March 15, 2017

Matsucon 2017 – Rieska mafia

Hello people!

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.
Matsucon is a new convention to grace the lands of Oulu. It's not like Oulu has a lack of conventions by any means (Animeseminaari, Kummacon, the new Matsucon and the occasional place-shifting Chibicon), especially when compared to other towns and cities in northern Finland but hey, I'd say that the more the merrier!

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).
Saturday morning came – the first con morning of this year for me!
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.
Once Firith and Joni were ready we all left for Pohjankartano. Good thing we had done some exploring the past night and so we found our way there easily... almost. It took us some time to find the front entrance because we had to go around the building.

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.
I had to photograph 3 different lectures/panels and after that I was free for the day, which means that after 13:30 I could reunite with my friends and finally go and check out the con more properly. Being a con photographer was pretty fun and well-suited for me, except that it was quite hard to get good photos sometimes because the panel rooms were either dark (no lights on), had shitty yellow lights or too harsh sunlight coming in from the windows. Oh well, you do what you can with what you have.

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.
I don't remember doing anything out of the ordinary on Saturday, except maybe for eating pancakes in the Green Room. Seriously, con pancakes were like the best thing ever! Oh and yeah, speaking of the Green Room – this was my first time ever being in one. You feel like a VIP when you enter that room. :DD There's food for the con workers and panelists there and it's a place to relax and store some of your stuff in; I left my winter shoes there while I put on my geta for my costume, for example. I didn't spend much time in there, except for picking up occasional snacks whenever I got hungry. I'm a bit sad that I missed both of the big group pizza orders, lol.

Matsucon's second floor, with a view over the main hall.
Most of the activity rooms and workshops were on the second floor – the karaoke room, rhythm game room, video game room, drawing room and so on. The Green Room, the Matsucon second-hand stand and the Artist's Alley were also located on the second floor. Also, at least one of the smaller panel rooms were on the second floor as well and I had to spend quite some time there during my work shifts.

The rhythm game room.
Me and Sacchan went to the gaming room at some point, just to see what consoles and games they had to offer. It was filled when we went there and I saw people playing both familiar and completely unknown games to me. The consoles ranged from the old to new – I must admit that I was really surprised to see a Super Famicom in there, aka a Japanese Super Nintendo!
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!
Most of the Saturday we just chilled, played our StreetPass games on the 3DS and joked around and just, well, had a good time together. I forgot to attend one of the panels that interested me but oh well, no can do. We also met Karri outside the con and chatted for a while, too bad he couldn't come inside because he didn't have any money to pay for the con ticket. :'( It was mildly freezing to stand outside in a corner and talk but at least his company makes it worth it and hey, I got back my wool blanket! You see, during Närcon last year Karri was with us and we camped at the con's camping area; after the con when we packed everything up Karri took my blanket into his rucksack because everyone else were out of space. Of course we forgot about it once we got back home and Karri ended up going home to Oulu with my blanket still with him. *thumbs up*

Cafeteria area.
I remember the first time I entered Green Room – I overheard something. You see, I just casually went inside to make bread for me and Sacchan (who were on her working shift) and as soon as I stepped into the room I heard a woman's voice saying something along the lines of "ja sä kuulet miten häpyhuulet lepahtavat." :'D I have no idea what the fuck the context was but it was hilarious nonetheless. Oh and yeah, for you non-Finnish peeps it translates to "and you hear how the labia is flapping." It stayed as a running joke with our group for the rest of the convention... even though we still didn't know the context.

Yeah, we understood that we're at Matsucon.
If I recall right, once both mine and Sacchan's working shifts were over for the day we went to have a quick photoshoot outside. Figured why not take some proof photos that we were in cosplay and do so while our makeup hasn't fallen to the floor yet. Sacchan had actually forgotten her planned cosplay at home and so we had to come up with an emergency cosplay out of stuff that I had in my closet. It was quite hard because of our height differences but I realized that I basically had the stuff needed for one of Kaoru's outfits from Rurouni Kenshin so yeah, that's what Sacchan cosplayed instead.

Cosplayer: Shiro Samurai (Itachi Uchiha)
Photographer: Sacchan
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.
Once we got to the con I was drowning in work shifts, like, no chill. At worst I had three overlapping panels/workshops that I had to photograph during the same time frame (30 minutes for the panels, 1 hour for the workshop). It was really stressful and, to put it bluntly, it looked like most of Sunday was poorly scheduled because almost everything was my work shifts. I mean seriously, on Sunday I originally had to photograph 9 panels/workshops (every single one overlapping with at least another one) out of 13 in total. What the heck, who thought this was a good idea?
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.
A majority of Sunday I was occupied with photographing panels. I was done after 14:30 and then I didn't have many con hours left to enjoy. Oh well, it was enough for me to splurge and buy a Ginga Densetsu Weed Yukimura plush – it was too cute to resist. I also went to take a more proper look at what the Artist's Alley on the second floor had to offer. The earlier times I had only quickly passed it by, without really focusing on what there was to buy.

Artist's Alley corridor.
One of the Artist tables. :)
Close-up of some of the merchandise.
I ended up buying that blue "lucky Omanyte" from the seller above – it was super adorable! It was the last blue one; I soon enough went to tell Sacchan about it and she asked me to please go fetch the pink one for her (she was still stuck on her work shift). I ran back to get the pink little tentacle Pokémon for my friend and stayed to chat with the artist. I got to know that the amazing bigass Gyarados plush that I saw a con attendant carry earlier was made by this seller! If I only had known earlier I would have bolted up to get one as soon as the con opened, omg. ;_;

Dealer's Hall merch. Notice the Pokémon cards.
I'm not sure if those Pokémon trading cards pictured above were from the seller's personal collection or not but I found some older cards in there of interest. I mainly collect the earlier Pokémon cards (especially gen 3 cards) and so I bought two on Saturday and a final one on Sunday – I'm happy to expand my collection. ♥ Now I'm not really a picky collector, meaning that I don't mind slightly bent corners, scratches etc and thus it didn't bother me that most of the cards weren't in pristine flawless ultimate collector condition, if you know what I mean. The prices were fair too. I want more like this in future cons!

Dealer's Hall merch.
Firith's Fruit Basket panel was one of the last panels on Sunday and of course, as a friend and as someone who enjoyed the Furuba manga, I went to watch it. It was an entertaining interactive panel, I don't have so much more to say. :) It was years ago I read the manga so I've had plenty of time to forget the smaller details of the story but yeah, glad I got some refresheners about the plot and its characters, haha.

Big wall scrolls. The Ōkami themed ones tempted me.
Dealer's Hall stand selling really mixed stuff. Notice the Ginga plushes.
I must admit that I'm tempted to buy more of the Ginga plushes... they're all cute and I'm a dog lover, okay? The Jerome plushes disappeared really fast and I didn't see any new ones up on Sunday, only on Saturday. There were some derpier ones that were sold for cheaper (25 €) but sadly no Weed one when I looked. The seller said that they had several different characters with crooked legs, derpy eyes or other smaller flaws but that they had sold almost all of them earlier; when I came by there was only a derpy Kyoshiro and a Hougen left. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll keep bringing some cheaper non-perfect ones to future cons, cheaper options are always nice.

A merch stand also sold video games!
I regret that I didn't pay attention to the video game seller earlier. I've been thinking about buying Pokémon Sun for a long time now but haven't done it yet because I'm waiting for a chance to get it cheaper. I noticed too late that this seller in the Dealer's Hall were selling the ordinary copies of Sun and Moon for 35 € each, which is the cheapest I've found so far (incl. online). Too bad that all the normal versions of Sun were sold out when I got there, but there was a single copy left of the fan edition for 40 €. I wish I had been there earlier... *sob*

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Consider dropping me a comment if you enjoyed this post. (´∀`○)
Maybe you got inspired, learned something new or you have some other things you want to tell me? Don't hesitate if you have something to say – I'd love hearing from you! ♥ Psst, I read everything even if I don't always answer ~