With each successful event comes support for the next and Anime Festival Asia Singapore (AFASG) 2016 is no different. Back again for another run of the biggest Japanese Popular Culture event here in Singapore and the Region, AFASG 2016 returns to the level 4 halls of the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.
As expected, the crowd was out in full force with the school holidays and queues snaked all the way to the back of level 3 at times. Entry into the exhibition hall on level 4 did slow down due to the bottleneck at the wristband scanning and even at one point, there was a queue to exit as well due to the scanning. Not a big issue if you as me as a regular at the SingaporeGP which employs the same scanning system for entry and exit.
The event hall itself feels as they say, “same same but different” with last year. While merchandise is still the king, it feels neater this year with more space to move about. Although it did get extremely packed when special events are going on especially at the AKIBA Stage which saw the likes of Pikotaro performing the viral hit PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen) and of course meet and greet with popular cosplayer guest.
Talking about cosplayers, this year’s AFASG also saw big names in the cosplay scene making the trip down to Singapore. From crowd favourite Kaname☆ who has attended almost every year to Hana and Baozi which probably was the result of the screaming girls at the AFA Shop booth on Day 3. Cosplayers stayxxxx, Enako and Reika also added to a star studded line up this year.
The cosplay community also turned up in full force with level 3 (the usual hangout for cosplayers and photographers) packed to the brim at times that I wished I brought a wider prime lens this year. All the way to the meeting rooms inside level 3, you can find cosplayers, their helpers, event goers and photographers trying to find a good corner. The usual mobile studios in terms of giant reflectors and strobe lights also added to the sight and sounds of the convention area. Only thing to be thankful this year is the absence of any major dramas although it is highly encourage to remember to take care of your own belongings and watch your long costumes as you ride the escalators.
Support for our local artist was also strong this year with a whole section allocated to the creator’s hub which saw both new and familiar faces showcasing their wares. While there was some drama about a certain booth selling artwork belonging to an artist without permission, it was good to see the AFASG organisers stepping in to settle it. Other than that, it looked to be good business for everyone at AFASG and of course nice to see a familiar blue bird again.
One of the biggest draw for the various Anime Festival Asia events around the region is the I Love Anisong concerts and AFASG is no different. With big names coming in like TM Revolution, JAM Project, Aimer and May’n, the concert hall was the place to be with great performances from the artists and great encouragement from the audience with their cheers and synchronized light sticks.
It was good again to attend this year’s Anime Festival Asia Singapore and while my hope for more content this year did happen with the interesting Cool Japan Booth and even MSI partnering with Intel to showcase their latest hardware, it still felt merchandise heavy overall. Then again if one steps back and observe the many happy faces showing off their purchases to their friends and discussing about the latest Gundam model kit on the train, the Sozo team did get the balance right once again for another successful AFASG.
As a post on facebook showed the hashtags “#AFASG2016 #GG_No_More_Liaos #SEE_YOU #2017” on the AKIBA Stage panels, I do look forward to see what the people behind Anime Festival Asia have in store for fans of the Japanese Popular Culture.
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By Kenneth Wong
© POPCulture Online 2016