keskiviikko 29. heinäkuuta 2015

NärCon Sommar, part 2/2

Read part 1/2 here!


Originally I meant to cosplay Sokka on Saturday, but because of the group I changed the dates between Will and Sokka. In the morning, the weather looked a tad ominous, but I still wanted to dress up as Will. In any case, the costume would be easy to take off, if it were to start raining seriously. Well, it actually didn't take long for the rain to start drizzling. 

Will doesn't approve

I had the energy to hang around as Will for several hours even though it was a little cold. A couple of Swedes and Finns came to say hello and talk, and I was rather confused but, above anything else, very happy. It was especially nice to meet the people who had told me on Facebook they wished to have the opportunity to meet me. Yay! So far I had yet to see the dealer stalls, so without having anything important to do, Kizzy and I took a look around. I found it quite nice that all the sellers had own rooms for their stalls, though the rooms were small and cramped. I had prepared cash for the trip, and so I wouldn't have to carry any kronor home to do nothing with (as we use euros in Finland), I decided to try out some coconut matcha. It might have been good, but as I have a problem with texture when it comes to food, I couldn't eat more than one ball. :P Aside from the weather, the day was casual, and it was very pleasant to just hang around and chat with the NCC team members, too. Such amazing people!

Later in the evening, Biitti left to the tent and called me in distress, saying that it had rained inside our tent and all our stuff was soaking wet. I had electronics in there too, like my camera and Nintendo DS, but luckily they had remained relatively dry. All the textiles had suffered from the little flood and I had only a tiny amount of dry-ish clothes to change into.

There it sinks.
Photo: Nyssathe other one of our Swedish tent neighbours

Sleeping in the tent wasn't an option anymore, so in panic I asked from the other Finns if we could sleep at their place. We were the most grateful when we got to go inside for the next night, and we were offered dry clothes to wear if we needed them (and a cute hamster plush to hug, which really helped to calm my nerves a bit, thanks for that goes to the Asikainen sisters). Augh, thanks, all you lovelies! ;A; We also had to get all our clothes to dry and soon, since we were to leave NärCon by noon the next day with Biitti, and everything had to be packed in good time for the trip. We spent the evening hanging up our clothes, shoes, sleeping bags and blankets in the shower room and blowing them with a hair dryer. It was also a pleasure to take a warm shower. 

"Me no likey, me no likey, me no likey!"
Photo: Biitti


In the morning, Biitti left to the camping area and threw the tent away. The tent had been a very affordable find, neither of us had any warm feelings towards it whatsoever and packing a tent that was completely soaked wasn't that much of a compelling idea. So, into the trash bin, and we were happy about it!

During the whole morning I was quiet and tired and somewhat fed up with the bad organization of the whole convention and adversities, and it felt amazing to get on the convention bus in the noon already. I just wanted to get home fast and straight to my own bed. As soon as we had gotten out of the bus to the Stockholm terminal, I really felt like throwing myself to the ground and crying for the sheer happiness, that I wasn't at NärCon anymore. I was happy to spend several hours eating at Max (Why don't we have Max in Finland? I have never eaten fries, a burger and a shake as good before!), ducking and watching outside wistfully, and speaking nonsense with Biitti and some other Finns that we had stumbled across with, all the way to 9 pm when our boarding time was due. As long as we didn't have to be at NärCon anymore. I felt the tears of happiness coming when we got on the plane and off to Finland.

Even the sky was smiling a little.

Sure, I had had my fun moments during the weekend, but those moments existed for the amazing people and friends, which NärCon can not take the glory of. The NCC had been utterly amazing, I would be lying through my teeth if I told anything else, but the way the competition had been arranged behind the scenes had been discouraging to hear. The convention itself was totally different compared to the Finnish conventions, and the fact that I didn't really enjoy myself wasn't because the differences. Of course, it had been nice to experience a convention so different, but even though the con was more of a festival it doesn't mean the organizing couldn't have been handled much, much better. On Saturday, some of the programs had been canceled for the rain and NärCon didn't have a plan B for the possible occasion of rain. I find this somewhat unfathomable, since NärCon has based a great part of its activities outside for years, and still they hadn't taken weather into account. Also, the interior space could have been used more efficiently, since even though it might sound fitting to place the comic artists' autograph sessions to the Artist Alley, it wasn't fair for the artist trying to sell their art there. The long line to the autograph table blocked the traffic and people couldn't get to or even see all the artists' tables in there. None of the lines during the weekend had been supervised, and it would have been great if the security officers had been recognizable, in case of emergencies. So far I have no idea if there even were any officers, as I saw none during the weekend.

After everything, I don't think I would visit NärCon again, unless I was competing in NCC myself or assisting a competitor. Everything in this report is how I and I alone have personally experienced it, but if you are interested in the NärCon pros and cons all in all, /cgl/ is yet offering a thread for it. But, since it is /cgl/, I recommend reading with caution; not everything you read is true. In any case, I really hope that the future of NärCon is much brighter. The way it is now was definitely not worth all the money I put into travelling, accommodation and tickets. But, I'd still say that the experience was good. At least I got to see a convention abroad!

tiistai 28. heinäkuuta 2015

NärCon Sommar, part 1/2

Read part 2/2 here!

If you are already familiar with the content I have produced during the weekend on Twitter (my tweets are in Finnish, though), you might have an idea of the nature of the upcoming blog post. :D So hey, NärCon! I had heard so much good about the convention for several years and finally I got to go myself this year. Phew, what a journey!


Early in the morning on Thursday, Biitti and I were to fly to Sweden. It was especially exciting for me, since the last time I had been in a plane was eight years ago. We ran into some fellow Finns already at the airport, and they boarded the same plane as we did. In the plane I was giggling like a little school girl. It was rather amusing that we weren't flying for much longer than 40 minutes, but seeing the cloud floor and the never ending blue morning sky made me feel super small and puny in this whole big universe. I might have shed a few tears of awe.

The view was quite nice

The plane landed in Arlanda airport and we got on the bus to the Stockholm terminal. There we had to wait in line for the NärCon bus for approximately 40 minutes because of the ridiculous amount of people. The bus trip took generous two hours and I could spend it by putting on the cosplay makeup of the day and trying to sleep a few minutes. When we finally got off the bus at NärCon, we had to wait for another generous two hours in line for the convention tickets. By that time I was already fed up with all the waiting in lines, but since there were thousands and thousands of people attending the convention, there was surely going to be more of that during the weekend. Hooray!

Photo: Biitti

While waiting, Biitti and I got acquainted with two super nice Swedish girls who offered us biscuits and Dragon Age bonding company. By the gates it was finally clear to us why it took so long to get people through them: the NärCon wristbands were way more complex that they should have been, and the locks had to be sealed with huge pliers. It would have been faster to use small pliers, since the huge ones were clumsy and it took time even get the lock between them. Even better option would have been to order bands with the kind of locks people could just slide and they'd seal automatically. Personally I would have preferred it if people could have been able to seal the bands themselves after getting through the gate just to keep everything going more smoothly, but with such lock systems it was not possible. Well, we finally got through the gate and our next move was to go to the camping site and pitch our mini sized tent. The girls we had met in the line were also going to set camp there and we became tent neighbours, yay! After the tent was up, I changed into my cosplay, aka Taina from the comic of Wolf's, and finally we got to go and see the convention itself and its surroundings.

We soon noticed that the whole area had been surrounded with a high metal fence and the rumour told us they were up for the first time. As a con goer the fence limited moving around in the venue a lot, and it was quite troublesome that the only entries were by the far ends of the venue. A little store Pressbyrån had been left just behind the fence, and if anyone wanted to go there instead of eating fast food at the convention, they had to go round a whole block. It would have been possible to just go through a building that was part of the convention, but only people with badges or green accommodation bands could get through the door. NärCon did offer food from the grill, salad and bubble tea, but personally I really didn't want to spend my days by waiting in line for food that was over priced and less healthy than what I could get from a store. What's more, the lines weren't supervised and they got easily mixed with the lines of the neighbour stalls. I just think it was ridiculous there couldn't be more entryways in the fence somewhere in the middle, but what I heard for the reason to not do so was that NärCon wanted to profit as much as possible. That sure is a given, but to me it sounded like privileged assing around. Anyone with ~special privileges~ could get in through the building (and later on it was possible for everyone else, since it seems the people by the door checking the bands stopped caring about their job). I have no idea if this is true, but according to the NärCon thread on /cgl/, Pressbyrån had not been informed about the fence in advance. The store had, apparently, stocked full beforehand keeping the con goers in mind, but the fence blocked the easy entry. It's just sad, if any of this is true. I kind of understand the point of the fence, if its purpose was "to keep the weirdly dressed up folk from disturbing and blocking the regular people's lives and ways", and because of the fence it was easier to acknowledge the borders of the venue. It still ticks me, though, for I just can't comprehend how there could not be even a couple more entryways. Things being this way, all I can say is oh my god how this sounds like we were being treated like cattle.

But hey, the environment behind the fence was absolutely stunning! Between the venue and the camping site, there were byres, horse yards with horses and everything, and a beautiful small park area that was very functional for photoshoot purposes! Biitti was awesome enough to snap a few photos of my Taina. The post-processing was done by yours truly.


Overall, I had no idea what was going on in the convention. Sure, NärCon had a program in the form of paper, but it was very defective. It was possible to download an app that had (almost) every program presented,  but personally I would have appreciated an elaborate printed program more, as I was trying to save the battery of my phone as much as possible during the days. And there are still people who don't use smartphones, whine sigh whine. I didn't go to see any programs on Thursday, I just more or less wandered around with other Finns. By the start of the evening I was already tired enough to go to the tent to enjoy a moment of silence and play DS a little before going to sleep.


For Friday, there was supposed to be an Avatar group with Biitti, Plstcgy and Hitsuwa, yay! I had been a little afraid for the weather because of my lack of sleeves, but luckily the whole day was sunny. In the morning there was no line for the bubble tea stall, so we decided to try some bubble tea with Biitti! I had tried bubble tea once before in Finland but the texture was closer to smoothie than tea, and the taste was very essence like. The bubble tea in Sweden looked more like tea to me. I rarely have a problem with taste when it comes to food, but I might have a problem with texture, and the bubbles of bubble tea had cause me a gag before. Well, I didn't really like them now either, but the tea was ok!

The water siblings share the same taste. Green melon with strawberry bubbles.

Later on we found the rest of our gang and we hanged around and butt derped with each other. I can not say this enough how much I love our little Avatar family. Everyone is super nice and even though this group business has been going on for so many times this year, I still find it to be the best thing ever. I cut my hair shorter for Sokka in for Yukicon in January, and after growing it back for months and months, I wouldn't have wanted to cut it. Hair has always been just hair to me, it grows back, but now it felt especially bad since it was the first time was actually trying to grow it out after middle school. I'm supposed to cut it shorter once again next winter when Biitti, Riko and AG are going to have a photoshoot for the water tribe (in Lapland, if all goes as planned), so I'll have to prepare myself mentally for the ordeal. That shall be that last time I cosplay Sokka.

Jamma jamma!
Practically jamma jamma is an expression for dancing stupidly.
Photo: Kizzy

We had heard from other Avatar cosplayers we had stumbled upon during the day that there was going to be an Avatar meetup at 2 am. We had nothing better to do, so we decided to join. I myself had never been in a meetup before, so I was a bit unsure of what to expect but still expecting with interest. There were SO MANY PEOPLE OH MY GOD HELP and as antisocial Finnish folk we still tried our best to belong - until they started to take group pictures that escalated into something so indecent that we escaped and went to butt around some more with ourselves.

That Finnish horror, despair and social hatred. A big Avatar gang behind us.
Photo: Biitti

No but in all honesty, I really liked all the people at NärCon. Everyone was so nice and approachable and it was easy to talk with them. Because Biitti and I had made new costumes for Katara and Sokka, Ada was so kind as to have a quick photoshoot with us, after which we got to change out of the costumes and start preparing for the Nordic Cosplay Championships.

Photo: Ada
Edit: YumiKoyuki

In the evening, when we were waiting in line for the NCC, I was so pumped. Because we had loads of free time, we got in line several hours before the show and because of this we were one of the first ones in the line. All of us were quite hysterical and Plstcgy got the idea to take her makeup paints with her. Everyone who wanted one could get a Finnish flag on their cheek (or hand)! It was more than awesome, that all of us Finns got in together and could spend the whole show together as a group and support our Finnish team. Was also very nice to see all the performances up close!

A part of our Finnish gang before the start of the show.

The whole NCC show was incredible. It was very apparent that the show had been built to be a TV spectacle, but I could still find some nice things we could definitely use in our Finnish cosplay competitions too. For example, I really enjoyed the way the cosplayers before the actual competition were presented, how cosplayer just walked in, struck a few fast poses and moved along while the next one was already on their way to the same spot. In Finland it is utterly boring to watch how the contestant walks to their mark, makes three poses,giving good amount time for every one of them so that the photographers in the front row can snap their pictures and moves along, and the next one can't come until the previous one is well off the stage. With the pace they used in the opening show in NCC, three contestants could have visited the stage in the same amount as we use for only one in Finland. Plus, the whole thing would feel like a show instead of watching grass grow. Another good point I noticed in the actual NCC competition was that the contestants could tell a small synopsis about their performances that we were about to see. One of the things we pay attention to in Finland is that the show should be understandable to everyone, even if the series wasn't familiar before. I think it would be totally valid if the host presented the synopsis before the performance if the contestant couldn't themselves. This way the audience could get into the performance before the performance even started! I mean, that's how we choose our movies and books too, right? Both for the movies and books, there are plot summaries to clarify to the audience what the movie/book is about. This raises interest way more than taking what is being handed out without knowing anything beforehand, at least for myself. So why couldn't we use a method like that in our shows?

As said, the whole NCC show was incredible. Everyone pulled through amazingly and even though a couple of the performances seemed to be lacking in execution, none of the performances left me cold. I was, in fact, quite baffled about NCC appearing as a couple contest, but oh well, I just decided to enjoy the show. One or two of the Top 3 might have been a surprise to me, but I could still accept all of them without a crossed word. I was so into the show that I was screaming and broke my vocal cords within the first ten minutes (hnnngh that Shepard in the opening show was so unf ahhh I can't she was so in character ahhh hngh). I had to take a pain killer for the night. The Start Wars acapella-dance-mix was also something so hilariously impressive! The music during the whole show was just loud enough and the songs an the beat were so good that I felt like dancing all the time.

If you missed the show, you can find it on the Finnish Yle Areena!

Though the show was amazing, I still have to share the text Regzo wrote about the events concerning the contest and the contestants. I heard about all of these already on the spot and I am utterly thunderstruck what kind of assery the NCC was behind the scenes. Personally, I am quite ashamed for the organization and SVT, and I am far from happy that we should send anyone to experience that next year. I really recommend you to read this text on Regzo's Facebook page, especially the people who wish to take part in the NCC competitions. The text is quite long, but every word is worth reading, and some of the comments written for the text make interesting points too. I just really hope that the situation gets better for the next year.

Read part 2/2 here!