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A Magical Gathering: AICon 2017

With the wave of a mystical magic wand and a sprinkling of fairy dust, the halls of Wrest Point Convention Centre were once again transformed into Tasmania’s very own pop-culture paradise! Hundreds of spellbound anime fans, video game enthusiasts, and everyone in between left marvelled expressions on the faces of muggles as they descended into AICon 2017. This year’s theme? You guessed it, myth and magic!

The weekend’s highlights involved two special guests. The first being the incredibly talented cosplayer, AmenoKitarou (A.K. Wirru), and of course the unforgettable Gus ‘Goose’ Ronald, everyone’s favourite field reporter from ABCTV’s Good Game.

AICon officially kicked off with the opening ceremony on Saturday morning, followed by the FRUiTs fashion competition, a contest that showcases the creativity and design of the unique and vibrant Japanese street fashion.

The Q&A panel with Goose was the most popular event of the day, and while fans of the long running Good Game series posed a variety of questions regarding the show’s cancellation, behind the scenes and favourite games; Goose would often stop to entertain with banter, funny stories and humorously expressing concerns of leaving fellow Good Game host Bajo with the responsibility of house sitting and taking care of his cat, Lando.

One of the benefits of attending a smaller convention is that guests are more open to involve themselves with their fans. Over the course of the weekend, not only did both guests hold multiple signings and Q&A panels, they also allowed ample time for photo opportunities, even getting to know a few lucky fans by name.

Sunday was the busiest of the two days, with the main event being the cosplay competition. A contest where entrants bring their favourite pop-culture icon/characters to life by utilising their sewing, styling and acting skills. Some having spent months creating their own costumes! A few highlights included the Yip Yip Martians from Sesame Street, the under 12’s category (cuteness overload!), Ruby Rose (and her giant, hand made high caliber sniper-scythe) from Rwby, and Princess Leia & Queen Amidala’s hilarious rendition of Mother Knows Best. However, it was the costume of Spirited Away‘s No-face who captured the hearts of the audience and took home the crown for fan favourite.

After being on the judging panel for the cosplay competition, special guest A.K. Wirru took to the stage once again to provide advice and pass on a wealth of knowledge, creative techniques and methods used in his own costumes to assist other hopeful cosplayers in his Sunday workshop.

The Traders Hall was as busy as ever, with crowds swarming the aisles to purchase items such as beloved comic books, pocky, retro gaming consoles, plushies, action figures, art and a selection of handmade items by talented creators.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the gaming area, there were an infinite amount of retro and next-gen consoles set up around the room for anyone to enjoy. Some of my favourites included Mario Kart 64, Worms, Crash Bandicoot 3, Halo 5 and Mortal Kombat X. Let’s not forget about the presence of classics such as Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), Magic the Gathering (and other tabletop card games), as well as a handheld gaming area for those who just could not get enough of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

This year’s schedule was loaded with new and existing panels, competitions, debates, and activities for all to enjoy. Other events included AICon’s entry into the MADMAN National Cosplay Championship final,  panels addressing the queer youth community of Tasmania and its involvement in pop culture, and of course, who could forget the always entertaining mature auction, where for the low, low price of $700, the audience could witness an exclusive kiss shared between one particular special guest and an AICon MC… What happens at AICon, stays at AICon right?! *wink wink*

A special thanks goes to the Tasmanian Popular Culture Society (TasPop), event sponsors, and the countless efforts of the event’s volunteers for allowing us to attend yet another magical, fun-filled weekend.

We look forward to seeing what you guys have planned for 2018. I heard it’s going to be a real thriller!

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