SMASH 2012 has come and gone for another year and it did not disappoint. The Sydney Manga and Anime Show, conveniently located at the Sydney Convention Centre offers everything for
the general Otaku. From stalls selling merchandise for the hardcore with cash to blow such as Nendoroids, Figma's and Figurines to even little "loose change" items like
A4 posters, Badges, Keychains and Bookmarks for the casual gaijin. SMASH is a great convention and worth every dollar, even if you're not a hardcore anime fan there are many things to do
to entertain yourself.
This year was a little different for me and SMASH alike, this time I could cover the event for our actual Anime channel (unlike the previous year where I had to cover it from the TV channel)
and grab some great content for everyone. In addition to this, thanks to the PR guys at SMASH I was also hooked up with a Media Pass (picture below) that allowed me free entry and
permission to cover some cool content!
Improvements from the previous year
More organised lines
Everyone hates long waiting lines. I hate them, your mum hates them, everyone does and this was the case at Smash '11. This year however, there were 2 lines at two different ends
of the entrance into the convention and whilst the Advance Ticket Line was noticibly longer, the waiting times were siginificantly shorter and much much more organised.
Better Variety of Stalls
Unlike last year, this year at SMASH the stalls were more diverse and spread out. Stalls for Harajuku fashion, Tablet Drawing and of course, merchandise were everywhere and
every time you went around them, something new would attract your eye even if you have been to the stall before. The merchandise wasn't too overpriced and it was great seeing
that the vendors weren't marking up stuff by 200%.
Huge Upgrade of the Gaming Arena
This year the SMASH, the gaming arena got a much bigger area space alongside quite a few new games and consoles. Sponsored by the SGL (Sydney Gamers League) the gaming arena
was full of classic hits such as Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. to brand new spanking titles like Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations and Tekken x Street Fighter.
DarkJibTEC and xxSoS playing Mario Kart 64
This year at SMASH, the schedule was much better and you didn't have too many things conflicting with each other. The MadMan screening room hosted quite a few
brand new series and movies such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and The Secret World of Arrietty whilst the main stage was bursting with Guests and entertainment.
9am-10:20am: Arriving at the event and shopping
After meeting up with DarkjibTEC, Aoi and xxSoS at Central station, we head off to the convention which is only a 10 minute walk away. Upon arriving at the convention
we are greeted to a massive line which we later find out is the Advance Ticket Holders Line. From here, Yay messages me and asks if we're there yet and arranges to meet up later in the day.
The line, despite very long in length moved very fast and we arrived inside in no time which was a great relief from the previous year.
As we get our tickets, I head off to the information desk and grab my Media Pass from the extremely friendly and excited staff whilst Aoi heads off to sign up for the Seiyuu workshop
later in the day.
From here, the rest of us go shopping around the stalls in search of some great merchandise and boy, did they impress! The stalls had everything for every anime fan of pretty much
any series from every genre and the prices were very reasonable as well. From cheap posters and bookmarks to high end figurines, the stalls at SMASH had everything. It is here
that I blow $100 in 5 minutes on two K-On Nendoroids on the Anime at Abbotsford stall and Jib spends roughly the same amount on figures and wallscrolls.
The start of what is going to be a very expensive collection.
10:20am-12pm: Main Stage Entertainment- Sakura Tange and Yuko Miyamura's Seiyuu Workshop ft. Aoi
After buying our merch, we decide to head off to the main stage and arrive half-way into Sakura Tange's performance of her live voice acting for one of her most reknown characters-
Sakura Kinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura
. It is here that I decide to record some of this and get told off as it was against the wishes of the guests (which is understandable as
the quality may be poor, which may reflect upon them). The audience is then treated to scenes from Cardcaptor Sakura as Sakura Tange live dubs it which is an amazing experience.
After this, it is here that DarkJib has a fanboy moment as it is revealed that Sakura Tange is also the Voice Actress of one of the heroines for the Love Plus series.
After Sakura Tange's segment, we were then treated to the second segment of one of the international guests- Yuko Miyamura who was hosting the Seiyuu Workshop. Featuring Aoi.
The workshop was pretty enjoyable as the audience pronunciated Japanese tongue twisters and Yuko was extremely energetic which really set the mood for the event. It is around
here that the 5 contestents are introduced and after warming up with the tongue twisters, demonstrate and live dub a scene from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The live dub is great
with Aoi delivering one of the most funniest lines. An audio of the event can be heard here
12pm-2pm: More shopping and lunch
After finally getting ahold of Aoi, we decide to take him around the stalls he missed earlier so that he could grab some stuff. It is here that we lose Aoi and Jib in a record
of 2 minutes. Having time to kill, I proceed to grab some photos of the many cosplayers around the event.
After finishing up, we head off to lunch by the Docks and proceed to mock and play with the Seagulls.
2pm-3pm: Trivia. And redemption
A year in the making, we head off to the trivia at 2pm to finally redeem ourselves from our disappointing 2nd place finish last year. The trivia this year was much more organised
with each row equalling a team and having one form each. This year, things were different and the trivia was split into themes (such as Old School, Seiyuu and recent) with each theme
having 4 questions which were worth one point each and a 5th question, if answered correctly rewarding 5 points but forfeiting all the points for that theme if answered incorrectly.
The opening theme (Old School) hit Team MMGN hard with most of us guessing the questions (where were you Guyver Q_Q!) which was quite a trend for a good 70% of the trivia.
Unfortunately, we placed 4th which was 2 points behind 3rd, 4 points behind 2nd and 5 points behind first. This event still haunts quite a few of us as one of the ending questions
for the theme (which awarded 5 points) was guessing the Opening Theme (OP) for one of the seasons of Zero No Tsukaima which we just missed by answering Season 3 (It was Season 2's OP).
Sorry Kenni and Mik3y! We couldn't engrave your names onto a certificate this year :(
However, at the end of the trivia we did meet up with fellow MMGNer Mizui who somehow recognized us from the end of the room (4 asian guys was a pretty common sight :p)
3pm-4pm: Cosplay Competition
As trivia conflicted with the first half of the Cosplay competition, we quickly hurried to the main stage for the cosplay event. As expected, the hall was packed and seats were very scarce.
After sitting on the ground in the middle and getting told off we finally settled for seats on the far end of the stage. The event itself was enjoyable (despite some skits spoiling certain anime series)
with some very nice cosplayers on the stage. A noticable change for the cosplay competition was the new host who was by far more enjoyable due to his quirkiness and
ability to interact very well with the cosplayers, minimising the many awkward moments from last year.
The MMGN crew at our awesome seats
4pm-: Anime.MMGN's after party @ Karaoke
After the convention was done, we didn't want to party ways with each other so soon (Dat bromance) and agreed to head to a local Japanese Karaoke to sing what we knew best- Anime Songs!
The Karaoke place itself was great, as it featured a lot of songs from recent anime. The majority of what happened can be followed via this thread
Conclusion and final thoughts
Overall, SMASH 2012 was amazingly well put together and appeases to all audiences young and old. This year, SMASH did so much things right and improved upon last year so much
that it was hard to find a fault with the event at all. If you guys have not been to a SMASH event before, make sure you check it out next year! It's a memorable event!