Since Shinn was kind enough to let me use his Anime Festival Asia pass this year, if you happen to of run into me at the event you would of also met the little man in my pocket...
First order of business, meet up with Ci and pick up the media pass. My other friend had to stand in line for a normal ticket. I did note that even though we arrived a little before 10am (doors open at 10), the line-up to purchase a ticket was less than an 40 mins long. Not great, but definitely not that bad.
Media pass in hand, we went into the con. First up on the schedule, anime screening? Well we missed the first 40 minutes and couldnt find out way past the big black curtain where the screening was supposedly being held. No mater. (Protip: It would be damn useful if you put what you were screening. Hurrrrrrrrrrr).
Mainstage Events (that we attended):
We found ourselves at the Mamoru Hosoda Summer Wars Preview/Talk session. The session kicked off with a preview video for Summer Wars (slated for Feb 25, 2010 in Singapore), followed by the arrival of Justin Sevakis (from ANN), and Mamoru Hosoda (along with his translator, I didn't get her name).
Most of the talk focused on Hosoda's depiction of what Summer Wars is, how "family" is really important in Summer Wars and a little about the staff and how many were the same staff from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. At the end of his talk, the audience was allowed to ask questions. A very detailed post on this talk can be found at animenauts. Pretty interesting but nothing really exciting from the whole talk imo.
The next mainstage event we attended were the Regional Cosplay Championships. We arrived a little late for this one and got a standing spot far in the back (that would explain the lack of photos on my part for this event). I was amazed at how much effort was put, not only into the costume, but the skits and presentation of the costumes. Being in character sure does go a long way.
Unfortunately after that, none of the other mainstage events after that attracted me, and since we covered most of the floor already, we decided to head out grab some food and catch Evangelion 2.0 : You Can (Not) Advance.
The second day was spent mostly meeting up with people and taking photos of cosplayers (and watching Eva 2.0 a second time)... so just some random photos:
Perhaps it was all the hype and excitement, but on day 1 I found myself seriously underwhelmed. Usually the first thing I do at any convention is stroll around and see where everything is, see what there is to do etc. Covering the convention floor in under an hour, I found it small and littered with some seemingly unrelated booths (I mean common, rechargeable batteries booth?)
Another complaint is that aside from their mainstage events, there really wasn’t much to do. I can name a few alternatives on one hand: Maid Café, Weiβ Schwarz, fandub booth or sing some animu songs at the singing booth. What this means is that, if you weren’t interested in their showcase event of the hour (I seriously don't care about Danny Choo, nothing personal), you were pretty much forced to make circles around the convention floor or find something else to do.
The biggest disappointment was the absurdly small artist alley. 6 tables. SIX. I think one of the best things about cons are the artist alleys.
That being said, the guests were top notch. K-ON VAs, Danny Choo, Mamoru Hosoda, Kaname and the whole crew that came out for I <3 Anisong. That’s one amazing line-up. Of course the I <3 Anisong required an extra $180 SGD which I wasn’t willing to part with (seeing as how I only really care about Shokotan and May’n, and I already saw Shokotan for free at the HKAGC a few months earlier).
Aside from the star studded guest-list, I think the cosplayers that came out for AFA made the whole event worthwhile. The quality of the cosplay is unrivaled to any other con I’ve been to so far, and that in itself is spectacular. I loved how everyone was so into their roles, their dedication, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to just sit/stand there for hours on end so that people can come by and photograph them. Those that were completely immersed into their roles blew me away and made the whole experience so much more fun.
I do regret not being more patient with AFA (I ran off in the afternoon of day 1 to watch Evangelion 2.0 on the bigscreen), and I’m sure I missed out by skipping the I <3 Anisong event, but what can you do?
My verdict? AFA 09 didn't blow me away by any means, the event itself as a little too corporate, a little to small, a little … boring. But the people were great, and its definitely got the potential to be something better. Lets just say it's got me interested enough to attend again next year.
Oh I also did pick up some loot:
Edit: Shinn's blog hates me and won't let me do Flickr stream embeds. You can see the AFA09 flickr stream here instead