With 3 different type of anime conventions to attend to in Sydney there is always one convention I always look forward to attending, and that is the Sydney Manga and Anime Show, also known as SMASH. Out of SMASH, Animania, and Supanova, SMASH is definitely the most enjoyable of them all and last Saturday down at the Sydney Convention Centre was where it was held. So heading down to Darling Harbour with camera gear packed, it was time for a long and fun day.
One of the most exciting things about SMASH this year compared to previous years is the location. Back when SMASH started out, it was held at the University of NSW Roundhouse. But it grew beyond that capacity and went to Town Hall for 2010. However at the Town Hall it was met with an unprecedented attendance number that they actually had to refuse people at the door. Not the greatest of locations but it was more of a temporary thing thankfully. This year SMASH was held at the Sydney Convention Centre, which by far, is the best location for any form of convention and you’ll understand why soon enough.
So having got up at an ungodly hour for a weekend and having left for the city at around 8pm, it almost felt like I was going to work. Anyway I arrived at Darling Harbour around 9am and already there was a large number of people lining up. Now the thing about queues is that they can be quite confusing. Upon arriving I just couldn’t tell which line was which.
There weren’t any clear signs of which line was for Advanced Paid tickets and which was pay at the door. This year I decided to get advanced tickets since I knew SMASH lines move much quicker than Animania’s. Eventually I found out which line I needed to join and played the good old waiting game. But as I was waiting in line, I could see more and more people arriving, and like myself, could not distinguish the lines. From what I could see, I could probably only identify 2 or 3 SMASH volunteers trying to organise the lines. Though in a way I guess I expected this. Queuing at most conventions held in Australia usually aren’t planned very well.
Once inside I gave my greetings to the usual anime clubs from the universities and various people I know, then set off to explore the area. Inside it was quite spacious with booths spread out evenly. And knowing already that there was already a large number of people inside, I could freely walk around without having to weave my way through a crowd. The auditorium itself was also spacious and this is where the Eminence concert Memories of Fantasia will be held later in the night.
I also ended up attending to the Photography Panel that was held by icie from Hunting the Elusive. It makes it worthwhile to listen to the advice of other photographers as one can only learn so much on their own. Unfortunately my photography skills are pretty limited since I don’t really have that much time to do any photography work.
Anyway the rest are now just the cosplay photos that I took on the day.
There was also a Gundam model display section similar to last year’s but it was much more presentable.
One of the best things with SMASH being held at the Convention Centre was out in the foyer area, there was a perfect amount of sunlight coming through the glass windows making it the opportune spot to take photos of all the cosplayers. It was spacious, you had plenty of people walking through, so the chances of bumping into a cosplayer is quite high, and there aren’t many obscurities in the background when taking photos. Heck I was surprised at some of the photos I took turned out pretty decent.
So as an overall event I think SMASH has outdone themselves. With the new location not only is it spacious, but it is easily accessible and gives you the opportunity to venture out not too far in search for food. By the way I did not eat the entire day until after the event. The use of the smaller conference rooms was planned well and to move from one to another didn’t require you to walk around too much. The maid cafe itself also had a grand view of Darling Harbour once the overcast skies had past, but I did not venture in there. Perhaps one day when I’m not taking photos.
However the only thing I can really fault was the management of the queuing outside. Inside was great as they had 4 divided lines but outside was complete chaos. I think what they should have done was have the two lines fork out in different directions as well as have more signage to point attendees in the right direction. They could also have a sign to indicate the very end of the line as this is what they do in Japan. Erecting makeshift barriers could also work in helping direct the flow of people. So if SMASH is returning to the Sydney Convention Centre next year, and they most likely will, once they fix the issue of the outside queuing, hands down SMASH will be the best anime convention to attend to in Sydney.
I also attended the Eminence concert Memories of Fantasia after SMASH, and I was surprised by the large turn out. It’s been close to two years since Eminence had a concert and who knows what they have been doing since then. The concert itself was enjoyable, and with the use of the auditorium made it a good choice for Eminence to go back to back with SMASH. However the only issue I had was how the seating arrangements were done. Upon purchasing your tickets, you are not allocated a seat. So the assumption was first come first serve. I lined up early with icie and two others thinking we’ll get to choose our own seats, but upon entering we were ushered to the ground floor seats. We all preferred being in the tiered seats to get a better view but they would not allow us to move there. This kind of defeats the purpose of even lining up early.
Anyway the day was an enjoyable day, I took many photos, and I met up with the various friends I see only during convention time. However this will be the last anime convention for me for 2011 as I have no plans to attend Animania in September. I just don’t see it worth going there anymore. but for those who do decide to go, I hope you have fun.