, just various beans and dry root-fruits; I couldn’t finish it. Most of the time I just went to the local McDonalds instead; it was faster and I got more food for my money.

I never buy anything from the shops at conventions because they all always have the same boring anime stuff. But this year there were a much better variation of stores with nerdy things to buy. I almost bought a Legend of Zelda belt, almost.

The promised Epic Water War was indeed epic. A whole field of people armed with water guns fighting, forming pacts, doing sneaky ambushes, throwing grenades (water balloons), and having a good time in the heat wave. The single best highlight of the convention.

As a programmer and wanna-be indie developer (yeah, right…), I really liked the Indie Gathering part of the convention. And it was when I browsed all the indie games that I found the R2-builders, their lecture in how to build an R2D2 was truly inspireing. Now I want to incorporate my programming knowledge into props and costumes.

I want to mention EatYourKimchi. I had never heard of them before NärCon announced them as guests a few months ago, but since then I have become a fan. I went to the QnA, the Gameshow, and the Talkshow (all of which featured EYK as guests). The Gameshow in particular was very entertaining. Simon and Martina have such a good chemistry, competitive spirit, and stage presence. The Gameshow was my favorite stage activity of the convention.

Speaking of guests, there were a lot of them. EatYourKimchi, 4 cosplayers I’ve never heard of, and Reika (who I only know because she was at NärConWinter). I think there were too many guests, EYK and maybe 2 cosplay guests would have been enough.

Most con-goers would probably agree when I say that Sundays are dead, that nothing happens and everyone in just sitting half asleep in corners with their luggage waiting for the closing ceremony. Well, I thought that it was a great choice by NärCon to have low-effort activities on the Sunday, such as panels and lectures. I went to two panels/lectures on the Sunday (it would have been three if it wasn’t canceled).

Now we get into the more controversial stuff; I want to talk about the competitions and other main stage activities.
Opening and Closing ceremonies: I think dance numbers are extremely boring, not matter if it’s in cosplay or not. But I guess it’s an easy way for NärCon to fill some stage time. The hosts were okay; at least they looked like they liked to stand on stage.
Technical Difficulties: There were a lot of them, and it would seem to be related to video formats, which is funny because they were very specific with what video format the contestants should use, but they then failed to use that format themselves.
NCC-warmup: also known as “will these CMVs never end?”
NCC: also known as “we are finally all 5 Nordic countries, but we’ll keep saying ‘Scandinavia’”
Performances: I love that NärCon has brought up the focus on performance, but I can’t remember a single performance. Not form the Performance Competition, not from Nordic Cosplay Championship, not from the Master category. Were they all that uninteresting? Were they all that similar? Were they just too many?
The cosplay competition: It was painfull to sit through all of the Acts and Intermissions on an asphalt parking lot in the sun. The competition needs to be cut shorter. Maybe limit the amount of cosplay tickets, or have qualifiers the days before, or something. Or I know! Cut out the very bad and very long “intermission skit” by T-Rex Gymnastics. That “skit” was so bad I wished they had been booed off the stage, but no one in the audience had the energy because of the heat and asphalt. Intermission skits are supposed to bring back the energy and Pepp to the audience so they get the strength to watch some more cosplayers. VändettA Cosplay’s intermission skit on the other hand was really good and fun. More VändettA, less T-Rex!
Judging: Note! This is things I have heard, I cannot confirm this myself! I’ve heard that the judges didn’t even bother to look at the cosplays at the prejudging. This is something I find very strange. Apparently they based their decisions on wow-factor, not on craftsmanship or performance. This makes me wonder why there were only international judges and not a single Swedish judge that could teach them the Swedish rules and expectations. And while we’re at it, why so many international judges? They must have been expensive; money that was needed on other parts of the convention (like NCC prices).

That’s it for my “The Day After”-review.

3 kommentarer:

  1. I can confirm that during the judging the judges just sat there. They asked me one single question and when I offered them to take a close look, hold my sword, try my crown and and similar things they just shook their heads and smiled. As a cosplayjudge you should ask to see everything up close so you can study all the tiny details and craftsmanship instead of sitting behind a table and rating if the sword was big enough to be considered cool.

    I hope NärCon got more Swedish judges next year so all cosplays will be judged for real!

    Oh also, did you notice that no one got to vote for the audience award? Apparently they couldn't get up the number on screen and Lightning cosplay got to choose whoever she wanted to have breakfast with.

  2. I did notice that there were no Audience Choice, and they also failed to announce the winner for Best in Show.

  3. I wasn't at Närcon this year (been since 2011 though) but I must say thanks for writing this kind of post - it was an interesting read.
    I must say though that if that judge thing is true it seems very.. lacking and just not right towards the cosplayers and all their hard work on details and such. Thumbs down.