Last Saturday brought with it the most important date in the Sheffield geek community calendar; the Yorkshire Cosplay Con. I went into this experience a complete novice, completely new to the entire idea of cosplay, conventions and pretty much everything this event was about. So I do sympathise with any of you reading this who have no idea what I’m talking about. Hopefully this article will act as exactly what I needed the Friday before the event; a sort of cosplay crash course, if you will.
I should begin by explaining what cosplay (short for costume play) is. It’s simply dressing up as a character from a book, TV show, film – anything! That’s the thing that I first noticed when I arrived at Magna for the event; there was so much warmth, support and inclusiveness for all the costumes and interests. Strangers made friends because they liked each other’s costume, were in the same fandom or simply thought they looked nice. All this friendliness was a welcome relief, instantly easing both my concerns about my inexperience about the day and also my worries about my costume.
I had the pleasure of talking briefly with YouTube cosplay sensations Fetsu Chan (aka Emily Louise) and Jackocalypse – the latter of which travelled from Sweden to attend Saturday’s event. With almost a quarter of a million subscribers between them, their attendance made it quite clear just what a big deal this event was.
Aside from the fact that the event’s location had to be changed to Magna since last year to accommodate the vast number of attendees, the star-studded line-up hinted to the scale. Actors from fan-favourites Harry Potter, Star Wars and Doctor Who as well as a handful of authors signed photos for fans in a way that seemed more relaxed than meet-and-greets or signings – there was time for a real conversation between fan and idol, making the event seem that bit more intimate despite its size.
The day’s schedule was packed, and it was impossible to be unoccupied for a minute. Panels, workshops and activities filled the hours, making the six hour convention seem only minutes long. With workshops from nail-painting to candle-making, and a whole area of the floor dedicated to stallholders and traders, there was scarcely enough time to see everything, despite getting early access tickets. Overwhelming doesn’t even begin to cover it. But what took pride of place and drew the most attention was undoubtedly the stage, which was host to two contests and some great entertainment. Kelsey Ellison (known online as KimonoTime), whose YouTube channel has over 6 million views, treated fans to a lively and interactive performance of some energetic Jpop dance numbers.
Between 6 different contests, dozens of stalls, a constant thump of catchy Jpop teamed with impressive light shows on the ceiling, and a friendly atmosphere of over 2000 fans mingling, my introduction to the cosplay community couldn’t be described as anything less than perfect. If you’re even slightly curious, I urge you to go along to an event and give cosplay a shot. With the next event in August promising to be equally impressive and similar events all over the country (such as MCM events in London and Birmingham which are highly acclaimed) there’s no reason to not try it. Though I must admit, it didn’t hurt my enthusiasm that I was able to spend an embarrassing amount of time trialling both new apps and nostalgically retro Mario with background music comprising primarily of Wheatus and Blink-182.
Words by Lauryn Green