July 31, 2017

Närcon 2017 – I lost my kigurumi virginity

*insert witty greeting here*

I'm back home from Närcon and currently going through the con hangover, lol. For those not in the know, Närcon is Sweden's largest convention and every year it's held during the last full weekend of July in Linköping, which meant that this year it landed on 27-30 July. ^_^ 
Närcon actually sold out their tickets this year (which I don't think they've done a lot before?) and so I read somewhere that they estimated that there would be approximately 10 000 visitors. In any way, it's a really big convention in Scandinavian standards and actually more like a festival than a convention.

Before I get to the summary I want to say that this is a really photo-heavy post (60+ images) and the fun thing is that during the con I always felt like I took really few actual con photos. :'D

Pre-con

Närcon for me started on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday before the con. Firith had come over on Tuesday and I packed all my stuff on the same day. I'm always late with this. We quickly decided that the night would be an allnighter since by the time the clock had passed midnight we were still up oops and we had to wake up at 3:00 in the night, at the latest, to make sure that we had plenty of time to walk to the bus station to take the bus to Piteå. No way am I sleeping less than 3 hours and waking up all fresh and ready to walk to the other side of town. xD

Start of the journey: walk to the bus station à la midnight sun.
We were pretty dead once we got to the bus station because yeah, heavy luggage is heavy. We had plenty of time to spare (better be too early than too late) so we just sat outside and chilled. The bus came at 4:40 local time and we jumped in. Most of the bus trip went by just chatting about randoms because, weirdly enough, we were surprisingly non-tired at this point. :D
When we got to Piteå the clock was pretty exactly 8:00 and the reason we went to Piteå was because we had planned a carpool with Vicktor, one of my con friends, and Piteå was the earliest place where he could pick us up. Once we got out of the bus I pretty instantly spotted him and me and Firith walked over to his red car, dumped our stuff in it and began our journey even more southwards.

Obligatory roadtrip photo. Starring the
Höga Kusten Bridge, of course.
The trip went well, except that my extreme tiredness from the lack of sleep kicked in after 12:00 something. xD We ate pizza along the way and I don't actually remember so much from the trip itself, except that me and Vicktor talked a lot about LARPing.

It was pretty late when we arrived at Linköping and, before anything else, we headed straight to Närcon to claim our con tickets in advance – it makes it so much more comfortable because then, once the con officially opens, you don't have to stand in line to get your ticket and you can just walk past the line through a different entrance.

Närcon 2017 con ticket, featuring origami design.
Once we all had our tickets (which went really quickly) we drove to a Scandic hotel nearby, where Firith was staying. He jumped out of the car and then Vicktor took me to my sleeping place – my big sister's apartment. You see, my big sister is moving to Germany really soon and this was my last chance to bunker at her place during the con stay, so of course I took the opportunity!
I bid goodbye to Vicktor and dragged all my stuff to big sister's living room, where I would sleep. I laid out all my stuff on the tatami floor and then I slowly spread it everywhere, lol. Don't we all? xD
For a couple hours or so I went through my stuff, prepped it for the con morning and then big sister warmed me some leftover food and then we spent some time together, mainly me watching her play Horizon: Zero Dawn on PS4.

Thursday

The first con day dawned. It was mission impossibru to get out of bed as early as I had hoped. :'D I don't think I managed to get out of bed before the clock was close to 10-ish, lol. Big sister was interested in tagging along to go check out Närcon (you could buy one-day tickets at the entrance) and so, to make my life easier on the same go, she followed with me and acted as a guide on how I should do to get to Campus as effectively as possible. To be honest I was really scared about how I would get to the con by myself since I don't know the town at all and yeah, at one point it looked like I'd have to bike there. 

Walking down this lovely river road...
... until it starts looking like a town. Notice the ship, it's actually
a bar and bistro. So cool!
She showed me the way to Resecentrum (aka Centralstation, the train & bus station) and we took bus number 12 to Campus, aka were Närcon was held. The first bus literally left when we were in front of it (we ran like mofos!) and so we had to wait approximately 30 min for the next one, lol. I also had to inform Firith that I would be late for our planned meetup outside C-huset, Närcon's main building. You see, Närcon consists of several university buildings and a large outdoor area and it's really hard to find people, unless you plan a meetup with them.

Once we got to the con I waited at the entrance until big sister managed to purchase her one-day ticket. Once she was done she went her own way while I went to find Firith. We had promised to change into cosplay together since he needed to borrow some of my face cleaning supplies and I needed help with putting on my cosplay. And yes, I decided to cosplay on Thursday but because I couldn't come up with a cosplay –and because Firith had an extra cosplay that he couldn't wear at the con– I ended up borrowing his Teutonic Knight Prussia (Hetalia) costume on a whim. xD I don't mind, Prussia is pretty cool haha. I even had red lenses ready because of my Kashuu cosplay.

Photographer is Firith, I'm of course the cosplayer and
I also edited the photo.
It took forever for me put on my cosplay and I messed up my makeup and had to redo half of it. <_> Accidentally put too much primer and my foundation just slided around, it was horrible. We tried having a quick photoshoot but it didn't work out and we both were stressed and were just fumbling around the whole day; it was a mess. On Thursday we didn't get to do much, in other words, and mainly just walked around and died from the heat. I actually don't have any clear memories of what we even did, except for just checking out the con briefly and then just... fumbling even more.

Närcon's upper outdoor area. Food courts were here etc.
Same as above, different angle. Närcon's grill in the background.
This food stand sold medieval pizza and more, really cool!
The main "campus road", leading to the sleeping accommodations etc.
As you can see it was a really sunny day and –even though these con pics are actually from Friday– Thursday's weather was pretty much the same. I didn't take any general con pics on Thursday.

One thing that I do remember was raging at the bubble tea prices. Warning for foul language: you see, last year it cost 50 SEK, which is already really expensive and yeah, this year it was just... disgusting. They had split the cost (clever little shits...) and marked the price with small letters below the tea flavors and the bubble flavors separately, which meant that you paid 55 SEK for just the tea itself and then an additional 5 SEK for the bubbles – in other words, you had to pay separately to get fucking bubbles in your fucking bubble tea, which upped the price to 60 SEK!?! I mean, if I want bubble tea I want it with the fucking bubbles and why in Odin's balls should I pay extra for those when it's the damn point with the drink?? >_> Yeah, instant boycott for me.

Närcon's outdoor map.
At some point big sister called me and said that she was hungry and asked if we wanted to eat together. Of course me and Firith agreed and then we ended up going to that little pasta house outside Närcon's area. Me and Firith shared a chicken pasta and, well, the price was decent for the amount of food that you got but I must give major minus points for the fact that the pasta itself wasn't salted. I demand salt in my life. :C

I don't have so much more to say about Thursday, really. Except that I left kinda early because big sister got tired and wanted to go home and I followed with her because yeah, I got a free bus ride (would have to pay had I gone alone cuz she had the bus card) and didn't have to worry about getting lost on the way back. ^^"

Friday

Again I didn't manage to get up early; I swear I'll never be a morning person. :)) I packed my Yasusada cosplay into a big backpack that my sister let me borrow, put the shoes and some other stuff into a plastic bag, took my camera bag with me and left for the con – this time alone. I was hesitating a bit but luckily the way to the bus station was pretty easy, as long as I followed the same river path that we took yesterday.
I think I arrived at the con around 12-ish and met up with Firith again outside C-huset. He was wearing his Cob cosplay from the Ghibli movie Tales from Earthsea, except for the makeup and the wig, for the same reason as yesterday. Again we raided a toilet together and I let him use my face cleansers etc and helped with untangling the wig and drawing on Cob's face markings. :D I then put on my Yasusada cosplay and at least this time I was spared from a makeup disaster, although it took a really long time anyway.

Sadly no Yasusada photoshoot, but here's
a cosplay selfie as proof that I wore him. x)
Once we were finally done we headed out to photoshoot Firith's cosplay immediately. He had earlier told me that he had seen a Therru cosplayer when he arrived at the con and we both were like "omg wtf bbq!" because neither of us expected to run into any other Tales from Earthsea cosplayers! All along during the photoshoot Firith was complaining about how Cob's shoes were murdering his feet and he just wanted to take the costume off, but the only reason he kept it on was in hopes of running into the Therru cosplayer again. The chances were slim because there's a lot of people at the con and many different buildings they could be in.
We had a lot of trouble with the photoshoot because the sunlight was so harsh that my camera literally didn't want to photograph properly; I tried all kinds of settings and manually adjusting and everything was just... shit. I eventually got fed up with it, gave up and then Firith told me to try his Canon instead. Fun thing here is that my camera (I'm Nikon master race~) has always been the better one during our cosplay shoots but now, weirdly enough, his Canon worked much better. My camera only took selfies decently, as you can see. We were both like "omg what the heck the Canon is beating the Nikon??" but at least we got some good shots. XD

I didn't photoshoot Yasusada because of the intense sunlight and yeah, I was so uneasy anyway during the whole day. I also didn't wear my proper juban (ideal one for photoshoot) because of the heat and instead wore a martial arts under kimono so yeah. ^^" I must admit that cosplaying cute/young characters is a bit out of my comfort zone, I'm so used to doing certain character types that I have a hard time acting all cute and innocent...

This kiosk stand (selling lemonade, candies etc) was my favorite
because they played awesome metal music, loud! \m/
Josbaren (juice bar), as popular as ever.
The rave forest. I never saw it in action but I assume it was a success.
Last year it was in a different place so I was a bit confused, tbh. xD
Spiderman bouncy castle!
If Thursday was fumbling day then Friday was fumbling deluxe. A lot of the time was spent just trying to make ourselves sort-of-comfortable in our cosplays and then Firith got blisters and shit on his feet and had to go to Närcon's first-aid room ('sjukstuga' in Swedish) and later on he had to go back to the hotel to change out of costume. I spent quite some time waiting for him to come back and Friday was just... all over the place. It went by really quickly and I just felt so out of sync somehow, if that makes sense? I couldn't really find the time to settle down and actually enjoy the con.

At some point we went to check out Artist's Alley, which was located in Key-huset, quite far away from the rest of the main buildings. If I'm honest few things interested me, mainly because I'm not into the current popular fandoms at all. I dislike most of them, lol. It felt like a lot of the artists were selling stickers and prints and those are among the things that interest me the least... ^^"

Artist's Alley, pretty much entrance view.
It was really cool to see Humon Comics in the Artist's Alley thou! They were actually one of the Guests of Honor and told me that they had sold out most of the pins (all the Nordics!) and all the posters early. I know that big sister managed to grab a poster but I only had time to check the table on Friday and by then most of the cool stuff was gone. xD I found a really rad Gandalf Odin pin that I bought – gotta have something!

Humon Comics' table at Artist's Alley.
I found this one artist called Afternoonfika who was selling absolutely adorable stuff! I just loved the art style, it's so freaking cute! ;w; I stayed and chatted at the table for quite some time and both the sellers were super nice and friendly! I ended up buying phone charms for both me, Sacchan and Frozen Angel. Just couldn't resist the cuteness.

Here's three photos of the items that Afternoonfika was selling: 

Super kawaii charms!
Big prints/posters!
And stickers! The Eeveelution set is so cute~
I adore the focus on marine animals, I've always had a thing for those! When I was a kid I drew comics with fishes and crabs and it kinda just stuck with me. xD

One thing that I noticed that was different on this year's Närcon when compared to earlier Närcons was that there were more big decorations and stuff that you could interact with and such. It gave a really comfy and nerdy feeling!

This Batman statue was in C-huset, close
to some Finnish dealers.
Totoro!!
And this huge Onix! It served as a meeting point for Pokémon fans.
Darth Sidious statue close to C-huset.
There were more of these character decorations as well, like those green pipes from the Super Mario universe that you could actually climb up on and then go inside the pipe. My big sister actually fooled around in one of those and asked me to record it. xD Närcon overall had a lot of activities and stuff that you could do (like borrow water pistols!) but sadly I'm such an awkward, shy and boring person that I didn't utilize anything of it. :'< A random congoer actually tried to spontaneously "fake shoot" me with some kind of rubber band (not sure) in one of the merchandise rooms and because I didn't react on it I got the comment "you're boring". Well gee thanks, I totally needed to hear that right then because I was actually feeling anxious. -.- I wish I was more spontaneous and social but I'm such an introvert and I can't help it...

I don't remember exactly when but at some point towards the evening I changed out of cosplay. Big sister is awesome and let me borrow her Rilakkuma kigurumi and so I had at least something to wear instead of just being a filthy casual. x) I had never worn a kigurumi before, shit is lit!

Bear power!
We didn't do anything particular on Friday either, except that I finally started playing Pokémon Go actively! I'm still struggling with understanding some of the basic things but I'll get there!

I ordered a yakiniku from Yatai (by ShinNori) for dinner. Really good!
Regarding Närcon's overall atmosphere it is like a festival more than a convention, as I mentioned above. It's very welcoming and people are generally kind and helpful and ready to make new friends.
I did feel like there were fewer food options this year (or maybe I just missed them) and some sellers that I saw last year weren't at Närcon this year etc. I also didn't bother to photograph the merchandise since probably like 80% of what was being sold was the same or similar to last year's, so if you want to see the potential merchandise more in detail then just check out my last year's con summary.

One of several outdoor merchandise sellers.
Now this was something I didn't see last year!
Really creative painting additions, haha.
We stayed at Närcon until something close to midnight before I took the bus back to my sister's place. I was nervous about walking all the way back alone and it was really dark outside, which makes my paranoia kick in even more. I've always been really afraid of walking outside alone at night. It just creeps the shit out of me and it's even worse if there's someone walking behind me etc. Luckily I didn't bump into anyone but sadly I turned too early and ended up getting lost. I had to activate roaming mom don't kill me and use Google Maps to find my way back to sister's place. Once there I spammed the Pokéstop in the backyard until my bag got full and then I went to sleep. xD

Saturday

I think I woke up slightly earlier than on the previous days – personal success! :D
No but really, I went to eat breakfast and such as normal and then I looked out of the window and noticed that the weather was much cloudier than on the past days. On Saturday I had originally planned to wear Kashuu but already on Friday evening I made a Twitter post saying that my back was hurting so much from carrying around a heavy backpack for two days in a row and now it even looked like the weather would be against it as well. The thing with Kashuu is that, unlike my Yasusada cosplay, Kashuu's outfit consists solely of vintage silk and thus rain could easily damage the outfit and yeah, I've had to deal with water damage/stains before on silk kimono and it's not fun. I also wasn't sure if I could be bothered to do heavy makeup three days in a row – I guess I'm getting old, lol.
It's a shame because I was really looking forward to wearing him but I don't want to risk anything with such unstable weather and my back was seriously hurting so much over the course of Saturday that, by the end of the day, I was praising all lords in the heaven that I didn't have a heavy backpack with me on said day – I barely managed to walk home that night and I had light packing. But more about that later, I'm getting ahead of me!

View of the outdoor area close to C-huset. Notice the dark clouds.
A part of the "campus road". Notice the guy selling cotton candy! :D
There is always room for Darth Vader.
I got to Närcon and I was wearing the same Rilakkuma kigurumi as yesterday evening. The weather was chillier than on the previous days which, at least for me, was welcomed because I didn't have to toast. The more of the day that passed the happier I was with my choice of not bringing a cosplay – now I finally had time to settle and properly look through what the con had to offer. In other words, I finally got rid of that disorganized and spaced out feeling. I guess it was partly related to stress and anxiety because I've noticed that, over the years, I've had a harder time to enjoy cosplaying without being horribly self-conscious and it, in turn, sucks out the enjoyment of the hobby and the convention itself. I wish to get out of this circle but it's really hard and yeah, I might one day just write a deep-ass post about this whole situation...

This year I remembered to check out A-huset, were all the
gaming happened. Here you see the rhythm/dance games.
Spel & Sånt were the only sellers at A-huset.
Old arcade games!
More games!
A video game room with everything from the original 8-bit Nintendo
to the new stuff! I wanted to play but all the consoles were taken. :'(
Same room as above but viewed from the other side.
A-huset seemed really nice and I would have stayed there and played if there was a console that wasn't taken, lol. It was also quite hot in there (bad air circulation) and it... smelled. But seeing all those retro consoles was really tempting, I must admit. Video game rooms are always so busy whenever I visit them, it's so hard to find a free console to play on and thus I rarely bother to stay and wait because who knows how long the people playing will keep on playing – it could be 15 minutes and it could be for the rest of the day.

Most of my time I spent either in C-huset or walking around outdoors. On Saturday I was inside for the most part because yeah, the weather was not the best. I didn't attend any kind of panels, shows or such and that's simply because I'm a boring person and I'd rather just hang around and enjoy myself than sitting still for hours in a room and listening to someone babbling on. I'm surprised though by how few familiar faces that I spotted during Närcon – I hardly saw any of my friends?

C-huset inside, after entering from the main entrance.
Bandai Namco's booth.
One of several corridors filled with merchandise dealers.
C-huset is basically a maze of corridors.
Here people played TCG, tournaments etc and chilled.
On Saturday I did most of my geeky purchases, which meant that I spent a fair amount of time going through the myriad of rooms in C-huset were all the sellers were. Even though I've been to Närcon many years I still manage to get lost in C-huset's corridors every year, it's amazing. xD

I must mention that I saw a fair amount of sellers who were selling obviously counterfeit goods. There was this one room with My Little Pony and Pokémon merch and while I can't say much about the authenticity of the pony stuff the Pokémon stuff was so obviously fake that I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I regret that I didn't take any photos but I remember a "pokédoll" styled ugly-as-fuck Eeveelution (I think it was Leafeon) that appeared really squished and it literally had its eyes way under its mouth and nose – it looked retarded, to say the least. Another funny one was a Haunter plush, its body was deformed and looked more like a Boo from the Super Mario universe, except with Haunter's color, face and additional arms on it. xD I recognized several of the plushes from stock images I had seen Chinese eBay users use, like Latias and Latios.
There was also a normally sized Togepi plush which looked pretty okay, at least when compared to some of the less fortunate fakes, but what instantly gave it away as a bootleg was that it had the freaking pokédoll tag, which is normally reserved only for Pokémon plushes with a really specific shape and proportions. Geez.
The worst part was that I overheard some people behind me talking with a tone of voice that implied that they were gonna buy something from said seller. I cringed.

I just wonder how come Närcon hasn't banned this seller already? I'm pretty sure I saw them last year too... (and the worst part: it's not like they were the only seller selling fake goods)

Eeveelution plushies. One of the few apparently legit sellers.
Random manga and such. Notice the Batmanga. :DD
Cute self-made amigurumi items.
Authentic The Mountain brand t-shirts!
Geeky doormats, now that's new!
More doormats.
T-shirts. I was a bit tempted by the Ōkami one.
Small cute purses.
Retro games galore!
I found Metapod merchandise. My life is now complete.
This skirt was badass. If I wore skirts I'd wear the shit out of it.
There was a room with a shitlot of figurines. The Monster Hunter
ones were especially interesting for me.
Another kinda weird merchandise story that I have is that on Thursday I bought a Pokémon TCG blister pack from a seller for 115 SEK, which is pretty dang cheap. On Saturday I went there again and this time they had the other foil card from the same blister set (I bought Yveltal first and then they had Xerneas later) and now the guy told me a completely different price, 140 SEK, for the exact same item? Weird. Oh well, it was still cheaper than on an ordinary store and kinda rare since it was an older blister by now so yeah, I bought it anyway.

Once I was done with all my purchases me and Firith mainly just sat outside and chilled; we had fun watching some people dance to some older songs that were playing outside C-huset. It sounds dumb to say it but for the whole convention we pretty much did nothing but walk around and check everything. We didn't participate in any kind of activities and still had a good time. xD I do want to try out fun things but as I said earlier, I'm way too shy and awkward to actually do it.

So awesome to see a tournament on an old-school game!
This was a new thing this year! Free entrance too.
One thing that made me happy to see was the Kimono de Jack room! It's a global community for kimono lovers and Sweden has their own KdJ group, just like many other countries do. I've been part of one of Umeå's KdJ meetups and it was really cool to see that there's active people even in the south. The room was filled with real kimono, obi, accessories needed to wear them and a lot of information on where to buy kimono, how to spot fake kimono etc. Really good stuff!

Kimono de Jack room, seen from the corridor.
Kimonos...
... and even more kimonos.
Did I say there were kimonos?
It was quite crammed inside and I had to watch how I moved so that I didn't accidentally bump into any precious garments, haha. I stayed and talked with the two ladies (who of course were dressed up in kimono) and we had a nice chat. Really friendly people and willing to teach any newcomers into the hobby! I really hope that they'll be back at the next Närcon too!

I left Närcon around 22-ish something and Firith came with me to Resecentrum. Saturday was our last day at the convention. Once I left him at the train station I walked back home along the same river road again. I remember when I passed a crossing that a hedgehog walked with me. xD Once I had walked a fair amount of the river road I saw that there were two men in front of me. I felt the anxiety kick in because the other one was smoking and had a bike and they seemed to be drunk. I really hate to deal with drunk people because of previous bad experiences. Once I passed them, still wearing ym Rilakkuma kigurumi, I hear one of the guys say something about a rabbit. They stop me and start asking if I'm from that cosplay thing, what my name is, where I'm going, how old I am etc and I'm just trying to get away as soon as possible. The smoking guy even tried to shake my hand (which I ignored) and tapped my shoulder and it was just really uncomfortable. They even asked what my sister's name was (because I said I was going there, of course not saying the actual street or anything) and to which I came up with a completely random name. He then insisted me to tell the surname too and I just went "eh.." and felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable. He kept insisting and I finally just said that I don't like giving out names to strangers, to which he finally took the fucking hint. He also asked my age and I lied about that too, saying an age younger than I am. Fun fact was that he replied to it "you look very young for being [fake age]". I swear no one believes me when I tell them my actual age, lmao.
He finally let me go after some minutes and I walked away from there, continuing back home to my sister. I soon enough noticed footsteps behind me (that weren't there before) and I almost freaked out. I glanced behind me and noticed a man walking behind me, some meters away. I sped up because I wasn't sure if it was the same drunk guys or some other random man (it was really dark outside) but thankfully, once I turned, he just continued walking straight. I swear I'm fucking paranoid of walking alone at night...

Once I got back to big sister's apartment I started packing all my stuff, warmed some leftover thai soup for food and then went to shower and sleep. On the morning Vicktor would pick me up and we'd drive homewards again, starting from 8:00. I don't have anything particular to say about the trip home so I'll end my summary here. I'm probably forgetting to mention some stuff but I don't care at this point, I just want to get this summary out. x)

~~~~~

 Okay so, overall Närcon was a pleasant experience and I would go there again next year, as per usual. I didn't quite enjoy it as much as last year but that's probably because I was fumbling around a lot and it took a long time for me to settle and get into the proper con mood, so to say. I also feel like this year's Närcon was like a slightly watered-down version of last year's, I can't really pinpoint why but that's the feeling I got – something just felt off and less exciting. Then again, it can very well just be all inside my head because I wasn't in the most peppy condition ever and all the back pains that accumulated over the days of carrying stuff around long distances made things worse. I also barely found any of my friends and it was a bit cumbersome to sleep almost 5 km away from the convention because it meant I couldn't stay as long as I wanted. I guess I got used to the freedom of being in the camping. xD

~~~~~

And before I end this post here is a picture of my Närcon loots (except for an InuYasha patch that I forgot to photograph!):

A Flareon plush, Pokémon TCG, a Hetalia keychain
and a Flareon phone charm from Artist's Alley.
Thank you for reading my summary!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for fetching me the desired merchandise! I'm sad to hear that your Närcon wasn't the best this time around though :/

    I'm also -to some extent- afraid to walk alone in the dark but I've noticed that the way you carry yourself/let your confidence "show" can really help you at times, has helped me. As you know, I've had some really uncomfortable moments too in the past, so I can relate to how it feels when the anxiety/fear kicks. It's horrible is all I can say. Sadly I wasn't there to help you out :/

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