SYDNEY, July 15 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 20,000 Australian anime fans converged on Sydney over the weekend for one of the country's biggest Japanese pop culture and anime shows, SMASH! 2019.
Since it first began as a fan initiative back in 2007, SMASH! has surged in popularity, last year upgrading to a bigger venue at Sydney's new International Convention Centre.
Chairperson of SMASH! Richard Yuen told Xinhua that the organizers hoped to fill their new home with more international guest stars and activities than ever before, among which were fan favorites from China.
Australian cosplayers were also well represented, amongst them was Emily Akon who travelled from Sydney's outer suburbs with her friend Gabbie Taylor to take part in their fifth year at the convention.
"We've been visiting the different activities, looking at the artist hall, sort of buying things that stand out to us just enjoying everyone's cosplays, they're so cool to get photos with and it's just fun to explore," Akon said.
Akon was cosplaying one of her favorite characters, the titular heroine from action-horror video game, Alice Madness Returns, created by Shanghai-based studio, Spicy Horse.
"She's a very independent strong character who tries her best to figure out what's going on after a childhood incident that happened," Akon said.
"I think mine's a decent cosplay but looking around there are so many cool ones."
SMASH!, a non-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers meaning it's, "by fans, for the fans."
According to a statement on the event's website, the structure allows organizers to keep the event primarily as a meeting place for fans with an emphasis on art, creativity and community involvement.
"We're proud our organizational structure allows us to do the right thing by our fans, our volunteers, and the greater community," the statement said.
Another fan who travelled several hours to attend was Emily Coleman, who said that what makes SMASH! special is the focus on fan art, as opposed to merchandise.
"SMASH! is one of those cons that I always look forward to because I'm never disappointed, whether it's here or in (the old venue) Rose Hill I'm never ever disappointed with what SMASH! brings," she said.
Coleman was dressed as Nurse Joy from the original Pokemon series, a character which she says gets a lot of love from fans, young and old.
"I love doing costumes which people of a broader age range can appreciate (as well as) maybe those people who aren't diehard anime fans," Coleman said.
"Everyone knows Pokemon and I have the kids come up to me and be like 'Nurse Joy!' yeah, that's why I like doing Nurse Joy."