Full photo tour for the first day exhibition14 November, 2010 by Chad
Just got back from the first day of the Anime Festival Asia 2010 (AFA 2010/AFAX) in Singapore. MJ had covered the previous year’s event, but this time Wilson and I headed down to the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre to check out what was happening at Singapore’s largest anime convention. Impressions and lots of photos within.
Earlier this year, I wrote some less than favorable impressions of Cosfest. Everything I said back then, I take it back. As Anime Festival Asia takes the cake for being my most terrible convention experience in Singapore.
One week prior to the event, tickets were made available online. However, AFA chose to distribute the tickets through some completely unprofessional blogs. One of them was even some shabbily put together Live Journal page. I sure as hell wasn’t going to trust such a site with my credit card information.
It seemed like many people felt the same way, because everyone waited to the day itself to purchase their tickets. This resulted in a crazy queue for tickets at the entrance. The queue spanned across 3 exhibition halls and simply wasn’t moving.
Reports from Facebook in the afternoon had the queue length at about 1000, though a personal observation was more around 400 people. Fortunately, Wilson had gotten there early enough to beat the crowds. I pity those who had to queue for an hour or two only to be disappointed by the exhibitions within.
I’ve already covered my first experience/horror with local photographer etiquette in the Cosfest 2010 post so I’m going to save some trouble and skip that. If you need a detailed explanation check that out.
Between the queue and the crowd of cosplayers gathered in corridor, it was difficult just to enter the exhibition. I was wondering why all the cosplay was going on in the small space between the escalators and entrance. It turned out that there were no dedicated places for cosplayers this year (well except the invited ones). The adjacent hall was being used up by a Border’s Book Fair and the space downstairs was hosting a Biomed event.
I know providing a space to hold baggage, or providing dedicated changing rooms (see Yokohama Cosplay Event) was asking too much from the local organizers but seriously, no place to even cosplay?!
No cosplay Q&A but Alodia attracted the attention of lots of creepy camera enthusiasts. Everyone else continued their thing.
Most of the center area of the hall was taken up by toy and figurine resellers. While there were some rare figures going for crazy prices, most of the shops were clearing stock. The Good Smile Company didn’t make an official appearance per say, instead the local shops here used their name. Good Smile did however provide some figures for an adjacent showcase.
Looking out of place in the corner were a couple of vendors promoting their technologies such as a Japanese miniaturized take on electric standing scooters and 3d televisions which still needed polarized glasses.
Obviously they made a wasted trip since the hall was filled mostly by youngsters enamored by anime, manga and whatever else passes off as “Japanese” culture these days. AFAX was no trade fair. Just an opportunity to sell overpriced everything to gullible children.
There was of course a maid as well as a butler cafe being featured at the hall. The AFA management gave lots of publicity to these two booths, more so than even the AKB48 performance.
What I don’t get is that while the maids cafes are empty throughout the year in Singapore, throwing in the fun of queuing seems to make it a brand new experience. As the Parfait Prince (who we would encounter later) mentioned, she ain’t paying $18 for a slice of cake.
Of course AFA had their own shop in the hall. Here they sold the untouched light sticks from yesterday as well as some DIY merchandise for Scandal and the other anime artists performing.
On closer inspection, they were selling the Chinese versions. You can get the same stuff online, for the same price and still have it delivered to your doorstep.
There was also a display of the previously advertised Anime Festival Asia X exclusive photo book, which featured exclusive shots of the performing artists photographed by B.L.T. (yes the same B.L.T. that handles all of AKB48’s photos). No pictures of AKB48 though. I wouldn’t exactly call it a book. $15 per pamphlet.
Back outside, Wilson collected his tickets for tomorrow’s Scandal concert. All anisong tickets came with a pack of glow sticks and one of the $15 booklets.
My guess that there reason that there was no such thing for the AKB48 concert, was because the tickets barely covered the cost of bringing the girls over. Still would had been nice to have everyone with glow sticks cheering for AKB48, who are currently Japan’s Number One artists, as opposed to a bunch of anisong singers who spend their entire year going from one overseas convention to another.
Finally, in the late afternoon, one of the halls were opened for Cosplay. Suntec City’s management was probably tired of having everyone crowded in their corridors. But by then most of the cosplayers had left. Not really keen on taking photographs either due to the same reasons as Cosfest but I’ll throw in a couple. The dark hall didn’t make the best place for photography either.
Back outside we met up with le Parfait Prince Geraldine and her group of Vocaloid characters. They had the most impressive costumes today but were stuck in a dimly lit corner outside of the book fair. Immobile dresses and mad crowds do not mix. Not going to post more than one picture, since my amateur photography can hardly do them any justice. Wilson will be uploading some better photos soon.
Some complaints straight from a cosplayer herself. The most pressing matter being the lack of any proper place for the cosplayers, despite being touted as an anime and cosplay event. We’re not just asking for a physical space but somewhere conducive to talking photography would be nice. At least Cosfest’s venue had natural sunlight and it was entirely possible to use the surrounding resort (if not for the rain).
Also last year, paper tags were used to identify visitors leaving the hall who wished to re-enter. It’s a norm for conventions since there’s always the possibility of passing your ticket to someone else after leaving. This year, everyone visiting the Anime Festival Asia was stamped with red ink instead. You can only imagine what that meant to those in costume.
Custom cosplay outfits cost no small sum mind you. They also take a hell lot of effort to make. One can only hope the stain washes out. The least AFA could had done was to use UV stamps instead. You’d excuse them if this was their first time organizing such an event. But this is already Anime Festival Asia’s 3rd year running.
But alas I don’t even know why they even bothered as security was as lax as ever. The staff outside didn’t even tear my ticket upon entry and I was marked on the way out. That meant I had an extra ticket to give away.
In fact, they didn’t even bother to check your stamp on the way back in. All you had to do was flash your ticket and they’d let you in even if it was already torn off.
While I was looking forward to heading over for Day 2 to see some of the Cosplay events on stage, I’ve decided to give it a miss. Wilson will still be going though so you can wait for his impressions sometime.
I’m not even going to bother summarizing the whole mess. CNNGo, probably the only other no nonsense blog styled editorial in Singapore (other than us of course) summarized it nicely enough when they called Anime Festival Asia a cash cow.