What better way to relax in the midst of a final year project, impending examinations and graduate applications? Nope, it is not to procrastinate and write another anime review. The ‘solution’ (if it is even one) is to spend 1.5 days at C3 Anime Festival Asia (AFA). Specifically, half a day on 24th November and a full day on the 25th. It’s one of those times when you think you finally want some human interaction (but not really), put all the physical equations at the back of your head and just be overwhelmed by the moe, the memes and also the cringe. Without further rambling, I’ll shall start emptying my mind of my experiences at my first AFA event (whether I will come again next year depends on a few factors).
** Warning: Post is super…super…super long (because of pics) **
I told myself repeatedly that I will not make the same mistake again. If I happen to see a Spice and Wolf merchandise, I’m going to get it before another fan takes the stock away. With that, I brought my mum (yeap… she’s already influenced by the heartwarming & dramatic genre anime which I introduced to her) to the event. It was only 9.45am in the morning, and yet there was a ridiculously long queue from the upper floor to the lower. Kind of surprising because it is a weekday – but kind of not, because it is now school holidays (and uni students are probably slacking off before their exams too… only to blame the bell-curve later). It wasn’t a long wait before we finally reached the entrance though (and then my mum decided to leave me on my own).
Of course I was being an idiot again, walking around with the camera in my hand (this time, I brought my SD card so all’s fine) and taking pictures like there’s no tomorrow. Every second I spend surveying the area means a higher chance that my desired merchandise would be gone. But in some way its okay, since every booth was swarmed with people. I can’t really be bothered with squeezing with the crowd unless I really know that the merchandise is available (there was no mention, so let’s just ‘assume’). I have included the map below, and my haphazard brownian motion through the place.
^Oh look… Lots of people…
^”Central shopping district”
^A couple of exhibitions (I still have no idea what’s Bilibili)
^ And there are those promoting VNs and VRs
^ Typical queue-craze that goes on at conventions
(or maybe it’s just a SG-thing)
^ Embrace the art – With music or with illustrating
^ Or you can hop into your Otome and … … Mecha-girl fantasies (That comparison)
*The next photo is actually not really family-friendly. (But I think the writings are too small to actually see what was written) — Plus, Doki Doki Literature Club spoilers*
Unlike the CharaExpo event which had a Magic (is it magic? I think not… right its called Vanguard.) tournament area, the Doujin or more officially known as The Creators Hub is established as a ‘replacement’. Avid Japanese culture individuals (or maybe you like the term ‘otaku’) would know this as the place where they can get their *ahem* beloved books and illustrations of their favourite *ahem* characters (you guys probably know the term for that).
I’m glad to announce without embarrassment that the Doujin sector is rated NC16 and not higher (like in the case of Japan’s Comiket). Maybe the rating is higher than NC16, but at least for myself, I didn’t see any of that. What I was overwhelmed with were plenty of original artists and their illustrations, designs (of keychains, scrolls, artwork) and so forth. I saw lots of illustrations of the more popular anime like Eromanga-Sensei, Fate, Blend-S (Surprise! (not)), Yuri on Ice!!! (etc…) as well as my favourite Touhou Project franchise.
It was almost suffocating in the Doujin sector that I left quickly after a quick tour of all the participants’ booths. I was more interested in the Touhou stuff, and particularly Momiji (if you remember my Five Flaming Hotties post), so I’d stop by again when it isn’t that suffocating.
With that, I journeyed through the complex to look at exhibitions of Saekano-Flat and the upcoming Violet-Evergarden. The studios exhibited their artistic designs (coloured to perfection) and key frame works respectively. It’s really amazing how detailed and aesthetically alluring the artworks are that you got to appreciate the amount of effort they are putting into what they love to do (even if the pay isn’t as rewarding).
In addition to these two exhibits, there were also exhibits ‘selling’ other anime series as well (i.e. Black Butler and Grancrest Senki), and another ’empty’ exhibit of some anime I’ve never heard of before (I’d like to correct myself: Shinkukan Dolls is a game).
Of course, there are also giant figurines of mechas (Gundam to be specific), life-size figurines of anime characters as well as a ton of enlarged cover wallpapers for their respective anime series. There’s like a big cluster at ODEX market and another cluster at MUSE market. I shouldn’t forget to mention the other cluster at Kadokawa (unfortunately thanks to their location, they are kind of isolated…).
And here are the different figurines at AFA. Coming in all sizes from small to gigantic.
And then there are those that you can’t take home. ↓
At the back of the convention space are where all the food stuffs are. I totally didn’t bother with this corner (because I wanted healthier food… like you know… McDonalds), but here are some photos of this specialized area:
While I was happily snapping photos of the exhibition itself, I was interrupted by a staff at “なわとび ジャンパー”. He called me over to try playing a game, and that he would video me using my camera (how embarrassing – not). It was a rope-skipping game (how long has it been since I’ve played that? like 8 years at least?), which as expected I failed miserably – and therefore failed the mission. But it was a pretty interesting gaming mechanic they are using by employing a vibrational sensor to detect your skips (to be honest its a basic physics concept of impulse, acceleration and jerk). Here’s a photo to keep you entertained having read this far into the post.
It was 12pm+, and up till then I’ve not yet spotted a single Spice & Wolf merchandise. I don’t know if I should leave empty handed since there wasn’t anything else I wanted that warrants an irrational desire to buy it. Weighing the cost of the entrance fee ($13 FYI) and the rate which goods would probably disappear (by) tomorrow, I decided to make some simple purchases regardless.
1) Don’t have anything you really want? (check).
2) Is there Touhou? (check).
3) Anything remotely fine that can contribute to an anime collection? (check).
4) Is the Lucky Draw ガチャ cheaper than buying the goods itself? (check).
5) Is it fine if you get the least awesome price ball? (check).
OK, let the new experience for this convention event be ガチャ spamming!
Ok, I didn’t really spam so much on these games, its just one booth with Angel Beats! goods and another two with Touhou stuff.
I wasn’t expecting a good prize – indeed the ones at Anime Toys Store are ridiculously difficult to get a non-white ball prize. I felt like I wasted my money on their lucky draws, but I guess I did get some nice panel art of Tachibana, Yuri, Yui and Iwasawa. I don’t know who the Touhou characters illustrated are though.
I had better luck at the Doujin corner nearing the end of my Day 1 tour. $10 for a $25 cushion of Flandre Scarlet. Yeap, Flandre’s my pet and needs to be hugged everywhere she goes so that she doesn’t go berserk (ok now that’s just creepy — no I’m not referring to Flandre).
And that’s the end of day 1 – A Touhou harvest
(my goodness, the post is already this long. =.=)
Although its my first AFA event, I learnt something very important over the 2 days which I ‘participated’ in. The prices for some goods are likely to fall or better offers will be made on the subsequent day(s). Now that’s one important aspect (for SG’reans it is probably the most crucial aspect X’D) when considering a purchase. All the more that I have to take note of it, because Holo’s not going to be happy if there isn’t enough Trenni in the pouch for a hundred apples.
To be honest, I didn’t really want to spend any more (and my wallet’s already burnt from the concert ticket price), but there is a chance that I won’t be returning for next year’s AFA event. I gave in and collected a delightful set of Mekaucity keychains, which I can probably use them to indicate my mood for a particular day now. To add to my debt I further bought an Angel Beats! t-shirt – It’s not the most beautiful or epic one out there, but now I do have an anime-genre shirt which I could wear outside (I don’t mind being judged? Sure, but Angel Beats! is a decent anime.)
Since I spent quite a lot on the merch, I had to settle for onigiris for lunch and dinner…
*Don’t bother buying shirts with awesome designs – Some are priced at 99$ or more for both coloured and black-white designs*
Enough with the small talk, I have more important things to discuss such as the dialogue between VisualArt’s president Takahiro Baba and TheAnimeMan (yeap, he came to Singapore). I shall skip all the unimportant details like the small talk between the hosts and the guests and go straight to the juicy stuff – For the event, the studio delivered free 1st release (obviously it’s limited edition) artbooks as well as illustration wallpapers (A3++) of their franchise. One thing I learnt about these free give-aways is that you ought to stand out from the rest of the fans. (Why be ashamed when the whole convention is full of otakus anyways? oh wait… there’s this juicy SG gossip news site ‘run’ by its people…) Why? Because all the winners of the give-away were either doing some cosplay or wearing some awesome t-shirt of an anime, or… like you know doing “The Lion King” of an anime plush/cushion(maybe a dakimakura).
So expose yourself out there! At least in SG, it’s high risk high reward. Limited edition stuff don’t come by knocking on your doorsteps everyday. (Especially signed ones)
Since I had a GA ticket, this meant I could access the day-stage for some anime showcase awesomeness.
First was the Saekano:Flat showcase. The hosts decided to play it out by showing the Top-5 scenes as indicated by participants of the convention, and have the seiyuu/producer to talk about it (by the way, the producer Manabu Jinguiji is having his first stage exposure overseas – he looks like the introvert kind, so it must have been quite an experience for him). I have yet to watch Saekano:Flat, let alone Saekano S1, and this showcase is a huge spoiler for me (but whatever). Most of the scenes picked were the emotional-bomb ones which, for someone who doesn’t know anything like me, nearly made me cry even though I have absolutely no context/background of the show’s progression. I think, that pretty much explains how impactful those scenes were particularly with the context known. #Ididnotcomeforthefeels.
Next up was Violet Evergarden, which not only featured the seiyuu, OP/ED singers, the producers, but also an invited cosplayer (But I felt quite bad for the cosplayer, because it seemed as though she was pulled up there just for ‘plot development’). Participants were treated to the full OP and ED songs of the upcoming series. I prefer the OP titled “Sincerely” (sung by TRUE with that awesome strong voice) because it had a more soulful taste to it. The ED (titled “みちるしべ” – michirushibe) is sung by Minori Chihara (I overheard some people were saying Minori Chihara’s voice was ugly – like what? – she sang Kyoukai no Kanata’s OP and voiced Nase, don’t be so mean T.T) which has a tiny bit of Guilty Crown – Departures essence to it. Both songs are relatively slow-paced which brings out the loneliness that will be highlighted in the anime series. Those who went for this session have an unfair advantage over other anime watchers, because we got a preview of the entire Episode 1 of VE (yeap you got that right). I’m not going to do a first impressions post but I shall summarize my take-away from that screening session.
Violet Evergarden, done by KyoAni.
Plot with a pattern, (probably will be) liked by many.
The usual visual feast, OST is nice at least.
Starts off empty, should develop aplenty.
Didn’t cry, I won’t lie. (for Ep1)
Right on to the main event of Day 2! The AniSong concert starring…
 Moso Calibration (Opening Act)
 Konomi Suzuki (YEAAAAAAAA)
 TRUE (Please sing the songs I know)
 ClariS (It’s now Clara/Karen though)
 nano (Oh yeah, rock/metal-rock… I don’t know much of hers actually however)
This is going to be the first and last time I’m attending the concert for AFA. Reasons being, I am going to run out of Trenni coins faster than I can earn them. Furthermore, R.I.P ears even though the general-admission viewers are flushed to the rear of the concert hall (well done, sound hall design).
*Photos in this section come from AFA’s facebook site – for some reason they are a bit low-quality.*
When it comes to vocal concerts like these, there’s one important thing you can learn about the performers – You will be able to tell who relied heavily on post-production editing and who don’t. I was interested in Seishun Prologue from Saekano:Flat due to its nice catch and style as compared to Sakura-iro Diary (I know they aren’t that poetic as songs, but that’s fine). But I was kind of disappointed when they sung in the opening act, because they did sound out-of-practice or out-of-stamina. Well you know, maybe the best is saved for the last – Since the performer was not made known until right before the next act. I’m kind of ashamed that I couldn’t name all the songs sung that day (I have a rather limited watched-list after all). But I could at least figure out these (chain-spam coming):
Konomi Suzuki: (1hr)
 Blow Out (blast!)  Redo  There is a Reason (teared)  This Game (last song)
 Sincerely (VE special)  Dream Solister (Ending with a hype!)
 Nexus  Hitorigoto  CLICK  Connect  Reunion (last song)
^ There were a bunch that were at the tip of my tongue… but couldn’t figure out
 No Pain No Gain … … I didn’t know the rest (lol)
Konomi Suzuki’s one really strong vocalist. We can figure out by listening to the anisongs that she sings for various anime. She’s a singer, and so doesn’t really do voice acting in anime. The really awesome thing about her is that, not only does she sing intense songs like Absolute Soul, Redo and Blow Out, she’s able to channel emotion into There is a Reason, the latest song from NGNL:0. You can really tell that she’s super passionate in singing anisongs, and yet pretty humble about it as well (She’s probably the only one who bowed a perfect 90degree bow) thanking the fans and promising to deliver better performances. To be honest, after her act I was ready to go home (10/10 perfect).
I came to know about TRUE’s songs (actual name: Miho Karasawa) starting from Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteriu (Dear Answer) and later Hibike Euph’s (Dream Solister). I’m still not very well exposed to TRUE’s song catalog but one thing I can say for sure is that her style sounds unique to me (at least) and mostly motivating. I placed the two songs mentioned above on replay for a few days after I got fully hooked onto them.
Come on, I don’t think I need to introduce the current duo who are making waves in the Anisong scene. Not only have Clara, Alice (alumni) and Karen sang inspiring songs on the anichart, they have also given equally motivating non-anime songs. This should be how Jap-pop songs are like; not those overly-moe (so exaggerated that it’s a little off-putting for me) mush that is idol-centric. (ok to be fair, I’m biased on this point, and its quite harsh to those girl-groups). As their name suggests, their style and vocalizations are bright and clear. It’s really uplifting when you listen to them, and even more meaningful when you understand their lyrics.
They will actually sing Beatless’ ED titled PRIMALove. (Speaking of Beatless, GARNiDELiA will be doing the OP – Hope it will be awesome!)
*Also, the fans did their homework and lighted their wotagei sticks pink and green.
As with concerts, it is the performers’ duty to keep the audience hyped and on their feet. Konomi Suzuki came in like a blast and ended off with a hype note with everyone’s beloved NGNL. Then TRUE maintained that pace and gave a strong push at the end with Dream Solister. ClariS didn’t need intense songs to bring on the hype – Just their presence alone got the crowd roaring (so much so that their soft voices couldn’t be heard when they tried to ‘introduce’ themselves).
And then there’s nano. Originally doing covers on Nico Nico Douga, she brought a ton lot of great intense anisongs. I was introduced to her from the game Osu! – Allowing me to find a number of songs familiar during the performance (but not familiar enough to know their names). In this Anisong concert, she literally rocked the stage and the ground below it. While I do not appreciate her songs as much as the others (because its loud?), they are definitely comparable to those awesome beats of Kanako Ito. She really engages the crowd, which more than compensates the exorbitant ticket prices. Oh, I should also mention that she gave the crowd a couple of rock English songs from her 5th Anniversary album (*hint hint*) The Crossing. Currently these songs aren’t used in any anime yet, but its possible that they would be implemented in the future.
With that, I’ve had a funexhausting Day 2 (Walking around aimlessly all day). I didn’t have enough of the Anisongs though, so that means headphones-on-ears-plugged as I commuted home.
Anddddd…. That’s not the end. (Note: End of day 2 – A Kagerou harvest)
I made a (non-existent in this edited version) promise that I will show you my merchandise harvest over the past 2 days. It’s a little too many this time, and they all could hardly fit on my bed. Enjoy~ (or go ahead and feel jealous; or more appropriately, laugh at me because I wasted so much money on things that can’t be used =| )
At the moment of writing this, there is a 70% chance I won’t be back next year. Reason 1 being I don’t want to spend 30$ on two day’s worth of entrance fees apart from further expenditure on merchandise, and Reason 2 being Holo isn’t there, and Reason 3 is a secret (maybe I’ll let you all know when next year comes, but that depends).
It has come to my attention that something ridiculous actually happened during the AFA event. I wasn’t there to see it, but someone posted this on 9gag.
WTH – Someone call the police!!!
Yea… If you look at how I phrased it… (Have some decency to show some respect for the character. 😐 The real world is not an anime.)
1] “AniCulture: Anime Festival Asia 2017 (Singapore)” Cover Photo (edited)
2] Photos ~ Myself
3] Concert Photos
4] Merchandise ~ From various suppliers