February 26, 2013

Närcon Vinter 2013 and shinsengumi in Espresso House

Ah, Närcon Vinter. I've been home some days now but I've been waiting for some photos before posting this con summary.

Oh, and before I get on with the summary I can mention already now that if it's not mentioned under a photo who took it it's taken with my camera by either me, Jäätynyt Enkeli or Ri-kun. In other cases the photographer is mentioned.

Närcon logo (it changed colors!)
I'll warn ahead: LONG POST IS LONG + PHOTOS. Not scared? Let's get on with the summary of the con weekend!

So well, me and my twin Jäätynyt Enkeli's journey to Närcon Vinter started on Thursday 21st February 13:45 Swedish time. We woke up and prepared to leave. Most of the stuff we had packed already earlier so on the packing front it was chill.. but we left for the bus station pretty late so we were in a hurry at the end anyway. xD The bus would take us from Haparanda to Luleå and the trip took a few hours. It was pretty slow but I had prepared my PSP and Nintendo DS in case of boredom.

When we got to Luleå we dragged our stuff to the train station and boarded the train that would take us to Stockholm. I tried to look for congoers in the train but I couldn't see or hear any. I knew some of the Skecon people would be on the same train but I figured they would board the train a bit later than us. So me and Jäätynyt Enkeli just talked and played some games and shit.. until hours later when new people had boarded the same car we sat in and I heard a group of people talking rather loud non-stop about.. well, nerdier things. When I heard someone say something about Skecon my mind went "OHMAIGERD CONGOERS" and I just had to get off my shy ass and go up to them. Turned out indeed the Skecon folks had arrived!

Awesome con train company!
Needless to say now when we had awesome company the train trip was all the more awesome. But before long I got tired and decided to move back to my right place and try to sleep. Well, sleeping was easier said than done.. and it didn't really help that there was someone who was coughing all the time agfhdshgfds.


The train arrived early on the morning to Stockholm's central station where we all hung together waiting for the train to Linköping. We had some time to spare so we took a table and either ate some of the food we had taken with us from home or bought something to eat. I'm cheap so I ate sandwiches I had taken with me from home. xD

Two members of our "con gang" eating breakfast at Stockholm central station
We then took the train to Linköping but this time our company got separated because we had different train cars. The trip went okay anyway because it was just a few hours and I slept a good chunk of the journey anyway. When we arrived at Linköping train station around 09:00 our Skecon gang separated and a member of our Saturday Hakuouki group came asking me if I was the group's Hijikata.. we had sut on opposite places of the train and been unsure or not dared to ask during the trip haha. Oh well, me and my twin were waiting for our big sister to pick us up from the train station and I couldn't see her so I called.. turned out we were waiting in the bus part of the station and not the train part lol. She came and we walked to the apartment where we'd sleep during the con weekend. Free lodging ftw! 8D It was quite a bit to go but nothing too bad.

At the apartment we opened our suitcases, crammed our Friday cosplay stuff into some bags and headed straight for the con.. after some speed breakfast of course. Närcon Vinter would start 13:37 so we had some time to spare but we had to leave the apartment because big sister had to go to work. Before leaving we figured that we could either take the buses or walk to the con, which was a bit farther away from the Linköping resecentrum (aka train/bus station) and over the bridge. We decided to walk. After some walking and asking random passers-by about the direction we managed to reach Anders Ljungstedts Gymnasium, the local where Närcon Vinter was held. We soon noticed there was hardly anyone outside.. okay, it was early and all but still no queue seemed a bit odd. We went to check if the doors were open and low and behold - they were! There were mostly people there who seemed to be con staff and pingus (con volunteers) but some congoers seemed to hang out closest to the entrance. Oh well, I thought maybe there would be no outside queueing so I figured it wouldn't hurt to go change into my Kenshin cosplay already now because it would take some time. Wroooooooooooong. It took maybe an hour or less before my twin banged on the door like "GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE WE NEED TO GO OUTSIDE. NOW." and I was all confused. Turned out Närcon wanted all non-workers to go outside queueing in below 0 weather. Stressed out I half-assed my make-up and some other smaller details of the cosplay, took my stuff and went outside. Outside there was now a queue forming and more people than earlier.

Dovahkiin and Trollface in the queue
It soon got really cold to queue in cosplay and I was shaking more or less constantly and just plain freezing my ass off. The con hype kinda died because standing in the cold for hours in a slow queue was a boomer... and I'm kinda disappointed why Närcon Vinter didn't really do anything to make the queue experience pleasant unlike its summer counterpart which handed out water, blasted music and stuff. Vinter Närcon queue experience was cold, mostly hypeless and torture. Sure I have a higher tolerance of cold weather than many others seeing I live in northern Finland and -20 °C during winter isn't uncommon at all.. hell I went out in t-shirt and flanel trousers to leave trashes this winter. But. Standing still for hours gets cold real quick... and I feel for those people I saw in short skirts, t-shirts or otherwise lightly dressed...

Oh well, I saw that some buses arrive and went "OHMYGOD. A WILD RI-KUN HAS APPEARED!!", said to my company to hold my place when I go meet them up. We exchanged hugs and went back to queue.

Ri-kun (left) and Jäätynyt Enkeli (right) queueing
Some hours later we finally got inside and escaped freezing to death.. or at least I did. As soon as me and my company got my Närcon Vinter con bands I went straight for the bathroom to fix what I left half-assed on my cosplay and to put on the swords. I fumbled with re-applying the make-up and shit because I could barely bend or feel my fingers. Not cool bro. Oh well, somehow I managed and after that Jäätynyt Enkeli left to hang with his own friends while me and Ri-kun, who cosplayed Ken Ichijouji from Digimon, walked around together. It took some time to regain the "pepp" so to speak (Swedish word used for the con hype) after the bad queue experience but because Ri-kun is such a dear and awesome friend to me it was alright. <3 Oh, we also met Psycho Cat soon after I had fixed my cosplay, she was cosplaying Grell Sutcliff from Kuroshitsuji.

After walking around for a while me and Ri-kun went to Sakura Garden to have a drink. I just wanted an ordinary coke while Ri-kun bought some fancy green matcha latte thingy. xD

The green drink
Battousai needs a coke ~
Also in Sakura Garden there were these super cute big llama/alpaca plushie thingys!

After that we just continued to walk around, check all the places and stuff. I must say I was surprised how many people seemed to know I was cosplaying Kenshin/Battousai. I had thought not many would know because it's a pretty old (although very classic) series and because I cosplay the Battousai/OVA/Tsuiokuhen/Trust & Betrayal/whatever version which is a bit different from the usual Kenshin everyone recognizes. Glad to see there's still Rurouni Kenshin fans around! :D

My expression is like -> "Bitches ain't gonna have my candy"
No but really I was just eating my leftover travel candies. XD (and yes, I shared them with friends)
Time passed by quickly and at some point late into the evening me and Ri-kun discovered a little food wouldn't hurt. Granted I had eaten my last proper portion of food Thursday around lunch time (which was frozen leftover chinese food btw) so I had lived on candies, bread, drinks and well.. not so much more than that I guess. We went to check the con's café thingy and there was.. Grandiosa pan pizza, cup noodles and pies. Your usual con food options more or less.. cheap junk food for the folks! But not like I mind because I'm cheap... and for some reason when I'm at an anime convention I don't feel hunger the same way. *shrugs*

Con cafeteria
Well, me and Ri-kun decided on cup noodles and Fanta Exotic. It's certainly not the most nutritious meal ever but at least it's yummy.

Our dinner... MMMMMMMMMMMMegacheap. *cough25SEKcough*
We had planned to sit on this blue cool tile thingy but when we were ready to eat there was people sitting on it so we crammed our way into the wooden benches against the wall to the opposite side of the bathrooms.

Cool bue tile thingy that was suprisingly comfortable to sit on...
At some point I had a quick Battousai photoshoot with Psycho Cat as the photographer. This was my favorite photo:

Me as Battousai. (Psycho Cat as photographer)
Around 22:00 something, if I recall right, me and Jäätynyt Enkeli decided it was time to leave the con to go sleep. We went to change back into normal gear and said goodbye to our friends and I went and asked in the con's information point about directions to the closest bus stop and what buses we could take to get to the right place. We then walked to the closest bus stop and sat there for maybe 20 minutes or something until the bus came. We got on the bus and I had trouble understanding how Linköping's bus payment thingy works... they have this system you can't pay with cash so you have to have this special "resekort" (travel card) that you charge with money and when you go on board a bus there's this device on which you buy/register your trip.. you only have to pay once a certain sum of money and then you can go wherever you want in town and change buses how many times you want in an 1 hour frame.. or that's how I got it explained later on. Oh well, at the bus I couldn't understand how this payment device worked and before I had time to figure it out we already had to jump off the bus at Resecentrum. lol We decided to walk the second part of the way back home and asked our big sister more clearly how the system worked when we got there. Turned out I had forgot to chose the youth ticket thingy before registering the card, no wonder it said "invalid" lol....


"Oh gawd do I have to wake up, I'm so tired..." was probably the first thing I thought when the alarm went on in the morning. But then I thought that today was the Hakuouki cosplay group day so I had no choice but to drag my lazy ass out of the oh-so-comfortable-bed. Sleeping in a real bed is heaven after a night trying to sleep at the train's sitting places... I prepared all the stuff I needed for my Hijikata cosplay and started to dress myself. We had decided that today we would put on our cosplays before going to the con so we would have less stuff to drag around during the con day.. and besides the thought about dressing up in authentic (silk) kimonos in potentially dirty con bathrooms doesn't quite go well with me.
Okay, so I was tired as fuck and me and Jäätynyt Enkeli both went to the kitchen to dress to make sure we wouldn't wake our sister up. While I dressed myself I told Jäätynyt Enkeli to try tie his kaku obi by himself.. and I had fun laughing at his failed musubi/knot tries. XD I helped him after I had dressed myself though.

Dressing in the kitchen.. and yes, my face looked pretty much like that. xD
We both agreed on doing the cosplay make-up when we arrived at the con because well, we had planned to walk to the con today too. I did put on my violet contacts though. I also put on the base wig but not the ponytail clip-on.. no need to get it tangled during the walk.
   When we were getting ready to leave big sister woke up and when she saw us standing next to the door she asked if we're really going to go out like that.. well, in the sense she thought we were dressed too lightly for the weather and not really because we were dressed like samurai. xD We went out anyway, it wasn't horribly cold, maybe -6 °C and at least while walking the cold didn't feel so bad.. except that my twin's arms got red. lololo

At the con I saw Ri-kun (cosplaying Hajime Saitou) and Psycho Cat (cosplaying rasetsu!Sannan) sitting pretty close to the entrance. I explained quickly I had to go do the make-up and put on the rest of the cosplay. Jäätynyt Enkeli went with me and we occupied the biggest bathroom. I must say I kept on screwing up the make-up and it didn't help that all the paper towels were gone (as well as Plan B - toilet paper) so I had nothing to wipe my face with... until I figured I could use the hand blow-dryer thingy. Oh god that looked ridiculous. xD Well well, Jäätynyt Enkeli got done with his Keisuke Sannan make-up before me (I had to help him..) so he went out to wait with Ri-kun and Psycho Cat while I continued to get ready. At some point I decided to redo parts of my make-up because it just didn't turn out like I wanted and so in the middle of that frustrating mess suddenly there's someone banging on the door... it was Jäätynyt Enkeli who had realized he had forgotten his Sannan cosplay glasses on top of the hand blow-dryer in the bathroom. I kept saying "wait, I can't open now!" because there was no chance I could open the door.. and he kept on asking for the glasses. I couldn't open my eyes because I had contacts on and make-up and water mixed all over the place and just ahgjrwhjfds. Not to mention one of my contacts had for some unknown reason folded itself in half on my eye and that stressed me up even more because it felt so weird. I kept hearing "open the door and give me the glasses!" but all my mind could think was "FUCK YOUR GODDAMN WHORE GLASSES I CAN'T OPEN MY EYES RIGHT NOW." At some point he figured to be patient so I could fix the mess. I was annoyed at this point and it didn't help that my ponytail clip's teeth had tangled itself into the wig net and agfhsghjfd. I wanted to punch something. Oh well, I got everything to be sort of okay after some time and left the bathroom. We then walked around the con trying to gather up all Hakuouki group members for the Espresso House raid visit. We found everyone and went and waited close to the entrance around 13:00.  

Saitou and Hijikata taking it chill.. (Psycho Cat as photographer)
Our Chizuru and Kazama showed up a bit late but when we all were gathered we headed out to centrum to have some.. well, coffee or some pastries.

The start of the coffee journey! (Psycho Cat as photographer)
(Psycho Cat as photographer)
We found our way there safely and went inside to get a table big enough for all of us. Then we went and ordered what we wanted in smaller groups. 

Ri-kun (left) and me in Espresso House
I didn't really feel like buying anything because I don't drink coffee and it was pretty expensive.. so I just enjoyed the company and wrote poetry instead.. like I tend to do. Hijikata style. xD

Fifty-fifty concentration and derp. xD And I'm writing crappy poems... </3
The opposite side!
From left to right: Kazama, Chizuru, Sannan and western!Saitou
Psycho Cat was sitting on the "middle throne chair" so she's not visible on the photos sadly. :'( But it was a lot of fun and we were in Espresso House a pretty long time. Also thanks to Ri-kun for giving me pieces of the giant chocolate cookie, yum! <3

After the Espresso House raid trip we went to Hemköp (a food store) while we still were in centrum and it was close. I bought a Festis drink (cactus lime flavor) for nostalgic reasons. I haven't had one in ages!

Ready to invade Hemköp! 8D (Psycho Cat as photographer)
In le food store
Sannan-san's feet hurt so much so he took off the zori and put them in a shopping cart. SWAG. XD
Adorable Saitou-san in front of all the fruits <3
We then walked back to the con, it was quite cold because it was headwind. During the walk back some of us managed to pass the crossing before the walking lights turned red and some did not.

Not your usual sight at Linköping.. xD (Psycho Cat as photographer)
Back at the con with our group still intact we went to get our photos taken in the con's photo studio.

I saw this sign and had to take a photo because it made me laugh!
.. and also this!
We waited some time and while waiting my back hurt so I went and lied down on the bench.. and Ri-kun came and awwws. <3 When it was our turn I got up and we went to have some photos taken at the studio.

Our fabulous Hakuouki cosplay group!
(photographer Filippo Malvisi)
OMFG DSHGJDSAGJH I THINK I DIED  *tableflip* <3 <3 <3 ;A;
(photographer Filippo Malvisi)
Because I always want a duo photo with Ri-kun <3
(photographer Filippo Malvisi)
We waited some time after that to have an outside photoshoot with one of Chizuru and Kazama's photographer friends. We walked around the con and I stumbled upon Thyme, a Finn whom I had briefly talked with earlier on Närcon's forums. She had seemingly been looking for me and asked to tag along. Soon we found out she and Ri-kun knew each other! Thyme was super fun and when it was time for our outside photoshoot she followed with our group to the photoshoot location. I must say going out in the snow with zori was... oh god. So cold! xD

(photographer Filippo Malvisi)
Meanwhile after I was done posing I took my digital SLR camera and offered to photoshoot Thyme's Sister Finland cosplay from Scandinavia and the World.

Thyme as Sister Finland from SatW
Then we went back inside and our Hakuouki group split up. I hung around with Thyme, Jäätynyt Enkeli and Ri-kun, walking around and mostly sitting and taking it chill. My back hurt and my right foot hurt so much every step was painful so yeah, the rest of the Saturday I mostly spent sitting whenever there was sitting space free.

A beautiful alternative mermaid... xD
Ri-kun and Thyme chilling!
Me finger combing the wig...
Everyone softing ~
Oh, and we ate at one point pretty late too... and guess what me and Ri-kun ate?

Cup noodles.
I know.

Thyme ate some other sort of noodles and Jäätynyt Enkeli didn't want noodles so he left us in hopes of eating with his other friends or something. I would have wanted some "real food" but I didn't feel like walking out in the cold so cup noodles would have to do. Here, have some Hijikata feat. cup noodles photos. And yeah, I tied my sleeves so they wouldn't be in the way.

Around midnight I got tired and just couldn't take the foot pain anymore so I wanted to go to sleep. But. I couldn't find Jäätynyt Enkeli anywhere and I couldn't get connection to his phone either. ARGHJFDSGHJF. Me and Ri-kun looked around the convention once together and then Ri-kun went a second round while I sat down and waited with all our belongings. Luckily Ri-kun then found my twin and we called a taxi home because I refused to walk back to the apartment and waiting for buses didn't seem cool either.. I just wanted to sleep, the faster the better.. cost what it want.


Sunday. The last and shortest con day. The con would end 12:00 and me and my twin woke up 08:00 if I'm not mistaken. While in bed I did think about just skipping this day but then I thought I would also pass by my last chance to see Ri-kun until probably the summer so I just couldn't. I also had to deliver Psycho Cat's art commission to her.. and I had kinda promised myself I wanted to wear 3 cosplays to Närcon Vinter and get some photos of my Espeon gijinka. Okay, enough reasons to get up so I did. This time we packed our costumes with us and I ate a banana and then we went to the Abisko bus stop. I wanted to take the bus today because my foot was still hurting. We got to the con with no bus payment derps this time and changed into cosplays and then we found Ri-kun and Psycho Cat. I asked Psycho Cat for an Espeon photoshoot.

Cosplayer: Valkoinen Samurai
Photographer: Psycho Cat

I chilled with Ri-kun and maybe one hour before closing time we went to the Hotto Dorinku bar because I wanted to have at least one drink from it because the summer Närcon's counterpart, Josbaren, is so awesome so I wanted to see if Hotto Dorinku was awesome too. There was a queue to the drink bar and it wouldn't get shorter if we waited so we went to stand in line. Psycho Cat joined us. When we finally got to order I noticed most of the flavors were sold out. I bought some foam milk thingy with vanilla flavor and marshmallows. It was quite yummy.

My drink!
Ri-kun bought some fabulous blue cotton candy instead xD
The drink was my goodbye for Närcon Vinter because after I had finished it it was time to get ready to leave before the con closed down. Only those taking the Närcon buses were allowed to stay inside the con after 12:00. I didn't have time to change back into normal gear so I just took off the ears and bid farewell to my friends and went with Jäätynyt Enkeli to the bus stop.

All in all Närcon Vinter was a good experience, it doesn't reach to the same epic caliber as the summer counterpart but it was by no means a bad con either. My only two major complaints are mainly the queueing in the cold.. that was a good way to torture a thousand congoers. Makes me wonder why Sweden doesn't go after Finland's con ticket system.. at the very least for winter conventions. Finnish cons send their tickets home and you put them on before entering the con and just walk in and someone checks everyone's convention bands at the entrance = no horrid slow queues. Sure I don't really mind queueing for summer cons, it can be seen as part of the con experience itself but for winter cons... just, no. Oh, and speaking of checking convention bands.. I noticed after the con that not even once was there any staff who checked my convention band. I walked in and out of the con freely.. I found that weird because at every other con I've been to there's always been someone who would check that you have paid to get in...

I won't talk so much about the journey back home because I mostly just slept through it. Although at Linköping train station this sight made me rage:

Stairs + heavy-ish suitcase + a foot that I can barely walk with + half-shit lungs = ALL MY RAGE
Oh, and at the train to Stockholm there was a random Sebastian (Kuroshitsuji) cosplayer eating chips at the opposite side of where me and my twin sat. Awesome!

What was less awesome was that my Loka soda water bottle exploded when I opened it.. and Jäätynyt Enkeli's did too a few minutes earlier. troll!Loka. xD

After the eruption..
Not so much more to say about the journey back home. It went smooth and nothing really interesting either so I will gladly skip boring you with it. Instead I can show a photo of the only merchandise I bought during Närcon Vinter - a Sengoku Basara (secret) Masamune Date figure from the Besökarnas Försäljningsbord. (translates to "visitors sale table")

That's it. Finally. Now to continue working on cosplays while I await the next con.. whatever con it will be. :'D I don't know yet!

Oh, also now when I'm home I think I got sick and my foot still hurts like hell but..

February 20, 2013

Närcon Vinter 2013 preparations!

Hi guys!

Tomorrow 13:45 Swedish time I will leave for Haparanda bus station to take the bus to Luleå.. and from there I'll take the train to Stockholm and further to Linköping.. to Närcon Vinter!

I'm so terribly excited over this, I've been longing to go to a con since Skecon early last November and tomorrow the loooong journey down starts! I have to travel 19 hours because I live so far away and I try to avoid taking the airplane when I have props with me because.. well, personal experience with stuff (read: a sword) breaking. Train and bus just are safer even though it takes a lot longer.. but I don't particularly mind because I'm used to traveling long distances.. hell, before my parents divorced we drove car from Sweden to Italy. xD
I actually started packing my suitcase already yesterday. I'm not quite done yet. Speaking of suitcases, I bought myself a new one last week. I got it for 50€ (I had a 50€ gift card hehe) and it has a pretty nice size, not too small but not too big either. Just right for me!

Con stuff!
I took out my Hijikata swords (although I've used them for other characters too) yesterday to check them and I managed to break the very tip of the longer sword when I took it out of the sheath too hastily. This was no surprise because there's been a crack on it for a long time *coughsinceuppcon2012cough* but it hadn't fallen off so I didn't mend it back then. Now it indeed broke off so I took some glue and glued the chipped piece back in place.

After I had glued it back in place..
I've also got my hands on a small red glass pebble some time ago and, because I won't have time to try on the whole Espeon gijinka before the con, I decided I should at least check if the pebble would stick to my forehead with some spirit gum. It did.. after some pressing. This means my Espeon cosplay is ready!

Glass pebble testing.. success!
Oh, also this time I will have a new friend with me to the con.. I borrowed it from school over the con weekend! Say hello to le digital SLR camera! <3

Nikon D60
This obviously means I can take more-awesome-than-usual photos of my friends (especially if they want a quick cosplay photoshoot!) and of course of the Saturday Hakuouki cosplay group! Did I tell we're going to be surprisingly many Hakuoukis? We have me as Toshizo Hijikata, Jäätynyt Enkeli as Keisuke Sannan, Ri-kun as Hajime Saitou, Psycho Cat as rasetsu!Sannan and Izz as Souji Okita. There will also be a Chikage Kazama, Chizuru Yukimura, Isami Kondou and two more Saitous. I hope I'm not forgetting anyone. xD We are so many, OHMAIGERD I'm so excited because last summer when I cosplayed Hakuouki very few people knew who I was supposed to be and I'm just so happy to see there's Hakuouki fans in Sweden too! (I've had the impression the series is more known in Finland..)

Now to finish packing and then PARTY HARD with le twin... lol not really. But seriously, this will be SO MUCH FUUUUUUUN!! ~~ :'DDDDDD

See ya!