A Deluge Of Anime Conventions

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in Features

UPDATE: As of 8th July, the Melbourne Anime and Manga Festival (MAMF) has had to postpone their event. No dates have been announced just yet, but their plan is for "early next year."

Earlier this year Melbourne lost its largest and longest running anime convention when Manifest announced it had come to an end. People pined and begged the Manifest volunteers to rethink their decision and resurrect their old con, but instead something else happened. Manifest was gone for good, but in a matter of months three brand new events had sprung up out of nowhere. They were the Melbourne Anime and Manga Festival, CHAOz and Animaga. In order to understand this phenomenon, we contacted each event to find out how Melbourne quickly went from having a drought to having a surplus of anime culture events.

Each event is run by a completely different group of people - and each event has a slightly different focus. CHAOz is the one that, on a surface level, seems like the spiritual successor to Manifest since it's being held at Manifest's original venue: The University of Melbourne. In actual fact, CHAOz has been planned on and off for the last couple of years. Created by Red Panda Event Management, they told us that "the closure of Manifest certainly motivated us to get things rolling fast [but] we are not a replacement for Manifest." CHAOz has a broader interest beyond anime and also hopes to attract cosplayers, hobbyists and artists.

MAMF or the Melbourne Anime and Manga Festival has origins more similar to Manifest, since it's being run by the anime club of Swinburne University. It was originally created to compete with Manifest - although 'compete' may be is an odd word to use when talking about a free event. "As the event is free we are hoping to attract a larger audience to attempt to break the world record of most people dressed in costume in one place at the same time."

Lastly there is Animaga, which is being brought to life by a mix of volunteers, artists and traders who used to be involved with Manifest. The event also has a split focus between anime and gaming - making it similar to AVCon in Adelaide. Like the rest of the events here, it was already in the works when news broke of Manifest's closure and - like Manifest - will also have a maid cafe.

Of course it is easy to think that three conventions is too many for a niche interest group, especially since these events all occur within a 2 month window. The real test will be to see if all of these events can co-exist and stick around for a few years, but for now it seems to be good news for anime fans in Melbourne who are being spoiled for choice.

More details for each of these events can be found here:

Article photo by Michael Miller. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Pens Down For Comikaze

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in News

The Queens Birthday weekend has always been a busy weekend for geek events, but this year will be the first year without the Comikaze 48 hour comic challenge. For the past nine years, the lovely folks at Pulp Faction challenged artists across Australia to set aside two days in the long week end devoted to creating comics anywhere from 8 to 24 pages long.

The results were inspired - sometimes inspired by a lack of sleep and crushing deadlines - but inspired nonetheless. Where else would you find cyborgs stopping mid brawl for a family reunion? Or a money and rabbit team fending off a tiny alien invasion with the aid of a gypsy and a kilted Scotsman?

Pulp Faction closed it's doors last year and Comikaze along with it. All the entries - save the ones marked mature - are still able to be read for the time being. Plus a few artists post their Comikaze entries to their personal sites. But if you have any favourites, now would be the time to save a copy.

Also for artists wanting a similar online art challenge, there's still 24 Hour Comics Day in October.

Unearthing The Geek Dating Advice Library

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in Features

I have a habit of digging into the compost heaps of the internet. Most recently, my search terms have included things like ‘neck beard,’ ‘fedora,’ ‘niceguy’ and ‘geeks who have no concept of how to treat women like people rather than a concept.' This turns up a mountain of results, including tales of stalking and harassment, multiple blogs dedicated to showcasing the worst of online dating sites and even more articles analysing the trend of the fedora wearing straight male nerd who fails to understand women (and people in general) on a fundamental level. It’s both scary and fascinating. While it’s far removed from the queer/queer-friendly, feminist and downright lovely geeks I know in my own life, it does cause you to look over your shoulder and wonder if those who wear have a fedora on their head also have a fedora lodged in their heart.
The rabbit hole goes deeper still, as there are entire books out there dedicated to geek dating – most of them written either by or for the average nice guy geek. OK ‘entire books’ is overstating things a little, since some of these are under 100 pages long, but with titles like “I Got Sex At Comic Con” and “From Geek To Love God” you know you’re up for some entertaining trash. It's not all snark and bad news though. In what follows we'll look at both the good and bad offerings in the niche genre of dating advice for geeks. 

Of course Disney crossovers are canon

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in News

The internet has been coming up with creative new ways to tie Frozen into the rest of the Disney universe. The most poignant theory being that Anna and Elsa's parents died whilst sailing to attend the wedding of Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled and that the wreckage of their ship is the very on that Ariel explores in The Little Mermaid. An alternate theory has the ship wash up on an island where the parents die - but not before having baby Tarzan!

Others have found more tangential ways of linking Brave, Frozen, Tangled and The Incredibles together while stepping sideways over to Pixar there's this masterful post linking all of Pixar's work together.

But the thing is that Disney have been creating canon crossovers of their films for ages. In the Hercules TV series, they spent a full half hour having Jafar and Hades team up to take on each others nemesis, Aladdin and Hercules. The actual conflict is average, but it is fun watching the two villains compare and critique their approaches to evil.

Not Boring; Just Bored

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in Features

'I like games because I don't need to think,' he said openly.

She nods and doesn't break eye contact with him. It's a moment of surprising honesty; one you don't expect to take place in the middle of a waiting room at CentreLink.

'When I play games, it's just type, type, type. I can switch off and just chat to people the whole day. I like that.'

Part of me feels guilty about listening in on a private conversation, even if it's being spoken aloud in a public space. But the rest of me is just fascinated with this scene. So far all I know about this person is that they don't have a job and that they are collecting CentreLink payments.

She asks him, 'what would be your dream job?' A silence follows, before he asks, 'what do you mean?'

'Like if someone said I'll pay you money to do anything you want, what would it be?' Still no answer, so she persists. 'You like games? Would you like to work in games?'

Room Party: The Game

Written by Kyle Evans. Posted in Features

Room parties and playing games with friends and strangers are two of the best things you can do at a convention. Recognising this, a group of geeks got together to create their own card game that’s all about the best (and worst) things that happen at convention room parties. Playing a card might summon a neck-beard wearing cardboardinium armour to your party or maybe a D-list celebrity carrying some suspicious looking drinks will show up at the door – it’s all part of Room Party: The Game.

This project came out of a successful Kickstarter campaign and the game has only just started appearing in the hands of Kickstarter backers and at a few select conventions that the game creators have been attending. At Confurgence* in Melbourne, the artist duo known as Blotch were showing off this game and we were lucky enough to try it out a couple times. It’s a competitive game, where it’s every party for themselves. Your goal is to maximise your own awesome score, while also damaging the awesome score of other parties by stealing their best people, turning their tricks against them or throwing unpleasant cards their way.