Yesterday was Day One of SMASH! 2016 and although our feet are sore, our wallets a little lighter and our phone memory a little more full, we are bursting with the happy excited feels that only as day at SMASH can bring.

How does one acquire such happy exciting feels? Read on friends, with our S.M.A.S.H Guide to SMASH! 2016

See and hear your favourite voice actors perform live dubs of your most beloved characters

There’s some kind of magic seeing the person who can quite literally talk your favourite character’s talk and bring them to life right in front of your ears. The live dubbing sessions are always one of my most favourite parts of SMASH and this year was no exception- with the incredible Hideo Ishikawa (Uchiha Itachi from Naruto, Ukitake Jūshirō from Bleach, Auron from Final Fantasy X and Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII) and Ai Nonaka (Fuko Ibuki from Clannad, Kyouko Sakura from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara Zenbotsu Sensei) in attendance. The whole Q&A panel sessions are fascinating – with the actors asked questions about getting into the mindset of their different roles and how they approach voice acting on the whole, as well as sharing little tidbits and stories from “behind the mic”. Some highlights from the panel today was Ishikawa’s insistence that they didn’t pick him an interesting Itachi scene so proceeding to voice out all the stages of the Sharingan anyway (omg) and Ai Nonaka’s contagious super cute excitableness that started with her bouncing on stage telling us to call her Ai-Pon in three, two, one! and ending with her lively coordination of an audience-wide game of scissors, paper, rock with the winners getting personally signed items from the voice actress herself.


Marvel at the incredible cosplays walking around the venue

Just wow at some people’s creative skills! There were all kinds of characters walking around, from Black Butlers, to Lolitas, to giant blow-up Baymax suits- there’s cosplay magic everywhere you look. And then there’s the Cosplay Competition to attend, the Cosplay Catwalk to gawk at, the Cosplay Life Drawing, Five Minute Challenge, Photography Panel, Battle Royale… it’s a Cosplay kind of day. And you can get as into it (or not so into it if that’s not your thing) as you want.

Admire the endless aisles of beautiful art at the Exhibitors Hall (and most likely buy an A3 print or two)

This might be my favourite place to be at SMASH! and it just seems to get bigger and better each year. This year boasts around 100 artists booths, decorated with the most beautiful sketches and handmade items based on your favourite animes and pop culture characters (and some originals too!). Spend some time getting lost here, occasionally spotting a beloved character or an artist style that particularly grabs you, and maybe pick out an A3 print or two in support of those favourites.


Sit in on a panel, attend a classroom session, build a GUNDAM, sketch at the Doodling zone, sing your lungs out in the karoke room…

And if none of this so far has grabbed you, don’t worry- there are endless other things to keep you occupied. On the mini stage there’s little panels on every topic from Wig Tutorials to the Japanese Spirit World. In the Classroom maybe you could brush up your skills in drawing, trivia or comic/manga scriptwriting. Then head over to the Panels Room to catch a discussion on Japanese Fashion, Historiography or Gender Representation in Otome Games (did you know that an Otome game is number 95 on the list of most sold games for 2015?). Or maybe visit the Art Workshop? Or drop in to the Karoke Room? To Gaming HQ? The Arcades? Play some trading card games? GUNDAM building? Look at some Itasha cars? Check out Live performances in Japanese song and dance outside in the sun sipping on a cool drink and chowing down on some takoyaki? What about visiting the Maid Café? Or even just settling down in the AnimeLab to watch a film or two. Guaranteed- you’ll have something to do.


Have fun amongst all the like-minded Otakus

And finally- this is SMASH!- the manga and anime convention! Chances are everyone is just as excited and happy to be around all their favourite things as you are. There’s the camaraderie of cosplay, and how people dressed from the same show run excitedly towards each other to snap a pic together in their poses. And everyone loudly debating their favourite animes. Or showing each other what they purchased or the incredible artwork they’ve found. There’s just such an excited buzz in this wonderful little world where everyone escapes to Otaku bliss for a few hours.

SMASH! 2016  is being held at Rosehill Gardens over the weekend of the 20th-21st August. Day One is done and dusted- but there’s always Day Two today!

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Photos by Nathan Atkins