05
Dec
08

AFA Coverage FINAL PART

Click here to return to our coverage contents page.

Finally! We’ve come to the last part in our series of coverage of Anime Festival Asia 2008. Over the past week plus, I’ve been writing and describing the sights and sounds of the conventionas best as memory serves. All that remains now is writing down my own opinion of the event as a whole, having gotten the full two days experience.

When AFA was first announced, it was still in its planning stages and with so little infor to work on, it garnered rather lukewarm response from the community, especially with people’s generally unfavourable opinion of Singapore Toy and Comic Convention (STCC) earlier this year still fresh in mind. But as more announcements came out, everyone stood up and started to pay alot more attention to it, each wave of news helping to build up anticipation for the event until it was hailed to be the MUST attend event of the year for Anime fans here in the region (and beyond). With such high hopes, everyone had different expectations for the event, so when AFA came and went, different people carried away different opinions on how it was. So in the end, did AFA succeed as an anime event?

Well, I myself thought AFA as a whole was great! I had my fun and thought it was worth my time and money. Of course, this comes from someone who actually liked STCC, I’m generally very easy to please when it comes to these things, the thought that Singapore can actually play host to such a big anime event is enough to make me look upon it in a more positive light than others. However, judging from online response, it would seem that most, not all, but most people share the same affirmative sentiment, and are likely to be return attendees if the event is ever held again. With large numbers in attendance and favourable opinion from the community, It can be said that commercially AFA is definitely a big success.

Though AFA was good as a whole, I find that the main factor that elevated it to “Great” status were the presence of the guest speakers and singers, and I am extrememly thankful the AFA organisers managed to get them down here to Singapore. Without them however, AFA would have been a rather uninteresting convention with some parts that are passable and others that are just rather lacking.

Quickly going through the main problems, some of which I’ve covered ine earlier parts, the selection of vendors were hardly remarkable, pretty much a narrowed version of STCC. Outside of a few pretty good bargains, you get a similar experience out of a Sunday at China Square Central.  Participation from the doujin community was pretty limited as well, with just 4 groups participating. Now while it is impossible to get Comiket level participation, i would like to have seen more, if not Singaporean, maybe regional doujin groups. Likewise we were also expecting more participation from the industry. Bandai ended up being the only company present, while other companies were “represented” by a local vendor.  Some of the choices of stage events were rather questionable and felt like filler ( 5 second Stadium being the main one I’d single out). In these regards there is definitely room for improvement. Hopefully the relative success of this year’s events will empower them to be more ambitious in the next one.

One thing I noted about the convention, it was evident from the choice of special events, exclusives and guests that the convention had a strong Mecha slant. It was practically a Mecha fan’s dream come true, with some of their worshipped industry legends coming down and the exclusives being almost entirely geared towards them. As one who is inclined towards that genre, it did not affect me too much, but I have noted disappointment in others who have different tastes in anime as they’d hoped that as an Anime convention, there would be fairer representation of all aspects of the medium.

Now the reasons for this are obvious. The mecha genre is a pretty much confirmed seller, its merchandising power is almost universal, especially with powerhouses like Gundam. The foreign organisers are probably unsure on how well other stuff like the moe genre flies with the Singapore crowd, going with mecha seems like a safer bet, especially for a first time event. Bandai as a sponsor helps too. Now that they’ve tested the waters, they might try to branch out for future iterations.

As the higlight of the event, this year’s lineup of convention guests is already pretty impressive, and their participation is a step in the right direction. Not only will it encourage the organisers to invite more such guests to come down to Singapore, hopefully we’ve also left a good enough impression that this year’s guests will in turn help coerce others to come down for the next event if offered a guest spot (like when Aniki promised to turn up next year if he could, with “friends”) I’d especially like to see more creators coming down. There are some cries from the online community for Seiyuus (voice actors) to come down, though I personally think it’s less likely to happen.

One of my other regrets for the event is a personal one. I really should have applied for a media pass, but did not because I didn’t realise they were handing it out so freely. Would have saved me alot of time wasted queuing and sitting around for good spots for the concert (and I could have gotten closer to Aniki!). Ah well, in the end, I do not regret spending $8 for two days admission as I definitely derived quite alot of enjoyment out of the event. It was money well spent.

AFA proved to be a grand experience for most as well as suceeding as a testbed for more similar events in the future. While there were a few disapppointments, it was not to the extent that people will boycott the event in the future, I can instead say that most are looking forward to the next time. Hopefully by its next iteration, it will be leaner, meaner and all the more awesome than the first.

So with that comes the end of our long series of AFA coverage. *phew* I can’t believe it turned into a full blown uni-length essay. I apologise for its daunting length, I just have a penchance for verbosity and tend to ramble into incoherence. I’d like to thank all of you who have been following, especially those who read through it in its entirety. Until next time, this is Gestaltgeek (AKA primeparadigm) from AnimeWorks signing off for now!

Hope to see you next year!

Hope to see you next year!

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