Desucon, Oslo kongressenter, 21 october 2017.
Welcome to the party.
Desucon, the biggest cosplay meeting in Norway, was held last weekend in the Congress Center, in the heart of the «Tigerstad», Oslo. It lasted just this one Saturday, from 13:00 to around 19:00, and in addition to the cosplay contest had some interesting meetings happening too.
When describing this little convention one must always have in mind that cosplaying is still a very new and unknown phenomenon for Norway, a country which’s profoundly anchored to its traditions and its own art forms. I must see I noticed a little wider audience than last time I visited Desucon, and people is actually starting to choose some less known characters. There were not so many Pikachus, for eksempel.
How the day went.
I arrived just after the official openings (those who had bought the V.I.P. ticket could enter already at 12:00, and had some special discounts at the stands). The Kodama Forest was about to start their show, guarded by a bunch of Stormtroopers, There were already plenty of people in the auditorium and I was amazed about how quiet can young people be when they are interested in something. The Kodama Forest is a little orchestra playing games and manga themes in their own way, they are from Oslo and they are often invited performing when anime are screened in theaters.
I then grabbed a program and started to move around the Congress Center to attend to the lectures happening around. Some of these meetings were happening at the same time, so I had to prioritize, and walk from the one to the other while the speakers was still talking.
I first stopped watching some of the speedfriending, a light version of speeddating between people interested in the cosplay world. They were sitting in two rows, facing one another, and had a few minutes to introduce themselves to each others. The room was full of young people and they seemed to have a great time.
I then moved on to the Balder room to listen about how participants to the cosplay contest had found their inspiration and had build up their costumes. Much of the job was handmade, often from old things found in loft and cellars, and this is probably the most exciting part of making a cosplay costume in Norway, where one can clearly see some trace of this newborn syncretism between the old norwegian tradition of sewing and «gjenbruk» (re-utilize) and the cosplay trend.
I left the cosplay contest room and rushed to the Odin room, to listen to the kimono lecture which was about to start. That was a very interesting one, for those who are curious about the art and use of this traditional outfit, and guests had the chance of trying it on at the end of the lecture. Two or three of the girls attending had a kimono on, and I could hear the soft trill og some tiny bells hanging somewhere. We learned that many collects different kinds of kimono, that there’s a code for both the materials, the colors and the shapes and of course the price. People can use a sort of everyday kimono at work, for example, but for special occasions there’s strict rules about how the kimono must be. When a girl finishes school she has to wear a special kind of kimono, the flagging arms kimono, which’s very expensive. So «a man with many daughters is a poor man», they use to say in Japan, and that’s because of the kimonos.
We also learn about the shoes, the belts and even the man kimono, which is much more simple than the other.
While the lectures is going on there’s something happening on the stage. Characters are simulating fights against other characters. This is just for fun, it seems completely improvised to me and the audience is choosing who fought better, by clapping and yelling. And it’s amazing to see how many people is sitting in the auditorium watching this peculiar performance.
While the auditorium is so getting ready for the cosplay catwalk I walk by the drop-in cosplay zone, where people is meeting the judges of the contest to show their costume and reach the Balder room again to learn how to become a superhero. The lecture is actually interesting, Melina Edvardsen is very passionate about the issue and she has a lot of tips about how to get started with the whole concept, where to find some inspiration and what to prioritize before a catwalk or a contest. The whole is filled with funny trivia from her own experience as a cosplayer and that makes the lecture even more enjoying to attend.
I then take a look in the japan quick course before I go back to the auditorium and watch some of the catwalk. People is really having a good time, and that’s too very peculiar for the norwegian cospalyers: they never take themselves too serious, even if the amount of work behind a costume is conspicuous.
It’s now 16:00 and I decide to have some lunch break, while the program doesn’t stop so I miss bothe the «how to draw manga» and «cosplay make up» lectures, but I am back early enough to take a look at the stands and find a good place in the auditorium minutes before the cosplay contest finale is starting.
There’s not many stands actually. Some of them sell plushes and gadgets, while just a few propose handcrafted items, like horns, props and other accessories.
There’s not many contestants in the finale, so it all happens very fast. After a brief break they announce the winners of each category, and the winner of the whole contest who’s going to the next year Eurocosplay contest, in London: Christina Errings with a beautiful performance of the Diablo 3 wizard.
After announcing the winners Desucon has arranged a disco-like event for the cosplayers, so I decide to go home.
Some personal observations.
As I told earlier cosplay is still growing up in Norway. Lot of people here has never heard about manga or anime, and even less has heard about cosplaying. The japanese and even corean trend has been slowly approaching for years, and it doesn’t have it easy because of the strong local traditions and uses. I actually believe that it will never reach much more popularity that it has right now, but of course: I can be wrong. It has been growing very slowly up here, and it will never become comparable to american comics. It’s still amazing how Concrew, a bunch of volunteers, has the will to organize this big meeting in Oslo. They call it «con» while this is actually a safe place for norwegian cosplay lovers to meet and make new friends. There’s not so many cosplayers in the contest, the most part of people walk the stage just for fun and to feel to be a part of this little quiet movement. As mentioned they do not take themselves too seriously, they’re still not brave enough to do it. I am very excited to see if this will change in a year or two or if this party feeling will stay unchanged.