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EVENT: AiCon 2016

Under an overcast sky with the River Derwent as backdrop, Wrest Point Convention Centre was filled with pop culture enthusiasts. Hundreds of anime fans, gaming fans, and everyone in between gathered to celebrate their interests with friends and strangers alike.

Some dressed up as their favourite characters, while some tested their video gaming prowess versus other players, and some – like me – simply went to enjoy its vibrant camaraderie.

This year’s AiCon featured two well-known special guests. Queenie Chan, a Sydney-based manga artist gave some insight into the manga industry and provided some tips to those who aspire to enter the industry themselves.

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The second guest, Variable Cosplay, is well known for dressing up as various characters from many different franchises. She also told us the tale of her life as a cosplayer, as well as joining the Cosplay Competitions judging panel.

Saturday featured the FRUiT’s Fashion Competition, a contest for street fashion fans. People garbed in steampunk or Lolita attire had the chance to showcase their work in this competition.

Busy as always was the Trader’s Hall. The Hall fills up with a large range of merchandise every year, from anime DVD box sets to posters of wonderful art (and memes, too!).

Down in the gaming area, Super Smash Bros. 4 stole the spotlight, as a large crowd cheered for the players. Feet tapped to the rhythm of Dance Dance Revolution (Extreme!), as some enjoyed card games.

Sunday is always the quieter day in AiCon, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Outside the Centre was a group of young women showing their roller skating skills. Hilarity ensued when they were gifted weapons by the growing crowd.

The Cosplay Competition was held on Sunday morning, with over fifty participants ready to show their hand-crafted costumes to the crowd. The crowd loudly cheered for Haku from Spirited Away, who narrowly beat Deadpool. Yue and Sokka from The Last Airbender stole the judges hearts, earning them the competition’s first place. Silent Hill 2’s Pyramid Head was awarded an honourable mention for his eerie stage presence.

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The auction was Sunday afternoon’s main event. As the name suggests, attendees offer second-hand items for sale with an auctioneer mediating, sometimes mentioning “in my pants” when (in)appropriate. Like the Trader’s Hall, there is a large variety in the auction as well. This year’s most expensive purchase was a figurine that sold for over $200.

With the event’s successful run this year, it unfortunately ended with a sad announcement. 2016 is committee president, Bec Barron’s, final year as AiCon’s main event organiser. Despite her departure, I do hope that AiCon continues to grow, and that more internationally known guests will come to fruition in the years to come.

It’s always a wonderful experience attending AiCon, and I am looking forward to what comes in store for next year. A dash of magic, perhaps?

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