Anime

Eirtakon 2013- A guide to the day

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Haven been to my ‘First Con’, in the form of ‘Titan Con 2013’, I assumed I would now be old hat at these things. Boy was I wrong. The first thing to hit me was the ridiculously early start. A word of warning boys and girls… If your alarm is set for 4.20 am, around midnight is NOT an acceptable time to go to sleep… When the alarm went I was less prepared for it than usual. Thankfully though, lessons were learnt from last time as bags were pre-packed and were ready at the door. From here, all that was left was for me to do was to make a vague attempt at looking like a human being, lest I be mistaken for a zombie at the Cosplay Masquerade… Bags on our backs and tripods in hand we tumbled into the taxi ready for the mad capped road trip from Belfast to Dublin! Though, due to a collective age of 103 and a total of 20 hours sleep between the 4 of us, this didn’t exactly come to pass… So after numerous micro sleeps and many the energy drink, we arrived in Dublin feeling a little more alive than when we set off.

After a quick stop for food we hailed down a taxi and made our way to the Croke Park Conference Centre. Now, the first thing that hit me when we arrived was the queue. Sure I knew Cosplay was a huge thing State-side, but I didn’t know how well received it was on our Emerald Isles! We joined the masses of fellow enthusiasts and I, for one, was slightly overcome by it all. It’s not often that I’m surrounded by such a vast group of like minded people, and I still feel that it’s sometimes safer to keep my more nerdy tendencies to myself. So to be able to frolic about and make as many obscure nerdy references as I wished, felt pretty damn good! With the vast size of the queue it took a while to make it into the convention itself, but thanks to the atmosphere surrounding me I hardly noticed the time at all.

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Once inside I was struck by the sheer amount of Cosplayers. Unfortunately, at this point I’ll have to hold my hands up and admit that, this time round, none of the NG crew were in Cosplay garb. However, we’ve promised ourselves that next time, we’ll arrive in full Cosplay style, though maybe not for the interview stages… It was evident that those who seemed to have the most fun, were those that had really made an effort for the Con. The amount of work that some had put in was unbelievable. It was clear that days and perhaps months were spent on their costumes, a feat that didn’t go unnoticed as, the better the costume, the bigger the queue of photographers. Now I should probably point out that I was one of these photographers and I’ll be the first to admit, that first off, it was quite a daunting prospect. For one you’re approaching someone you’ve never met in your life, and worse than that you have no idea who they really are beneath all that makeup etc. I’ve never been a shy person and usually I have no problem approaching people, but this experience was more than a little surreal… Fortunately after my first photo opp (this being the picture of Harley Quinn and Riddler) I started to get into the swing of things and soon discovered that that the majority of the attendees were more than happy to pose, and evidently a few were well used to the spotlight.

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Aside from the Cosplayers was the Con itself, and Eirtakon 2013 didn’t disappoint. The scale of it was more than a little impressive. It was spread across a number of floors and each floor had something new to offer. Each NG member had their own criteria for the day, mine being the photography aspect, so you’ll probably notice that each run down is slightly different. For all though, the day began with a tour of all the vendors in the main hall, and, as you can probably tell from the photos, this was one of the more heaving, and most atmospheric areas of the Con. Any amount of nerdy merchandise was on offer and it took more than a little will power not to shell out my weeks wage… From there we all made our way to the same lecture ‘How to make your own Cosplay Video’ hosted by the lovely Graham. A wealth of knowledge was gleamed from this talk and hopefully what was learnt will arise in future NG projects. Now, at this point, the group split. My job was to photograph as much of the con as humanly possible, which suited me great as I got to tour the entirety of the Con and soak in as much as the atmosphere as possible.

Eventually it was time to make my way to one of the panels and my choice, of the day, was the discussion on ‘Sexism in Nerd Culture’. Now, I’m ashamed to say I automatically assumed the audience would consist of women with the odd man who was forced to stay by their better half. Fortunately I was proved wrong as a large number of the audience was made up by men and, further to this, the panel member who was most vocal, and against the belittling of women in nerd culture, was the only male on the panel. Various aspects of nerd culture were touched upon, such as the use of the female body in gaming and the over sexualised female characters than can be found throughout Anime. Several points of views were raised though the panel member I thought best mirrored my own opinion was the Cosplayer Riki (with whom we managed to blag an interview!). She stated that women should be allowed to display themselves however they see fit and should feel comfortable and safe to dress (this being in the context of Cosplay) as they please.

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The panel over, we went to what would be our last events of the day, the Masquerade and the EuroCosplay Qualifier. The Masquerade was a chance for the participants to really show off their creations. Each participant was allowed a maximum of 30 seconds to display their efforts to both the judges and the audience. The atmosphere around the hall was buzzing and the appreciation of those taking part was evident. What followed the Masquerade was the main event, and arguably the main basis for the Con itself, the EuroCosplay Qualifier. Now these were the big leagues. Although a number of costumes on display in the Masquerade were phenomenal, the participants in this show were another step up. Those taking part were selected on the basis that one of them would represent Ireland in the finals of EuroCosplay, so therefore the quality and delivery was that much better. Unlike the Masquerade participants who had 30 seconds, these Cosplayers had to present an entire skit, based on the character they had chosen to represent. I was taken aback by the confidence and the skill of each individual and, when the winner was chosen, I was glad to find it was the one who I would have voted for.

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So, as mentioned, this was our last event of the day and from here we made our way out of the Con and back to Belfast. The journey back offered an opportunity to catch up and share our experiences of the day which, as mentioned, varied between each person. Although everyone had a different perspective of Eirtakon 2013 we all came to the same conclusion. It. Was. Awesome! For two members of the group it was their first Con, and I’m sure that they count themselves lucky to have lost their ‘Con Cherry’ to such a well managed and spectacular Con as this! So with visions of what costumes we would don next year in our heads we already started to plan our trip to Eirtakon 2014! So until next time readers… Keep it nerdy!

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