Pop Culture Conventions have many draw points; the stars, the merch, the atmosphere – it’s hard to narrow down what the main attraction is. Whether you attend to meet people with similar interests, escape reality, or find the niche products you can’t find anywhere else, you can justly say that attendees proudly or quietly wear the title of ‘nerd’.
In the last few years, cosplay and the desire for nerdy events has boomed in Brisbane. Nowadays there are many more opportunities throughout the year to attend a big pop culture exhibition, which means (for many of us) more opportunities to make new costumes.
It’s not necessary, but a lot of cosplayers find the need to buy or make new costumes for each new convention, while many still love to show off their favourite piece or creation. It isn’t necessarily based on earnings either as there are many ways to make a costume on a low budget. Rather, it’s about dedicating yourself to making it happen. In another article, I will be interviewing Lady Elvira Grey, who has made full costumes for as little as $20.
The Expo Hall:
The majority of the convention was held inside one exhibition hall at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. As the convention title alludes, the Madman Anime Festival largely focuses on pop culture (namely Manga and Anime) created in Japan, therefore the booths were largely focused on that. Everywhere you looked, you could see people and merchandise praising characters from all sorts of manga and anime titles:
- The One Punch Man exhibit had fans posing in front of a backdrop, taking selfies with standees, and even getting them to see how hefty their punches really were
- Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul fans were able to see how the series was made in huge exhibition booths dedicated to each
- Mai Wish! Maid and Butler Café was an upstairs room where patrons could experience a Maid Café closer to home
- There were free and paid areas for convention photos, whether you are in normal clothes or are dressed to the nines in cosplay
- SBS Pop Asia booth had a mirror set up with a display that encouraged you (so sweet) – three photos, one copy per person in group, photos send by email
- Cosplay Photo Sets area had four large areas with backdrops that fans could pose in – one photo, one copy per photo, photos send by email
- Senpai’s Decals were back with their cute booth and even cuter Purikura machine – max of six photos, one copy per group, no email
More than just merch booths, the con was filled to the brim with amazing things you could take part in. So much that I didn’t get around to it all.
The Creator Zone:
With the hall being half the size of the usual South Bank Conventions, it also applies to the size of ‘The Creator Zone’, more commonly known as the artists alley. I always tend to gravitate towards the artists at any convention and this one was no different. Since the main focus of the event was to celebrate pop culture made in Japan, the local artists stocked their booths with fanart and fan-creations honouring it.
Apart from art prints, there displays included (but were not limited to): badges, phone charms, keyrings, pins, capes and scarves, stationery, and other trinkets that caught the eye and wallet of attendees.
The best part of conventions (for me at least) is hanging around and talking to local artists in the artist alley, to have conversations sharing a fondness for similar fandoms.
Perhaps the loveliest thing we experienced was that an artist loved our group so much that they drew each of our characters. The artist, Saba, was also dressed as the protagonist of My Hero Academia. She was so lovely, we’re very fond of the art she made just for us! How lovely!
The Expo Stage:
At the far end of the main hall, a stage was set up for local fans with immense love and talent.
Like in the Sydney Madman Anime Festival, we were graced with performances by A-Muse, a Brisbane based Love Live group that train hard to look and be like their beloved characters. Performing a Live! on Saturday and Super Live! on Sunday that went for an hour (wow!), they always went the distance and each member was an absolute [angel] to talk to.
Joined by another Love Live group, Aquaria performed on both days and competed in the Sunday competition. Their competitive performance was remarkable, especially considering that halfway through their track just stopped working. Not faltering, they continued their routine and sang in unison, the crowd singing and clapping along. Truly inspiring to watch. The members were also wonderful off stage as some reassured me, as I had mad stage fright. So sweet of them.
The Animelab Arena:
Separate from the main exhibition hall, a large theatre held the panels, screenings, and competitions. As I competed both days, I didn’t have the chance to go to any panels or see the finals for the Madman Nationals, except for the crowning of the 2017 winner, xxpuffy. From the side of the stage we had a great view of one of the big screens and were honoured to see the final contestants in such detail.
The Madman Parades: As this was the first Madman Anime Festival that was held in Brisbane, it was rather exciting to be a part of the Saturday Cosplay Parade and Sunday Madman Cosplay Competition. Personally, I’m terrified of crowds and being on stage, so I’ve only ever been if a group hooks me in. This was also my first convention where I went up alone. On Sunday I was quite close to quitting or running away from the holding area because of how nervous I was, but I would have never faced my fears and absolutely regretted the decision afterwards. I don’t have a page with all of my cosplays as I am terrified of masses of people probably seeing me, but for some reason cosplaying in the show hall isn’t as nerve-wracking; sometimes I even feel invisible.
Both days I had very supportive friends with me before going up, and I am thankful for them. On Saturday we went up together, Sunday we were separate. My lads Lady Elvira Grey, RedOne, and Magnetic Magee are so talented and so supportive, I’m blessed to have spent the time with them. Many other friends were so lovely as I shook so feverishly from the nervousness of the stage, and I can’t thank them enough. The staff and volunteers were also super caring and lovely that I was in tears thanking them.
I fawned over a cosplay on the showroom floor on Saturday, and was reassured by the same cosplayer as we entered the competition that afternoon. I was (and am still) so glad to have seen them win first place with that very outfit. Elle Norton was so lovely to talk to offstage, and their skills are something to be admired.
All in all, my first Madman Anime Festival was spectacular and I’m so overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone there, friends and strangers. It was a very kind and accepting convention and I am so keen to go to more. I can’t thank the staff and volunteers enough as they were all so lovely and caring, giving their all to make this an amazing convention for everyone.