Anime Festival Asia 2023: The 5 Standout Highlights

We bid goodbye to Anime Festival Asia 2023 (AFA 2023) — cue the credits and ending theme. The festival came back physically last year after a three-year hiatus with a record attendance of over 145,000, and this year, the event felt like a step up.

It was a milestone 15th edition for AFA 2023, and the festival certainly played up to the occasion with both familiar and new experiences on offer; even the crushing crowd did little to dampen the mood. If you’ve missed out on this year or simply want to reminisce, join in to see our favourite parts of the festival!


Anime Festival Asia 2023: HoYo FEST
Making memories with the Genshin Impact cast

As the first thing visitors see when they enter the convention halls, HoYo FEST immediately captures the attention with its booth at AFA 2023.

HoYoverse’s massively popular titles — Honkai Impact 3rd, Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail, and Zenless Zone Zero — were front and centre at the booth, which was divided into sections and featured different activities to check out.

The Genshin Impact section, for instance, allowed fans to snap a shot with their favourite characters; brought to life with the fantastic cosplay models at the booth. There was also a stage present where Eugene Eu, a Professional Shoutcaster (and friend of DANAMIC), showcased his commentating prowess while a HoYoverse was being played. Then there is the merch section, which gives fans the rare opportunity to get up close with the official merchandise and even purchase some selections that are exclusive to AFA.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of HoYo FEST was the appearance of Zenless Zone Zero, HoYoverse’s upcoming title. Fans could play a demo of the highly anticipated game, with different slices created to experience the story, combat, and exploration. I got to try my hand at it as well, and I can see why there is excitement, with the expressive combat and beautifully designed characters at the forefront of the demo — what a combination!


Anime Festival Asia 2023: Crunchyroll Booth
Crunchyroll ‘rolled’ out the orange carpet for their first appearance at AFA 2023

Over to the right side of the convention hall, Crunchyroll made their very first appearance at Anime Festival Asia, and it certainly made an impression!

Crunchyroll has been available in Southeast Asia for some time. Still, the company is gearing up its regional presence by bolstering its catalogue with simulcast anime and exclusive shows. The booth at AFA 2023 presented their burgeoning efforts for SEA, highlighted by the JUJUTSU KAISEN Experience that they made available for the public to try out.

Jujutsu Kaisen is an anime on the rise, and the currently airing Season 2 ups the hype factor with the adaptation of the Shibuya arc. For the curated experience, fan-favourite Gojo Satoru is the focus, where fans can immerse themselves in his Domain Expansion power through this 3-minute experience. 

Creator’s Hub

Anime Festival Asia 2023: Creatot's Hub
Busy days at the Creator’s Hub

The Creator’s Hub is back once again for Anime Festival Asia 2023, and just like in previous years, there is so much to find from all of the incredible creators exhibiting here.

As expected, the Creator’s Hub was one of the busiest sections of the entire event, but it is easy to see why! We saw all sorts of work showcased here — art prints, acrylic keychains, stickers, bags, and more. 

And then there’s the Cosplay Hub, which featured an expanded lineup of cosplayers with elaborate costumes; it certainly turned heads when the team explored this section of AFA 2023!

One thing I particularly liked about this year’s edition is how the area has been set up. The booths were arranged as vertical rows that you could snake through, which made going through the insanely crowded space a little bit easier. 

Day Stage

Anime Festival Asia 2023 brought out some big names for their Day Stage. The first day gave anime fans a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming seasonal periods, with premiere screenings for the anticipated anime adaptations of Chained Soldier and Tales of Wedding Rings

Day 2 was a day for visitors to check out their favourite voice actors (VAs)! Mushoku Tensei viewers met the voices behind Rudeus Greyrat and Sylphiette on the big stage as the VAs discussed their roles in the popular series. Meanwhile, the ever-cheery Sumire Uesaka headlined the next show to talk about the new Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian alongside author SunSunSun — my colleague, who is a fan, was giddy seeing the two talk about the upcoming show.

The last day of the Day Stage set the stage for the big hitters. Rurouni Kenshin and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba are household names in the anime world and the VAs for both shows delighted fans by making an appearance. In the afternoon, the powerhouse production company MAPPA also had a presence, with Manabu Otsuka (CEO of MAPPA) and Yuichiro Hayashi (Director, Attack on Titan) representing the company. Joining alongside them was Mari Okada, who tugged everybody’s heartstrings with Anohana, and she was here to promote her latest work, Alice to Therese no Maboroshi Kōjō, which MAPPA is producing. Seeing the trailer, the film is sure to be another emotional ride.


What’s anime without anisongs? As much as the shows we love are defined by the hyped-up action sequences or the captivating plot, anisongs play a massive role in immortalising anime into our memory. And the AFA x I LOVE ANISONG concerts provided us the platform to rock out to our favourite tunes with the artists themselves!

Tatsuya Kitani set the ball rolling as the first act, the highlight serenading the audience with Where Our Blue Is, the first opening theme song for the newest season of Jujutsu Kaisen

Survive Said the Prophet upped the ante. Vinland Saga is a show that many, including me, thoroughly enjoy with its multifaceted look at violence and revenge, but you can’t overlook its first opening song, Mukanjyo — it is a certified banger. Survive Said the Prophet, the band behind the song, dropped by for this year’s AFA x I LOVE ANISONG and lit up the stage with a live rendition of the hard-hitting song.

In a surprise, NANO joined them during their session. The singer, also known for her songs on shows like Btooom!, was a guest for AFA x I LOVE ANISONG but appeared early to further electrify the atmosphere. She continued where she left off for her show, stirring the crowd while performing FIGHT SONG and Freedom is Yours.

Those are our highlights from Anime Festival Asia 2023! It’s been a great festival, and if you were also at the event like us, we hope that you got enough figures and merch for all of us too — there was simply too much to choose from!

While AFA 2023 may be over, we can start looking forward to the next edition coming in the new year. To keep updated on the news from Anime Festival Asia, be sure to check their socials on Facebook and Instagram

Photos by Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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