April 25, 2017

Euran mangapäivä 2017 – The event that time forgot

Yo yo peeps ~

I'm back home from my quick trip to southern Finland. Time flew by really fast and, despite sitting for almost 20 hours in a bus (and one hour on a train!) in total, for the sake of attending this 4-hour event, I dare say that it was worth it. Euran mangapäivä (Eura's manga day) might not have been big and impressive by any means but it was fun.
For those who missed it I mainly attended this little "mini-con" to help out a good friend in need, namely Firith, who was the main responsible for the event and also the one who resurrected Euran mangapäivä from the dusty hole it had been playing dead in since 2013. If not for him Euran mangapäivä would still belong in oblivion's hand...

Now let's get to the summary!

The event schedule and poster.
I started my journey southwards alone on Thursday, 20th April. I woke up early as shit on the morning, took my luggage and walked to the bus station on the other side of town. I swear I'm still not –and I'll never be– a morning person. I just don't understand how someone can wake up early and go to work all fresh and lively; my bed is the best place on Earth on the mornings...
The bus took me all the way to Oulu and there I stepped into another bus, Onnibus, where I'd sit for the next 8+ hours. I managed to grab a seat in the far back of the bus, which meant that I could lower the seat to maximum without having to worry about whoever was behind me being irritated by the course of action that I took – because there was no seat and thus no one behind me. #buscomfort

17:35 local time the bus arrived at Rauma, where Firith picked me up. I always imagined, for some reason, that his Ford was red but it's totally not red... my life is a lie. D: We put my stuff in the car but before we headed for his place we went to eat at the Hesburger next to the bus station, mainly because I hadn't eaten since like 04:00 on the morning/night (non-stop sitting in a bus) and was pretty much starving. Sometimes even a simple cheeseburger tastes godly.

Actually, we didn't go directly to Firith's home. He had some kind of boxing practice at a nearby gym so we headed there first. But guess what? On our way there we got some close encounters with a couple mooses – a female moose suddenly crossed the road a few meters in front of us, with a second younger one staying in the trench. Now that was nerve-wrecking! Thank lord the calf(?) didn't come or it would have bombed into the flank of the car. It's not like the first time it happens to me but it's always scary because mooses are some big-ass animals...
But yeah, we got to the gym safely. Firith started his practice while I basically just sat in a corner and watched him punch people meanwhile old Nightwish songs were blasting from the speakers and I was singing them from memory.

Once we finally got to Firith's place I dropped my stuff upstairs and I think the remainder of the day we just talked randoms and went to sleep. I got to sleep on his bed while he took the couch because it's so narrow. Good thing, because even in the bed I tossed around so much in my sleep that I hit down several items that were lying on the bedside table. Twice. I sleep like a starfish.

On Friday Firith was stressing like hell about the event. He's one hell of a stresser in general and I was just there like "chill dude, it'll be fine". I understand the pressure because he's had to do like 95% of all the things to make this event work in the span of a single month – that's pretty damn insane, especially because he's never been assigned this kind of role as a main organizer before. But yeah, my arrival meant that at least he could take one load off his shoulders, namely the photographer part.
To get some other things to think about Firith took me to the stable, where I got to ride a wagon pulled by a horse pony for the first time – freaking awesome experience! We also speed-visited a few of his friends, finished sewing the event banner and watched an episode of Vain elämää, mainly because it was Olli Lindholm's ('s singer and front man) day. The night we spent playing some Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and then we went to sleep... a little bit too late perhaps. Oh and yeah, we also visited a haunted house... or so they say.

Saturday morning was stress hell. :'D I underestimated the time it took to do my cosplay makeup for Itachi, my chosen cosplay for the event. We had to be at the library ("con building") one hour before the manga day would start and we also had to pick up Firith's friend Gure, who would also help with the event. I also couldn't find my violet nail polish anywhere, even though I was sure that I had taken it with me. Firith also had some cosplay stuff missing and oh lord, what a mess it was. xD We had to leave before I even had time to eat breakfast!

Everyone in our trio put on their costumes once we got to the library. There was a little cloakroom in the back entrance where we dressed. I helped Firith put on his original kimono Sasuke Uchiha cosplay – he had never worn hakama before and had no clue how to put them on. I borrowed the clothes for him so that we'd have matching traditional outfits for our Uchiha brothers.

Fun fact: Firith forgot* his tabi socks and I had accidentally taken two left foot tabi. xD Bad sock day, lol. Sukka irti. It felt really weird to have a left tabi sock on my right foot...
I also forgot** my nail polish at Firith's home meanwhile Firith forgot to remove his nail polish from his toes, which resulted in tabi- and shoeless Sasuke with colored toenails and Itachi without his signature dark violet nails.
* = they weren't actually forgotten. He had them with him, it's just that for the whole day they were hidden under Gure's bag in the cloak room. xD We only noticed it after the manga day was over.
** = or that's what I thought – it was in my bag all along (the same one the costumes were in), I just didn't search hard enough.

Uchiha bros.
Some kind of outfit selfie jutsu.
I guess most seasoned congoers would have been bored within minutes but for me this little anime event was a refreshing change of pace and a reminder of my first cosplay years – it felt at times like I had time-traveled back to 2009. Like, for real.
This kind of simple and unpretentious events have turned into a rarity in today's pressure-filled and all-the-more-ambitious con culture; I think I realized now how much I actually like these humble litttle events; there might not be much going on but it's the relaxed atmosphere that I seek.

The main entrance, seen from the inside.
Pretty much as soon as I had my costume on I needed to get out there and start photographing. I was under Firith's responsibility and my main task was to photograph the cosplay contestants and the event itself. Priority was given to photograph the cosplay contestants as soon as they showed up.
We actually had some sweaty moments because we got information that one of the cosplay contestants had cancelled during the day but, luckily, Firith had predicted this and we could still hold the cosplay competition. The remaining contestants all showed up – and this is where I felt the nostalgy. You see, we only had three contestants and they were all first-timers on the scene; for some this was their first anime event ever. ;u; Some of the costumers were so excited and/or nervous to be in front of a camera... and an audience, although reaaaaaally small.
I could barely keep myself in check and not just stand there and smile like a nostalgic old goon on pink fluffy clouds. I mean: no bigger-than-life armor cosplays required to stand a chance in the competition, no cosplay snobs, nothing – just young kids and teens trying cosplay for the first time.
100% pure joy.
I was not a very believable Itachi at times. I admit.

As you can see it was quite obviously a library.
Some shelves were pimped with anime figure cut-outs.
I'm a bit sad that I missed Firith's lecture about cosplay and bullying but truth is that just then I suddenly got interviewed by a local newspaper – I had not prepared for that! I was a bit nervous but it went fine I think; I felt a bit awkward afterwards... but I always do. I saw a photo of the newspaper in question afterwards, they even took a group photo of all the people who were dressed up back then. I guess whenever something different happens there will be a reporter somewhere.

Some manga to read ~
For those used to bigger conventions Euran mangapäivä doesn't have much to offer – there's no video game room, no anime karaoke and no shops whatsoever. But, because it was in a library, there was a shitlot of manga to read. I think I heard somewhere that the library had borrowed a lot of different manga series from other nearby libraries and also that some private persons had lent the library stuff from their own collections for the duration of the event. The manga selection was thus really large and, honestly, if I hadn't been working for all the 4 hours I would have been more than happy to just sit down on a sofa and read manga non-stop; there was so much to choose from and even some rarer titles!

Some improvement ideas for future Euran mangapäivä events would be a video game room and Artist's Alley – those are the ones that I value the most at conventions, especially smaller ones. ^^ Of course merchandise sellers are always nice too, although the library (assuming it would be held there in the future as well) would likely run into a problem called lack of space. Regarding video game rooms I love it when there's retro consoles to play.

"Adult manga" part of the library.
This reminds me that I need to watch the Wolf's Rain anime...
There was something for everyone. :D
The manga seemed to be mainly in either Finnish or English. I actually didn't have time to do anything but my photographing work because time went by so freaking fast! Nevertheless I enjoyed my time more than I'd thought and it was fun meeting some new people. Actually, at small events like this where there's only a handful of attendants it's easier to socialize with strangers – it's more close-knitted and thus comfy. I'm not sure how many attendants there were in total but I don't think there was much more than maybe 50 at most? Just a wild guess, of course.

They even had Samurai Deeper Kyo. ♥
I want to talk a little bit more about the cosplay competition: Firith asked me to help him with the judging of the cosplay competition and so I acted as a second judge. There was no pre-judging of the contestants (or whatever it's called in English, "ennakkotuomarointi") or anything – it was all really simple. The three cosplayers just walked to a particular spot at the library, posed and walked away. There wasn't even a scene or anything, it was in the middle of the library, lol. Then again, because of the low amount of entries and of attendants in general anything fancier would have been overkill. ^^" Before Euran mangapäivä started Firith had been asked to consider canceling the cosplay competition but he kept to it, saying that it was possible to hold if we got at least three competitors, which we got.

The cosplay competition judging standards weren't the usual ones that you see in the cosplay scene. We judged by these three requirements: character recognizability, character faithfullness and ingenuity/creativity when it comes to problem solving and prop making etc.
The competition was geared for first-timers and cosplayers without much previous experience, hence the different judging standards. It was allowed to participate in an outfit that was bought and/or not self-made, unlike on pretty much all other cons. Fun fact is that two of three competitors cosplayed with their real hair and one was a closet cosplay; in my mind I had time traveled all the way back to Kemin mangapäivä 2010! And, just to compare, I want to mention that on any convention nowadays –even small ones– it's pretty much required to have a self-made armor cosplay, a cosplay that lits up or anything else advanced to stand a chance in the cosplay competition by today's standards, even for a beginner. Cosplay has evolved so much since I started that Euran mangapäivä felt like a case of "the place that time forgot". And no, I absolutely don't mean this in a bad way and I also don't mean to bash the cosplay evolution – I think it's amazing how the skill level of cosplay has increased (thank internet) but I also think that it's really fascinating how Euran mangapäivä somehow wasn't affected by it, especially because it's so permeated even in all cosplay social medias etc. If you get my drift? It's worth cherishing – a reminiscent of the past.

You could borrow youth movies and cartoon series. :D
Of course there was Naruto manga.
An attendant reading manga in the "youth corner".
"Youth manga" in the corner. :)
It was really nice in a way because the target audience for the event was children around 7-15 years and we actually hit that really well. There were several young anime fans who had never been to any kind of convention or anime event before – I'm sure that Euran mangapäivä served as a safe first stepping stone for them. ♥ Some of the younger kids even came with their parents (incl. the youngest cosplay contestant) and it was really heart-warming to see how supportive the parents were of their young's interests. ;A; I mean, I know from experience that liking things such as anime, manga, Pokémon etc during shool years is often considered "different" from the norm and can lead to bullying if you're unlucky, like it did in my case. So yeah, seeing parents being so encouraging when their children want to dress up in dorky costumes really makes my day.

A part of the library.
Among the geeky attendants there were some ordinary library visitors as well, mainly old folks – they might have been surprised by the colorful kids walking around! In a way it was funny to see how everyday and event mixed together.
Of course it was quiet because duh, a library, but it was really comfy nonetheless. There was never a crowd or hard to move and, as you can see from the location photos, it was mostly empty. There was this one little separate room where some J-pop music etc was playing and there were some smaller shelves with manga (yes, manga was everywhere) and, in that room, there were often at least someone chilling and reading. Euran mangapäivä wasn't a flop in any way, it was just really slow-paced and modest.

Two of the cosplay contestants talking in the background.
Gure was in charge of the drawing workshop, which opened one hour after the event started. The event held a drawing competition and we actually got several entries! The competition was split in different age categories.
I'm a bit sad about that I missed out on photographing the drawing workshop when kids where actually drawing there; it was the most active during the first hours of the event when I was busy photographing the cosplay contestants. After the cosplay competition the workshop was quiet and when I got there Gure had already collected all the entries and was grading them.

Drawing workshop, aka "piirustuspaja".
Drawing contest entries. ^.^
Before I had time to sit down and chill Euran mangapäivä was already over. It feels like I just got there and then it was time to change out of costume again. :'D I remember especially well that Link cosplayer who was really fun to talk to!
After the event we drove back to Firith's and he told me that he was so relieved that the attendants liked it, even though he personally felt like he should have done more for the event. He had to hold the tears in when some of the kids and cosplay contestants personally came up to him and said things like "thank you for holding this event". I admit, I was taken aback by the genuine appreciation as well. ;_; It might not be anything big for the Finnish con scene or anything but for these young kids the experience was irreplaceable. That special feeling you get when you know that you helped a budding cosplayer to gain confidence and get a positive first experience of the hobby. ♥

I personally feel like Firith pulled it off really well, especially considering the sudden host improvisations he had to do for the cosplay competition etc. I mean, before the event he didn't even know that he'd had to host the competition, he learned it like a few minutes before the competition started – I would have freaked out, to be honest. He also had to arrange it all in a really short time frame so yeah, I'm proud that he didn't get a breakout and even prouder that we pulled through without any issues; I saw him fretting about it and really stressing himself up before the event so I was legit worried that he'd flip, good thing he didn't. I can understand though that because of his personality he feels like he underperformed but come on dude, this was your first time doing anything of the sort and the attendants, even though they were few, were more than pleased. If I were you, Firith, I'd give myself a big tap on the shoulder. You deserve it.

Firith told me to look for Okita... I found him! :D
After mangapäivä was over we were screaming for food – I saw pizza slices in my eyes. We went to fetch some take-away pizza from what Firith said was the best pizzeria in Eura; Gure also did a run to Alko to buy some white wine for them and a pineapple Breezer for me. Party hard! No but really, the pizza was pretty damn good. Sad thing it had time to cool down before we got back to Hinnerjoki. *sniff*
Actually Firith owed me a pizza because I untangled Gure's wig, which was actually Firith's long blue wig that Gure borrowed. xD

Late on the same night, at 22:55, I had to leave for my long trip back home. Sleeping on a bus is so damn hard and thus, once I arrived at Oulu 07:05 on Sunday morning, I was tired as shit. My train to Kemi wouldn't leave until 12:27 and so I ended up walking to the train station (one of the few places open on Sunday morning) and there I spurgu'd for a couple hours. For those not in the know, the word "spurgu" is Finnish slang for a drunk and/or homeless man and sometimes they can be found sleeping at train stations and the like. So yeah, I got my first spurgu experience and it was... interesting. xD

Yes, that's pineapple. On our pizza. Deal with it. 8)

So, what can I say? :D Euran mangapäivä, although only a 4-hour event that came back from the dead, was a really pleasant experience that laid the foundation for some kids that might be the future generation of cosplayers. It wasn't anything special for a seasoned congoer but for me it was a reminder of my first encounters with anime events – back in the old days I started with small humble events just like this one. It felt like I had time traveled back to the days when you could enter a cosplay competition without a wig and makeup and still potentially come out as the winner. It felt so surreal and amazing at the same time, like a blast from the past. A remainder of how far the cosplay scene has progressed and a look at what the roots once were – and in Eura we found the roots, untouched. 
Euran mangapäivä is what a first cosplay experience looks and feels like in a small town – a safe entry point to the much bigger cons on the other side of the field. At times it felt more like a cosplay meetup than an actual event and yet it never felt dull and boring. The atmosphere was relaxed, free from any kind of pressure and just simply precious.
In the future I hope that perhaps some of the (then former) first-timers will take the torch and carry it on, especially once Firith moves away. I sincerely hope that it will stay untainted from the pressures, cyber bullying and whatnot of the darker side of the cosplay community. Everything has a dark side. Euran mangapäivä felt so pure and free of worry – I haven't felt so relieved at an anime event for a long time. And even though I got paid for photographing the overall feeling of the event felt charity-like and humble. I enjoyed it and I would go there again. 
Ihanan vaatimaton ja hyvällä tavalla alkukantainen pikkutapahtuma.

Thanks for reading!

April 19, 2017

Euran mangapäivä 2017 – Plans!

Hello peeps!

So I got asked by my friend Firith –on short notice– if I could come and help him out with arranging the second Eura's manga day (Euran mangapäivä, in Finnish) or, more accurately, come as part of the work force. The first one was held way back in 2013 and, sadly, kind of fell into oblivion until Firith managed to bring it back into the light again. I figured why not help out a friend, and a budding Japanese culture event, in need? ♥

Event schedule & information.
Made by Firith.
So yeah, just like Kemi's manga day (Kemin mangapäivä) this is a small one-day event with free entrance. It's held on Saturday, 22nd April 2017, in Eura's main library. I got asked to come work as the con/event photographer, although I might have some other jobs to do as well, I don't know yet. :'D I'll know better once I get there! There was some talk that, if we get enough participants, I'll maybe join Firith as a second cosplay judge...

Oh and yeah, regarding what I'll cosplay it seems like I'll bring out my latest costume again – Itachi Uchiha from Naruto, kimono version. ^_^ Yes, the same one I wore at Matsucon where I, coincidentally, also worked as a con photographer.
I'm really hoping that lots of people will show up to this little 4-hour event! Come come ~

This is gonna be fun and yet another work experience under my belt. Early tomorrow morning I'll leave for the south so now it's high time that I start to pack my stuff! Good thing that the municipality will compensate my traveling expenses because otherwise it wouldn't be possible for me to go and help them with the event, seeing how far away I live. ^^" I'm really thankful for this opportunity ~

For more information about the event, check out Firith's blog post (in Finnish): http://shinigamiuchiha.blogspot.com/2017/03/euran-mangapaiva-ensimmaista-kertaa.html

Let's roll! inb4 sitting countless hours in a bus, lol.

April 9, 2017

Lens review: Neo Celeb Green

Hello peeps!

Today I will review the Neo Celeb Green circle lenses, a pair with a smaller diameter than average. These lenses have a dark limbal ring but are otherwise quite natural!

Let's go!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.2 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

These lenses are made by Neo, also known as Neo Vision and/or Neo Cosmo; I personally prefer to just call them Neo though. These are 2-tone lenses and it's good to know that genuine Neo lenses only come in 14.2 mm diameter or at least that's what I've read somewhere.

When seen from the vials the color looks like some sort of light moss green shade – some would perhaps call it dull or bland. It doesn't seem all that vibrant, nor impressive, but the color is actually quite pleasant once worn. It's a fairly natural green color; it doesn't really 'pop' or anything but it's there. I'd say that it's sophisticated, haha.

One lens in. Notice size difference.
As you can see the size boost is minimal I barely noticed the difference when I looked into the mirror with only one lens in and moved my gaze around. It's a realistic size but the thick black limbal ring will tell everyone that you're wearing colored contact lenses.

It's a bit hard to describe the design but it's quite simple and kind of a 'burst' print. It's nothing really unique or amazing but it has its own simplistic beauty. The Neo Celeb Greens would do just fine as a casual or everyday lens, if you wanted to wear them for that; they'd also work for some fancier occasions as well, although they might lack the vibrancy to be good cosplay lenses...

Lens photos incoming!
All photos taken by me during an April afternoon with a 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.

Bathroom light.
Facing a window in the corridor.
Flash photo.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Outdoors, with my back against the sun. Facing wall.
Outdoors, facing the sun while being under the building's shadow.
Outdoors, facing the sun.
I can't grade these properly in comfort because sadly the right lens was, in my case, defective. I tried to clean and reinsert it three times and every time it scratched my eye horribly and in the exact same way. It was always the upper part of my iris that stung and I barely managed to stand the pain long enough to take the photos. As soon as I was done taking the photos the defective lens flew straight into the trash. Defective lenses can happen to anyone and to any pair of lenses, sadly. :'(
The left lens was perfectly fine to wear and, honestly, pretty dang comfortable. I could easily wear it 3+ hours and barely felt it anywhere – no stinginess, teary eyes, redness or anything. It doesn't feel thick in my eye and it's overall really comfy. I'm sure that I could wear it for more than 5 hours if I wanted to.

So yeah, if you want small, comfortable and semi-realistic lenses with a notable limbal ring then pick these up! Of course I can't guarantee comfort because everone's eyes are different – but my sensitive and/or dry eyes didn't hate me for wearing these lenses. I've actually had a lot of problems with dry eyes lately so yeah, finding a comfy circle lens pair is getting harder and harder.

 Distance photo!

I've reviewed the Neo Celeb lenses in another color! Check it out: Violet

Short summary:

Color: 5/10
A light, somewhat muddy green. It's toned down and realistic. Calm and quite pretty in its own way.
Design: 7/10
Simple 2-toned design with a thick black limbal ring.
Opacity: 5/10
Decent. It makes my light blue-gray eyes appear green, although there's a slight blending effect.
Enlargement: 3/10 

Quite small. Good for those who don't want big dolly eyes.
Comfort: 7/10 
I can only grade for the non-defective lens, which was more comfy than your average lens. I could wear it over 3 hours with no issues, possibly much longer too. Doesn't feel thick in my eye.

Naturalness: 7/10
Ignore the black limbal ring and these aren't even too shabby in the natural department.

Thanks for reading!