A while ago I attended Matsucon in Oulu, Finland. This summary is quite late (at least in my standards) but I'll try my best to write down what I remember from this new convention in the north. ^^ Okay so, Matsucon was held for the first time during 4-5 March and the con building was Pohjankartano, which, in my opinion, is the best place to host a convention in Oulu.
I went there as a con worker and, to be more precise, a con photographer. My main tasks were to photograph certain panels, lectures and workshops.
Now let's start the summary!
|Matsucon information booklets.|
I had been thinking about attending Matsucon ever since I first heard of it but once it drew closer I got unsure if it would even be possible for me to go (school, economy etc). I decided to try and apply for a con worker and I got a spot as one of the con photographers – being a part of the work force would give me free entrance to the con and that already helps a lot and, besides, I want to get more job experience anyway.
Some days before the con my friends had decided to also attend Matsucon with me. Firith happened to be visiting in the north and got interested and of course Sacchan tagged along – and so did her little brother, Joni. Sacchan and Joni also applied to be a part of the con work force and they both got in as well!
We packed our stuff and left for Oulu on Friday afternoon. Much to our misfortune the cheap bus tickets, which we had been eyeing for the past few days, had gone up in price now that the departure date was close. We all felt incredibly dumb and frustrated – we should have ordered them earlier because they were at half price! Some of our company were about to call it quits because they couldn't afford to pay the full bus price. We started looking into other bus companies and, after some desperate googling, we found a site selling bus tickets to Oulu and there were some really limited "online prices" left, aka cheaper rides – our saving grace! I need to mention that this was less than 24 hours before we would have to depart and thus it was super hard to find anything that wasn't full-price. The thing is that this site showed and sold tickets to many different bus companies and we, sadly, had to split up to be able to get cheaper rides for everyone because there weren't enough cheap tickets for the same bus. So yeah, me and Sacchan took one bus (it had two cheaper tickets left) and Firith had to take the next one (only one cheap ticket left) that arrived 30 minutes after ours. Joni took the train.
Luckily there wasn't that much of a time difference and once me and Sacchan arrived at Oulu we just sat down and waited for Firith to show up. Time went by rather quickly and once we all were gathered (except Joni, who took a later evening train) we had to walk with our ridiculous amounts of luggage to our sleeping place. I had five bags to carry, I shit you not – my standard shoulder bag, my big main bag, two camera bags and a tripod bag. My shoulders died.
Later on Joni arrived by train and we all went out again to meet up with him, so that he wouldn't get lost. We found out that the con's sleeping accommodation wasn't available for the night between Friday and Saturday (aka where Joni was supposed to sleep) and so we had no choice but to sneak him into our sleeping place as well. :'D It worked out fine.
|Matsucon's main hall (aka Dealer's Hall).|
I had previously switched my cellphone's clock to Finnish time because otherwise it would be hella trippy; I mean, Swedish time is one hour behind and it's my default time that I live by. So yeah, with my clock showing the proper time it was easier to function on the morning. I can't remember when exactly I woke up but I remember that Sacchan's first work shift started earlier than mine and thus she left first.
Good thing with Matsucon is that even the con workers were allowed to cosplay, at least as long as your con badge and your face was visible at all times. I had experienced huge indecisions when it came to deciding on who to cosplay, hence why I didn't post any cosplay plans prior to the con; my original plan was to cosplay Satoru Kamio from Gingitsune but that costume's debut will be post-poned for a later event. I decided, very last minute, to get some use for my Sharingan lenses and threw together an original kimono outfit for Itachi Uchiha from Naruto. Before deciding on Itachi I had gone through all possible candidates but most got ruled out because of one reason or another – most commonly being either too warm, too bothersome for a small con, too cold or in need of repairs and/or update.
|Dealer's Hall seen from above.|
Inside Matsucon I went straight for the info desk and received my worker badge. My first work shift would begin at 11:30 local time and I had some time to spare before that; I went around to check the layout of the con, to get an idea where the workshops and panels could be etc. I must say that Matsucon felt well arranged and the building's potential was used well too. Despite being a small first-time con it didn't feel slow and dull. I was quite impressed.
|My con worker badge. |
Note: photo was taken on Sunday, hence casual clothes.
The Dealer's Hall was located in the big open main hall of the building and it was in the best possible place. There were the usual merch sellers you'd expect (a candy/ramune seller, plush sellers, figurine sellers etc) but also some stands that sold books and such and yes, I mean normal books, not manga. I went to Matsucon with the mindset that I wouldn't buy anything... but I bought stuff anyway. Oops.
|A part of the Dealer's Hall seen from above.|
|Matsucon's second floor, with a view over the main hall.|
|The rhythm game room.|
We tried playing the original Turtles game on NES, since it was free at the moment – can I just say that it was salty? It was horrible, the game crushed us no matter what we did. xD
|A small part of the video game room.|
|People playing the newly released Zelda game, Breath of the Wild!|
|Yeah, we understood that we're at Matsucon.|
Cosplayer: Shiro Samurai (Itachi Uchiha)
Photo editor: Shiro Samurai
Once it got dark outside we decided that we had seen enough for the day and went back to our sleeping place. We didn't stay all the way until the con closed – most of us wanted to take off our cosplays before that and no one felt like returning for the last hours once we were out of costume. I must say that it was a relief to get the makeup off my face and lie down in the bed! Oh and yeah, everyone except me (because my back was hurting) went outside to go get some hamburgers.
We tried to go to sleep sorta early so that we'd be fresh and lively on the morning; it was especially important for Joni to go to sleep early because he was working in the sleeping accommodation and got the worst possible working hours, from 03:00 to 10:00. I was hoping he'd be fine because, after all, he's the youngest of us all.
Sunday morning came. I didn't feel like rewearing Itachi again and I had no other costume with me so yeah, casual gear it was. Sacchan also went casual for the same reasons as me but Firith wore Ayame Sohma from Fruits Basket, mainly because he had a Furuba themed panel to hold.
|Matsucon's second-hand stand. 'Matsukirppis'.|
|Second-hand manga pockets for sale.|
It didn't feel fair at all and I went to complain to the person responsible for making the work schedules. The schedules got changed so that I had 2 panels less but yeah, one of those got cancelled anyway so it didn't really help me much, to be honest. ._. Oh well, I did my 7 remaining panels with honor, although it was really stressing me out at times – mainly because getting good, sharp photos in those less-than-stellar light conditions isn't a given and it makes matters worse when you have really limited time, aka approximately 10-15 minutes per panel before I had to move to the next one or I wouldn't have enough time to photograph all two/three panels before they'd end. I'm also that kind of careful person who wants to do things properly and as perfectly as possible so yeah, I felt like I was almost forced to underperform/lower my standards to have enough time. :/
I must mention that Saturday was more evenly balanced when it came to photographer work shifts. Sunday, not so much.
|Books for sale in the Dealer's Hall.|
|Artist's Alley corridor.|
|One of the Artist tables. :)|
|Close-up of some of the merchandise.|
|Dealer's Hall merch. Notice the Pokémon cards.|
|Dealer's Hall merch.|
|Big wall scrolls. The Ōkami themed ones tempted me.|
|Dealer's Hall stand selling really mixed stuff. Notice the Ginga plushes.|
|A merch stand also sold video games!|
Before we knew it the con was ending – the first Matsucon was over. I don't remember whom it was in our group who first got word of it but someone, perhaps Joni or Sacchan, heard that once the con closed con workers could go and take home leftover bread bags from the Green Room. Of course, as a poor and constantly hungry student I went up there and hauled several bags of rieska with me; Joni did the same because fuck yeah rieska!! 8D Rieska is one of the best breads ever, lol. It's a Finnish flatbread, often made by barley. And yes, this is totally why this summary's title is rieska mafia – me and Joni were the glorious rieska mafia. Sacchan was a filthy bread roll peasant because she went too late, aka all the rieska were gone. :D
We headed back to my aunt's place, packed our stuff, played some Mario Kart 8 (or more like, watched Joni play and rage) on Wii U and soon enough we almost ran late for the bus and had to powerwalk to the bus station. Sadly Firith had to leave for the south on Monday and stayed in Oulu because he had an early morning train back. Miss you!
Okay so, Matsucon was a pleasant experience. A small con that didn't quite feel like a small con, in a good way. It was well arranged in general (save for my crappy work schedule on Sunday, lol) and everything seemed to run smoothly, at least from what I could see. Of course some panels were cancelled at the last minute and such but that's never really the con's fault. There were plenty of activities and stuff to do if you got bored and Pohjankartano's facilities were used cleverly. I don't have much more to say, I'm looking forward to future Matsucons and to see how they'll evolve. One of the better small cons in the north, in my opinion.
Before I end this post, here's my con loots:
|Yukimura plush, Pokémon cards, a wolf magnet|
from the Artist's Alley, a 'lucky Omanyte' and some
free Pokémon Go team pins, also from AA.
Thanks for reading this summary! ^_^
Shiro Samurai out.
Shiro Samurai out.