February 29, 2016

[Sponsored] Lens review: TheDollyEye Rosy Rosa Blue

Hi there sweeties!

It's time for a circle lens review, wohoo! Today I'm gonna be reviewing the TheDollyEye Rosy Rosa Blue lenses that the ever-so-wonderful LensVillage sponsored me! Their store is currently closed for upgrading but they'll hopefully be back soon so don't worry ~

This review is all 100% my genuine opinion and that's because I value being honest to all my readers. Always.

Discount code "SAMURAI15" cuts 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.8 mm
Water content: 38%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

Okay so, I must admit that when these lenses arrived I was surprised by how beautiful they were – on the stock photo they appeared so dark and too cluttered, at least for my taste. But yeah, when I got these babies in my hands the blue color was so much prettier than I had expected and the design instantly reminded me of a magical frozen forest! *u* It's seriously lovely – I don't regret at all that I picked this pair!

One lens in.
Once I put the lenses in my first thought was that they appeared very dark – like a very dark blue. Then again, that was to be expected because of the highly patterned design on them; the black details darken the blue base color and makes it appear as if you had black lenses, in poorer lights especially. So yeah, in well-lit places the lenses look dark blue but in insufficient lights (or from a distance) they tend to look black.
I was kinda hoping that the blue color would be lighter and/or show up more but yeah, it's nice like this too. They would have been absolutely stunning with a more vibrant blue though, oh lord... *_*

Lens photos incoming!
All photos taken by me during a February morning with a semi-clear sky.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Facing window in my apartment.
Facing window and the sun, directly.
Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
White corridor light.
Yellow corridor light.
Outdoors facing sun.
Outdoors with my back against the sun.
Outdoors standing under the roof/shadow, back against sun.
Indoors in a storage room. (natural light)
I don't think that these lenses are especially huge in terms of enlargement; I was expecting them to be bigger since they are a 14.8 mm lens. Because they are so dark though they do give at least my light eyes the illusion that they are bigger. The Rosy Rosa Blue gives me a dark-eyed doll-like look – it's pretty cool actually!

I need to say though that these lenses are super comfortable for me! As soon as I put them in I barely felt them at all. I wore them for 5,5 hours and didn't have any kind of discomfort whatsoever – no itchiness, no tearing eyes, nothing! I could easily have worn them for longer than 5,5 hours but that's when I felt the first signs of dryness so I decided to take them out – they did very well. Thumbs up!
I really value comfort because it's a big factor for how often –and how likely– I am to use the lenses. I'm always pleased to find a pair that doesn't feel uncomfortable to wear on my seemingly sensitive and/or dry eyes.

Distance photo!

I went for an army-themed look since the lens design reminded me of a frozen forest and that, in turn, reminded me of the Finnish Winter War ~

Please use my discount code "SAMURAI15" to get 15% OFF on your purchase from LensVillage!

Short summary:

Color: 5/10
A very dark dark blue, tends to appear black in poorer lights or from a distance. 
Design: 8/10
Beautifully intricate print! My first impression was that it looked like a snowy frozen forest ~
Opacity: 9/10
Opaque on my light eyes at least. They hide my real eye color well, save for the most inner part of the pupil. (which, by the way, rarely is covered completely by any circle lenses anyway)
Enlargement: 6/10
Not really big but I think that the blackness gives an illusion that they are bigger.
Comfort: 9/10
Really comfortable. I don't feel that I have them on and I could wear them 5,5 hours no problem! Could have worn them longer too, if needed.
Naturalness: 1/10
These don't look natural on light-eyed people like me. They make my eyes look like dark doll eyes.

Thanks for reading! I hope you liked this review! ^u^
Thank you to my dear sponsor, LensVillage! ♡
Shiro Samurai out ~

February 20, 2016

Cospicky review: Hakuouki Sanosuke Harada cosplay costume!

Hello fellow geeks and cosplayers!

At the end of last year I happened to find out that Cospicky, a store focusing on cute fashion and cosplay items, had a good sale going on! I was bored and, honestly, quite curious of what they had to offer so I, of course, started to scroll through the site! :D Much to my surprise I found that they carried the western version of Harada's outfit from Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan. As a big Hakuouki fan and as someone who has already made his spear a long time ago (just for fun and so that I can cosplay his Japanese/shinsengumi kimono outfit one day!) I was really tempted to order the costume. 
The thing is that I've never bought a full costume from an online shop before, so of course I was a bit worried that it might not fit, poor fabric choices etc. Luckily Cospicky offers a convenient custom size possibility, which erased one of my biggest worries right away and made me lean over to the "let's buy it!" side, haha. I mean, with the sale the costume only cost me a measly 87 dollars (with the custom size additional cost included) and that, say what you want, is super cheap! Oh, and I got free shipping too! o/
So yeah, seeing what a deal I got I just had to buy it and, with the order placed, I also soaked up a "seeing what I paid for it any smaller inaccuracies are fine" way of thought. I honestly can't even imagine getting it for cheaper than this!

Full Sanosuke Harada costume.
Photo by Sacchan.
This review is all 100% my honest opinion. This is not a sponsored review – I paid for the costume with my own money; I just wanted to review the Cospicky store and the costume for the sake of spreading the word about a good online store and, of course, to help and inform the community. ^_^

I placed the order on 11th November last year and I got an email saying that it was completed and shipped on 11th December – exactly one month later. Notice though that I ordered a custom sized costume, which might very well be a reason for why it took one month to make/ship; I'd assume that those pre-made sizes would get through faster. Oh and yeah, on my order confirmation email they said that because it's custom made it would take around 2-3 weeks to make.
The costume arrived around 20th December something I'm sorry but I can't remember exact date anymore. ^^" The packaging was nothing special, just one of those big-sized white bubble wrap envelopes. Then again, my costume was pretty much all fabric so it doesn't need any extensive protection; it's not like fabric will break in transit, lol. I also want to mention that my parcel went through Germany, which is nice, because it might help to avoid additional custom/postal service charges since it's within Europe.
Inside the padded envelope were all the costume pieces, packed together nicely in a ziplock bag – it all gave a very neat and professional image. With the order there also came a Studio Ghibli postal card with a hand-written personal "thank you" message. I got one with My Neighbor Totoro motif, it's very cute! 

Costume as it arrived, in a ziplock bag.
I had wanted to cosplay Harada's western outfit for a while but it was one of those "not sure if I can be bothered to make it myself" cosplays, lol. The main reason for this is that I want to make Okita's, Hijikata's and possibly Shinpachi's western versions myself and, well, I'm not sure I'd feel like doing Harada's on top of that because yeah, they all are rather similar to begin with. Once in a while you can afford to take the easy route, right? ;) And besides, I had wanted to try ordering from an online costume shop for a while now and Cospicky seemed just like a perfect store to start with!

All costume parts laid out.
What is included:
• White shirt
• Black vest
• Jinbaori-style long coat
• Black pants
• Red arm wrappings
• Belt
• White sash for carrying sword

What is NOT included:
•  Wig
• Sword
• Spear
• Boots

Personally I am very selective and picky when I browse online cosplay costumes; I always scrutinize even the smallest details and compare with official reference photos to see how accurate they are. I always try to find the most accurately made costume possible but I also keep realistic expectations in mind – you can't get something that's 100% accurate, well-made and with quality fabrics for cheap. Most times you get what you pay for and that's exactly why I didn't have super-mega-skyhigh expectations for this costume, even though it looked surprisingly damn accurate on the stock photos on the site itself.

Detail photos ahead!
(all photos below are taken by Sacchan)

Front close-up. Notice the patterning on the tie.
Upper back. Please ignore the dust.
Side ties.
Side trims.

Costume information and thoughts

When I took out the costume from the bag my first impression was that the fabric choices were actually pretty damn good and this is coming from someone who has spent a good lot of his years helping and playing around in mom's fabric store; I've basically been surrounded by fabric rolls all my life. By good I mean that for example the fabric for the dress shirt actually feels like I could just as well have bought it from any normal clothing store's shelves or something. The jinbaori coat also feels sturdy and is made in a heavier fabric and heck, it's even lined in the right color! The hand wrappings are made of some fabric that feels a bit coarse in texture and that's awesome too. Also, I was surprised that the white sash was of some reaaaaally soft, flowy and elastic fabric with a sort of silky-smooth touch to it; it somehow, weirdly enough, reminded me of swimsuit fabric although that's not what it is, lol.
So yeah, ain't no shining satin monster here! I guess the fabrics are all synthetic (they do feel like it) and, according to the store, it's "uniform fabric". It's obvious though that the parts are not all made out of the same fabric. Oh, and the trims on the coat and the belt seem to be some kind of fake leather-like material.
I was also relieved to notice that the buttons on both the vest and the shirt are the "male way", aka so that when it's buttoned it is closed left over right and not vice versa. I've seen my share of cosplayers especially female cosplayers who wear women's shirts etc when doing a male character and, honestly, it irks me. I'm a stickler for details, okay? I understand that there might be problems finding a fitting/flattering men's size or just not wanting to spend extra money on the same piece of clothing (which you already own, except in women's version) that you'd only wear for a cosplay but yeah... still. :/

I want to say though that upon putting on the costume I was nervous. I was half-expecting that at least something wouldn't fit, even though I gave the correct measures for everything and I even put a couple extra centimeters to most measurements, just to be extra safe. I started putting on the parts one by one and when I got to the pants I took a deep breath. You see, pants have always been my main problem when it comes to finding fitting clothes. Much to my surprise the pants went on and stayed on with not even the slightest issue... WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?? Same thing goes for the rest too; there wasn't anything that didn't fit me or that was uncomfortable to wear. I must admit that I'm really positively surprised that, in the case of Cospicky, custom size really effin' means custom size in its purest form. I sure as hell would order from them again! *thumbs up*
Oh, and if anyone wonders why this is such a big deal it's because I've heard and read countless stories about people ordering online costumes and, even though they would pay extra for custom size, the costumes would still, in reality, be either a pre-made size anyway or fit all kinds of weird.

And if we get back to the whole accuracy thing for a while I want to say that Cospicky is one of those stores on which you will get exactly what is pictured
– rare candy! I remember staring at the Harada costume's stock images before purchasing it and noticing that even the silk tie has an elaborately woven design on it and well, when I received the costume and took it out I noticed that the exact same tie design was on mine! I'll say it again: THE COSTUME LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE ON THE STOCK PHOTOS – 100% FOR REAL!!! So yeah, you better look at the photos closely because you'll receive the exact same thing, down to the letter. Or at least I did.

Please note that on all photos on which I'm in costume I am wearing my own white sash and NOT the one that came with the costume. 

Front view.
Side view.
Note: it was very windy.
Back view.
Link to Cospicky main page: Cospicky Cosplay Store

I pretty much only have good things to say about my purchase and I would really recommend Cospicky for those who want to buy their costumes for whatever reason you might have. ^_^
I also want to state that I think that there is nothing wrong with buying costumes – it doesn't make you any less of a "real" cosplayer. Truth is that not everyone can sew, or heck, even like to sew! Some people also, like me, occasionally just want to choose the easy/comfy route, even if I could have made the costume myself if I would have wanted to; there's no shame in being a little lazy at times. :P Oh, and I think I also got this costume for cheaper than what it would have cost me to make it myself anyway, so that's also another reason for this choice. 
So yeah, as long as you have fun with cosplaying there is no rules or any "right way" to do it and anyone who says anything else needs to get off from their high horse. 

Cospicky store & Sanosuke Harada costume rundown Pros and cons:

+ Good fabric choices
+ Everything fits (note: custom size)
+ Looks exactly like on stock images
+ Sewing quality is great
+ Accurate to original character
+ Shipping and making time as promised
+ Good packaging
+ Excellent, kind and professional customer service
+ Affordable prices

+/- Dress shirt and vest are cut so that they will always be open at the chest

- Vest is square shaped = boxy fit
- Some minor detail trims on the coat are missing
- Coat is a bit too long
- White sash is really cheaply made
- Arm wrappings are too short to cover your hands/wrists well (aka don't stay in place)

I want to point out that most of the cons were visible on the stock images if you paid attention to them. They are also minor in the sense that they're easy to modify and/or replace.

List with thoughts of all the clothing pieces:

Belt: The belt is notably thinner than your average belt and yes, it kinda feels like a "costume belt". It's still fully functional (and adjustable) though and the holes are in the right places so yeah, it's a non-issue since the thing works like any normal belt.
Vest: The vest is square shaped (aka not slim fit), which means that it gives a really boxy and unflattering fit, but this is not a real problem either because you tuck it under your pants for the costume and then you can just adjust it so that the excess fabric is in the back, where it won't be seen. Also, because you wear the coat over it the general shape of the vest isn't visible; you could also just whip out your sewing machine and take it in at the sides, if wanted.
Shirt: The dress shirt has a sort of wonky fit/attachment at the armpits so it feels a bit tight at that spot, even though everything else is loose and comfy. I could also mention that the shirt is shorter than your average dress shirt but yeah, it's still long enough so that you can tuck it into the pants, so it's not really a problem. The sleeves are full length, in case you wondered on the photos I have rolled them up so they appear shorter because yeah, that's the way Harada has his sleeves. :) Oh and yeah, regarding the cut of the vest and the dress shirt I just want to mention that because it is made so that the chest will always be a bit exposed it also means that, although you can close the upper buttons, it will look really bumpy and weird; they are not supposed to be closed. Then again, because it's done like this you are sure to always show a bit of chest, which is exactly what Harada does, lol. So yeah, it's both a plus and a minus, haha.
Coat: The jinbaori-style coat is the highlight of the whole costume and for a good majority it's really well-made. The only cons I have is that it's a tad bit long, but I can deal with it (it reaches half-way below my knee when it should end at my knee), and that some of the edge trims on the bottom of the coat are missing for example the back slit has no trims at all, even though on official art it appears to have a black trim, and the same thing goes for the horizontal bottom trims that should be black too; the white front trims running down the lapels/flaps, the arm opening trims and the side seam trims are all white and thus accurate, though. Then again, it's not a hard mission to add those missing black trims...
Sash: The white sash is like... what the fuck? I don't even know. (・_・)ヾ It feels so off with its cheapness when the rest is so nice. I mean, it's basically just a rectangle of smooth elastic fabric, nothing more. And by nothing I really mean nothing – there's not a single stitch on it! I would have expected it to be at least folded in half and sewn shut but nope, I can even see the pencil marks where it was cut. ._. Besides it's too short for my liking; I'd prefer it so that I can at least wrap it around myself twice but this one only wraps once and barely gives me room to do a knot to secure it in place. I think I'll gladly just use my default white sash instead that I've been using for a lot of cosplays, lol. It's my trusty friend that has served me for years ~
Arm wrappings: I really like the color and fabric choice for these! The fabric feels very slightly rough to the touch but not enough to be itchy or anything. The big problem with these though is that I wish they were much longer I can only wrap them like 4 times around my wrists/hands before I run out of length and, well, I'd need them to cover and layer up more (looks dumb otherwise) and thus they are unusable. Also, because of the short length they don't stay in place really well either; I had to be very careful with what I did with my hands or they'd start to undo themselves, even though I pulled the wrappings tight and tucked the ends under previous layers. I ended up replacing them later with boxing wraps.

I also want to note that the Harada costume that Cospicky is selling is the GAME VERSION and not the anime version, the difference being that the game version has those black ties at the side seams, which the anime version lacks.

Harada Sanosuke reference image.
note: game version

Okay so, to conclude this review I want to say that my final score for Cospicky, based on this experience, is very good. I'd definitely recommend them and I sure would feel safe to order from them again. Oh and yeah, you get free shipping if you buy for over 80$ too, which is awesome!

Final Grade (from A-F): B+
Recommend to others: Yes

The main things dropping my grade from an A- to B+ is the cheaply made sash, the way too short arm wrappings and that the jinbaori surcoat is a bit too long, along with the small things mentioned above in the detailed description of each item. Then again, I guess the coat length issue is kinda my fault because I didn't think of providing a measurement of how long I wanted it to be so yeah, they probably went by defaults. (the coat is long on their stock photos too)

Thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful! (*゚▽゚*)
Shiro Samurai says goodbye!

February 18, 2016

Närcon Vinter 2016 – I'm addicted to bubbletea!

Good day all geeks out there!

I'm back from my trip with friends to Närcon Vinter in Sweden. It was held during 12-14 February in Linköping and I must say that I had a blast! Before the con I had been crazy excited about it and now that the convention is behind me I feel like it lived up to my expectations. This is the first time in a while when I've actually felt comfortable and free of worries at a bigger convention; I feel like Närcon Vinter made me feel like I can enjoy cons again – I felt safe all along and didn't get any anxious moments etc. People were very friendly to me (includes total strangers!) and I even got some new friends, wohoo!

The Närcon dragon logo outside Saab Arena during night time.
Yes, it changes colors!
Some of you might remember that in the cosplans post I mentioned that I'd travel with Frozen Angel (former Jäätynyt Enkeli), Sacchan, Hitsu and Ronya. The thing is that like a week before the con Ronya suddenly informed that she can't go because her mom decided to be an asshole. I won't go into details because it's personal stuff for Ronya but I'll just say that me and Sacchan tried to convince her mother, along with Ronya herself, but her mom was 100% impossible to deal with and we had to give up on getting Ronya with us. :(
So yeah, less than one week to go before the con and I have one additional con ticket, the hotel room is booked for 3 persons and the gasoline costs for the carpool have been calculated and divided on five. I was seriously stressing and panicking because I barely knew anyone who could replace Ronya on such a short notice; I mean, we would have to leave on Wednesday and it was already Sunday! I tried calling my good ol' friend Kiivi but they couldn't go and at that point I was lost. I called Sacchan and she didn't know anyone either – unless her little brother Joni would be up for it. I desperately called Joni and explained the situation; luckily he is gamer, has been to a few cons and has an interest in cosplay so yeah, the possibility was there. He told me that he'll have to beg for vacation from his school on Monday and, if that succeeds, then he'll come with us. I lit up and waited for the next day. During my school day on Monday Sacchan called me about the "get vacation for Joni" mission twice – the first call sounded like we were fucked. The school Joni is in has a strict principal and because his underage some paper work was required with his parents signature/approval and on top of that several days of processing the request. WE DON'T HAVE SEVERAL DAYS TO WAIT. GODDAMMIT. 8C Sacchan called me some hours later and came with good news – suddenly Joni could come! :DD I don't know what black magic he or his parents used but the whole paper processing thing got skipped completely and off we go! Hell yeah!

tl;dr Ronya informed that she can't come with when there's less than a week before the con. I and everyone else panics and ask our nearby friends on a very short notice to replace her – no luck. Turns out in the end that Sacchan's little brother Joni could come instead.

Pre-con (Wednesday & Thursday)

On Wednesday evening we had decided to start driving after everyone in our company had finished school for the day. Because I'm a dumb fuck I do all my packing after school on said Wednesday. :)) I'm surprised I managed to get all my cosplay stuff into my gray bag, lol.
The hours pass by and I hear nothing from Sacchan. I try to call her several times and I call Joni too but no one answers. At this point I get really worried because the clock is already mighty past 16:00 Swedish time and we should ideally have left already. I try calling Joni a second time and this time I get an answer, omgyes! He tells me that his sister had accidentally left the cellphone on soundless mode after school, classic mistake. xD Joni also says that they are not done packing yet and that it will approximately take one hour before they are anywhere near ready to jump into the car. I call Frozen Angel to inform the situation and he informs me that he had already expected them to come pick us up so he had left his apartment already and dragged all his luggage to the entrance, lol.
When Sacchan and Joni finally are ready they drive from their home to me and Frozen Angel's town (it's a 30 min car ride) to pick us up and then we went to eat together at Max, a hamburger place. Gotta start the con diet! 8D And besides, I had a shitlot of coupons to use that I had picked up from school.
With our stomachs filled with burgers and fries we finally left our starting point and started driving southwards, towards Umeå. The reason why Umeå is because my good friend Hitsu lives there and she was to be our fifth carpooler and second driver; we had decided on sleeping over at her place the night between Wednesday and Thursday so that we'd have less of a distance to drive on the morning.
We arrived at Hitsu's later than I had thought but luckily she was still awake. I ran around the apartment and knocked on her window, she waved excitedly to me and came and opened the locked front door. The clock wasn't far from midnight and so we just talked some shit and then we all went to sleep.

I don't remember when exactly we woke up on Thursday morning but it might have been around 10 in the morning. I don't think I had any breakfast either but we all just collected our stuff and left for Umeå city to go buy some provisions and take-away sushi for the long drive ahead. The car ride took many many hours and I spent most of the time either playing Monster Hunter or Pokémon on various handheld consoles and, when I wasn't playing, I was talking about all possible things with the others and most times it was really silly topics. We had, for example, come up with some really detailed and thought-out shit about why there were over ninethousand trucks on the road screwing with us and how, why and where they were holding their secret meeting to plot hell upon Sacchan's Citroën and Hitsu's Volvo. I won't go into more details but let's just say that some of the reasonings had to do with Volvo being a tool and not a car and that French cars suck. xD
At Uppsala we stopped to eat dinner and guess were we ate? :DD Max. Again. Or well, I didn't eat because my stomach was hurting but I shared my coupons once again lololol.
When we reached Norrköping I called my big sister, because she had requested me earlier to inform her when we're in Norrköping so that she'll know when we arrive in Linköping, which is a 30 min car ride from Norrköping. So many köpings. Oh and yeah, me and Frozen Angel were to sleep at big sister's place while Sacchan, Hitsu and Joni had booked a hotel. 

This is where I slept at big sister's apartment. The geek is spreading.
Our carpool company drove me and Frozen Angel to our sister's place when we arrived in Linköping and we got welcomed by sis and her boyfriend it was really nice to see her again! ;A; I had never been to her new apartment and I must say that it was hella comfy and hey, I got to sleep on the tatami floor! 
She told me that I could eat some of the leftover Thai food and that was appreciated because I was pretty damn hungry. After that we played some Mario Kart 8 together all four of us and I had to try playing with Link! I've never played MK8 before so it was really weird and I... kinda sucked. :'DD Or well, I wasn't that horribly bad (highly depending on cup though, Star Cup showed me no mercy) but I certainly wasn't as much of a pro as I am on Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, lol.
Big sis had asked me and bro before the con to bring her good old Super Nintendo with us and of course we did. I grew up with that shit too so it was a bit hard to let go but hey, it's originally hers anyway. We all three had a huge case of nostalgy when we tried to get the old childhood console to work; it took several tries to get it to start but when it finally worked I think I got a tear in my eye – the old graphics, old musics, all the memories... THE CHILDHOOD FEELS WERE REAL. The only issue was that the start button was so worn out that it barely responded; big sister managed to fix it the next day somehow.
She also tried playing some Megaman X (the nostalgy!!) and she informed us that we actually had the sought-after Japanese version of the game that is wanted by speedrunners. Our console is PAL but we have one of those things for it that makes it possible to play games from other regions! She even told us that when the game was originally bought she just wanted it because it looked cool and got it after bothering mom and dad enough lol – she had no idea that the Japanese version would be valuable. So yeah, she played the first two stages of Megaman X (or Rockman X, as the Japanese version is called) and I was just sitting there on the tatami floor and enjoying myself.


The first con day!
I woke up 10 in the morning and was tired as shit, not gonna lie. The first con mornings are always so harsh; I'm really not a morning person, no matter how you put it. I stayed in bed for a while before I finally got up and ate some Havre Knas Fras for breakfast.

The first thing I saw when I woke up.
Result? Megaman X selection screen music stuck in my head the whole morning!
Big sister's living room certainly belongs to a gamer – there's consoles from Wii U to Playstation 3 and 4 and now a Super Nintendo. She also has a Playstation 2 and the first Playstation somewhere. :)
Me and Frozen Angel started to put on our cosplays slowly after checking with the rest of our gang if we were on time with them. I need to mention though that I had some issues with the makeup, mainly the eyeliner because it was fucking up so badly. I have this kind of liquid eyeliner that dries in a way so that you can literally peel off the liner once dry; it has not been a problem before because I haven't done any thicker lines but oh lord, this time it was horrible to use!! I tried to build up a thicker line on my eyelid and the liner just crumpled and ended up looking like I had slathered fucking black latex on my eyelids?! It looked fugly, ruined everything and I ragequitted on it while a stream of swear words came rolling down from the general direction of the bathroom. Thank God sis was not home, lol. I spent way too long on the makeup and I ended up just borrowing Frozen Angel's liquid liner because I had no reserves with me and he had the same one I had before this current shit...
And as if that was the only problem I ran into – it wasn't. :) I also figured out that the violet circle lenses I had taken with me for Kenshin (without having tried them on before because lack of time) had one of the lenses defective and yeah, I couldn't wear them at all because of that. Thank lord I had taken with me a reserve pair juuuuuust in case. u_u My scarring liquid had also dried out but luckily I had taken with me an unopened bottle of it as well.
Kenshin is ready! (obligatory cosplay selfie)
I called Sacchan when me and bro were ready and they came to pick us up... after a truck was done blocking their way from the hotel. The mothertruckers go to attack! We drove to Saab Arena (the con building) and left our Volvo in the parking lot.

Saab Arena viewed from the front when we arrived.
We went inside through the main entrance and were quickly turned around by the entrance checkers/workers because we didn't have our tickets yet they told us we had to go stand in line outside. We went outside to check the line and all I could think was "hell no".

The long line to get your tickets. (this is just a small part of it)
Me, Frozen Angel, Sacchan and Joni followed the line to see exactly how long it was and it felt like it would never end I thought Närcon had solved the problem of mega-sized lines!! Oh well, I found a couple friends standing close to the beginning of the line and well, because I'm a sneaky bastard at times (and I was shaking terribly because of the cold) I stayed there and thus didn't have to wait forever to get in. #yolo

Närcon Vinter 2016 con ticket!
We got our tickets and instantly tried to find Sportcenter, aka the second building that had all the merchandise and the gaming room etc. We actually ended up going in the completely wrong direction and got fairly frustrated because there were no signs whatsoever showing which way to go!! When we got fed up with walking around cluelessly we went inside Saab Arena and asked for directions, but much to my annoyment the directions given were really unclear and vague aka "go over the fence and continue forward". Excuse me but whut?? If I continued straight forward from where I saw the fence I'd cross the car road and enter the industry/school area on the other side which, clearly, didn't belong to the con. >_> Oh well, after some searching and looking for where other con goers were heading we finally found Sportcenter, yay.

Sportcenter ahead, the second building of Närcon Vinter.
What instantly hit me when we got inside Sportcenter was how crammed and narrow it felt. It was also really obvious that it was a... well... sport center. I didn't really like the entrance area because of the non-con cafeteria there (by non-con I mean that it belonged to the building and not to Närcon) and the big squared off area in the middle that made it so that if you wanted to get past the cafeteria area (with tables for eating customers etc) you had to go around it and well, the corridors/passageways were narrow and a bother for me to pass through because I had swords, aka people kept bumping into my swords and it made me crazy.

The entrance/main non-con cafeteria area, seen from one of the corners.
A big fabric sign showing a map of the Sportcenter.
The corridor you had to pass to get to the merchandise hall, foodcourt etc.
We all were so happy to see that bubbletea was available! I had heard rumors online that they would come but I wasn't sure if it was true. All four of us (excluding Hitsu because she was somewhere else) went to plow through the merchandise and I must say that I was pretty satisfied with the variety of goods, even though I nowadays rarely buy stuff at a con because most times it's grossly overpriced.

The foodcourt area. The Närcon cafeteria is next to the wall.
Bubbletea shop – my con is saved!
The merchandise ranged from the usual alpacca plushies to other cutesy stuff, figurines, t-shirts and other wearables along with accessories for alternative fashion, cosplay parts, posters, art books, DVD's and movies and basically anything that you can think of. C: There was even contact lenses but those honestly scare me and I stay away from them – they always seem to be of some kind of shady brands that I've never even heard of before and yeah, I'm quite the lens guru so that says a lot.

This was the view when you entered the merchandise hall.
A lot of small figurines...
The obligatory cute plushies seller. I keep thinking that someday
I want to buy an alpacca...
My Little Pony shop feat. show accurate plush ponies.
Pokémon League badges!
OMG Digimon! ;A;
Pokémon plushies.
Pokémon mascot keychain plushies.
I was so tempted to buy the Latias and Latios ones
because I love and collect those.
When we were walking around the merchandise area some random person passed us by and handed out Namco Bandai paper sheets. On a closer look they were basically lottery tickets to win a Sorey figurine from Tales of Zestiria and the only thing you had to do to enter was to write your contact information and fill in the boxes of what Namco Bandai titles you are a fan of. Me, Joni and Frozen Angel got handed those papers and so we headed off to the gaming room to fill them in because that's where the Bandai Namco booth was. Sacchan got a ticket at the booth and we were quite surprised when we learned that the girl sitting at the booth was actually Finnish, omg! :O We chatted with her for a short while and then when we gave her our tickets she gave us all two booster packs of some Tekken TCG; everyone who entered the lottery got two of those as a freebie. Awesome.

Tekken Card Tournament freebie booster pack.
When we were done checking the merchandise hall we had all gotten hungry enough that going and fetching some grub sounded like a good idea. But as per usual with cons the choices for food are limited to fast food, more or less, and so was the case with Närcon Vinter too. There would have been some kind of wraps and I guess tortillas but oh well, it was easy to go to that truck outside Sportcenter that was serving hamburgers, kebab etc for a fair price. Närcon's own food stands constantly had lines longer than life...

There's no con without fast food.
We all bought the kebab with bread because kebab felt more tempting than burgers (hell, we had eaten burgers two days in a row) and it only cost 55 SEK, which wasn't half bad. It was snowing when we ordered (the pic is taken on Sunday, by the way) so as soon as we got our kebabs we ran inside because we didn't want to have extra snow in our meals, lol. We went to eat our food at the cafeteria/foodcourt area; it was quite the challenge to find a free table and chairs but we managed.

Kenshin + kebab = Kebshin
In case anyone wonders I took off my tekkou before eating. Actually, they were such a pain in the ass that I spent half the con day without them, lol. They wouldn't stay in place for shit and just kept spinning you spin me right 'round baby around my arms and loosening up etc – really annoying. I actually used the tekkou that I made for Ichito back in the days because I wanted brown leather ones, instead of the black fabric ones I had been using previously and which I had bought from eBay years ago. The thing is that because I never wore Ichito longer than a few hours I hadn't really gotten to wear the tekkou long enough to figure out how they behaved and yeah, I had no idea they'd be so goddamn much of a bother to wear. I ended up just putting them on when someone asked for photos and otherwise they were swimming around in my bag. Frozen Angel accidentally almost broke one of the tying strings anyway when he put it on for me because yeah, it's a bitch to do by yourself.
Speaking of my Kenshin cosplay! I had a fair amount of people calling out "Kenshin!" when they saw me, one person fangirling and then –of course– one person asked me if my scar was real. I don't understand why it seem like that at almost every con I wear him to there's always someone who thinks that I actually cut myself in the face, for the sake of cosplay. I mean, it's nice that it looks realistic and all but hey, I'm not that hardcore! :'D

Had some matcha bubbletea for dessert!
I swear that bubbletea is like the nectar of the gods. One of my bigger reasons to go to Närcon Vinter was bubbletea – I love it so much! The matcha milk tea with cherry bubbles was godly, seriously. I bought it twice because it was that good.

Next to the Bubbletea shop was Gottcon, which sold candies, soda etc.
There was also a shop selling Japanese candies and sweets.
Next to the foodcourt was also the "crafting corner" where
you could draw and do those, err, "pärlplattor". Fuse bead pegboard things...?
You could also draw in one of these "con memory" things. :D
We went to the Skecon meetup at 20:00 but when we got there... there was like nothing to do. Four or so people were sitting in a ring on the floor and just chatting away and when me and my company came there we just said a quick hi to them and were left just... standing there. Awkwardly. I must say that it was lame as fuck and I felt like a completely outsider and thus very awkward. I really can't stand meetups when I just get ignored and don't feel welcome. There was some boring muted video with the Skecon mascot dancing Caramelldansen (which I'm really sick off, by the way) but that was about it; the whole meetup felt dead and there were like only that little friend group chatting with their own and not letting others into the fun. Ugh. Totally reminded me why I steer away from meetups. ._. We just awkwardly left after 5 minutes and well, those 5 minutes felt like the longest and most awkward minutes of my life.
I didn't attend any other panels or anything and yeah, I don't think we did that much more on Friday. We did spend some time in the gaming room but I didn't play anything myself; I just find it fun to watch others play. 

One thing though! At one point I reaaaaaally needed to take off my lenses (they suddenly started hurting my eyes and/or feeling really dry and uncomfortable) but I only ever found one bathroom in the Sportcenter building and there was always at least 5 people standing in line for the damn toilet!? I had no time to wait so I started freaking out because I didn't know where any other toilets were and then I had to rush all the way to Saab Arena and ask people there. Luckily I found a free bathroom there that I could use. But holy Christ, arrow signs for nearby bathrooms would be appreciated. During the whole duration of the con I only managed to find 3 bathrooms in total what the fuck...?

I think we left the con late-ish, around 22:00 or something like that. Hitsu kindly drove me and Frozen Angel to big sister's as we had agreed on. At her place I ate some yummy leftover lasagne and then we watcher her play Until Dawn way too late into the night and, well, I think we all kinda shat ourselves. xD Jump scares goddammit.


The main con day is here!
Me and bro decided on waking up earlier than the day before because bro had a Hetalia panel that he wanted to attend. We had breakfast and started putting on our cosplays – today I was to cosplay Kashuu Kiyomitsu from Touken Ranbu. I called Sacchan after I had put on most of my cosplay, to check if we were on schedule, and it turns out she was a bit behind us so I waited before doing the finishing touches.

Selfie with me as Kashuu my wig is derping
and Sacchan as Atago from Kantai Collection. ♡
When we got to the con we headed straight for the Sportcenter again. Actually, we spent most of our time in there because Saab Arena only had the Artist's Alley, info desk, the visitors' second-hand table, the cosplay competitions and some external events that I didn't care too much about.
We went and chilled in the gaming room but all along I was hoping that those few Touken Ranbu cosplayers I had seen on Friday would be here on Saturday too – I had seen a Tsurumaru, Kogitsunemaru and Heshikiri. But as my luck is crap I of course saw none of those, or well, I saw some of the cosplayers (the previous Heshikiri cosplayer came and talked with me) but they cosplayed from other series. :( Damn. I was honestly expecting to see more TouRabu cosplayers but during the whole Saturday I only found another Kashuu and a Yamato no Kami Yasusada, whom I by the way ended up bonding and chatting a long time with. Oh, and it seemed like no one even recognized me, save for those three; I honestly got more comments about having painted nails (by fellow guys, nonetheless) than I got about my cosplay, LOL.

Some people playing the new Naruto fighting game. Joni is the one closest
to the camera by the way. :)
The geek is strong in here. (gaming room)
I actually spent most of Saturday doing nothing... or well, hanging with my friends. XD It might sound boring as all hell but I actually enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot of fun just walking around and seeing all the cool and happy cosplayers; there was this one Saitama cosplayer from OnePunch-Man who was such a natural joy pill that spotting him immediately put me in a happy mood!

Monster Hunter figurines!
More MonHun figurines!
And one more.
I was happy to find Monster Hunter merchandise but I didn't buy any; I thought they were way too expensive. Some MonHun items were literally three times as expensive as what I've paid for mine directly from Japan so.... yeaaaaah. No thanks. But it's still a feast for the eyes to see the stuff on display!

I was also looking for Touken Ranbu merchandise but, much to my surprise, there was barely anything to be found! I thought it would be a lot more popular but it felt weirdly obscure...?

I'm not sure what these were...
TouRabu posters. There were several different designs.
The posters are self-explanatory but those small figurines I'm a bit confused of what you are supposed to do with them. They all had their arms up and under the arms ran a small groove, almost as if you were supposed to fasten them by the groove on something. I have no idea, I never saw anything like it before. For some reason, when I checked back on those later, only the Mikazuki one was left; the rest sold out. And here I was expecting that Mikazuki would disappear first...

Närcon had these awesome "NärConsent" signs
up here and there. I approve!
This one was outside Sportcenter.
I don't have so much to say about Saturday since I didn't even go watch the cosplay competitions or anything. I guess I should but I'm just not interested enough to stand in line for hours and then sit still more hours on a chair and stare at costumers so far away that I can barely tell what characters they are cosplaying, lol. I hate when all the tall people sit in front of me too. I don't like to sit still for long when I'm at a con because I feel like I miss a lot of what's happening around me; I guess that's the reason why I'm so bad at attending panels too...

This is my Saturday in a nutshell – sit and
chill in the foodcourt area. :D
At some point our gang gathered and we just sat in the foodcourt area and drank bubbletea together. I bought the matcha one again but Hitsu did things better than me – she was so savage that she bought two bubbleteas and drank them both on the same go!

Hitsu wins at life.
When the clock was nearing eight I suddenly got a call from big sister's boyfriend; he told me that he'd come pick us up after eight. This meant that I had to cut my con day shorter than I had planned and I didn't have time to discover everything there was to offer. But the trade-off was not bad at all – me and bro got treated to some super-amazing sushi from one of Sweden's best Japanese restaurants!

So yeah, we spent the last 45 minutes exploring the Saab Arena and, more exactly, the Artist's Alley. We found this one Norwegian guy selling amazing Nintendo characters etc in zombie designs! Me, Sacchan and Frozen Angel ended up talking and gushing over his art for a long time and of course none of us left his table empty-handed – his stuff was seriously way too cool to pass up on!
I also chatted with Jackocalypse for a while because he also had a table at Artist's Alley; he's such a cute and sweet person!

People are standing in line for something in Saab Area's main entrance.
Artist's Alley area.
Also Artist's Alley.
Närcon information desk.
I left the con a little bit past eight and it felt like it all went by so fast; we didn't have any plans on attending on Sunday because we had to leave early, thanks to the long driving distance back home. :( Sacchan, Hitsu and Joni stayed at the con after me and Frozen Angel had to leave. Big sister's boyfriend picked us up and we drove back to their place.

Saab Arena seen from the front during night time. Rainbows!
I must say that leaving "early" from the con didn't feel all that bad once I saw the sushi feast. Holy moly was it delicious!! Best sushi in my life, no question about it. I got to try several sushis I've never tasted before and everything was sooooooo good.

Family sushi dinner! #worthit
After the meal I spent several hours talking and asking questions about Japan with big sister. She has been there several times and talks the language fluently so yeah, I got a lot of information! She even asked if I wanted to borrow some of her language books but I forgot to ask for them when we left on Sunday morning, damnit.

Post-con (Sunday & Monday)

I know, Sunday is not actually "post-con" since Närcon is a 3-day con. But I decided to put it in post-con because I didn't attend the con, save for a quick visit to pick up provisions.

On Sunday morning I packed my stuff as soon as I woke up. At some point Frozen Angel called Hitsu and asked if we could do a quick stop at the con just so that we could go pick up bubbleteas for the trip or whatever else we wanted; Hitsu said it was okay but we had to be quick.
Me and bro said goodbye to big sis and her partner, I gave back the reserve keys and we left – I felt sad. :(
Everyone except Hitsu went inside Sportcenter one last time (in our normal clothes) and I bought myself one last bubbletea and also some merchandise that I had been pending back and forth with if I wanted to buy it or not; I ended up buying a Latias and Latios Pokémon plushie, they were too cute to resist. ;_; 
We got back into the car and left Linköping behind. The trip back to Umeå went without any problems, just like the trip down. We stopped to eat at Uppsala once again and yes, it was Max. Again. XD I still had coupons! They are neverending.
Once again I spent a fair amount of my time playing either Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or talking with mostly Joni about how a jumping stick is the deadliest weapon.
But guys, I need to tell you one thing! While I was playing MonHun I did a rare G rank Expedition quest and well, I think I died a little inside when the following monsters showed up on my screen – the game decided to fuck me over, big time. MonHun fans will understand the pain. I had no chance and, even less so, because both of their timers started fairly close to one another. Fuck my hunter life. :)

DOUBLE SAVAGE DEVILJHO!!! #savageaf #rekt
We arrived at Umeå not too late but yeah, we had to sleep early anyway because Hitsu had an airplane to pass the morning after (she's a busy girl!) that she couldn't allow to miss
We woke up on Monday morning before the pigs had time to fart and Sacchan, me, Frozen Angel and Joni had to dig up Sacchan's poor Citroën from all the snow that had buried it meanwhile we were gone. It was a good thing that the thing even started because it had been outside completely in the cold...
The drive from Umeå back up to Haparanda and to Finland went fine. I cracked some hilarious Finnish puns that made everyone burst out laughing – success! Nothing else noteworthy happened except that we saw 5+ reindeers on the road, 60 km south of Skellefteå around 07:00 in the morning. One dead reindeer was lying next to the trench and the rest were scattered around the road, scaring the shit out of Sacchan who was driving slowly and trying to get past them. Luckily they didn't approach our car.
When we arrived at our destination we were hungry and we went to eat... one last time... at Max. :DDDDDDD

Before I end this con report I just want to show my convention loots! (aka merch purchases)

I bought these two on Sunday just before we left; I couldn't leave them. ;o;
Latias & Latios small Craneking plush dolls.
Sesshoumaru and Miroku rubber straps from InuYasha
and a zombie Yoshi necklace from Artist's Alley by Fredrik Edén.
I was seriously so excited to find InuYasha merchandise! You never find any merch from it nowadays because it's such an old series. I really love InuYasha because it was my first manga that I started collecting and Sesshoumaru is one of my all-time favorite characters. I actually bought the Sesshoumaru strap already on Friday (insta-buy!) but I bought the Miroku one on Saturday evening.


And that pretty much sums up my Närcon Vinter journey. I had a pleasant experience and I'd gladly go to NCV again. ^_^ The only complaints I have is the general lack of direction signs, especially to Sportcenter because it took my group a while to find our way there and it was frustrating. I also never found the Pokémon Gaiden room because I never found any signs or a map that showed where it was. 
I'd also really appreciate it if there were more food options than the usual fast food. I'd love to be able to buy some sushi or other simpler Japanese foods, unless it's horribly overpriced. I remember Uppcon having had sushi back when they still existed and it was really cool so yeah, I don't understand why Närcon hasn't followed in their footsteps yet...?

Oh and yeah, this is not Närcon's fault but I want to mention it anyway – I only had nice and friendly encounters with people, except for this one cosplayer who was walking behind me and Sacchan on Saturday when we were about to enter the gaming room. I clearly heard her say in a really bitchy voice "why can't people walk faster??" and it really pissed me off. She maybe just carelessly thought out loud but what really grinded on my gears was that she clearly seemed to assume that, because we were speaking Finnish, then we wouldn't understand Swedish. Well, I'm sorry to break it for you but I'm completely bilingual and I totally understood that you were being a jerk behind us. Don't fucking go bitch about people when you don't know why they do what they do – in this case Sacchan was wearing high heels that were way too big for her –and thus troublesome to walk in– and her feet were hurting; I was walking next to her so that she could lean on me if she lost her balance or needed to put her shoes back on, in case they went out of place (which they did, several times). I also walked slowly because my cosplay restricted my movement (surprise motherfucker – cosplays sometimes do that! :D), aside from supporting my friend.
So yeah, if you're gonna bitch at others just because they are slow (and there was enough space so that you could pass us by, anyway) then kindly piss off; if you don't know the reasons –and let's face it, hindrances are not always visible– then don't open your fucking mouth and, especially, don't assume that those you refer to won't understand. I'm just as Swedish as you are so yeah, I'm sorry but you made yourself look like an inconsiderate and selfish asshole. Congrats. :)

But yeah, thanks for a great con everybody! o/
Shiro Samurai out ~


Bonus pic!

This seal plush is super cute and all but yeah, the placement of that tail fin pippelihäntä hihi really fucks with my mind... XD It stayed as a joke between me, Frozen Angel and Sacchan during the con, lol.

Ciao! ~