My shirt.

Being a Chronicle of the Events that Took Place during the First Day of the Anime Festival Asia on the Twenty-Second Day of the Eleventh Month of the Year Two Thousand and Eight of our Lady and Saviour Kyonko the Flat.

We have been invaded by young people.

After what would probably be a late start by any other standards but was ungodly early by mine, I managed to reach the appointed location for Anime Festival Asia 2008 by the simple expedient of following all the cosplayers. There were other events also being held in Suntec, which were probably meant to be rather more dignified if the distinguished attendees did not look so nonplussed at this sudden horde of young people in strange and literally outlandish clothes.

The queue for pre-registrees is suspiciously long, leading to us blocking the entrance to the convention hall proper. For some reason, passersby appear to see my particular place in the queue as a weak spot on which to breach the human barrier. I have, in the course of typing this paragraph, been interrupted by no less than six groups attempting to mark passage directly in front of me. I have not counted the number passing behind me, although it would be more aaccurate to say that I lost count.

Add three more groups making the crossing before me. I am almost convinced that the Shirt of Invisibility (+2) is, in fact, a Shirt of Please Inconvenience Me.

I'm almost at the pre-registration booth. More updates momentarily.

Have managed to get inside.

For lack of a better option, I actually tried taking photos with the webcam on my Eee. This did not work out so well, but anything is better than nothing, even if I looked like a blithering idiot in the process.

Bandai display.

Gundam models are given pride of place pretty much everywhere. I assume that other non-Gundam mecha models are also present, but if they are, I didn't recognize them. (Obviously.)

The crowd.

The place is kind of large, and yet with a cramped feel. I think it's because most of the booths are concentrated in one area, so everyone gravitates there; the area at the sides, if not walled off, are quite spacious.

Pretty Cure Max Heart.

Makkusu Haaato~

I wish I remembered whether the NaNoWriMo write-in was at the Arts House or at Geek Terminal.

Currently typing this next to a Lucky Star gashapon machine. It appears to be quite popular; in the five minutes I've hung out here, there have been three people trying their luck, and somewhat happy with getting Konata or Tsukasa, although apparently the real prize is Shiraishi. Strains of "wawawa wasuremono~" may well be heard and hummed.

There is also, around the other side of the hall, a Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya gashapon machine.

Haruhi gashapon.

I think I'm going to try my luck.

Well, I certainly hope nobody saw me try and fail to use the machine like a moron.

How does that thing work anyway?

Oh. Well, that explains it.

I shall try again tomorrow.

I asked A Friend Of Mine his opinions on the festival thus far. After some prompting, he produced:

not as fun as i thought it would be

Ladies and gentlemen, A Friend Of Mine.

There's a section of the convention hall walled off for some sort of seminar. I am unsure if it's free-entry, or if I need to have registered for it beforehand. Considering the quizzical glares I'm getting from the random techs at the entrance, probably best not to try my luck.

A pity, since it looks fascinating. Something about the market share of anime and assorted merchandise in Singapore.

I kind of pity the female MC on the stage trying to drum up enthusiasm from tired, cynical Singaporeans. No amount of money is enough.

An empty stage.

Just in case you wanted to know what the stage looks like, as taken through a shaky webcam.

I've exited the convention halls in order to procure some nourishment. I have ranged somewhat far afield in my search for affordable food, which does mean that I may not be able to find my way back. So it goes.

It is rather odd to see glimpses of cosplayers in various peculiar clothing in what were previously respectable establishments of dining.

When we left the convention hall, we were given what I can only describe as an invisible stamp on our arm. I am told it matches my invisible shirt.

I mentioned the presence of cosplayers earlier. There are rather more of them around now, or at least more cosplayers wearing recognizably cosplayish clothes. I've seen a couple of MoHS cosplayers, specifically one Mikuru and one Haruhi. There is also a girl cosplaying as Konata cosplaying as Haruhi. Mind blown, so on and so forth.

There are surprisingly few Bleach cosplayers, compared to my experiences in the US. No Kingdom Hearts cosplayers that I've seen, and the only Final Fantasy ones are a couple of girls in what looks like the Thief outfit from FF3.

I don't recognize a lot of the series the cosplayers are from. Of the ones I do, among the more well-done ones are three Sailor Moon cosplayers, namely Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter.

Lots of Elegant Gothic Lolita costumes. I'm not sure if there are corresponding anime, since I know none of them are from Rozen Maiden.

Have returned to the convention hall, and was immediately struck by the scent of eau de otaku.

Apparently the invisible stamp becomes visible when viewed under ultraviolet light. Mystery solved.

There is a talk by Kunio Okawara about the design of Gundams or something, although I suppose he's not talking about how to synthesize the Minovsky Particle for the betterment of all mankind, which may be less interesting than GIANT ROBOTS but considerably more awesome in the long run.

Part of the crowd, however, is far more interested in what I believe is a fairly famous cosplayer in the Singapore cosplay scene, mainly for his impressive costumes of various mecha. This time was some sort of Gundam or other, complete with glowing eyes and power reactor, or whatever that part is. I don't know, I'm not a mecha fan.

I wonder what Okawara-san thinks of this.

Met a couple more friends, this time with media passes, courtesy of GameSync (now, I suppose). Some questioning and abject pleading resulted in a possibility, by no means guaranteed, for me to be able to use whatever photos they may take gratis, although certainly with credit. They look very professional, in a scary kind of way.

Gundam-san is still standing in one spot for photos. I wonder how he goes to the bathroom.

The ground shakes and groans with the forces arrayed against us, or the bass subwoofers, which amount to the same thing. This is the Sky Crawlers preview, which tells the story of what appears to be an astonishingly depressing anime. Interest in this anime is hovering somewhere around the mark of zero.

Gundam-san has left and is mingling with the crowd, helmet off. Considering he's significantly more bulky in his costume, which also elevates him about thirty centimeters, he is still easy to spot.

I take a moment to rest, since it's not like I have anything better to do.

I may have created the Legend of the Camera-less Idiot With An Eee Webcam.

The swag here is pretty tempting, and I consider it unfortunately responsible of me to have left most of my spare cash at home. Impulse buying is a dangerous thing.

There are a few very nice figures on sale, but only a few. I assume that for Gundam fans, it is a treasure trove of models and kits, since they make up the vast majority of the boxes on sale here, but as mentioned, I am not a mecha fan.

A small-ish corner has been set aside for manga, in Chinese and English, plus a few loose Japanese volumes. The selection is, um, pitiful. I currently collect Lucky Star, which is not available, and the US Del Rey version of Negima, which is not available. There's the Chinese and English Chuang Yi translations, but I have heard that there is censorship. Not just of the "black bars over nudity" thing, but the wholesale removal of entire pages.

There is a 1/6 model of Mikuru Asahina in her battle waitress uniform. It costs S$70. I am so very tempted.

Soundwave, of the Decepticons, as an mp3 player, S$60.

So very, very tempted.

I have discovered that through a couple of years of near-constant use and possibly the day's rigours, my shoes are dangerously close to falling apart. Since I have no desire to finish the day barefoot, especially considering how much more I have to walk, I have decided to end the day here. From the schedule, I'm not going to be missing anything.

The problem with expecting to meet other bloggers at an event like this is that I don't recognize anyone, and so I have likely passed right by them without knowing.

So it goes.

Final Thoughts:
I am really not sure whether I should turn up for day two. AFA 08, so far, has been a merchandising paradise for mecha fans, but there is very little to offer for fans of moe.

Cons are more fun when you have friends to enjoy them with. I'm grateful to those who accompanied me on yet another circuit around the convention hall looking for something to do, but they got bored about as quickly as I did.

The only thing I can do is spend money on figures that I cannot display (no space, or at least no space that is not already taken up by books). Then again, I haven't really checked out the posters available, mostly because many of them are not for sale, or out of stock.

I'm going to see if I can inveigle myself into a meet-up with the other anime bloggers in Singapore. Maybe that will be incentive enough.

6 Responses to “AFA 08 – The First Day”
  1. Fantastic! Gashapons!

  2. Dark™ says:

    It was damn dissappointing. Hopefully tml will be better.Looking forward to see May'n

  3. tj han says:

    Nice account, but you… don't like anything do you? What exactly do you like in anime anyway? Boobies? Loli? Cat girls?

    As for page censorship, I don't think so. It's probably some urban legend, or old tale from the dark days.

  4. tj han says:

    Oh I didn't realise you were DKellis. OK, now I understand why you hate manly stuff.

  5. DKellis says:

    Actually, I do gravitate towards boobies, lolis, and catgirls. Not all at once, though.

    There's a difference between "not interested" and "hate". I've watched many mecha series over the course of my anime-watching life, and they just never click for me. The exceptions I can think of offhand are Magic Knight Rayearth, Big O, Vandread, and Stellvia.

    The page censorship thing comes from here. I cannot check, since I don't own the books.

  6. Zyl says:

    Aaah, you were leaving just as I arrived and was getting warmed up! Yeah, I also agree that it was inconvenient and dumb to have to venture out of the hall and jostle outside with all the Popular book fair people for nourishment.