Anime Festival Asia ’11 Coverage – Part I

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:

Merchandise:

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 ▼

Displays:

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 ▼

Special Zones:


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.

Cosplay:

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 ▼

End Note: 

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!

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39 Responses to “Anime Festival Asia ’11 Coverage – Part I”

  1. Reaper says:

    First of all…BOX SAILOR SUIT UNIFORM > BMW! Secondly, I am jelly! Living in Australia there isn’t much like this on my side of the country, and for the only convention that even comes close to this level…it’s in January, AFTER my exams…why oh why?…plus Singapore would probably be much more receptive to anime/manga lovers than the Western world…more than three quarters of the people I know seem to find it disturbing so sometimes, I feel as if I’m FOREVER ALONE! But, I digress by saying I hope you had fun, Guest Writer Miyu! When I get out of uni, I know what’s the first thing I’m going to do (apart from celebrating my found freedom/devastation of further prospect of uni-life), CONVENTION TIME! Oh, I lurked on the Chatbox and I might have spotted a mention of Kalafina at AFA…where they performing? If so…my jelly factor just rose to like Gasai Yuno level…:)

    • Miyu says:

      Mm actually Singapore is quite receptive to most things haha we have K-pop/C-pop crazy fans and otaku, mostly because we have a multicultural society 😀 It’s okay you can let out your otaku-ness online instead, because fellow otaku are always there for each other 8D

      Yup I did! Cons are always something to look forward to~ Kalafina performed on 13th November (Sunday) although you have to purchase the concert tickets to get entry 😀
      Should I be afraid? Because Gasai Yuno is really scary xD

  2. Overcooled says:

    Uwaaa, guest coverage! Thanks for letting us know how fun AFA was. I’m certainly feeling jealous right about now, even though I don’t have any money to spend right now…

    So many good cosplayers…Mannn….

    • Miyu says:

      😀 It is my pleasure! Actually I know of some friends who just pay for the festival access and go in to lurk around and stalk cosplayers *w* – it’s quite fun like that too~

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Aahhh!!! I’ve got to get to Singapore!!! Anime conventions are an otaku’s paradise (Trying not to squeal but I can’t help myself) and this looks like the biggest one around. It’s no surprise that there would be an army of people at the front gate so early in the morning. Heck, I’d wake up at 4:30 am if it was necessary. Whether to pay to get in or not is pretty much a trivial matter that anyone who loves anime would shake off easily ’cause nobody cares.

    Just look at all that merchandise!!! If freaking out and grabbing stuff in the stores were in the same concept as Ben-To, believe me, I’d hold my own and deck everyone in sight, hopefully I’d get a handful of DVD boxsets to boot. The cosplayers in costumes portaying their favorite characters are awesome eye candy to go along. And honestly, who would actually mind entering the booths again? I sure wouldn’t, I’m a happy member of the otaku clan. LOL.

    Guest Writer Miyu, if I get any free time to travel around, Singapore and Anime Festival Asia are going to be at the top of list of tourist sites. Like Reaper said, Singapore would probably be much more receptive to anime/manga lovers than the Western world.

    • Miyu says:

      Yup hehe I woke up at 6.30 A.M. but I was still one happy otaku 8D Besides, in Singapore, it only takes about 2 hours to get from the West to the East because the country is so small! 😛 AFA is pretty much the only con that has an entrance fee but it’s the biggest and probably the best, that’s why it still continues to attract large crowds~

      Yeah since the festival grounds open at 9 A.M. and close at around evening, there’s plenty of time to revisit booths and just laze around in a sea of otaku :))

      If you ever do come to Singapore, I’d be more than happy to recommend must-visit attractions~

  4. Elyon says:

    Wahhhh I’m so jealous! This looks so awesome! *paws at the screen trying to get at that Penguindrum merch*
    Great guest post, by the way :)

    • Miyu says:

      Thank you! *w*
      Getting the Penguindrum merchandise was actually quite a fun experience! Pay $10 to get to choose between 2 stick posters, a double-H postcard and draw 2 badges at random from a box 😀

  5. Hato-kun says:

    Great coverage! Also that car looks absolutely ridiculous.

    But I would totally drive it.

    • Foshizzel says:

      I loveee that car let’s “borrow” it Hato!

    • Miyu says:

      Thank you!~
      Danny Choo is some kind of genius or something. Okay if I ever see it on the road I’ll know it’s you guys, Hato and Fosh xD

  6. Samantha Zan says:

    Oh Anime Conventions, how I love them so x3. Awesome coverage, and yay for Miyu! I would love see more coverage for Anime Conventions on the Metanorn site! :3. I think Danny Choo is raiding every convention nowadays, saw him at Anime Expo last year lol.

    • Miyu says:

      They are an otaku’s paradise!~ Thank you! 😀
      I know right! He was at AFA last year too but then again I would’ve never expected that this year he’ll come prepared with a car. x_x

  7. […] the biggest annual anime convention held in Singapore, it spans three conventional halls over […] METANORN Tags: Anime, Asia, Coverage, Festival, part, ’11 [+] Share & Bookmark • Twitter […]

  8. Joojoobees says:

    Nice job, Miyu! A little bit of everything, eh? It looks like a great con.

    • Miyu says:

      Thank you! 😀
      AFA’s definitely the best (and biggest) con in Singapore but the other cons are worth going to too~

  9. Foshizzel says:

    Whoaaaaa this looked like fun! To bad I don’t own a private jet or I would fly to cons all over the world ahaha but wow you got some nice stuff and that penguin stuff OH DO WANT!

    Also THAT CAR! So awesome thanks for this post Miyu! Thanks xD

  10. Jrow says:

    Oh god, everything One Piece do want! And they were showing Star of Milos? Looks like fun, though I want to ask what made 2009’s event so kick-ass?

    MetaMission 2012 – Get to Singapore for AFA 2012!

    • Kyokai says:

      I’ll be saving up surely! xD

    • Foshizzel says:

      LOLOL Nice! One day!!

    • Karakuri says:

      Imagine if we all went! That would be awesome.

    • Kyokai says:

      Dude, that would be the best meetup ever~ xD
      Let’s gun it for next year. :3

    • Miyu says:

      (Maybe because it was my first con and I was biased) AFA’09 had a karaoke station and a mini-stage to take photographs with famous cosplayers that came from Japan! And also a bunch of other awesome activities I cannot bring to mind x_x I think they had a wider range of products too xD

      Yes please get the whole MetaTeam to come! It’ll be a blastttt~

    • anaaga says:

      All right guys, I’m SERIOUSLY thinking of going to Singapore next year. The ticket is less than RP 1,000,000 anyway.

      Let’s just hope my sister will allow me next year T_T
      And I have enough money to go there

      • T.K. says:

        If I remember correctly (I wasn’t in AFA’09) but most stage events and the concert were open to everyone who bought entrance tickets to the event.

        They started charging seperately for these special events starting AFA’10. Probably explained why many liked AFA’09 more…

        • Miyu says:

          Oh yeah I think I remember only paying $10 for the entire thing! Ever since AFA was first introduced it has been getting more and more expensive xD Inflationnnnn~

  11. AkatsukiYuki says:

    OHHHHHH! I’m from Singapore and I went for AFA… sad that it won’t be in SG anymore next year…T^T but yeah… it was the best anime event! …btw, did anyone see a hawttt Natsuki if they were there? the Piyo-chan so cute~~~

  12. Ness says:

    Oh wow, so lucky that you got to go to AFA. Sounds like so much fun. Though, I’ve never been to a anime convention before… I’d totally love to go to this one. But I’d probably get depressed at the merchandise because I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy anything hahah.

    Great coverage and information! XD

    • Miyu says:

      Thank you! ^^
      Yeah actually most of the things at AFA are pretty expensive, they look overpriced but since it’s shipped from Japan and you probably can’t get it anywhere else, in the end it’s worth it. But going to a con itself just to experience the otaku atmosphere can be exhilarating too!~ *w*

  13. anaaga says:

    This kind of stuff tend to happen. Usually cons and festivals are the best when it’s just starting. Or when it’s your first. Cuz next year you kinda know what will be there

    Great post btw! THAT MIRAI CAR.

    • Miyu says:

      Thank you!~
      Yup I agree~ Sometimes you already know what to expect so nothing much surprises you. But in the end you’ll still have many fond memories to look back upon (and not to mention awesome new additions to your stash)! I don’t think I will ever get sick of going to cons xD

  14. Moni Chan says:

    I wish I was there. OHHH how I wish I lived somewhere in Asia. The anime conventions there looks a million times better then the ones in North America

    • Miyu says:

      You could always come to somewhere in Asia for a holiday during the con period and try attending one! 😀

  15. Alynn says:

    Oh mann. The cons over there look so amazing! And a lot more crowded.

    Looks like it was fun! Wish I could have gone D;

    • Miyu says:

      Yessss it was so crowded you couldn’t have walked 3 steps without knocking into someone :/ not exactly enjoyable but then again the crowdedness did enhance the experience in some ways I guess xD

      Fly to Singapore for AFA’12 next year then! 😀

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