The Sydney Manga and Anime Show/SMASH! 2013 has concluded. It was a massive event filled with great people, guests and staff. Join me as I wrap up the convention and persuade you why you should come and attend.
The weekend of August 10th was the 7th annual Sydney Manga and Anime Show, hosted at the Sydney Convention Centre. Over the past seven years SMASH! has become Sydney’s largest Japanese Pop Culture convention. This was my second time attending the convention but the first with a media pass, allowing access to some additional footage. Last year SMASH! had a reported attendance of 6,200 people, all of whom were drawn into the convention through the love of anime, manga, cosplay and all things Japanese.
Now lets see how SMASH! 2013 compares.
This one day convention started in the early morning of August 10th, where thousands of people would line up in Sydney’s popular Darling Harbour. And what a big turnout it was. Arriving at around 9:30, there was a massive line as evident above. My buddies had advance pre-sale tickets while I had my media pass, bypassing me the long line. But being the friend I was, I waited in line with them… the long hour line. There was a similar experience last year but the long wait is oh so worth it.SMASH! was held at the Sydney Convention Centre, a massive 27,00m² venue with three floors with two auditoriums – one of which can seat 3,500 fans. The first floor had all the vendors, stalls and shops selling anime and manga goods. The second floor has the massive auditorium as well as many smaller rooms for other events. The highest floor was reserved for the signing room, where guests could sign fans’ objects. All in all, its a pretty big place with lots of things to do.
The ground floor was filled with large distributors such as Madman Entertainment and Hanabee, small stalls selling fan art, and shops such as Anime at Abbotsford that sold official anime related merchandise. The entire floor was filled with people walking around choosing what to buy. There was a massive selection of things to purchase with over 80 vendors selling various things. Official merchandises such as manga, DVDs, Nendoroid and figmas, are all pretty expensive but so high in quality that there is no dispute in getting one. Some of the fan art stuff looks really nice as well. Items such as posters, pillow cases and books are all well-made and designed.Near the entrance of the vendor hall was the games section. Multiple games and TVs were set up for people to play and for competitions to run. Some games included Street Fighter IV, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and even Just Dance 4. Konami was also present showing off Pro Evolution Soccer 2014, which was a good game to play. I love the PES series but current FIFA has been dominating the scene too much. Maybe this installment can help gain them some ground. Just outside the Vendor hall is a small section for cosplayers to hang around and take pictures, but more on that later.
Towards the middle of the ground floor was a massive display of Gundam Gunplas. There were some very well made Gundams put on display and they are all very detailed. The picture above doesn’t do enough justice to the sheer work put into these models, let alone all the other environmental objects. There were cases and cases of high quality Gundams each with their own personality and style. A special designated area for assembling gunplas as also set up as well as a stall next to it selling the models.And the main attraction of conventions are the cosplay. Scattered throughout the entire convention are all these magnificent fans cosplaying as their favourite characters from their favourite anime. There was one major theme for SMASH! 2013 when it comes to cosplay, and that is cosplaying as the characters from Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin. There were many of these and all of them were faithful and well done ( I haven’t seen it yet but will so when all the episodes have been released).
Of course it wasn’t all Titan dominated, plenty of numerous other anime, video games and like cosplays were found. Many of them were so well done that you could see all the hard work and craftsmanship that was put into them. Some of the amazing cosplays we saw included the original Gundam, a series of One Piece cosplays, a Fairy Tail group, a well-crafted Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night, and this amazing trio below 😀
Additionally, there was an end of the day Cosplay competition, which we will get to at the end.
Apart from the events that require picture of people and picture of our wallets crying, SMASH! 2013 also hosted many other amazing events. While I couldn’t get through to all of them due to time constraints, I can only imagine them being fun:
- The Madman Screening Room – showing many anime such as Code Geass: Akito the Exiled and Anohana
- The Art Stage – featuring many panels on how to draw more effectively, and a panel and demonstration from Neon Genesis Evangelion animator Matsubara Hidenori
- The Karaoke Room – people singing their hearts out with no care in the world
- The Maid Cafe – fans dressed up as maids and butlers that serve you various drinks and snacks, who also act appropriately
- The Bushiroad TCG Room – a room dedicated to Trading Card Games and hosted competitions for Yu-Gi-Oh! and the Pokémon TCG
- The Hobbyco Booth – providing workshops on how to create Gundams and advance techniques in creating high quality models
With most of the events out of the way, it’s time to focus on something that SMASH! 2013 has managed to gathered, overseas guests. In conjunction with Matsubara Hidenori, many Japanese Pop Culture guests attended SMASH! this year and boy they were all magnificent. Let’s start off with this lovely lady:
Haruko Momoi is a very well-known Seiyuu and singer in Japan. Some of her most popular roles include Faris Nyannyan fromSteins;Gate and Anise Tatlin from the Tales of the Abyss anime series. Momoi has also released 10 albums in her singing career and graced us at the convention by putting on a small concert. Throughout the hour long concert, she sung nine songs from a variety of anime and her own albums. Some of the songs she sang included Nyan Nyan Galaxy from Steins;Gate, a cover of an AKB48 song which I don’t know the name of and a cover of God Knows from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.She had a great performance on stage showcasing her amazing singing skills. Not only that, but there were a few fans near the main stage dancing around with lights as she sang. They went on throughout the entire duration of the concert, all 60 minutes of it. Those few people were eventually joined by more people and at the crescendo of the concert it turns into a mosh pit. Only Haruko Momoi can make a mosh pit from Nyan Nyan Galaxy.
To sum up the guest appearance from the lovely signer, she held a great concert. She sang magnificently and showed that she can sing a variety of songs with a large vocal range. All those roles as anime characters might have payed of, or vice versa.
Another singing guest were the Japanese Pop band LOVERIN TAMBURIN. Formed in 2006, the band mainly focuses on doing covers and producing their own songs for various anime series. They are currently on a world tour and Sydney was their first stop. They held two mini concerts throughout the day and sang many covers from popular anime series such as Dragon Ball Z’s Cha La Head Cha La and Take me Home, Country Roads from Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart.I was unfortunately unable to attend the entire mini concert but they played some wonderful music. I wish them well on their world tour and hope they pick up many international fans.
The last mega guest at SMASH! 2013 was Masakazu Morita. Most known for his voice as Ichigo Kurosaki from BLEACH, Morita has performed in numerous anime and video games. Voicing as Tidus from Square’s Final Fantasy X and Barnaby Brooks Jr. from Tiger & Bunny, Morita has also done work outside his voice acting career such as motion capture for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. At SMASH!, Morita hosted a Q&A panel where unfortunately questions from fans weren’t answered.Apart from answering some well asked questions about his career and life as a seiyuu, Masakazu Morita did some live dubbing on stage. A clip of the anime was shown with his character’s voice edited out and he would dub over it live. The English dubbing of the clips were shown first, much to fans disappointment. But of course Morita did a great job at dubbing live in front of the large crowd.
Some of the questions he answered included how he was recognised on the street, answering that he doesn’t but is complemented on his voice, if he uses his character roles as an incentive, answering that he doesn’t but may slip into the role if he gets angry, and about his mannerism, answered by demonstrating how he talks differently between men and women- and possibly flirting with a girl from the audience and making her swoon.
All in all, Morita was a crowd favourite and SMASH! 2013. He ended his panel in the best way possible, with a live version of Ichigo’s famous line ‘Bankai’, which prompt the entire auditorium to do the same.
The end of the convention was marked by two special events on the main stage: a charity auction and the cosplay competition. The auction itself is composed of special items and objects from the guests themselves. All the proceeds will go to the Starlight Children’s Fuondation. The final item for auction was the Travelling Artbook which is an A5 artbook containing numerous art and designs from various well known Australian and international artists. The proceeds of the artbook goes to the Fred Hollows Foundation. The artbook itself is the hot topic of every SMASH! and this year it was no different. The book itself was sold for over $1,000!The last major event of the day was the amazing Cosplay Competition. Filled with skits, like the Love Live opening skit above, and fantastic cosplays this final event filled the auditorium to capacity. So much that I couldn’t get inside for a bit due to health reasons. Regardless, after getting inside and finding a good spot, it was time to look at the amazing cosplays. Apart from the few pictures I took, my camera unfortunately ran out of batteries and I did not have a spare. I only managed to take a few pics and missed out on some pretty crazy cosplays.
Regardless, many of the cosplays were amazing on the main stage. The skits themselves were all well coordinated and had a whole bunch of choreography and rehearsals behind them. There was also an amusing skit of Naruto and Sauske reenacting a song about being gay – so all those NarutoxSasuke fans must of been happy. The overall cosplay competition has magnificent as usual but was somewhat late and as soon as the time hit 5:00pm, it was mass exodus. It was unfortunate since the ceremony hasn’t started and the winner crowned.
Despite my camera running out of batteries too early in the cosplay competition, it was a great day at SMASH! 2013. Although being my second year, it was a blast seeing all these fans of Japanese Pop Culture and all the fans cosplaying as their favourite characters. Everything was well put, expect for the long line, and a big congratulations and thank you to the hard working staff at SMASH!.The event was made possible from their voluntary help, and of course the fans are the biggest reason the event was held. Due to our love for anime, manga, video games and all things Japanese, we are able to come together and celebrate this awesome culture. I would also like to thank the guests for sacrificing their time to be at SMASH!. It is hard to perform your duties when thousands of fans are screaming and cheering for you, but I guess that makes it better. Finally, I want to thank the PR department of SMASH! for the opportunity of giving me a media pass.
It has been reported that SMASH! 2013 had a record 7,849 attendees this year, blowing last year’s record out of the water. I’m more excited for SMASH! 2014 since it will now be a 2 day extravaganza at a larger venue. Hope to see you there.
Some more images from the convention below:
All images are published with the consent of the guests and respective owners/persons
All images were taken by me