NärCon Winter 2016

It is no secret that I hesitated a long time before I decided to go to this con. My convention and cosplay pepp had been non-existent since the summer, but about two weeks ago I decided to go to NärCon Winter anyway; meeting friends and watching CosplaySM live would still be worth it.

My experience
This was the first convention in a long time (and the first NärCon in an even longer time) that I went just as a regular visitor with no obligations what so ever. It also turned out to be the con where I cosplayed the most. I cosplayed Erwin the entire Friday, I got praise for my cosplay, and I even learned that I have fan girls (!). It was so fun just walking around as Erwin and talk to people. During Saturday I cosplayed as Sailor Jupiter and hung out with friends.

Doing this much cosplay made cosplay regain that "magical" feeling it had when I was new; it really reignited the hobby for me.

Opening and Closing Ceremonies
The opening and closing ceremonies where jokes. The opening ceremony was a 14 minute boring skit, and the closing ceremony was a 4 minute boring skit. I have no idea what they were thinking. An opening ceremony should make the visitors excited for the con, building up the energy and pepp. While a closing ceremony should look back at everything that happened, make the visitors feel part of the community, and build excitement for the future. We got none of that.

Cosplay Competitions
The cosplay competition ("Cosplay Classic") was one of the best competitions I’ve seen in many years. All the cosplays were great, there were no awkward pauses (everything went smoothly), and the entertainment had a single overarching story that made the show feel complete and coherent (and Karu was so good as Tuxedo Mask/announcer). The competition made me want to get back into competitive cosplay.

Sadly I can’t remember any performance (from either the performance competition or the master category) apart from the Findus one. But that tells more about the current state of Swedish cosplay performances than it does of the competition itself.

Cosplay SM
This year’s edition of Cosplay SM had a better show than last year, but the energy in the audience was lower. The cosplayers were awesome. I really liked the Hyrule performance because it felt refreshing to see a fun performance for a change; it doesn’t have to be serious to be a good performance.

The pre-show sucked. It was just a bunch of trailers and some dances, nothing to really bring up the energy and pepp. Not like last year when the pre-show made a great job of warning up the audience. The intro show felt very out of place; it had nothing to do with cosplay at all. The second show (the big Game of Thrones one) on the other hand was awesome, and it featured several members of the community.

Cosplay SM made me not want to compete again, because what if you win and qualify to SM? The cosplayers in SM are so good, I can’t compete with them.

The new venues
The convention was in new venues this year: Saab Arena and a sport center. Saab Arena was good and has the best stage in Swedish cosplay. The rooms for activities were however very small. Overall I liked Saab Arena. The sport center on the other hand… It was just two big and open halls, one for e-sport and one for everything else. Didn’t NärCon learn from ConFusion that it’s not a good idea do have big halls? Both halls were very noisy. The designated meetup area was in one of these halls, right next to a stage and "GottCon" (famous for always blasting music). It was impossible to hear anything during meetups, so you either had to go someplace else or disband completely (rendering the meetup area completely useless). I tried to stay away from the sport center as much as possible.

Food and drinks
It was for some reason forbidden to eat or drink anything but water in Saab Arena. (I find this to be bullshit because I saw several non-visitors eating in there). And since you didn’t really want to go to the sport center, you ended up not eating or drinking anything (unless you went to the city, but it was cold outside). Yes, there were water stations spread all over the arena, but there were no mugs to drink from, so they were essentially useless. This made me a bit dehydrated by the end of Saturday, and gave me a major headache the day after.

The major problem I had with NärCon this year was how bad the scheduling was. The schedule changed all the time; things changed time and place constantly without notifying anyone. A lot of things were double booked and had to be canceled. It was a mess. And with everything always being late you couldn’t trust the schedule at all.

So to summarize:
Good: Friends, reigniting my cosplay spark, Cosplay Classic, and Cosplay SM.
Bad: No food or drinks, noisy sport center, and bad scheduling.

Score: 3/5

I had a lot of fun, but it’s difficult to know if I had fun due to the convention, of if I had fun because I was with the right people.