Dutch summer holyday was coming to an end, and that only means one thing: Abunai! (the explamation mark is part of the spelling of the name). Dutch, Belgian and German anime-fans will maybe know, but for others: Abunai! is the largest anime/manga/Japanese culture convention in the Netherlands, which takes 3 days and is held annually in Veldhoven. This is the second time I’m attending to Abunai!, but the fifth time I attend to an anime convention in general. So I can’t really say I’m a convention veteran, but I’ve gained some experience.
Abunai! is held in NH Koningshof, which is apparently the largest conference hotel in the Benelux, which (as the name says) is also a hotel. Sadly for us (my boyfriend and me), the hotel was already full so we had to book another one, which was more than one hour away with public transport, but a 20 minute drive with a car. Plus, I intended to spend a one month’s worth salary in the dealer room (which is less than you think though), and, we had to transport our cosplay (because you can’t go to an anime convention without cosplay of course), so we decided to arrange a car. On location, we found out that a car is not only a good device for transport, but also for dumping stuff. Saves waiting in line for the cloak room (since you’re not allowed to bring bags to the dealer room and the game room)
If you go to an anime convention, you stand out if you are not cosplaying. Of course, doing cosplay brings extra stress and effort, but it is also lots of fun! You can make it as expensive and complicated as you want. As a student, my budget is quite low, so I always try to do cosplay of characters who wear clothes you could also buy in regular stores. In the past I cosplayed Makise Kurisu (Steins;Gate) and a female version of Death the Kid (Soul Eater), and this time a wore a general steampunk-ish outfit on Friday and I cosplayed Wii Fit Trainer on Saturday and Sunday (in honour of the upcoming Super Smash Brothers U and 3DS, in which she is a new character). My boyfriend (let’s call him Sander from now on, because, that’s his name) cosplayed Hijikata Toshiro (Gintama) on Friday and Animal Crossing Villager (also a new character in the upcoming SSB games) on the other two days. Ironing the ‘1’ on his shirt brought some last-minute stress, and paining me white every morning took one hour, but it was worth it! A lot of people of people wanted to take pictures of us, which is, I think, one of the biggest compliments you can get as a cosplayer.
Now let’s talk about the convention! We prepared a list of events we wanted to attend, because there was so much to do! There is the dealer room, which is the size of a football field (I guess, I don’t really know anything about football), where they sell figurines, model kits, DVD’s, posters, clothes, wigs, games, manga, Japanese food, swords, jewellery, gadgets, and much, much more! There is a manga library (Manga Kissa, Utrecht), a (Japanese) food court, a game room (where you can play on almost every console ever made and compete in different tournaments), a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) room, a Karaoke corner, different workshops (pendant making, several card games, paper craft, amigurimi, sake tasting, sushi making, ect.), lectures (Japanese business etiquette, AMV (anime music video) making, cosplay-101, Japan Travel, ect.) and events (cosplay competition, AMV-competition, fashion shows, among others).
On the first day, we went to the cosplay competition, which were also the Dutch preliminary’s for Eurocos. Too bad my camera wasn’t good enough to capture good shots in the dark, but I managed to make some short movies (afterwards I found out that that was forbidden, so I won’t share them here). Starting this year, it was also allowed to do non-Japanese characters, so there was some diversity. I will name the ones that stayed on my mind the most. A short haired, bridal gown version of Rapunzel, a guy who did a splendid imitation of Mad Jack the Pirate, a girl who did Angewomon (Digimon), Wakka (Final Fantasy X) who sang a piece of Shakira’s song of the same name and, of course the winner, a girl who did Fiona (Soul Calibur V).
In the dealer room, my eye came across a replica of the Master Sword from tLoZ: Skyward Sword, which I HAD to buy (it was sold out ten minutes later). My boyfriend bought a lot more than I did (as you can see in the picture), but I’m still happy with what I bought. What I always find surprising is the price difference between boots. Really, if you ever go to an anime convention, check the prices of all the boots before you buy anything, it can save to dozens of euro’s (or whatever you pay with).
On the second day, we went to a panel called ‘the dark side of cosplay’, in which an English professional cosplay group (who only did US cosplay, to my surprise) told about all the downsides of doing cosplay. We also went to a panel about making AMV’s which was actually really about what makes an AMV good. It was interesting nonetheless. The afternoon started with the cosplay acting competition, a new event. It’s basically a couple of cosplay groups doing a little show in character. There were good ones and bad ones, and it was fun to see the difference in quality. The winners did an hilarious sketch named ‘The Sims 4: the Partyvengers’, in which the Avengers were playable characters (including a LokiXThor Kiss!). We also hung out in the game room, manga library, played bingo, checked our streetpass hits a hundred times and met some awesome new people, making the day complete.
The third day was the day of the AMV competition. What was surprising this year was the amount of dubstep (not a good thing in my opinion) and the lack of storytelling. Still, the overall quality was high and it inspired me to go watch Evangelion, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan. After one last round in the dealer room, it was already time to go home, where I try to manage with my post-con depression and already look forward to next year!