NärCon Winter 2018
My first impression was "Is this it?” They had reduced the available space and put almost everything in the main corridor, so it felt cramped, but you also just had to walk up and down the corridor once to have seen most of the con. There was a lot of stores, and no lack of people, but it still felt empty with almost nothing to do.
The opening ceremony was better than most years in that they actually used the whole hour. But it felt like NärCon finally have accepted that their glory days has passed. Most of the opening ceremony was just videos reminiscing of how "good" their old cons had been, even Sam's stories and Dancestuck's skit followed the theme of looking back at how good things used to be. The skit by the way was great, Dancestuck has improved every time I've see them. The hosts were... not the greatest... reading from their cards, making strange pauses in the middle of a sentence, and just not feeling genuine.
The Intermediate competition was short, but the cosplayers held Master class. Maybe because there was no Master competition, so all the Masters competed in Intermediate, making it impossible for anyone else to have any chance at all.
In fact, all the cosplay competitions were short. I'm sure that they could all fit into a single hour if put right after each other. Hey! Why don't we do that? Combine all the competitions into a single show, yes the skit competition too (keep the categories, and put Master back), add good hosts and some intermission acts and you'll have the foundation for a good cosplay show! It has worked before, and it works for CosplaySM. Make cosplay competitions into a show the audience can enjoy! I know you can do it with SM, so why don't you do it with the regular competitions?
Speaking of SM... This year it was not broadcasted on national television, and it was noticeable. The show was so much better! It was relaxed, fun, and had a community feel. When they didn't have to think about looking good in television, then they could really focus on making a show the audience could enjoy. The hosts could improvise and interact with the audience. I loved it! Never bring television back!
The walk-on warm up was surprisingly good. There should be group walk-ons allowed at the normal competitions, it made the characters feel more alive when they could interact with each other during the walk-on.
The cosplayers in the championship were amazeballs good! Like it's insane how far the Swedish cosplay community has come with performances. We've always been good at craftsmanship, but this year most of the performances were very impressive.
The only thing I feel CosplaySM should improve for next year is to better indicate when the intermission skit begins, because I thought it was a competitor. And if they are going to have a 15 minute break, then let us buy refreshments, I wanted something to drink, but even getting a glass of water was challenging. I was also a bit disappointed in the venue, I had imagined an UKK/UppCon/Theater stage, not a dining hall.
Other than that, please don't change this formula, and especially don't bring television back. You are so close to being perfect, don't mess it up.
The convention itself felt a bit like medium-fat milk; mediocre, not very innovative, but it fulfills its purpose.
But something I feel makes NärCon Vinter unique is their "NärCon on Ice", where you can bring your skates and skate in an ice hall. It's very fun, especially in cosplay.
I would also like to make a shout out to the Voltron Cosplay Panel. You guys were amazing! Best cosplay panel I’ve seen!
I spent most of the con either in cosplay, or just hanging and talking with friends and other cosplayers. I feel like I've found what I enjoy with conventions: To cosplay (preferably in a group), to watch cosplay shows (emphasis on the show), and to find an out-of-the-way room and talk with friends and other cosplayers. And I feel like I got that from this con, maybe not fully in the amounts I would like, but it was there. What NärCon need to do to please me is to turn their cosplay competitions into a real show for the audience!
Score: 3/5 Couldn't find anything too bad, but not much good either.
(CosplaySM was amazing, but I count it as a separate event and not part of NärCon)