September 28, 2023

Nippori 2023 – Another tiny library con

 Hello weebs!

I ended up attending Nippori for the first time last weekend. It's a small library con in Pori, Finland, and that probably comes as a surprise to no one since the name of the event is clearly derived from mashing together 'Nippon' (Japan) and 'Pori' hah. Anyways, Nippori is a free event and the reason I didn't do any announcement on my blog prior is because this was a rather spontaneous last-minute trip – Firith asked me if I could accompany him as he didn't want to go alone due to Pori being quite an anxiety-inducing town. I agreed because it's always nice to go somewhere I've never been before, even if the town has a reputation of being a shithole (if you ask anyone in Rauma at least lol). 

Oh well, Nippori was held on 23rd September and it's a one day event that's split into two different buildings – the first half was held in Pori's library and the later half in Nuorisotalo (lit. 'youth house'). 
Let's get on with the summary!
(and a fair warning for foul language ahead)

Nippori entrance, also known as Pori's library.

I should maybe put a disclaimer here that although I'm to some degree affiliated with Mericon I am visiting Nippori as myself, as an ordinary visitor, and my opinions about Nippori are purely my own. I know Rauma and Pori have a longstanding friendly rivalry (because of competing ice hockey teams etc) as do many other neighboring towns in Finland so yeah, I felt I should make it clear that I'm not sent by Rauma to smear Nippori lol. I'm not even a local, I'm from the far north so I have nothing to do with this silly rivalry in the first place lmao.

On Saturday morning me and Firith woke up quite late. We had planned to be at Pori roughly 14:00 as we had organized a carpool with Katriina and her kids. I made the classic mistake of severely underestimating how much time it takes for me to get into costume and that meant that the later half of the morning was panic mode unhinged – hands down the most stressful con morning ever. #whenwillilearn
I had decided on rewearing my Gakupo Kamui cosplay from Vocaloid, yes it's the same original kimono version I last wore at Skecon 2014! I know, that's like 9 years ago fuck I feel old
I don't know how but somehow we managed to leave the apartment on time, although I had to put on my cosplay very sloppily and rush my makeup but yeah, we could not afford to be late for the carpool which was waiting for us at Prisma's parking lot – nobody wants to inconvenience other people. I figured I'd just fix my costume once we arrive at the event so it wasn't that big of a deal. And I didn't care too much about my makeup not being slay as I had no plans to photoshoot Gakupo due to unfavorable weather and Firith told me that Pori centrum doesn't really have any good photoshoot locations as it's mostly just dreary concrete buildings.

We arrived to Nippori roughly 14:30 which meant we caught the very last moments of the first half of the event that was in the library. Nippori had split the con into two separate buildings in such a way that past a certain time (15:00) the first building would close down and the second would open. This meant that whatever was located in the library, aka the first building, would be unavailable once the con migrated over to Nuorisotalo. Needless to say we had to immediately bolt upstairs once we got into the library just to have enough time to visit the Artist's Alley before it closed.

General photo upstairs, near the entry point for the Artist's Alley.

I didn't bother to fix or put on the rest of my cosplay because we were so short on time to check out the Artist's Alley, one of the main reasons we attended Nippori. I really needed to pee too but there was no time for that either. xD
So yeah, me and Firith went up the stairs and I guess we both were quite perplexed when we saw a big sign stating something like "queue for Artist's Alley here" – I mean, not to be that guy but that kiiiiiiinda already gave me a red flag that the location for the Artist's Alley must be pretty unoptimal if they have to limit how many people can enter at once and from what direction.

We both looked towards the corridor past the glass door and I swear my first thought was "oh no". I could already tell that this would be an unpleasant experience. I shit you not, the Artist's Alley was placed in an extremely narrow reverse U-shaped corridor with barely enough space for visitors to even move past the tables if someone stopped to look at what was being sold. This was ten times worse than Kummacon's placement last year, which also was in an U-shaped corridor but at least there was a semblance of air quality. I found myself trying to rush through the Artist's Alley's later half because I literally felt like I was running out of oxygen; it was absolutely suffocating once you passed the midpoint of the corridor and the constant bottlenecks and crowding made it unbearable (even though we were one of the last people inside as it was closing down, I dread to think how awful it must have been during the active early hours *shudders*). And as we all know some congoers have a bad habit of stopping to talk with friends in the middle of narrow passageways without paying attention to the fact that they're effectively blocking the flow of traffic and yes, Nippori wasn't exempt of this cancer either. I might be getting old and cranky but I have no patience for these kinds of people – like for the love of god almighty please move out of the way if you're gonna strike a chat with someone in a place where space is already severely limited and others are trying to get through, it's not that hard to be conscious of your surroundings and considerate of the sanity of others, is it?

View of Artist's Alley corridor.

So yeah, hands down the worst Artist's Alley experience to date purely because of how bad the placement was. I don't understand why they didn't locate it downstairs, there seemed to be a lot more room? The sellers were interesting and there were a lot more tables than I expected there to be but sadly I could not browse to my liking as the crowding and poor air quality kept triggering my panic syndrome to the point I had to get out as soon as possible. This was such a bummer, especially because I was really looking forward to the Artist's Alley and wanted to buy stuff.

We arrived a bit too late to be able to check out the other activities that the library half of the con offered – I saw for example that there was a video game room but the door was locked when I tried to open it. Of course, because it was a library, there were a lot of manga put forward that you could borrow and read and I found that very pleasant and yeah, it added to the feel of it being an anime event. There was also this, umm, I guess it was meant to be some kind of art corner or display? Whatever its purpose was I assume it was primarily for decoration and perhaps to show local talent.
These Mew stuffies were adorbs!

Part of the art display.

Aside from the Artist's Alley disaster I found the library to be an okay building for an event of this scale. It was quite comfy and there were places to rest your legs and free bathrooms. As far as I'm aware Nippori is held by the library crew in collaboration with the local youth agency so it makes sense that it's those two buildings that they have in use. And as long as the event doesn't explode in size I think it'll suffice.

While I was standing outside the library's entrance I had a very unpleasant experience. There was a group of three teenage boys who approached me and my company, handing out homemade flyers that read stuff like "have you seen this man?" with a black and white photo of an almost naked male model. I had seen these flyers scattered around inside the library and my educated guess is that this trio were not the intended target audience of the event but just delinquents who wanted to harrass "the weird colorful gays". I'm also assuming that Nippori's security guards had removed them from indoors but were powerless to banish them from the outside vicinity of the library, where they continued to disturb visitors by handing out these flyers. So yeah, I was unlucky to be targeted by this group and one of the three boys proceeded to ask me if I had seen the dude on the photo and when I answered the boy's facial expression promptly changed to visible confusion and he proceeded to ask me at least five times in a row if I'm a man and every time I told him yes in my clearly and unquestionably male voice – like what the fuck I'm not gonna give you a different answer just because you repeat the question and I pity you if your masculinity is so narrow and fragile that the mere existence of an androgynous guy in makeup and a colorful costume is a threat to your understanding of the world. Like what do you want me to do, show you my damn ID card and that little M marker on it or mess up my cosplay by not shaving my beard next time? Gtfo and don't approach me until you have amassed a deeper understanding of the complexity of individual expression, that which transcends the stifling norms your limited capacity is currently capable of processing.
Worst part is that this pissflap even asked for my photo and it was clear as day that he had no good intentions (most likely would have made fun of me) and I politely declined, although I should just have been rude at this point as he didn't deserve an ounce of my respect with how blatantly he disrespected me and made me feel uncomfortable. Even worse, I think he took a candid photo anyway. The group then left us alone for a few minutes before this same boy returned to ask me again "Are you really a man?" like for fuck's sake is your hearing comprehension as challenged as your intelligence? I hate that I was as polite to him as I was, I should just have told him to fuck the hell off but years of school-bullying and trauma have made me extremely scared of conflicts and I just shut down when suddenly thrown into uncomfortable situations.
Oh well, I can't really blame Nippori for that (although I wish security would have stepped in to handle them) as this kind of situation can literally happen anywhere and at any time. It did affect my overall mood for the worse and I didn't feel safe at the event after said incident. Who would? I'm pretty sure a lot of other congoers were also harassed by these shitbags during the day and it wouldn't surprise me if they primarily targeted people whom they perceived as female, which would make it even more disgusting as that's technically on par for sexual harrassment...

Just proof that I was in cosplay.
(photographer is Firith)

As the first half of Nippori was closing down we used the help of Google Maps to navigate ourselves to Nuorisotalo with Katriina as the mama hen leading the way. It was surprisingly far away from the library and luckily we live in the age of smartphones or a non-local like me would have gotten lost lol.

After some walking we arrived at Nuorisotalo and it was crammed full of people, as one would expect. It was nice to see the amount of people in costumes and fursuits though, especially considering that it's a small event. I felt like a rather notable percentage of the visitors were dressed up in some way.

Nuorisotalo outside view.

Now I finally got a chance to go to the bathroom for a very urgent bladder emptying and I also put on the missing parts of my cosplay and fixed up the hakama knot. We then went to check out the Artesan's tables which is similar to Artist's Alley except it's more 'official' I guess, like bigger names and sponsor merchants or something like that. I think the general difference is that artists have to apply but artesans are invited by the event? Anyway, the location of the Artesan's tables were a lot better than what the Artist's Alley got – the shopping area was located in an open space room so you actually could move around like normal and check out the tables. This was such a relief and made the browsing experience a lot more enjoyable. I could actually get in the con mood for a bit too.

Nuorisotalo entrance.

Programs and activites for the con's later half.

I was lowkey interested by that Sephiroth panel but as I haven't played the games (yet) I didn't want to risk any spoilers and so I passed on it. In the end we didn't stay all that long at the con so we didn't watch the cosplay competition or anything. Our group mostly just vibed for a bit and did the shopping rounds. I didn't end up buying anything this time but Firith had a field day so at least it was worth it to come here lol. Oh well, window shopping is always a decently fun pastime and so is meeting friends regardless of how briefly it is. Yes, we ran into Gure. :D

Artesan's tables area. Entrance view.

Drawing wall.

I forgot to draw the legendary Buttman on the wall to continue the legacy but oh well, it's too late now. Maybe I remember next time. I gotta say though that whenever a con has one of these taped up somewhere it's always a win in my book, it's a really fun way to encourage creativity and make people socialize!
Oh and there was apparently a cafeteria that sold food and pastries but I had a brainfart and didn't go check it out. Oh well, it's still a very nice addition and something I appreciate as a whole as it gives visitors the option of convenience – they don't have to leave the con area and go walk around in a town where they might feel unsafe because of the way they are dressed etc.

I don't think I have so much more to say about Nippori really. It's a small event that's suitable for locals and those who live nearby and it appeared to provide a decent amount of entertainment with most of the typical con staples that visitors have come to expect. I think battle-hardened congoers would probably get bored after a few hours but for those new to the scene and community it's a good springboard into this colorful hobby, especially because it's free and thus a low threshold event with no barriers attached. The general mood and flow of the event was relaxed, casual and easygoing.
I don't know if I would visit Nippori a second time (especially because of the 600+ km distance, not really worth it for the event alone imo) unless I happen to be nearby for other reasons too. But obviously if you live close and you need to scratch that geek itch then I'd say it's a worthwhile day trip.

Thanks for reading, Shiro Samurai says bye!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for accompanying me to the con! :)

    Ooof, that encounter with the group of teenagers. I mean, teenagers can be mean but this was... Something I - or anybody for that matter - really didn't see coming and I'm sorry you had to experience that :<

    Obviously I'm going to write my own summary in the future but I second your opinion about Nippori being a small event suitable for locals. Tbh, if I happened to be nearby (which obviously was the case this time) I would visit it again. But we'll see about that in the future.

    Anyway, thanks for the summary - it was nice to read~!


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 to hear from you!