MinamiCon 14 2008

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Report by Jonathan Cullinane (nert) posted Thursday 20th March 2008

Novotel Southampton once more became a hive of otherworldly-clothed congoers for a weekend of revelry, as every line on its electronic booking board listed but one event: MinamiCon. Once more would the staff of the nearby McDonalds be rendered completely bemused at the influx of customers more brightly coloured than their mascots.

Revered as the small and cosy convention of UK fandom, it seats a mere 400 attendees and upon opening its doors back in August, sold out within just three days. This year it featured special guest Akemi Solloway and ran a huge variety of informational panels and practical workshops all weekend long, on top of the traditional con events we know, love, and throw things at.

This year the convention teamed up with our very own Island staff to run the Cosplay floor prize, as every conbag included one of our special cards to hand to the cosplayer that most impressed you, so a warm welcome to all who've joined us because of the selling out advertising! The theme of #14 was Space, with the Minami fairy plastered on the walls in varied space suits and the conbook entered the space age by arriving in our hands on CD instead of the traditional printed medium.

So how about the actual convention experience? MinamiCon likes to kick things off with a party atmosphere and its opening ceremony is full of party games and snacks, including anime themed pinatas, twister, shooting galleries and miniature car racing. When the audience settled down the announcements officially opening the convention began and charged straight into the variety show of dragging people on stage for various forms of humiliation with Iron Cosplay, Giant Rock Paper Scissors, Blind drawing, Wasabi Riceball Eating and Pixel Art with Post-its contests. The evening ends off with the showing rooms reopening and the hall converted to a dance floor with a crazy variety of music, and glowsticks available by the door.

Cosplay-wise, there was a large mix of everyone's more evening-comfortable costumes. Largely in attendance we saw a lot of Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Phoenix Wright, Final Fantasy and Code Geass cosplay -- I think an all-time low on Naruto and Bleach costumes was noted, a sign the trends are changing perhaps?


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Saturday is the big day for MinamiCon, and straight off the bat the lobby is littered with Dragon Quest, Hellsing, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and more Pokemon and Phoenix Wright costumes, many waiting in the lines for the Dealers Room and Bring'n'Buy to open, and those not in costume eagerly hammering away at DS games while waiting for the doors of money-spending to open. Despite the high winds and low temperature, many made use of the daylight hours for photoshoots around the hotel -- perfect for dramatic cloak effects, or for the about-to-die-of-pneumonia look! By midday the costume quotient is getting higher and higher, with Rumbling Hearts, Witch Hunter Robin and Final Fantasy making appearances. Even some original Steampunk designs were attracting a lot of attention from the crowds.


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Masquerade time hits, and what does this year have in store for us? Despite being one of the UK's smaller conventions, the scale was gigantic. From one of the largest group cosplay efforts in recent memory from Bar One Cosplay as characters from the Wild Arms games, to some of the largest single costumes seen in the UK scene - including Wessex Anime's 10ft tall Optimus Prime, standing taller than the doorframes, with lights and all! Certainly a Masquerade to behold. This doesn't, of course, mean credit shouldn't go to the other many fantastic entries, such as costumes from Chaos Gate, Silent Hill, Cooking Mama, Zelda, Idolmaster, Lucky Star, DiGi Charat and Chobits.


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We're certainly seeing a larger trend towards video game costumes - and not entirely in the Final Fantasy direction either, the new handheld console boom has certainly put a lot of old and new characters into peoples' choices and it seems as the quality and detail of artwork improves, so do the costumes involved. I can't say we have any complaints there! Aside from the extra work it means, anyway...


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Spirits remained high throughout the evening, many many photos were taken and karaoke was sung well into the night with the room quite packed, and the games room moved into the main hall for much alternative entertainment.

Sunday, the final day, was still largely dominated by Optimus Prime, but no small mention goes towards the sizable Shadow Hearts group, some Fate/Stay Night, as well as some 9,000+ level Dragonball cosplay and even some GARhalla Vice: Double K cosplay!


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All in all? Over far too quickly, but what was there was packed full. The bar has certainly been raised for costumes once again, and in multiple directions, nay, dimensions.

If you like what you see, you can expect registrations for MinamiCon 15 to open sometime around June this year, and be quick - places don't last long!