April 26, 2016

Cosvision 2016 – When the hotel breakfast is more interesting

Good evening everyone!

I've returned safely from my trip to Cosvision in Hämeenlinna, Finland, and now I'm writing to tell you all about the con. I honestly still have the "con hangover" but I just want to get this summary done and out as soon as possible, haha.
Soooooooooo... let's roll!

So, for those not in the know, Cosvision was held on 23-24 April and I went there with our kakkaravut trio of me, Frozen Angel and Sacchan. Awesome company always makes things better!
We had decided quite early on that we'd carpool southwards with Sacchan's car and that's also what happened. The road trip down went well and although it was long and occasionally tiring we didn't run out of shit to talk about – we're seriously such a close-knit bunch that we always have loads of fun together, no matter what!
I think the traveling took around 8 hours. I don't feel such long car trips anywhere because I'm so damn used to sitting in a car for hours and hours upon end; once when I was a little kid dad even drove all the way from southern Sweden to goddamn Italy. Beat that. That was, by the way, one of my most memorable childhood experiences.

Start of our journey. Nice weather graced us!
We were blessed with good weather when we started and it stayed good all the way down. We had all kinds of hilarious discussions to kill time and there was never a boring moment – our topics included everything from shit that only dads say to cosplay group plans and literal shit stories. There was also something really bizarre about waving baguettes around...
We also laughed hard at a car with a roof box that read "qualit box" – much qualit, such wow. :'D Another one was a Hesburger logo with only the Hesbur part lit up and the ger was occasionally blinking; it stayed as a joke for all Hesburger restaurants we saw afterwards. "Look, there's a Hesbur-ger-ger-ger-ger!" *insert Taking the Hobbits to Isengard here*

Oh and yeah, of course whenever we passed some town or whatnot with a possibly-funny-name-if-we-change-a-few-letters we of course pulled crappy jokes about it. You know, Mikkeli naturally turned into Kikkeli (lit. dick), Kinkomaa turned into Kinkymaa (lit. kinky land) and so on. No ragrets, hihi. We also bust a gut when we saw a resting place called Haarakangas (lit. crotch cloth) above Oulu – people who have watched Hetalia will understand.
Oh and also, a road called "Makkarajoentie" (lit. sausage river road) had us all howling with laughter. When I first saw it (we passed it by fast) I had a realization of "WAIT A SECOND. DID I JUST READ RIGHT?" and then Frozen Angel confirmed that he also read it. Oh lord the laughs that ensued.

Sunset! (and the obligatory river, because we're in Finland)
We stopped for a snack break at a Hesburger somewhere past Oulu and, although I didn't buy anything, I need to say that the service was so painfully slow I was cringing all along. There was like max two or three customers in front of our trio and it felt like it took way more than 15 minutes before that damn young woman working there got to us. She did everything so goshdarn leisurely I wondered how the heck she even got the job in the first place because it felt like watching a fucking sloth preparing french fries. Seriously horrible. I normally don't complain but it was just plain bad and frustrating – I even felt the need to leave one of those feedback papers to complain when we left because oh god, seriously? ._. Oh and yeah, Sacchan and Frozen Angel ordered smoothies and it was just too good when, after placing the order she said, all politely, that "it's just gonna take a short moment" and I couldn't help but roll my eyes as soon as we sat down waiting – a "short moment" was, of course, not short at all. :)) Geez.

Night-time driving.
Night fell and somewhere past Jyväskylä but before Hämeenlinna, in the middle of nowhere, the car in front of us suddenly came to an abrupt halt. We were really weirded out and wondered what was going on! Of course we had to stop completely as well when closing in and that's when we saw it – there was something on middle of the road that wasn't moving.
From a distance I first thought that it was some kind of light colored rock but as soon as we got a bit closer it became obvious that it was an animal. And it was.
But it was not the kind of animal you'd expect.

Hoot hoot, motherfucker.
This cute little owl was just sitting there, completely blocking the road and it didn't budge an inch (it was like a statue, seriously) nor open its eyes. It was weird and I really worried what was wrong with it; I've always loved birds and even after we passed the owl I could not stop thinking about it. Why was it there? Was it hurt? Did someone come to save it?
I saw that the woman in the car before us called someone; I really hope she called the animal protection peeps. I hope it survived. Poor thing. ;_;
Luckily it was close to midnight and on a calm road so maybe everyone else saw it on time too.

The clock was around midnight when we finally reached Hämeenlinna, our destination. We had been keeping in touch with Firith all along the journey because he was the fourth member of our group and the one who had booked the hotel for all of us. We found the right place, parked the car in the hotel's parking lot, checked in and pretty much immediately went to sleep because we all were so tired. I shaved my poor beard before going to bed because yeah, gotta be smooth for the sake of cosplay ~

Third floor hotel corridor showing the two rooms we had.
Me and Sacchan shared one room (number 330) and Frozen Angel and Firith shared another room just next to ours (332). The hotel was Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna. Pretty nice hotel, nothing to complain about. The huge amount of pillows was appreciated and, especially, the mega-sized one lol.

Our hotel room on the morning.
Saturday morning came. Holy crud it felt horrible to wake up after such a long journey and with only like 6 hours of sleep. I'm just really not a morning person, at all. Ugh.
I kicked up Sacchan, we put on our travel/casual clothes and went to knock on our double trouble's door and then we headed down to eat breakfast buffet together. The hotel breakfast was better than I expected; there was actually a lot of really tasty stuff and the variation was good! I even managed to eat a lot without feeling overly stuffed and getting the whole "feel nauseous in the morning" crap. Thing is that on con mornings I tend to be unable to eat much at all (especially hotel breakfasts, which is frustrating) because I'll just start feeling sick and, well, it sucks.

After breakfast we started putting on our cosplays for the day; I was to do a Darkrai gijinka from Pokémon and Sacchan did shiny Umbreon. I had some trouble with the eye makeup so Sacchan did the Jack Sparrow eyes for me, haha. ( ; 3;)
When we were done all four of us started walking towards Verkatehdas, which ended up being really close to the hotel. We took the slightly longer shore way to check for photoshoot locations and just outside the hotel there were this really cool stone ruin things and I, of course, wanted a quick shooting there.

Cosplayer: Shiro Samurai (Darkrai)
Photographer: Sacchan & Frozen Angel
Photo editor: Shiro Samurai

When we got to the con area my first impression when I saw the outside was "uhmm, looks a bit dead"; I was somehow expecting there to be a bit more life outside. Then again, it's not really alarming because you just kinda assume most people stay indoors anyway.

A view of Verkatehdas' entrance. The building Cosvision was held in.
As soon as we stepped inside we went to get our con tickets from the table in the entrance – it went very quick and without issues. What surprised me though was that the con bands were not fabric and not paper either. They were plastic and looked like those wrist bands you get in hospital when you're stuck there with some serious disease. What the fuck. I was honestly kinda disappointed. The ticket made me look like I had just escaped from some asylum, lol. It didn't feel like a con ticket.

Cosvision con ticket.
My first two impressions as soon as we got to the main area of the con were "confusing" and "comme ci comme ça". It felt like there was something missing. I was honestly kinda weirded out when the first thing I saw was groups and groups of con attendants just filling out the stairs doing nothing; it instantly gives an impression that people are bored and have nothing else to do than engage in idle chitchat with their friends. It was disappointing because there was not much to do and you could tell on the people that pretty much everyone seemed to be thinking the same things you were, aka that the con felt half-assed and overhyped. I mean, the location/building is great and very fitting for a con but some placements were poor *coughartistalleycough* and it felt a bit confusing. The main issue though was that there simply was nothing to do unless you liked to play board games or stuff like Twister or something. There was no video game room, no anime karaoke, no crafts room, no activities, nothing. Time went by so slowly because you just spent time staring at the clock and walking through the merchandise hall over and over again, although you had nothing to buy.
I can sorta understand that because it's a cosplay focused con they maybe didn't prioritize activities for whatever reasons (hard to sit in elaborate costumes etc) but seriously, if there's nothing to do people just end up sitting on the floors and stairs and the whole con atmosphere disappears or feels like a "hang out with friends con", no matter how big and pompous the con's original idea was. Honestly, Cosvision ended up feeling like a Kitacon in the south with some top-class cosplays. Really disappointing and especially so because the last Cosvision was a success.

I spent almost all of my con time just sitting around whenever wherever and just chatting with my friends and photoshooting outside. It was so dull and if I had gone alone I would have been bored out of my mind in, like, 10 minutes. Once again it was my company that saved the con experience and my Nintendo 3DS. I also really enjoyed that I got to see some con friends I hadn't seen in a couple years, like Ri-kun.

Random photo of the main area.
Entrance view.
Oh and yeah, the merchandise hall was kinda... lackluster. There was like below 10 shops and they were all those basic ones that you see at every Finnish convention and which products you've already plowed through more than enough times. Only Bard & Jester was refreshing to see and their stuff is always inspiring to look at anyway. Oh and yeah, there was this one little shop there where you could buy slush and cotton candy – that was a cool surprise that I wasn't expecting.

A big selection of Ramune flavors. Too overpriced for my taste though.
Merchandise hall.
Merchandise hall. The shop to the left (Bard & Jester) was the best/coolest one!
I need to say that the placement of Artist's Alley was meh. I honestly completely missed it on the first day because it was placed in a spot where it was hidden by the entrance area's wall, no matter which direction you came from. There was no signs either telling people that it was there; the only sign pointing to that direction said "ticket information spot" or something like that and it didn't even cross my mind to check it out because I didn't have any issues with my con ticket, lol. I think the cinema was there too but yeah, never saw a sign for the Artist's Alley.
It felt like Artist's Alley probably suffered from the bad placing; they were kinda separated from the rest of the building where stuff happened, you know, the "dark corner" effect. Why wasn't it put in the same place as the merchandise hall? It would have been better because then the merch hall wouldn't have felt so empty.
Artist's Alley was small (approximately 6 sellers) and I didn't really find the items for sale that interesting – almost everyone sold necklaces/jewelry, for some reason. I did find a nice Megaman necklace that I bought as a present for my big sister but I didn't buy anything for myself.

One of the Artist's Alley tables.
The photo above was by far the best thing with Artist's Alley – I honestly mentally died of laughter when I saw it. xD Non-Finnish people won't get it but those weird Donald Duck things are a huge meme in Finland (Finland is a Donald Duck country, fyi) that was made by SilliS. Pretty much everyone knows them –at least if they've spent time on Youtube's weird side– and they are absolutely hilarious, if you have that kind of humor of course. The guy selling those presumably had some contact with SilliS himself (probably friends) and they had teamed up to create those merchandises. Yes, I asked him and he told me that it was a collaboration project with SilliS so yeah, they were as official as they could be! I was sad that the Donald ones had sold out because I would instantly have bought a necklace with "AQ-sedä" on it, hihi.

Around 16:00 or something all four of us headed back to the hotel to eat some provisions and some of us changed out of cosplay. Me and Sacchan then got hungry and we headed out with the car to go find a Hesburger. It turned out Hämeenlinna, aka Hämärälinna, is a confusing place to drive in – we got lost and just went around in circles and then we ended up accidentally exiting Hämeenlinna and going into the main road. Oops. Luckily there came an ABC shop/restaurant/gasoline station (it's all three of them, lol) where we could turn our car around and then, much to our luck in misfortune, said ABC had a Hesburger! It didn't quite go as planned but we got our burgers so we were happy, lol.

Obligatory con diet. #heseläski
After stuffing our faces with cheeseburgers we headed back to the hotel to leave the car and then we decided to go back to the con. Much to our surprise we quickly learned at the con's outdoor area that it had already closed for the day. Excuse me but... what the actual fuck?
The con closed its doors 18:00 on the goshdarn main day and I had a hard time believing it. Seriously, I paid 25,70 € for a two-day weekend ticket and it closes at fucking six in the evening?? Urrrrgh. >_> What a waste of money! I'm an evening person and that's about the time I get started and into the con mood but lolnope, you pay a high ticket price for a con that closes in time for the kiddies to have supper and go to sleep. The disappointments just kept coming, I swear.
I'm used to even small cons in Sweden being, first off, three days long and, secondly, both cheaper and open 24/7. Finnish cons are such a joke in comparison and everything's overpriced and adghsadsjhafjh – it's just not worth it. I guess I'll keep to going to cons in Sweden in the future because every time I give a Finnish con in the south a chance lately I've just ended up with a huge hole in my wallet and nothing to make it worth all the travel expenses etc all the way from the north. Bah.

So yeah, we stayed outside to photoshoot Firith's cosplay and then he and Frozen Angel wanted to do some Hetalia pairing photos. We had a lot of laughs because things escalated quickly but it got cold past sunset and I ended up freezing so bad I had trouble pressing the buttons on my camera. On the way back to the hotel I also somehow twisted my left knee (I have weird joints) and it hurt like living hell. I'm not normally the person to complain about pain but it was seriously so bad I could not bend my knee at all and thus had to walk with my left leg completely straight.
We made our way back to the hotel, most of us disappointed and annoyed with the overly early closing time. Me and Sacchan stayed outside to photoshoot my Darkrai costume more properly now that I got to borrow FankiFox's long black gloves. The photoshoot pictures will be posted separately.

The remainder of the night I spent chitchatting with Sacchan and we came to the conclusion that Cosvision really was a bummer or, as we said in Finnish, "mitäänsanomaton ja juostenpaskattu". Seeing how early it closed it's not worth it because we seriously spent more time in the car driving to the con than at the con itself, lol. It's just so weird because they had two years to make it good and still it feels like the arrangers just pooped and the execution fell short. The whole con just felt so lackluster and indifferent and it didn't make things better that panels and lectures were cancelled left and right, including the one by Panther's Tear Forge about cosplay against bullying, which I had looked forward to the most on Saturday. There were few panels to begin with and that also made for the feeling that there was nothing to do and it only got worse because stuff got cancelled and nothing replaced the gaping holes in the schedule. Then again, it's not really the con's fault if a lecturer informs super late that they can't come, but still. The amount of bore was too much, especially considering the ticket price – take off 10 € from the price and it would have been acceptable.

Sunday morning eventually came and we woke up at seven. I noticed early on that my eyes were living their own life and because of it I decided to skip cosplaying Hatori on this day. My eyes were seriously watering so much I could not even keep them open; I was squinting and rubbing and my eyes just cried non-stop for hours and it was horrible. I've never experienced anything like it. The corners of my eyes were super sensitive too and wearing any kind of makeup was out of the question.
Normally going without a cosplay would have felt like going naked but now I didn't even feel bad about it, mainly because of the disappointment – it felt like it didn't even matter. Sure that I would have loved to take pair photos with Firith as Ayame but oh well, no can do when my eyes took the early checkout ticket.

Me and Sacchan headed directly for the hotel's breakfast buffet as soon as we put on our clothes and I'm not gonna lie – the hotel breakfast was more interesting than the con itself; I looked forward to it more. The food was surprisingly good and varied (I've eaten at a lot of restaurant breakfasts) and it was the highlight of the day, lol. Going to the con wasn't exciting at all and we didn't even care about being there early because there wasn't anything to do anyway.

Hotel breakfast, showing the options of "what to put on your bread".
Cookies, nuts and muesli etc.
My first plate. The Karelian pastries were awesome.
14:00 I headed for Cidi's and Hitsuwa's lecture – at least it wasn't cancelled. I liked it, it was fun and nice to listen to what they had to say. The bad thing is that the person keeping track of time (a con worker) fucked up and so their panel ended at least 15 minutes ahead of time because she was stressing them up, even though they would have had plenty of time. ._. Seriously...

Panel start.

We left the con around 16:30 because my mom called me while I was in the food market with Ri-kun (buying something to eat) and asked if we had left Hämeenlinna already. I told her that we were about to leave and she told us to hurry up because absolutely horrible weather –and thus driving conditions– was coming our way; seemingly it had even been announced in the news that anyone going out with summer tires should stay home or take public transports like train or bus. It was supposed to be that bad but, honestly, we drove all the way home and not a shit happened. Then again, maybe we were just master ninjas and magically avoided the bad weather somehow, who knows?


But yeah, I don't even know what more to say about the con itself. The whole con was such a mess and it lacked anything to make it entertaining and worthwhile, save for amazing cosplayers. It really needed more activities, more panels, more sellers, more everything. People really put on their best outfits but the con itself was such a drag and a huge disappointment. :( I remember the first Cosvision fondly but this was just so bad that I don't even think I'd attend the next Cosvision unless some real improvements happen; it simply was not worth the money and time it took for us three to travel there and back. 
It was sooooo disappointing that I don't even know what to say! So much wasted potential because seriously, they had all the time and means to make it amazing (I mean come on, the only cosplay-focused con in the whole country!) and still it managed to end up so bland and insignificant. It's just sad because I at least had high expectations and hopes for the con and then it ended up being such a mediocre "hang with friends" con, except with amazing cosplays.

One of the best things of the con was that I got Elffi's signature!
That's about all that I have to say. Thanks for reading. 


Anonymous said...

About the saturday evening... Well there was this ClubVision Lounge-thingy, did you read the program at all? (There was also clear map of the place itself which stated the artist alley place)
It was not your average-"iltabileet", it was very entertaining babble about cosplay scene in all its glory all the way back in early 2000s. So no, the con did _not_end at 18:00. There was break in the program. After eating and changing clothes we came back at 19:00 and finally left at 22:00 while the last program was still on.
Apparently our experience differ much from the same con but just wanted to point this one out.

Shiro Samurai said...

Well, I apologize for wrong information but I honestly had no idea about that. My bad. ^^"
I did check the schedule some weeks before the con but yeah, schedule says it stops at 17:30 on Saturday, which makes it very easy to just assume that that's when it ends and there's nothing else. I had forgotten about the closing times and that's why it was such a surprise.

I admit to not having a map until the later half of the con. I still don't think it would hurt anyone to have signs laid out though.

When I came back my friends told me the con had ended and none of us knew about the ClubVision thing (I didn't keep myself up-to-date about Cosvision on social media etc because of poor/slow internet), although I googled it just now and seems like it was something that had an entrance fee (5 € if bought in advance) and the website even states that there was only a limited quantity available, which is just as good as useless because it means that not everyone would fit in anyway, aka "exclusive VIP club" treatment only to those who were fast and/or willing to pay for a continuation – for the rest the con day was over.
I think it's tasteless and unfair to have a limited after-program that you even have to pay to take part in and, because of this, the con closes stupidly early for all the others. Not cool at all if you ask me. :/ I'd much prefer the con to prolong its opening hours for _everyone_ instead of activating the "if you pay more you get benefits" mode. Just seems greedy and like singling out people to me, sorry.

Everyone's experiences are different and that's normal and to be expected. For me the con was a disappointment but if it was good for others then that's awesome. :)

jmunkki said...

I was at the hair/wig workshop on Saturday afternoon and when that ended, the cosplay competition had also ended even though it was scheduled to go on much longer. So the choice was to hang around doing nothing from 16:30 to 19:00 or go home. We went home. The workshop was nice and I'm really pleased with the photos we shot. I'm new to cosplay, so I didn't know what to expect...my only frame of reference being a Wizard World con in Oregon, which was of course a completely different thing.

I was too lazy to wake up early & suit up on Sunday, so I didn't go to the con on Sunday and I didn't see any of the cosplay competition at all.

One thing in particular that I haven't seen that might be fun & useful would be to have sort of "cosplayers anonymous" sessions: a group of cosplayers sitting at a table, doing quick introductions and saying something about their costumes and then a quick Q&A after a full round of introductions. You could also do these based on costume theme (Japanese anime/manga, video games, Western comics/movies). I think roughly 12-16 would be a good group size and 30-45 minutes a good session length. I know cosplayers love if people come and ask about their costume, but I'm typically Finnish in that I have a difficult time going to a total stranger and asking them.