Rishfee the Blue Mage won the grand prize at the cosplay contest. One of the things that impressed the judges was how perfect his hairstyle was. He also kept in character throughout the show, always bowing FFXI-style and speaking in a regal, polite manner to people asking to take his picture.
One of the finalist prizes went to a White Mage in full Orison gear. She spent a lot of time around the monster mural pairing up with other cosplayers and was really nice about posing for pictures. When I took one of just her in a casting pose, I kept getting bumped and jostled from behind, and it came out a little blurry. It was quite a busy area on Saturday.
Sallow Seymour may not have won any big prizes, but it was given special recognition on stage for its humorous design. The worm body must have been about eight or nine feet tall, with a small sign extending further up that said "Sallow Seymour" in FFXI-style font. The icing on the cake for the costume was a fountain of soap bubbles that continously sprayed from the top.
Here's a shot of Bayohne getting a hug from an Ark Angel Mithra. If you think that costume's impressive, the player underneath came back the next day with a completely different look! That hand curled by her face seems to show she didn't completely shake that Mithran persona, though.
Everyone's costumes were very elaborate and accurate. Often times, when I would request a picture, the cosplayer would happily oblige, and then proceed to strap on armbands, add buttons, put on their hat or crown, attach accessories ... it was a whole production. I would apologize for causing them such a hassle, but they would only respond that they felt worse for making me wait!
Standing next to that Hume on the mural, it appears this Mithra is perfectly to scale.
The monster mural was the go-to spot for cosplay pictures. It was essentially the main path between the two sides of the event hall, so every so often I could wander past and catch something new.
Here's a group shot of many of the cosplayers gathered together in the Livestream booth.
So, there you have it! VanaFest 2012 was a spectacular event, and I think adopting the North America FanFest convention style was the perfect setup for really connecting with the fans. At past events, everyone would simply file in, sit down, listen politely, and file out. This time, I got to meet a wide variety of people, including foreign press, talk with fans and cosplayers, and enjoy everything that Square Enix put together at my own pace. Everyone I ran into was excited to be there and only had positive things to say.
More important than any content or jobs they add to the game, it's this kind of enthusiasm and passion for the world of Vana'diel that will keep the game alive for another 10 years. Reporters from several different websites were flown in to attend, and we all talked about who played, who didn't, and our current involvement with the game. No matter what our connection to the game, we all had stories of our adventures in Vana'diel fresh in our minds. Everyone remembered their early leveling days and key moments in their characters' histories. I can't remember my own cell phone number, but I can still recite my POL ID by heart.
If you remember that White Mage in full Orison gear from above, after she won, she was called out on stage for a few questions. They asked how long it took her to craft her costume, and she responded, "Two years." She worked on that outfit for two years. That kind of passion doesn't just die because subscriber numbers are "too low" or because the press isn't interested enough. This is a fanbase that can continue to support FFXI, and the care and detail put into this event shows there are more than enough talented people at Square Enix ready to deliver a memorable experience for years to come.
I hope you enjoyed our VanaFest 2012 recap. The celebration doesn't end there, though! Don't forget there will be a special 10th anniversary concert held in California on September 22nd.