Ah, anime. It forms a big part of Japanese culture and has now seen itself take root in other countries. With so many different genres and art styles, finding someone who doesn’t know about anime is a rarity nowadays.
In Singapore, we are also rather big on the whole anime thing here, with the largest anime festival in Southeast Asia – Anime Festival Asia (AFA) being held here annually. However, it sadly had to take a break from physical events for three whole years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with restrictions having more or less eased up over the past year or so, we finally had another physical iteration of AFA this year, and we were able to head down to the event to have a look and soak in the atmosphere of the festival this year!
Some of us here at DANAMIC are big anime fans, so we were excited about the event itself. Arriving bright and early on the morning of the 25th of November, we headed down to Suntec City’s Convention Centre for AFA 2022!
Imagine our surprise when we first arrived at the place. It was completely packed, on a Friday no less. Tons of cosplayers decorated the crowds, where brightly-coloured wigs stood out in an otherwise constant sea of black hair.
We picked up our media passes from the counter right outside the day stage, before heading into the exhibition hall. Upon entering, a blast of cold air greeted us, and then a giant mural of Eren Yaeger in his Titan form. Almost like the anime came to life.
That turned out to be for the Hakken! Store where you could get official anime merchandise from popular anime such as SPYxFAMILY, Blue Lock, Chainsaw Man, and Genshin Impact. Some of the merchandise on display in-store included figurines, plushies, keychains, body pillows and more!
Such was the popularity of certain items that they were gone within half an hour, though understandably, the characters such as Pochita from Chainsaw Man and Bond Forger from SPYxFAMILY have captured the hearts of many. Still, it was rather disappointing to miss out on them for ourselves.
To the right of the Hakken! Store was the Genshin Impact exhibition, where the most notable icon there was a teleport waypoint that was easily the most prominent item inside the exhibition hall, making it a pretty popular landmark for people to meet up at, with many sitting along the wall nearby.
Venturing further inside, we reached the Creator’s Hub, one of the new additions to AFA in 2022. It allows artists and creators alike to showcase their works, and at the same time sell some of their artworks to the public, which makes it an excellent place for newcomers to gain recognition!
The entirety of the Creator’s Hub takes up almost one-third of the exhibition hall, but even then, moving around it was a pain because of how crowded it was, even though we expected it. You could also see who the popular creators were, with lines snaking along the walkways, which sometimes ended up blocking the paths of others.
Most of the artworks were extremely beautiful, so at least the bottle-necked walkways had a sort of museum gallery viewing feel. At the same time, however, they were rather pricey, with some of them coming in at S$40, but creators have to earn money somehow, so who am I to judge?
To the left of the Creator’s Hub was the Akiba Stage, where events such as performances and interviews were held. We managed to catch performers such as Narutee, who was playing anime songs on the piano, which was very relaxing, yet oddly hype at the same time. There were also cosplayers from Tier One Entertainment who had an interview on stage afterwards.
The last performance we saw was by AKIBA SONIC, as part of the Anisong DJ Stage, and they were remixing familiar Japanese songs, getting the crowd up on their feet. Everyone was hyped during their performance, and it was rather amusing to see people with coloured hair jumping up and down.
Walking a little further down the aisle, we reached the food street. There were a few options, such as snacks, gyu-don (beef with rice), mentaiko foods with rice and katsu sandwiches, to name a few. There was even a Nissin booth selling cup noodles at roughly S$2.50 a cup, which isn’t too bad, but we weren’t planning to eat cup noodles at an event. Instead, we sampled the fried squid balls (which were decent) and left to have our lunch in Suntec City itself.
After lunch, we went back to check out the Day Stage, where Obey Me! was having its segment. It’s an otome game where you’re the master over multiple hot guys, so you can tell who the target demographic is. So rather unsurprisingly, the first thing we heard upon walking in was shrieks of joy and screams.
Next up on stage, however, was Hakken, one of the most well-known cosplayers around, so we were greeted by EVEN MORE screaming; Our poor ears were not happy. She had an interview session, where she gave some sneak peeks of what she would be cosplaying for the remainder of AFA and what’s next for her.
As we started to wind down our day in AFA 2022, we decided to check out the remaining half of the exhibition hall we had yet to explore. Our first stop was the La Tendo booth, which was disappointing due to how they had limited stock, and the prices weren’t any different than their official store in Suntec City, so it would’ve been better if we were to head there instead.
Next up on our list was the Cosplay Hub, which was mediocre, with only thirteen booths for cosplayers to sell their products and take pictures. It was rather forgettable to us, so perhaps it’ll be bigger next time round.
We then stopped by the gank. booth where popular local content creator Rurusama was participating. Being the degenerate I was, I went ahead and got a picture together with her! I got a polaroid out of it as well, so it was a great experience for me!
Our last stop of the day was Kotobukiya, a well-known Japanese company for its high-quality figurines of popular anime figurines. They were displaying a few unreleased ones, such as Rengoku and Tanjiro from Demon Slayer and Yui Yuigahama from Oregairu, to name a few.
That concluded our Anime Festival Asia experience for 2022! As a whole, the event was still enjoyable but could be better. You could finish touring the exhibition hall within an hour or two, and most of the merchandise were items you could probably find outside. Even so, the performances and overall crowd atmosphere were infectious, and we still found ourselves enjoying it nonetheless!
Visuals courtesy of Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team.