NärCon Winter 2017

I went to this convention without many obligations or plans. I was going to hold a lecture, and then just cosplay and spend time with friends.

One friend I didn’t expect to spend time with was Rinoo (theatre and LARP friend), because I didn’t know she would even be there. It turned out that she was at the con during the first day; her first convention experience. I spent some time with her since it was a long time since we last met, and to introduce her and her friend to conventions and cosplays.

We played some arcade games and walked around in the stores. The stores had unusually many interesting things, but as usual I didn’t buy anything. But I did buy things from Artist Alley for the first time.

The opening ceremony was good, if somewhat short. The standard information about DESU was delivered in a relaxed but fun way. The show was surprisingly good. I don’t like dances, but this one had a story, humor, and nerd references. It was a lot more than just another dance.

Cosplay Classic (Novice and Intermediate) were both short. Very short. Novice was over in 10 minutes, and Intermediate in 20. If they know how many contestants they will have (which I assume they do), then I suggest they join the competitions into the same show again. Make it something worth watching, perhaps with opening-, middle-, and closing acts. Make a real show out of it. And give us chairs while you’re at it! It’s no fun sitting on the floor. The cosplayers were amazing as usual. I think they get better every year.

I held my lecture in MtF Crossplay techniques. Surprisingly many attended, we filled all the chairs and most of the walls. I think the lecture went well, it’s hard to tell. I started talking and suddenly I was done. I don’t remember much of it. I hope people learned something.

I spent most of Friday with our Voltron group (I was Shiro). It was fun to cosplay with a full group, it took the cosplay experience to a whole new level. I’m very proud of my space-kids. We went to the meetup, had photoshoots, flexed for prints, reenacted fanart, and tried to stay upright on the ice.

Ice? Yes, ice! NärCon allowed all attendants that brought their own skates access to a real ice arena. How many conventions IN THE WORLD have access to such a place? It was amazing fun to skate in cosplay. There were a great mix of skill, from those like me who haven’t stood on skates for over 10 years; to those that actually knew what they were doing and could do spins and jumps (so many beautiful Yuri on Ice cosplayers). But deep down we were all nerds having fun on the ice. I want more things like this; fun and unique activities for both cosplayers and fans.

I also went to the Voltron cosplay panel, or well… I only got to see the last 20 minutes because I was late, but what I saw was great! Definitely the best cosplay panel I’ve seen. Sadly, I missed the Overwatch cosplay panel, but I heard it was great as well.

During the Saturday I cosplayed as Strike-Commander Morrison from Overwatch, together with Gauss as Genji. We walked back and forth through the convention for a few hours, posing for photos.

The cosplay skit competition was amazing!!! Sure, some entries were… questionable… but most of them were very good! I laughed, cried, and was spellbound by the storytelling. This really show that skits have not died out in Sweden. The conventions just have to support them and give them the resources and time they need. The 8 minutes time limit did wonders compared to the 2min30sec we have seen in the past. I imagine that a good stage also helped (no one wants an outdoor Amphitheatre *cough*NCS16*cough*). All we need now is comfortable chairs for the audience.

I’m so happy there were so many good skits. I want more! Treat the skit competition with the respect it deserves and the Swedish community will deliver. I even heard that people got inspired after the competition and talked about skits they want to do in the future.

We tried the "Escape Room" activity. It was a fun riddles/clues/passwords/treasure hunt-challenge. We were sooo close to winning, but it was great fun. I recommend it if you have the chance.

The plan was to watch Melodifestivalen in one of the lecture halls. But it was scheduled in such I way that we would miss the first 15 minutes. I didn’t want to risk missing anything, so some friends and I walked/ran to the hotel room and watched it there instead. (Sorry everyone I left behind in the lecture hall).

The line to the Cosplay Master competition was long, we ended up far back in the audience, so from where I sat, everything looked great. The Master competition was like all other Master competitions: full with amazing cosplays and cool performances, leaving me with excitement to one day also compete on that level.

The closing ceremony was okay. I liked that they quickly announced the video games winners, so they could get on to the more interesting cosplay winners. I did however miss that we didn’t get to see the winning AMV. The After Movie was good, I liked the slow and somber feeling. The dance skit on the other hand was just another random boring dance. It might had been better if I had seen the movie the song was from.

Some other thoughts:

No wardrobe? It’s a winter conventions, where do you expect people who don’t have sleeping halls to keep their jackets? I would rather not use a jacket at all and freeze for 10 minutes while walking to and from the hotel, than having to carry it with me everywhere at the convention.

No Hottu Drinku? The iconic NärCon Winter store that sold hot drinks. I missed my hot chocolates.

No security other than the one at the main entrance? I didn’t see anyone trying to stop me from entering the sleeping halls with my friends, nor to decline me backstage access. Sure, I can see problem with this, but I personally don’t mind because it made everything more relaxed.

No Guest of Honor. I liked this choice. The convention felt a lot more close, nice, and cozy. It felt like the convention was made by con-goers for con-goers, and not by the organizers to earn PR with some foreign icon. This atmosphere was also reflected in how the hosts acted on stage, it was relaxed and not too professional; more like “we are all nerds together, let’s have a good time and not bother too much”. I loved it.

NärCon have started to redeem themselves. Let’s see if they can continue this at NärCon Summer 2017.

This was the best NärCon I’ve been to.

Score: 4/5