On Saturday 6th of June the Ireland Cosplay Convention was host to many local fans, fully attired as the anime, gaming or sci-fi characters closest to their hearts for a good old-fashioned celebration of nerdy creativity. Organised by the Anime League community with OtakuCon the event crammed panels, workshops, gaming and of course a costume masquerade into one full day event at the Red Cow Moran Hotel in the outskirts of Dublin.
As Cosplay was the centre of the event the majority of attendees were in full costume so there was plenty to see from the bathrooms to the queue for the vending machines, not to mention that the Ireland Garrison’s Darth Vader and Stormtroopers were also in attendance.
The area was easy to navigate and panels were clearly marked so we didn’t really need the assistance of any staff but the atmosphere throughout the day was friendly and open.
There was an interesting selection of exhibitors and stands in the trading hall, with illustrators and caricature artists offering on the spot drawings and selling work. There was also a good variety of stalls, with more hand made goods, that made a change from the standard tables with Loki key-rings and Dragon Ball replica swag (I already have all these… although I guess you can never have too many Loki trinkets…) that tend to repeat at huge conventions. During our round of the stalls we chatted to Venus de Vilo, one of the live acts for the evening’s festivities who by day had been exhibiting her drawing, writing and her quite twisted Pokemon fanart. Comic book lovers were also represented with Derry’s NNComics showcasing their new Daire2030 and The Big Bastards creators selling new editions. The gaming hall hosted the Hearthstone Fireside Gathering Championship, but it was very much a space for board game and Cards Against Humanity fans with tournaments throughout the day.
Of course it’s not a con without some interesting panels. Stephen of Wade’s Widdle Workshop was the first talk we encountered. A cosplayer and professional voice artist, donning his newly crafted Starlord costume Stephen discussed his own experiences breaking into the voice acting profession and the differences between the working environments in commercials, gaming and anime dubbing. Stephen also had plenty of tips for budding voice actors, with advice on rehearsal techniques, networking and practicing diction which made for a very informative panel session. Of course being a voice actor often means impressions so at the end Stephen indulged a few requests from the audience.
Next were Metal Ass Gaming; a Northern Ireland trio whose game play-through videos are rapidly gathering a huge following on youtube. Admittedly, I hadn’t encountered them before so didn’t really know what to expect but after a brief introduction and declarations of some, unprintable catchphrases they soon set the tone for a humorous 50 minutes. They touched a little on their background around their work but much of their panel, was essentially a live version of their youtube channel featuring many the random story and rant. Fans had plenty of questions and eventually the floor was opened up to anything goes right from Pokemon to porn. A third of their party, Kaya aka ToxicTears; with over 100,000 subscribers is a popular youtube personality in her own right, took to the stage again straight afterwards to discuss her channel focusing on goth make up/style tips and tutorials. Alongside these there were also an introduction to cosplay from Shonarrgh and Nekomaow and writing and costume workshops so there was much to be enjoyed throughout the day.
The cosplay masquerade was competitive with a number of notable contestants and excellent prizes including the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Cosplay World Masters in Portugal, and tickets to the Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses orchestral concert. It was interesting to see the contestants talk about their costumes with the judges, in front of the audience, which doesn’t always happen, it’s always impressive to hear someone describe how they carved their prop out of wood from scratch! The hotel provided a good setting with enough comfortable space for the panels and masquerade however I would say that whilst perhaps a great spot for more established cons, I think this location is a little bit remote especially for those unfamiliar with the area, it may have deterred some from attending the event. Which is a shame because there was a lot of quality cosplay features scheduled.
The Ireland Cosplay Con is in its infancy, so it was a little lower-key than your average con but what was delivered was done so with obvious passion and enthusiasm from the fans who organised it. The atmosphere was friendly and it was great to see panellists and visitors encouraging networking and supporting each other in their crafts.
Indeed, one of my favourite things about going to conventions like this one is being surrounded by people just making things for the fun of it who are always keen to share their techniques and just enjoy themselves. I hope Ireland Cosplay Con is able to grow and return next year as there is plenty of potential for it to be a key stop for the local cosplay community in the future.