It’s that time of year again and this year’s AFA was a pretty phenomenal one, if I do say so myself.
Anime Festival Asia is South-East Asia’s biggest anime convention and I’ve been a loyal supporter ever since the inaugural one in 2008. I have my fair share of complaints and grievances about how the event is conducted, especially when compared to the anime conventions that are held in the US and Japan. Still, it is undeniable that they are improving with each convention that they hold.
When I attend conventions, I really want to them to offer me an experience that I can’t get elsewhere. If I want to buy something, I can buy it online. If I want to watch a concert, I can purchase concert videos. So what do I go there for? Meeting and catching up with friends is definitely one thing, especially those who share little in common with me outside of our passion for anime. Another thing is undeniably meeting and having a chance to interact with the celebrities of the anime world, be it singers, seiyuus or staff. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but unlike overseas conventions, AFA has a penchant for keeping interaction between the fans and the stars at minimum, perhaps due to contractual reasons.
Personally, I place a ton of value in meet and greet sessions. It allows the fans to express their gratitude towards the people who have breathed life into their favorite anime characters. From another perspective, it’s the next best thing to getting in touch with the actual anime character. In my opinion, autographs or signatures are meaningless if they are not obtained in person. Not only do they serve as a token to commemorate the event, autographs purchased online lack similar sentimental value and have the possibility of being inauthentic.
Regardless, I’ve rambled on for too long. But I think it’s important to understand my position on autographs as this time round, I’m glad to say that there were actually many, many, many opportunities to meet various guests. Unfortunately, all of them required purchasing related merchandise and the items that the seiyuus were allowed to sign on were limited, despite what it said on the tickets. In the end, bringing a selection of merchandise along with me to the event was for naught.
But enough of that. On to the trophies of war!
First off, we have Tsuda Kenjiro the voice actor of Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! and Redyue from the recent Kamen Rider Gaim.
Next up is Horie Yui, the voice of fan favorites like Ayu from Kanon, Tsubasa from Bakemonogatari, Manami from Miyabi Straight and Makie from Negima.
Next up, someone I’m sure many of you guys are familiar with, Kawasumi Ayako! A veteran of the voice acting industry, she is the voice behind the gallant Saber from the Fate series, Matsuri from Ichigo Mashimaro and Ohno from Genshiken.
Promoting the new Knights of Sidonia anime is Kanemoto Hisako and Arai Satomi whom you might know as being the voices of Ika Musume/Cure Peace and Kuroko/Hata respectively!
Last but not least, I was simply ecstatic when Arai Satomi signed my Judgement armband. She was even awesome enough to write down Kuroko’s signature phrase, “Judgement Desu No”. How amazing is that? This is undeniably going to be the centerpiece of my Railgun collection.
Lastly, here are the stuff I got from AFA, most of which I had to buy just to get the chance for an autograph…
– Sword Art Online 2 Wallscroll
– Love Live! Kousaka Honoka Wallscroll
– Love Live! Rubber Strap (Nico)
– K Artbook
– Knights of Sidonia OST
– Puella Magi Madoka Magica Clear File Set
– K-On! 5th Anniversary Ichiban Kuji Yui Shikishi and Glass Cup
After all that good, it’s time for the bad. In short, the information distribution for these events and offers was horrendous. Some of them were advertised on facebook hidden away behind cryptic posts while others weren’t even publicized at all (to my knowledge). If there’s any improvement that could be made, it would be to have a section on their site where all this information could be collated for the convenience of the fans.
Did you manage to go this year? Also, if you’ve been to cons in the US or Japan, how do they differ from the one in Singapore?