What’s a pop-culture con without cosplay? Our correspondents Arvin (reporter) and Levin (photographer) report.
The early morning temperature of 6 degrees sure didn’t stop cosplayers from wearing their best, even if they were feeling a little chilly.
We were greeted by Yokos (from Gurren Lagann) and Black Rock Shooters aplenty who braved the cold in dedication to their craft, as well as many stunning cosplayers clad in gowns with ornate trains. It was probably thanks to the weather that these cosplayers could go for hours on end in their costumes, because they surely would have melted in Singapore’s tropical heat!
One thing we noticed about the con was that it had a dedicated cosplayers’ corner that allowed cosplayers to store their bags, as well as changing rooms that were segregated by gender. However one of the most awesome things we encountered was a workshop corner, which had wig stands for cosplayers to style their wigs, and for them to repair their costumes.
Outside of the con, there were many “Fringe Festivals”, meetups and photoshoots done by fans of specific series and titles. The organizers published a list of these fringe events, allowing fans to easily figure out the time and location of each meet up. It was definitely a good way to help fans who came from all over Europe to gather.
Space was an issue within the halls, as the aisles between stalls were rather narrow, especially when people started browsing. It was difficult to take pictures in hall because of that. It was just as challenging outside, because of the sheer number of people streaming past, and different lighting conditions.
Surprisingly, there weren’t as many dedicated cosplay photographers at the event, at least not the type we’re used to in Singapore. Many convention goers used either cellphones, compact cameras, or prosumer gear.
Western cosplay was generally more prevalent, with a plethora of DC & Marvel cosplayers and characters from trending titles such as Team Fortress 2, My Little Pony, Adventure Time and Left 4 Dead.
There were plenty of Lokis (except for the version in his classic comic book costume) at the con, as well as several Batman, Joker and Captain America clones. There were also quite a few Deadpool cosplayers, doing versions including Ladypool and even an Adventure Time and Deadpool crossover.
Furries were actually quite prevalent at MCM Expo. Likely, this was due to the ready availability of materials and fans of this genre in the West. There were, however, a lack of Kigurumi cosplayers, and mecha cosplay, such as Gundam cosplay, was noticeably lacking even though there were a great many armor cosplays.
The Eastern front was dominated by the Big 3 – Bleach, Naruto and One Piece. Goku from Dragonball was relatively common, and so were the numerous Pokemon cosplayers (with Ash and Pikachu being the most common). Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts cosplayers were a regular sight too.
Personally, I was surprised at the dearth of Touhou and Reborn characters, which were relatively mainstream in Singapore.
Another interesting observation made by Levin was that the characters cosplayed were less recent compared to Singapore, with the only character from an anime that was fresh this season being Rikka from Chuunibyou.
One difference we’ve also noticed at MCM Expo was the strict rule on props. There was a noticeable lack of humongous props, and competitors had to use a stage friendly version of their weapons. Interestingly stilts were worn by a number of con-goers though there were fewer cosplayers on stilts this year.
Not unexpectedly, Gangnam Style had invaded MCM Expo as well, and we spotted a PSY-cosplayer leading a train into the convention hall. The Swedish competitor for the EuroCosplay competition, who did Alice from American McGee’s Alice, also used Gangnam style in her performance.
We discovered that another marked difference between East and West was that coscards weren’t common in Europe. We only received two coscards over the entire weekend. We received a card from Anathiell, an Irish cosplayer who portrayed an amazing Lightning in Aya Brea’s costume from Parasite Eve. She demonstrated her versatility by cosplaying as an Elementor from Flyff: Fly for Fun in the EuroCosplay competition.
We also had some interesting conversations with cosplayers about their approach to costuming, including Tabitha Lyons, who was cosplaying an original character called Kyra.
She explained that her outfit was created through foam carving, and each piece was cut from a special type of foam that’s somewhat different from the EVA foam we’re so used to.
A Noctis cosplayer we encountered also told us that he used plenty of cardboard to achieve the finished and polished look on his prop, which I thought was initially built out of foam at first. Another cosplayer wielded a beautiful two sided lance, and I was amazed by how it managed to retain its shape. I soon discovered that it was made with a special type of cardboard. The availability of such special materials and tools in the UK sure is enviable!
Perhaps due to it being the Halloween weekend, we were greeted by myriad zombie cosplayers. Notably, there was this big guy who had a pole stuck through his body, and this pair of zombie cosplayers who not only had very excellent makeup, but also communicated via grunts and never spoke to anyone. They stayed in character for a very long time and were walking in the typical zombie lumber.
One of the most impressive things about the more dedicated cosplayers at MCM Expo was their ability to remain in character throughout. They rarely broke character and could get quite a number of mannerisms and gestures pretty well. However my main gripe was that while the cosplayers had excellent costumes and were good at what they did, they didn’t vary their poses enough.
EuroCosplay Championship was an interesting affair with 42 representatives from 25 countries taking part. The format was a 2-minute singles performance with an emphasis on costume i.e. 40%- Accuracy, 40% – Construction, 20% Performance.
For the sake of neutrality the judges were from non-European countries, and these included Rufflebutt from USA, 2008 WCS Champion Gabriel from Brazil and Tatsumi Inui, President of Cure and WorldCosplay. Being media gave us a front row seat, and the show started with Italy’s first representative as a Chanter from Aion: Tower of Eternity. Other notable mentions include Belgium’s rep doing Constance Blaize from Warmachine and Castlevania’s Dracula, by a cosplayer from the Netherlands.
UK’s Toothless (from How to train your Dragon) won third place. Second place went to Poland’s Onion Knight (Final Fantasy Dissidia), who did an elaborate routine utilizing several stage props and sets. Netherland’s Skull Kid (Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask) took the grand prize through a combination of costume detail, a stunning Majora’s Mask prop, and a compelling performance.
We definitely had a lot of fun attending the con.