NärCon Summer 2017

This convention felt somehow different for me, it was way more relaxing and fun than any other con I have been to. I didn't judge, I didn't compete, and I had no obligations. I was just there, with my friends, as a normal congoer, only doing fun things. I didn't make sure to check everything out, I barely even entered the buildings. And to top it all off I only brought comfortable cosplays.

All this means that this ConReport will be limited to only my experience, and I only saw a very small part of everything the convention had to offer. And I think I would like to keep it that way for future reports as well; less of a report/review, and more of a journal/my thoughts about things.

Most of the con was spent in cosplay with friends, walking, watching stage shows, and attending a few events. My comfortable cosplays also allowed me to bring my camera and take photos, which was fun.

I arrived in Linköping on the day before the con to check in at both the hotel and the convention. It's a nice slow start to get all boring stuff out of the way, so you can start with the convention right away on the first day. On the evening of the Wednesday we had a nice dinner at some friends' place.

During the Thursday I cosplayed as Dad76, I was recognized and got some nice comments and pictures. I watched the Q&A with Humon (creator of "Scandinavia and the World"), and then went to watch the Novice competition. The cosplayers were cool, and I was happy to see that NärCon had learned from last year and gave us intermission entertainment while the judges decided on the winners.

After Novice I meet up with some friends and we went to the "Representation in Harry Potter"-lecture. It was very good and educational, and the presenters mixed humor with seriousness and were good at keeping the audience's attention.

The Opening Ceremony has a history of being both short and boring, but this year it was unexpectedly good. It was the most entertaining opening ceremony in a long while, but I missed some important information. There were no information about DESU (Drink, Eat, Sleep, Use Showers), no information about security and medics. But most importantly, an opening ceremony should make the audience hype for the con by having an entertaining show (they did well on this point), and by presenting things that will happen during the con that you shouldn't miss. I missed the latter, they brought up one guest and talked about their activities, but there were no info about any of the cosplay contests (not even NCC), and nothing about any of the other guests. It's not like there weren't enough time for it, the opening ceremony only used about 20 out of the 60 minutes it had on the schedule.

Cosplay Challengers was canceled due to lack of participants. Apparently no one wants to be treated like a second-hand-Master. Who would have thought? What's bothering me here is why Challengers was canceled during the very same day as the contests, the deadline was way before that, so they should have known that they didn't have enough participants.

Late in the evening I got a call from the Information team, turns out I had lost my wallet without knowing it. They had done a great job in tracking down my phone number. So I just want to give a shout out to the Lost and Found part of the Information team.

And that was the end of the Thursday. Other than the activities I mentioned here, I spent most of the time hanging with friends and walking around outdoors.

I also want to give props to the food court. A lot of good food with decent variation and without too bloated prices. I never had to leave the con to eat. I also like that they had moved the food court away from the grass area, allowing it to be used for activities instead.

During the Friday I cosplayed as Mark Jefferson from Life is Strange, with friends as Max and Chloe. We had a "photoshoot" for several hours, or we tried to. There were a lot of moving between places and pauses for food and attending other activities. This was the first time I had an in-character photoshoot, and it was fun, but also more exhausting and more difficult than I thought. I learned that I am quite limited in how I am able to express myself, something I will need to work on.

We watched the Cosplay Skit competition. NärCon is still treating cosplay skits as a, not even second-hand, but a third-hand competition. It was better than last year, at least this year they had an indoor stage with sound. But it still doesn't get the proper attention it deserves considering how integrated the cosplay skits are to the history of Swedish cosplay. To me, cosplay skits are the heart of cosplay, and deserve a prime-time spot on the main stage.

In the evening we watched Cosplay Intermediate and Cosplay Master. They are two separate events on the schedule, but they (sort of) connected them so Master start after Intermediate with just a short break between them without emptying the stage area. If they are going to connect the shows like that, why not do it properly and make it a single event in the schedule and make a big show out of it? It would be so much more awesome. And while we're at it, connect Cosplay Performance with Cosplay Skit in the same way.

The cosplayers were awesome, as usual. But I was pleasantly surprised that the hosts were actually good this year. The script was well written, it was fun, and the hosts felt open and natural without getting awkward. A big plus to the improvised sing along, it's this kind of community-feeling on conventions I have been missing.

Late at night, the AMV/CMV-completion was 45 minutes late due to technical trouble, but once it got started it had a great flow and felt well produced with nice "voting cards" and seamless transitions between the entries. Two of the CMVs had surprisingly high production value. I did not stay for the AMV part of the contests, because it was already way past midnight.

My second favorite event (after the skit competition) is Grand Batsu. But it was also cancelled due to lack of participants, I don't know how, but I guess people didn't show up, maybe because it was scheduled to 1 a.m.!

During the Saturday I cosplayed as Shiro from Voltron, with friends as Lance, Pidge, Hunk, and Coran.

We walked the stores for the first (and only) time this event, and I was happy to see that there were actually some variation in the stores, and not just a billion anime-related items.

The performance competition was for the most part good. My favorite entry won. Though I felt like some of the entries were more like skits than performances. I think this could be because there is no clear official definition of the difference between skits and performances, and I know for a fact that at least one of the skit groups signed up for the performance competition in protest against how bad the skits were treated last year. But may I again suggest that NärCon should combine the two contests? This way they will both get to be on the main stage, it becomes more of a show, and you will actually be able to fill the entire scheduled time slot.

After the performances we went to the "Harry Potter cosplay panel". It was very fun and well structured. The presence of a McGonagall cosplayer in the audience made it just all that better.

The Voltron Meetup had the same format as it had at NärCon Winter, just with a lot more people. It was fun to see so many Volton cosplayers, and to be seen by them. Meetups give a great feeling of community. We stayed for some of the games, but left early to queue for NCC. After we left I stripped down my cosplay to a more comfortable version (still recognizable). Even though Shiro is very warm and slightly uncomfortable, and I barely remember anything from the series (I need to do a re-watch before season 3), it is fun to cosplay him because there are so many people at the con that seem to enjoy my cosplay.

The Nordic Cosplay Championship (NCC) had, if possible, even better entries than ever. The intermission act was okay (though a bit long and "samey" after a while). However, the hosts were terrible. One of them talked very fast and was clearly nervous, the other one was better but still felt a bit too rehearsed. The information to the audience was confusing and unclear without any context. It was embarrassing. I don't understand why this happened, because the hosts have been great previous years.

Nothing really happens on the Sunday. The Closing Ceremony was relaxed and chill. A nice end to the convention. I'm very happy they didn't bring up any game tournament prices. I also went to the AMV/CMV-price ceremony, and it had the same relaxed feeling.

The Sunday never have anything to do, and that's why I find it strange that it was advertised as "open for the public", because I don't think Zombie-like teenagers is good marketing for NärCon.

Overall I feel that NärCon is going in the right direction, they still have things to fix, but at least now I feel like they have a more solid ground to stand on. It was an okay convention, but apart from the cosplayers in the competitions, there were nothing that amazed me. I expect more from an event of NärCon's size.

But personally, this convention was all about relaxing and having fun with friends, and from that perspective is was five amazing days.