Twice a year, you will be hard pressed to find a more elaborately colourful multitude of people than at the London MCM Expo. In May and October, untold thousands gather as the ExceL Customs House bordering the Thames, for what is without a doubt one of, if not the biggest cosplay, comics and video game events in Europe. As usual, we were there at an ungodly hour in the morning to watch the sheer quantity of people pool in from all over the country (and the world), greeted by security guards who were cleverly disguised as stormtroopers.
The queues were honestly a marvel in themselves: we couldn’t see the end of them. Don’t let this discourage you however, as entering the ludicrously enormous event-area is a sight to behold. Immediately upon entering, the bright lights and music uplifted our spirits, as we rushed towards all the exhibits, ranging from the new Kirby’s Epic Yarn booth, to the BlazBlu world record attempt booth, to a life-size replica of Doc Brown’s DeLorean car, to workshops and stores and scores of other outlets offering just about anything you can think of. Frankly, one day is not enough to see it all, especially considering the unique events offered each day of the event.
This time, stars from the television series Eureka and Haven were the big names, which got many giddy with excitement at the thought of meeting Colin Ferguson. Now, within the auditorium, choreographed, professionally costumed Assassin’s Creed characters fought on stage between breaks, offering an awesome spectacle for those that sat patiently waiting for the next talks to begin. As this was happening, we ran around the event trying the games everyone had been dying to play, such as Naruto Storm 2 and Vanquish. The games themselves were fantastic, just as predicted. After getting sufficiently beaten, we retired toward the Totally Cosplay area and the cosplay workshops.
Armour making and jewellery making, among other workshops, were presented at intervals throughout the day. Crowds gathered round and engaged in delightful conversation with the organisers, and the atmosphere was fantastic. Suddenly, the Totally Cosplay stage near the workshops lit up and groups of cosplayers began dancing the latest Anime-craze songs and people seemed simultaneously confused and entertained. The groups seemed to have rehearsed until exhaustion, judging by the fantastic performances.
All of this, and the event had barely started. It continued with steampunk panels, cosplay parades in the auditorium, gothic lolita shows and of course, what you, I and everyone else has been waiting for, the EuroCosplay Finals.
30 of Europe’s best cosplayers from 18 countries participated. Awestruck with the each and every costume, it must have been a spectacle for the 50,000 live viewers who watched the live stream of the event on the internet were just as impressed as we were.
The tickets for the EuroCosplay were easy to acquire if you were already inside the Expo, free and instantaneous from the organiser booth. As we were at the event not only to report on the EuroCosplay, but also to support the Portuguese contestants Marta Casaca and Leandro Martins, we walked around the backstage of the event, and didn’t have to swarm towards the main hall within the multitude.
The event started as it always does; delayed. However putting together such an event is no easy task and the wait was well worth it.
As we sat surrounded by an impatient crowd, the presenters brightened the mood with chit-chat, trailers and of course, free goodies. The uproar for each item being handed out was deafening, no matter what the item in question was. Suddenly, the presenters were given a hand signal and finally, they turned to the audience with smiles on their faces and announced cheerfully: “The EuroCosplay 2010 final will now begin!”. People with flags from all countries graced the audience as the show was about to start.
Music and performances and rich colours of fabric and props were penetrated by eager gazes, as the judges Thaís Yuki, Jia Jem and Goldie applauded just as much as the rest of us between their important note-scribbling. All cosplayers were absolutely amazing, it was really enjoyable to see so much hard work coming together. Not only most costumes were worked to an incredibly high standard, being full of detail even when seen closely, but also the performances were entertaining and full of life. After several performances had already come and gone, the stage was set up in silence with a crudely drawn image, the first Portuguese contestant was announced: Leandro Martins cosplaying Cain Nightroad from Trinity Blood. The crowd was silent; not a single whisper was heard. Perfectly and wholly, epic music blasted through sound system as Cain burst through the image completely tearing it apart and destroying the setup. Drawing your eyes away was impossible as he delivered his performance expertly and ended by collapsing in perfect rhythm to the music, thus ending the spectacle. The crowd roared and even stood up to clap, including the judges themselves. For those of you who have already seen the skit Leandro performed online, let me tell you, assembling that short-lived drawing stand was no easy task. Imagine my face, when suddenly all the hard work was torn to shreds during the performance. Oh boy was it worth it though!
After a while, Marta Casaca cosplaying as Eve from Guild Wars was announced. It was a fantastic performance as she delivered it with confidence, however, unfortunately, the sound-quality was bad in the hall due to the acoustics; the performance relied heavily on a video with speaking and thus much of the presentation was inaudibly lost on the audience. People loved it regardless and we’re pleased to say it was a very original performance!
The crowd was very welcoming to all the contenders and it was great to hear a positive response after every single performance.
Onwards with a continuous stream of cosplayers, ranging from the Netherlands to Slovakia and the cheers and clapping got ever louder. Finally, after an interesting singing performance, they were ready to announce the winners. Despite the fact that both Portuguese contestants did really well on stage, we could never have imagined the outcome. That’s right, as if you didn’t know by now; Leandro Martins brought home the trophy to Portugal as the first ever winner of the Eurocosplay competition, and was rewarded with an unbelievable paid flight to Japan and a very special gift from Goldy: a handmade helmet replica of Zero from Code Geass. In second stood proudly beautiful Kairi of Poland cosplaying as Ashura from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and in third Karen of the United Kingdom cosplaying a highly impressive transformed Rigaldo from Claymore who’s joyful performance we won’t soon forget.
As you can expect, many of the cosplayers there deserved a place in the podium, such as the Queen Esther of Trinity Blood by Starla from Belgium, Banshee Queen from Lineage II also from Belgium (whom we interview further in this article), Lenneth from Valkyrie Profile by Shappy from Poland and Spawn by Black Cat from Spain (my personal favourite!) just to name a few.
Here are the top 3 of the EuroCosplay competition:
1 – Portugal – Cain Nightroad, ‘Trinity Blood’ by Leyyamaguy
2 – Poland – Ashura O, ‘Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles’ by Kairi
3 – United Kingdom – Rigaldo from Claymore by Karen
All in all, London MCM Expo was a tremendous success. The odd things still went askew, however overall things progressed smoothly, and there was enough variety of things to see to entertain even the most reserved of persons. If you’re looking for an exciting weekend filled with a variety of colours so great that you could swear you were transported into a rainbow, then you cannot miss the upcoming London MCM Expo. Cosplayer will be there again, of course!