Wow! What an event! I don’t think I’ve ever been at a better convention.
Banzaicon is a Norwegian con, and it was my first convention outside of Sweden. I had been highly recommended this event, and a lot of Swedes were going. I was excited to see how this con would differ from the Swedish events I’m used to.
The first thing I noticed was that it opened quite late on the Friday. But they made up for it by being open longer on the Sunday. My internal “convention clock” got a bit skewed by this; I kept thinking that nothing would happen on the Sunday.
It felt a bit strange to not recognize any of the con goers. It was almost like I was at my first convention again. The only people I knew were the other Swedes. With so many new faces there were also a lot of new cosplayers, and I spend quite some time taking photos.
The venue reminded me a lot about UppCon and UKK with their big open main area on multiple floors, some small side rooms for lectures, and a big really good stage with CHAIRS! Everything felt fresh, with the exception for a very stinky flower on the second floor.
People from the Red Cross patrolled the venue and main stage with water, making sure everyone was hydrated. They walked around with trays with cups of water, like a water-butler. You never had to go looking for water, you didn’t even have to get up from your chair at the main stage.
The cafeteria served hot, real, food. And not just cup noodles.
There were a lot of activities on the main stage. The Opening Ceremony were, with a 30 minutes really good skit, the best one I’ve seen in years. Whoever was responsible for it knew what they were doing. It really made me hyped for the con.
There were also some improvisation-themed activities on stage, like a lip sync battle and the theatre game “Freeze”. I thought they would be cringey, but I was happy to see that there were a lot of entertainers at this con.
I joined the Ludosport lightsaber workshop, where we got an introductionary lecture and training in lightsaber combat. It was fun, but hard to remember the correct moves once the adrenaline kicked in. I wouldn’t mind learning more, but I don’t think I have the mental focus to be any good at it.
The cosplay competition was split into two parts. In part one all the cosplayers did a walk on, and three hours later, in part two (the finals), those who the judges liked got to do their performances. This system felt a bit strange at first, but I still liked it. Especially the part where -everyone- who got into the finals had to do a performance, not only Master but Cosplay Classic (Intermediate) as well. It made it a lot more entertaining for the audience, and it makes it so that you as a cosplayer gets practice at doing performances even before you join Master. There were a lot of good entries. The Anastasia performance made me cry.
The cosplay skit competition had a lot of technical difficulties, but was fun to watch regardless.
Grand Batsu was really fun, as usual. It is one of the things I never want to miss and I was very happy when I heard that some of the Swedes would bring it to Banzaicon.
There was a guy from NASA there doing a presentation about what NASA does and their plans to visit Mars. Sadly I missed this presentation. But he also held a presentation about “Space Pope – Gaming can save lives”. It was partly about EVE Online, and partly about suicide. It was very sad to listen to. And it was apparently triggering for me. I started crying, a lot. A lot a lot. Uncontrollably a lot. I had no idea why but I just couldn’t stop crying. I could feel how I started get a lack of oxygen from crying so much. Friends around me were supportive and helped me calm down enough to at least breathe normally again. But I didn’t stop crying until hours later.
The Closing Ceremony was nothing worth watching. A lot of sponsor talk, presentation of other Norwegian conventions, and a lengthy drawn out price ceremony where most of the winners weren’t even present.
Right before we were going home, I visited the medics because I had gotten a bad headache from all the crying. They refused to give me a headache pill and told me to eat salt instead. Like what!?! I ate a small bag of salted chips but the headache didn’t go away until I got home 8 hours later and could get access to a real headache pill.
Overall, it felt like Banzaicon didn’t try to make something big and cool for PR. Instead, it felt like they tried to make something fun for the attendees. The feeling of “we are all nerds who like the same things” were strong, and I’ve been missing this feeling at Swedish conventions.
It’s in the details, Banzaicon, and you nailed it!