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Three SMASH fans tell us why they love the manga and anime show
Written by
Emma Joyce

Sydney Manga and Anime Show has been bringing fans together for ten years thanks to its program of Japanese cosplay, animation, fashion and gaming. This year’s event at Rosehill Gardens stars cosplayers Baozi and Hana, alongside an impressive list of voice actors, illustrators and DJs. Intrigued by the dedicated fanbase for this annual event, we speak to three SMASH devotees to find out why they’ll be going back for more on August 19-20.

“The artists are a really big factor for me,” says Olivia Johansson, 22, who has been attending SMASH for seven years. “Miyukiko and Hawberries are two artists I’ve been attracted to; they’re Sydney-based and it’s really good to support local artists, but SMASH also supports artists from countries like Malaysia and the States. I can’t draw but I appreciate how much time people put into their artwork,” says Johansson, who is a part-time student from the Hawkesbury area and also a keen cosplayer. “My favourite costume was San from Princess Mononoke. It’s this fur cape and outcast-child style look. There were lots of people who took photos of me and it’s really nice to have that connection to people I’ve never met before. I’ve cosplayed every single SMASH. I’m an introvert, but I love showing off what I’ve made.” Follow Olivia’s cosplay journey on Instagram: @ariviaj.

Celia Yu in cosplay
Celia Yu in cosplay
Photograph: Supplied

“Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met at SMASH,” says Celia Yu, 26, who has clocked up ten years of attendance. “I was that one kid at school who was into comics, so when I found out about SMASH – a whole community into the same things as me – it was really exciting,” says Yu, a retail manager from Beverly Hills. “It’s the one time of year when everyone comes together, from Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide as well.” Yu most recently cosplayed as Nick Wilde from Zootopia because, “He’s a cool guy, but also a bit of a loser. He’s trying to look cool and it’s very obvious, which is like me as a cosplayer.” This time around it’ll probably be a character from Persona 4 or Kamen Rider. Yu is also into the the artworks available at the event. “I’m really into One Piece, a Japanese comic. I’ve been following it since I was 14-15. It’s been a very big part of my life. SMASH is very good for art.” Follow Celia on Twitter: @artctrlcee

Jo Yee Chu in cosplay with her friends
Jo Yee Chu (centre) with professional cosplayers Kaname (left) and Reika (right)
Photograph: Supplied

I didn’t know what cosplay was before going to SMASH,” says Jo Yee Chu, 26, from Liverpool, who has been attending the event on-and-off for years. “It was all so new to me and it was quite overwhelming,” says Yee Chu, who works at Sydney bookstore Kinokuniya. “I try to cosplay if possible, and if I don’t have something directly related to anime or manga I’d still dress up in bunny ears. I’ve dressed up as a maid, too, as it’s quite easy.” Yee Chu is into zine making, so looking at fan art is one of her main reasons  attending, but she’s also into guest appearances and the fringe events, like tournaments and karaoke. “Last year I got to meet some cosplayers, which was absolutely stunning. I was so star struck seeing them. What I like about SMASH is that it’s so chocked full of stuff you can do, but also amazingly chill.” Find Jo on Instagram: @eyterna

SMASH! takes place at Rosehill Gardens on Aug 19-20. Tickets are on sale for $35-$75.

Find more August events in Sydney.

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