LET’S GET SET GO!
So after 7 hours of squeezing through crowds of rabid fangirls and fanboys, snapping photos of cosplayers and emptying my wallet, I’m glad to be here to introduce to you to Anime Festival Asia 2011! AFA is the biggest annual anime convention held in Singapore, it spans three conventional halls over a time period of three days (11th – 13th November, 2011), although the festival grounds only open on 12th November.
Arriving & Ticketing:
Oh there it was! I totally didn’t spot the gigantic banner at all…
Once you step into the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre, you’ll immediately be greeted with the frightening, monstrous queue for tickets. Yes, you heard me right, AFA is a pay-to-enter kind of anime convention, but then again, that doesn’t really deter your average otaku from waking up at unearthly hours (*cough* like 6.30 AM. on a Saturday) and rush there to join this very queue. Festival access tickets and Festival + Main Stage access tickets are priced at $8 and $18 respectively (all prices are in SGD), and the latter grants full access to exclusive main stage activities such as special guest appearances and cosplay competitions. This time I’ve chosen to go on Saturday without stage access rather than Sunday (which has more attractive main stage activities like the Regional Cosplay Championships), because the goods at AFA get sold out fast, and by fast I mean OH-NOES-30-MINUTES-SOLD-OUT fast. I live in Singapore, so I occasionally visit the convention centre for other events and activities, but let me tell you, AFA is pretty much the only time you’ll see such huge crowds of people here. And the atmosphere is already electrifying – you can literally feel the otaku vibes in the air around you, and it definitely gets you excited.
This photograph does no justice to the magnificence of the scene… Standing at 5’4, all the big burly guys were literally towering above me
Just before 9 AM, the doors are about to open and the crowd of otaku grow wild with anticipation. They start counting down 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2… 1! And then you start praying you don’t get trampled over before you even enter the arena.
AFA’11 Floor Plan: And you thought your anime convention was complicated
I don’t really get the organization at all, so I shall just separate these 1237129 booths and areas into categories of my own:
Ready, Set, ASDFGHJKL FREAK OUT AND GRAB STUFF FAAAAST
This covers most of the area on the map, including the Artist Alley and the rest of the big/small booths. AFA has a wide array of products, from figurines to cosplaying accessories to shirts to key-chains, mugs, files and other trinkets. Also, most of the merchandise is shipped directly from Japan! The problem here though, is that although you will easily be able to find merchandise from recent, popular fandoms such as K-On!, Bleach and Madoka; you might be disappointed while looking for merchandise from older/less popular anime series. The crazy thing about AFA? You have to queue (yes, again) to enter the booths!
I think my wall’s going to be a lot more crowded now
Wanna get your hands on some limited edition figurines? Bandai has truckloads of them. Cosplay accessories? Cospa, of course! There was even an entire booth dedicated to selling furry cat ears, cat paws and bunny hats (…I couldn’t resist it and succumbed to temptation). Odex is awesome, as not only do they sell exclusive merchandise like shirts and pillows, they also have fukubukuro offers, where items are “combo-ed” and sold at ridiculously cheap prices. (Shirt+Cushion+Mug=$20, U.P.$80) Here’s the catch – they are only limited to 100 sets per day! I spent most of my time browsing (and squealing in joy) at the Artist Alley; rows of booths with artists selling their art in the form of key-chains, bookmarks, prints, posters and artbooks? Pure awesomeness.
More merchandise: Show ▼
My Haul: Show ▼
Honey, I think I don’t want that BMW anymore. Could you instead get me that…?
Figurine displays? Yup, that’s normal, isn’t it? There were many nendoroids and of course, countless Hatsune Mikus up for display. A FREAKING CAR DISPLAY WITH MIRAI PRINTED ON IT? Danny Choo is sure getting around but I don’t even—
More displays: Show ▼
Guys VS Girls
Maid Café/Butler Café: Oh I know, all you fangirls and fanboys. This is a wonderful place to get pampered by kawaii girls in maid costumes or bishies in suits and just for once in your life, be addressed as “goshujin-sama” or “ojou-sama”. I’m just not too sure whether that would be worth a $29 omurice or a $19 slice of cake though.
AFA Anime Theatre: Where you pay $10 for a ticket to watch an anime movie on a big screen during a con. Movies include Naruto – Blood Prison, Detective Conan – Quarter of Silence, FMA – The Sacred Star of Milos, Sora no Otoshimono: A Clockwork Angeloid. None of the movies particularly interest me, so I didn’t get a ticket; although, the first 200 customers who collect their tickets get posters!
Canon Cosplay Zone: Regardless of whether you came as Madoka, Pikachu, a robot or a normal human being, this zone offers a few backdrops where you can pose with your fellow otakus and get a photograph snapped and printed on the spot!
Cool Japan Showcase: This pavilion comprises of various booths with brochures, information booklets and free postcards up for grabs by various companies from Japan.
Hurhur, I promise I won’t abduct your kid
And now without further ado, what everybody is looking forward to during a con, regardless of whether the cosplays turn out brilliant or… not so fantastic. At the end of the day, what matters is the effort and passion put into cosplaying! (I sound like I’m giving a pep talk *facepalm*)
Cosplay Picspam: Show ▼
So all in all, AFA’11 was not too bad, but I wouldn’t have called it fantastic. It was definitely better than last year’s, but still, nothing can beat 2009’s. I definitely did enjoy my time there basking in the midst of thousands of other otaku, and have much to remember from this con. *w* Going for AFA’12? You bet.
Singapore has a few other smaller anime conventions too such as SOY (Jan/Feb) and Cosfest (May/Jun), and next year I might be considering going to those two, and you should too! This is my first time posting on Metanorn as a guest writer, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post so let me know your thoughts! ^^ This is Miyu here, reporting from sunny Singapore on AFA’11. Jya ne!~
(For more information, you might want to visit the official AFA’11 website! Credits for most of the photographs in this post go to my wonderful senior, Leti! :D)
About the Guest Writer: Miyu
|Just a 15-year-old otaku living in sunny Singapore, who happens to have a weak spot for sappy romance stories. When I’m not squeezing my brain juices out studying, I spend most of my time catching up on anime, writing fanfiction, designing blogskins, playing the guitar and singing! I’m currently taking Japanese as a 3rd language, and I aspire to become a singer/writer in the future.|
|Links:||Twitter | Blogskins | Fanfiction | Networks|
|Let me take this opportunity to thank Miyu in covering the first day of AFA for Metanorn. She was quick to reply to my query on twitter. So, thanks for the speedy coverage, Miyu!
And this is not all, we have another guest writer covering another day of AFA so stay tuned, folks!