AnimeCon was last weekend and damn – what an adventure! This year I got to attend as a guest as part of Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup with PopcornKuma where we represented the UK. Our costumes were Chii and Sumomo from Chobits!
Photo by The Sushi Times
The weekend was crammed with events so I’ve split this day-by-day; if you’d like to learn more about the competition and experience, please read on!
One of the requests from AnimeCon was that anyone involved in the competition arrived early on the Friday to handle some early preparation. My flight was at 6:05am arriving at Schiphol for 8:30am, so it was a long day but thankfully went nice and smoothly! With it being such a short flight I spent most of it listening to our audio and making some notes about our performance, mostly to stay awake!
Bernie arrived separately from me as she was driving over, so I was greeted at the airport by some of the organisers and also lots of the other teams. Team Germany, Russia and Spain all arrived around the same time as I had, so we had a little convoy going and a group trip back to The Hague together! It was so nice to be greeted by so many lovely smiling faces (and also some friends I already knew)! I’m still amazed that all of us AND our bags fit in the taxi though!
Once we got back to the venue, we collected our room keys and were introduced to lots of the other teams and helpers! Everyone was so friendly and interested with all of the teams! Lots of the helpers were cosplayers too, so any questions we had were sorted quickly and we felt SO welcome. Once our bags were in our rooms, we were shown around the venue itself – the halls, the food area, the backstage area and of course the main stage where we’d be performing!
The stage is huge, but the audience is close which actually made it a little less terrifying to perform on! The backstage area is great too. There was tons of space for everyone with dressing rooms, a social area, photo area and snacks provided too! We spent a lot of our time here with the other teams, mostly on the Saturday before performing.
After our tour we were taken as a group with lots of the other teams to record our introduction videos. That’s the silly video at the beginning of our performance. During this time we got to know each other really nicely, and once we were finished with recording we were free to relax for the rest of the day!
Me and Bernie got changed into our Nurse Sakura & Tomoyo costumes for the rest of the day, met up with friends, explored the venue, grabbed some burgers and hung out with the other teams. We were meant to all party down on the Friday and have a meet and greet before the big day, but some of the convention’s plans changed so we had an early night which was probably the best thing for us!
We had rehearsals at 7:50am, so we got up stupidly early to get some practice in before we even went on the stage. This is when it really hit us that we’d be performing in front of thousands of people in a few hours..
We got back to our room, prepared our makeup and costumes, and rehearsed until we had to go for judging. If I ever hear our audio again it’ll be too soon! But it was worth it to really perfect some of the parts. During rehearsals I wasn’t happy with my motion on stage at all, and this gave me time to really work on that. Thankfully Sumomo is a very easy costume to get in and out of, and most of Chii is very easy for Bernie to wear too, so we had plenty time to give it a go and practice!
Judging was very formal – we entered the room and had 8 minutes to describe our costumes and respond to questions. We covered our costumes from head to toe and then the judges asked a few short questions and inspected some parts of our costumes, which was.. much less terrifying than either of us expected. In the UK judging is usually much less formal, so this was very different for both of us.
We were the 6th act in CCCC and 10th overall as Bordercos performers came on first. Leading up to the performance was actually really relaxed, and I was much less nervous than I thought. Because the stage was just down some steps we were allowed to relax upstairs until our 2 acts before ours were due, so we got to see most of the performances and hang out with the other teams first!
Photos by The Sushi Times
Then.. our performance happened! There are some stage photos above until a video is available for you to see!
If I was nervous for anything, it was how the audience would see us. Our performance involved crowd interaction on 3 cues, and we had no idea how the audience would respond, if at all – but it went much better than we ever expected! So many people joined in and it really got me going for the rest of the performance. I didn’t miss any cues, and we were both happy with the result. As soon as there’s a video available, I’ll link it here so you can watch too!
Our performance was actually really basic, but we knew that when we came up with it months ago. Our costumes weren’t anything complicated either, but people really loved them and that’s all we ever wanted. We also had a video to accompany our performance and props to match the style of Chobits (referencing the City With No People storybooks) which people loved too!
Once the hype of the performance was over, we got to watch the remaining acts. Huge congratulations to Team Netherlands with DC vs Marvel (DeathstrikeCosplay & MaGNuM) for their win, and to Team Poland with Star Wars Battlefront (Kairi in Cosplayland & Zel COShorse) who placed second!
Photos by KJC Photography
Once the competition was over, we went back to our rooms where Bernie had a nap and I got changed into School Leon Magnus, my casual costume for the weekend. I spent about 2 hours or so in this and felt totally incognito… nobody recognised me at all, apart from my wonderful Tales buddies! They were queuing for the FripSide concert, but I was exhausted from performing so I gave it a miss. It was really nice to just kick back for a while though!
Later in the night me and Bernie got changed back into our Nurse Sakura & Tomoyo costumes and went to the after party – we stayed at the party until around 4am and it was warm, fuzzy and just what I needed! Not too drunk, just nice and merry and everyone was so wonderful. Normally by this point at a con I’m too tired to go on but it was a great break from a busy day and we also got to see all of the teams again before the last day, when many of them would be leaving early.
Our “lazy day”, when we got to relax and enjoy the convention. I had planned to wear Shallotte Elminus with my friend Lex Cosplay as Shallistera after almost a year of preparation, and it was so good!! We got to spend most of the morning together in costume and generally hang out, which was so good after such a busy few days!
It meant so much to get to wear my Shallie with Lex, even though we live in different countries I had worked hard to make a good costume to go with her and despite it taking almost a year to get together it was so worthwhile!
We did a small shoot together, so once I get the photos I’ll post them up here too! I just really love how these costumes look together and I’m also glad I made so many improvements to her before AnimeCon.
In the afternoon I went back to meet with Bernie, who had spent the morning being pampered in the Butler Cafe. We took time in the afternoon to prepare our bags for leaving the following day and relaxed for a while. Originally we planned to wear our Cardcaptor Sakura “Catch You Catch Me” and “Platina” dresses that evening, but instead Bernie offered for me to wear one of her beautiful Lolita dresses for the evening! I was a little scared as I’ve never done anything Lolita before ever and this was her favourite dress so I was terrified I’d look like a mess but it was a really lovely first experience!
The dress is an Angelic Pretty JSK in British Bear with matching over-knee socks and bow headband. It was totally cute and surreal!
Once we were ready we met with friends and went out to a Japanese “All You Can Eat” called Shabu-Shabu in the city centre and ate far too much before relaxing in the hotel bar. We took the tram over which by that point was a huge novelty too! It was the first bit of sight-seeing we actually had time to do, and from the little bit I saw the city is so beautiful!
It took months of preparation and now it’s over, I’d like to give thanks to AnimeCon and it’s wonderful team of staff behind Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup for making this experience happen for us. Thanks to MCM London Comic Con for selecting us as Team UK for 2016 in the first place and helping us along the way.
Finally, thanks to to my wonderful partner PopcornKuma, who was so supportive and kind even when things went wrong and was just so good to hang out and work with throughout this whole experience!
I feel like I squeezed so much out of every day, and I really hope I can return next year and see so many lovely people again. If you have never visited before, I’d definitely recommend it – the event has such a wonderful atmosphere, there is always something to do, and the stage shows are incredible!