The Sydney Manga and Anime Show (SMASH) brought the VTubing community together for yet another year in 2023.
The second rendition since the pandemic saw Hololive and PRISM Project take center stage at ICC Sydney, packing out the various panel halls with their performances. It was a slight change to Crunchyroll Expo AUS 2022 when both agencies last appeared on Australian shores too.
The VTubing action wasn’t just limited to the guest appearances though. Cosplays were abound in Sydney, as NIJISANJI fans came out in full force for meetups and virtual idols packed the artist alley’s offerings.
Hololive’s Kureiji Ollie & Pavolia Reine Pack Out Pyrmont Theatre
While no Australian talents came home for the country’s only major anime convention of the year, the Indonesian duo had the crowd in stitches during their “holoFamily Trivia Panel” to wrap up the weekend’s action late on Sunday.
The quiz was formed from a fan survey, with Ollie and Reine having to select the top answers to questions as varied as “which Hololive member would try to fight a kangaroo” and “what’s the only Indonesian word you know” (that last one went out to the audience, who answered on behalf of Team Ollie or Team Reine).
Kureiji Ollie also made an appearance on a panel earlier on Sunday with her VTuber model artist LAM. The duo spoke about the origins of Ollie’s design—which was a one-and-done scenario from draft—as well as some advice for art and VTubing.
With ‘crazy’ in her name, some of Ollie’s advice was quite poignant: “If you’re going to express yourself, then why hold back,” she said. “There’s no rule on the internet that says you can’t be too loud and you can’t be too wild, so just go all out.”
It ended with LAM doing some speed painting of some Aussie icons from the Sydney Opera House to Tim Tams and a crazy photo of Ollie doing an ‘ollie’.
PRISM Project Tease New Projects in Panel Appearances
PRISM Project isn’t as well-known as their mega Japanese compatriots, but they still put on an epic show for those at SMASH 2023.
With two panels on Saturday, the group’s four Aussie and Kiwi stars took to the stage. Sara Nagare and Luto Araka returned from their last Australian appearance at CRX 2022, while the newly-debuted Lana Shikami and Nana Asteria—one day after debut—joined them.
They opened up festivities with a trivia hour of their own. With the New Zealander Lana as the quizmaster, Nana outsmarted her senpais across the four categories: SMASH, Australia, Ani-mate (anime quotes in Australian English), and Audience (guessing the audience’s answer). The prize? Taking over Luto and Sara’s Twitter accounts… eventually.
Later on Saturday the four got together for a concert, each performing two songs. Lana’s booming voice was complemented by Luto’s upbeat chaos, and same goes for the idol-like performances of Sara and Nana.
Both panels ended with teasers of upcoming ‘secrets’ for PRISM Project, which you’ll have to wait to see as we are currently sworn to secrecy.
VTuber Cosplays Abound in NIJISANJI Fan Panel
NIJISANJI didn’t have an official presence at SMASH 2023, with the agency yet to sail to Australian shores despite being home to numerous down under stars.
That didn’t detract fans from turning out in force though, with NIJISANJI by far the most represented in the cosplay department. With a fan meetup on Sunday accompanied by an interactive XSOLEIL cosplay panel, there was no shortage of NIJI fandom.
Artist Alley: Hololive Gacha & Fan Zine Steal the Show
And to wrap it all up, the artist alley was once again full to the brim with VTuber content. Hololive and NIJISANJI were represented extensively in terms of available purchases, but there were some VShojo stickers and even a rogue Bao The Whale charm.
The highlight of the artist alley though? Playing Hololive pin gacha at jejebuns’ stall. For $10 AUD this writer got two rolls, picking up IRyS and Nanashi Mumei pins.
Special mention to Gewwy, Kat Pear, and Chameleon for their XSNKR Hololive fan zine, featuring 24 full color prints. They sold out before the event’s end on Sunday.
Banner Photo: @Snow_OCE on Twitter