24
Nov
08

AFA08 Report Part 1

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Entering the Hall

Having been present at the convention from event start to close on both days, I’ve had the priviledge of being part of the long snaking queues waiting outside the hall to enter before opening time. Long queues really can’t be helped, Singaporeans just love their queues, so there was nothing the organisers could do to prevent that. It was a bit disorganized though with confusion on which line is which, but since it’s a first time event, I’m givin them a little leeway. At least when ticketing opened, they managed to clear the preregistrants faster than STCC did. And when the gates finally opened, we didn;t have to wait longer than we needed to. However, according to a friend who entered later in the middle of the day, he spent more than half an hour queuing up for tickets to enter the hall. Looks like there’s still room for improvement there.

The Event Grounds

Occupying two whole halls, putting it on par with STCC in terms of size, however in comparison there are alot fewer individual booths. Not surpising considering that STCC was trying to cover alot of areas of interest at one go and that AFA has to allocate space to accomodate VIPs and and other important guests. Anyway, fewer booths also equates to more walking space. Even at peak crowd, AFA did not reach the near claustrophobic levels of STCC.

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Also to make the experience more diverse there were different “experience zones” bringing different things to the table, with the zones ranging from meh (now an official english word!), to pretty informative.

Zones like the Shounen Jump exhibition were pretty plain and small. On the other hand “Anime Blockbuster” area took up alot of space for a place just to screen trailers of series appearing on local TV ad inifinitum, ad nauseum. Admittedly the displays were pretty nice, good for photo backdrops.

Being a big sponsor of the event, naturally Bandai got a big chunk of ground for their own use. The finalist entries in the BAKUC modeling competition were displayed in their Planet Mech section featuring top Gundam creations from the region. They also had an area showcasing their product lineup from chogokins to Ben 10 action figures, where those who attended STCC might experience Deja Vu.  Bandai also had small area for kids to try their hand out at Gundam modeling.

Contrary to what we initially believed, Japanese brands like Kotobukiya , Alter, Max Factory so on and so forth were not actually present at the event. Instead, local figure vendor Toy N Toys put up a display featuring some of the prominent products of these companies. You can pretty much have the same experience talking one walk around China Square Central. A little disappoiting in that regards.

Speaking of which, other than Toy N Toys, there were a few other vendors present at the event, small in number, but covering most bases. Other than the big players like Chuangyi and Takashimaya, venerable collector specialty shops like The Falcon’s Hangar, Vincent’s Toy Collection, Rapid Culture and La Tendo were also around. Of course the most popular booth was KKnM, with otakus all queuing up to get their pick of Anime merchandise. Members from the local industry were around as well. Imaginary Friends Studios promoting their latest book the Pepper Project. Odex selling their new reange of DVDs at pretty reasonable prices. Others represented include Encore Films, Granditech, Passion marketing, all promoting their indivdual businesses.

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A few of our local doujin groups taking up residence in the Artists Alley section and selling their doujin merchandise. These include Ctrl+Z, pcmaniac, KAMCAO and the ever popular Collateral Damage Studios whose AFA line up I hear kept selling out. Proudly displayed at their booth is a May’N signed Sheryl Nome of Macross Frontier banner of their own design (Not for sale of course!) with the accompanying Ranka Lee going up for sale during the event (Not sure if there were any takers at the end)

If you’re not there for the shopping however, there are a few other things to do. Japanese Studio 4 degrees had a booth showcasing a few behind the scenes info on their old and current projects Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond. Encore Films had an area dedicated to the upcoming movie the :”Sky Crawlers (see out post here). Animax also had an area to promote their upcoming “Anime” project LaMB (find out more here). Thw two local drawing competitions Mangaka and Graphite (organised by our friends at the NUS Comics and Animation Society) had areas showing off the winning entries of the competitions as well as other artwork including a few featured during Kaleidoscope.

If you’re the Arcade gaming type, an area called the Arena was set aside for players to test their mettle against each other in games like Initial D, Tekken 6 and Street Fighter 4. Tekken 6 was particularly popular with fights being broadcasted drawing quite sizeable crowds.

If you’re really interested in the industry , the Seminar area was used for numerous talks, lectures and panels. They were mostly of the dryer variety and really geared more for people in the business, as such this writer did not stick around much for them.

opening ceremony at the stageOpening ceremony at the stage

Last but not least, the huge Stage area. Naturally alot of space was given in preparation for the concerts being held there (and even then when the time came there was barely enough space!). The area also made a good place to take snapshots of attending cosplayers (More on that later)  . For most of the day, there were seats for people to rest theri feet and enjoy the perofrmances. Each day, the seats would be cleared to make way for concert standing space, and sectioned off for the different paying tiers. I have a few gripes about the stage design, but more on that later. There is always something going on at the stage at any point of the day, that will be covered in our next part!

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