This past weekend saw SMASH! roll into Rosehill Gardens in NSW. It’s an event that everyone at Japandaman HQ looks forward to as it’s always such an amazing event with loads to do and see. Throw in some absolutely stunning cosplay, stellar guests and it’s not hard to see why SMASH! is an event that everyone waits each year for, drawing massive crowds each time.
This year was no exception with an amazing array of guests that entertained the crowds with signings, photo opportunities and panels that were informative and a way to learn more about their favourite artists. This year we had voice actress Shizuka Itoh, voice actress Shiori Mikami, voice actor Daisuke Sakaguchi, manga artist Asami Hagiwara, cosplay duo Baozi and Hana, producer Hiroaki Yura, illustrator Yusuke Kozaki, illustrator redjuice. Throw in some guests for the after hours party including D-Jadeabella, Kenaz, Yui Kanan and Teddyloid and you can see that SMASH! spares no expense in gathering an exciting array of guests each year.
The first thing I noticed was that the Artists Alley had expanded enormously compared to past years. In the past, it was relegated to a hall that was a decent size however this year saw the attraction moved to another area of the venue that was easily 3 times bigger with many amazingly talented artists showing their stunning creations all available for very reasonable prices. I filmed some of the Artists Alley which I’ll put together in my video wrap up but the level of art was completely fantastic with a variety of genres covered across anime, manga,video games and more.
SMASH! also hosts the annual Australia leg of the World Cosplay Summit for 2018 with this year the Australian team being successful were Kirilee Cosplay and Giorgia Costumes. We wish them all the luck over in Nagoya in 2018!
Speaking of the guests, I was lucky enough to interview the voice of Krista Lenz from Attack On Titan, among many others, Shiori Mikami! She was extremely pleasant, down to earth and really friendly. Unfortunately it was an audio only interview with no video allowed so I’ll be transcribing the interview for the site in the next day or so. My amazing co-host on It’s Japan, Man!, Neko, also did a couple of interviews. She was lucky enough to interview one of the DJ guests, Teddyloid, as well as super cosplay duo, Baozi and Hana. All the guests were amazing to talk to and we were so grateful for their time during what was a very busy weekend for them!
If you’ve never been to this amazing convention before, I really can’t rave enough about it. It has the elements which make it a successful event that keeps the public and special guests coming back. There’s an awesome energy and vibe in the air which a lot of other conventions don’t have enough of and the space allocated to it was huge. Speaking of space, 2017 marks the last year for SMASH! at Rosehill Gardens as 2018 will see it hosted at the International Convention Centre which is the middle of Sydney CBD. This should make it easier to get to as Rosehill Gardens is literally close to an hour away from the CBD. I personally can’t wait to see it at the new venue and along with the new venue, it also has a new time slot. It won’t be in August as it has been since we’ve been going, instead it’ll be in July from the 14th and the 15th.
From cosplay, Gundam, Maid Cafe, video games, art and heaps more, there’s something for everyone and without a doubt, every year it’s something to look forward to. A massive thank you to the SMASH! family who look after us including Susan Ma and Sinead Simpkins.
I am going to start of my review and say: ‘Madman must be completely MAD!’
This past weekend we had the first ‘MadFest’ for 2017. For those who are unaware ‘Madman Entertainment’ in conjunction with ‘AnimeLab’ (the official anime streaming service for Madman’s Australia/New Zealand fans) held their second Madman Anime Festival; otherwise known as ‘MadFest’. The first one was held last September in Melbourne, the home of Australian anime and Madman Entertainment. This year Madman was going to do something that was completely unexpected, they were going to hold three festivals in three different states; Perth, Brisbane and rounding out in Melbourne at the end of the year. I was a bit sceptical at first thinking how they could pull off a con in six months after the last one and did at time think that this could either end as a complete mess, however my expectations were blown away.
So the first festival for 2017 was held in my home state of Perth, Australia’s most isolated city. When it was announced last year I nearly lost my mind. I firmly believed that I was probably the only anime fan left in the state and was a bit concerned as to whether or not the festival was biting off more than they could chew with having the festival here in Perth, however what surprised me was the amount of people that did attend over the course of the weekend. It started of slow with the number of people walking through the convention doors, but once it hit midday on the first day then the festival truly was alive. In comparison to the first MadFest that was held in Melbourne the guest list was very small. At this MadFest we had two American dub actors (Erica Mendez and Crispin Freeman) and two international famed cosplayers (Knitemaya and Angie) who would be the main guests of the festival. The biggest draw card for the festival was the Australian Premiere of the much anticipated movie ‘Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale’ which is out this week for a limited time. Unfortunately for fans there were no Japanese voice actors or anyone from the Japanese anime film industry at this festival, which I must admit was a bit of a let down as a lot of fans crave the chance of being in the audience listening to their favourite creators of anime.
So I thought I would just give a run down on some of the things to happen over the weekend:
Sword Art Online Australia Premiere:
The hype for this movie was insane, I have never seen so many anime fans come together in one spot to see a movie. The crowd was insane and they were the most well behaved audience. Everyone was super excited and we were lucky to have Erica Mendez and the international cosplay guests introduce the movie to the audience. Mendez also announced at this premiere that the dub for the movie will be released later this year. The movie itself is damn good. As a fan of the series it was brilliant to see our favourite characters again in a new story on our screens again. If you get the opportunity to see it, you need to go! Also I wont spoil the story, but it is advised that you stay till the very end of the credits as something is revealed!
Perth did not disappoint in terms of anime cosplayers. We had a huge variety from all sorts of anime. It was amazing the turn out for the cosplayers as the weather was not kind to those poor fans who had to wear layers upon layers of costume, however they still did it and it was just incredible. It was amazing seeing all of them being so nice and happy to take photos with everyone. I’ll also mention that they had a special photo area where cosplayers could go and take photos with the international cosplayers and have their photos printed out thanks to Canon photography services.
Mai Wish- Maid and Butler Café
Exactly like last year, the Mai Wish café made its presence known in Perth. The best thing about this particular café was that it was separate and not in the expo hall like it was in Melbourne. It created a much nicer and welcoming environment for all the patrons. The maids and butlers were extremely interactive and very friendly and tried to do their best to make sure that everyone had a fun time.
Now, unlike the Melbourne MadFest where they had lots of opportunities for people to go and play the latest games being released, at this festival we saw a lot of ‘old school’ gaming opportunities as well as some new stuff. I really enjoyed this as people got to have a go at some of the old consoles that they might have forgotten or used when they were growing up as kids in the late 90’s/Early 00’s. Very interactive area and it was constantly packed with people wanting to have a go.
I was extremely lucky to have purchased a VIP pass for this festival as I found it extremely handy last year at the first festival, and this year it was just as good. The VIP purchasers were treated like VIP’s. They were given a lot of perks, goodies, being able to use photography equipment, early access to everything and easy access to meet the guests. I recommend this pass as it was very reasonably priced and they give you so much in return.
Now admittedly this is one of my favourite parts of any convention and these panels were conducted extremely well and ran in appropriate time without seemingly stale and boring. They were fantastic opportunities for fans to be able to interact with their favourite guest and ask all those burning questions they have probably been dying to ask for years. Erica Mendez held two fantastic Q&A panels; Andy Trieu of SBS Pop Asia moderated them both. Crispin Freeman held a Q&A on the Saturday and on the Sunday a fantastic lecture panel on the mythology of Japanese and Western animation. I absolutely loved all the panels and the way the guests were more than accommodating to answering questions and interacting with the crowds. Erica Mendez even gave a small performance on stage singing ‘History Maker’ the opening theme to the hit anime ‘Yuri on Ice’ to the delight of the audience. Cosplay panels were also held and were a big draw card for the beginner to professional cosplayers. In comparison to other cons, the way the panels were conducted was extremely professional and of a high standard, respectful of all audience members.
Probably the best panel for the anime nerds and geeks like myself who are dying to find out the latest news and information from Madman entertainment. The panel was hosted by Madman’s own Sly and Jess, who revealed upcoming DVD/BR releases as well as upcoming anime movies that will be released extremely soon. The biggest shock for me was definitely ‘Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry’ with the first trailer being shown at the panel itself. They also revealed the next guests for Brisbane MadFest; including Cherami Leigh and a select group of international cosplay stars (with more announcements to come soon). The best thing with this panel was they wanted to get feedback and opinions from the audience as to how the festival could improve and what they liked and did not like it. The panel were also good sports in participating in a singing challenge, seeing Jess getting the crowd cheering (and getting out their glow sticks) at her rendition of ‘History Maker’.
Exhibits in Expo Hall:
Extremely interactive exhibits and games for fans to go in and enjoy, plenty of room for fans to kick back and relax as well as spend lots of money. They had the ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ exhibition that debuted at MadFest Melbourne as well as the ‘One Punch Man’ experience. Of course it wouldn’t be Madman if they didn’t promote ‘Love Live’ and ‘Love Live Sunshine’ in all it’s school idol glory with opportunities for fans to take photos at the idol displays. This festival had the addition of the ‘Sword Art Online’ exhibit, which allowed fans to go pose with the SAO cosplayers and build the hype for the new movie. Artist alley promoted a lot of local talented artists. Expo hall was smaller, however it had a much nicer feel as appose to the Melbourne Expo hall. The staff and volunteers were extremely nice and more than accommodating to all fans.
This is just a taste of what I experienced at Perth MadFest, and that was just the start. There were lots of things for fans to do and it catered for all age groups. People were extremely friendly and welcoming and it was just nice seeing the passionate Perth anime fans come together to this event and show it so much love. I cannot wait to check out Brisbane MadFest if this is what we were able to experience at this event. If you are the beginner anime fan, this is the place to be, if you are the extreme anime fan, again this is the festival to go to. The atmosphere and general attitude of the festival was extremely positive and it would be a shame if the festival doesn’t come back here, it was without a doubt one of the best festivals I have attended!
I rate it 4.5/5
It was the first time the festival was held out of state and done in less than six months of the original MadFest, Madman entertainment should be applauded for providing fans the opportunity to make their city come alive with anime again.
And the special guests keep rolling out for SMASH! 2016. This time it’s mecha cosplayer,TAKAHIRO (GOLDY) SAKAI! It’s shaping up to be an amazing looking convention for it’s 10th anniversary. Here’s the press release with all the info below.
SMASH! 2016 GUEST PROFILE:
COSPLAYER TAKAHIRO (GOLDY) SAKAI
Official Website: http://gadgettool.web.fc2.com/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/Goldy-1549129935365479/
Meet TAKAHIRO (GOLDY) SAKAI also known as ‘The Gundam G u y ’.
With over ten years experience in constructing mecha costumes and armour accessories, Goldy has become one of the world’s greatest craftsmen.
Inspired by mecha characters from Japanese pop-culture such as Gundam and Evangelion, the mecha enthusiast has transformed this passion into something more complex and fulfilling.
In 2006, Goldy was one of Japan’s representatives for the World Cosplay Summit Championship, and was also the recipient of Brother Industries’‘Special Award’.
Sharing his knowledge with like-minded peers, Goldy regularly conducts cosplay workshops in Akihabara, Tokyo. During these workshops, cosplayers get the opportunity to spend a few hours with Goldy to learn the basics of armour crafting.
Despite so little is known about him, there is significant respect for Goldy beyond Japan. Not only has Goldy been invited as a special guest, but he has also been a judge and speaker at various conventions such as Anime Expo, London’s MCM Comic Con, Philippines’ Cosplay Mania, and North Carolina’s Cosplay America.
This will be Goldy’s first Australian appearance at SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show 2016.
The weekend that just passed saw the commencement of the convention season for 2015 with Supanova rolling into Melbourne. Melbourne is the first of many stops for the Supanova train. Always attracting many Supa Star guests, this year was no different. From Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future, George Takei from Star Trek, Charisma Carpenter from Buffy and Angel, Jason David Frank from Power Rangers and loads more!
A convention of this calibre is always a great spot for cosplayers to converge and show off what they’ve been working on, sometimes up to months before the actual event. They come from all over Australia to meet up and arrange photoshoots and make new friends. Here’s a photo album from the IJM Facebook page.
Japandaman was on site doing his duties for TV show It’s Japan, Man! along with co-host, the always kawaii Neko. This year IJM decided to put together a little cosplayer highlights video so even if you couldn’t make it, this video will give you an idea of the fun that went down.
Hope you’ve had a look at the photo gallery above, now here’s the It’s Japan, Man! cosplay video highlight reel.