AFA stands for Anime Festival Asia, and is a regional event that’s held annually in Singapore. This is the fourth time it’s been held, and it’s also the biggest yet. Here are some thoughts, and some badly-taken pictures.

AFA isn’t the only event held in Singapore that caters to the otaku/anime/cosplay crowd, there’s a few others scattered throughout the year such as EOY and STGCC, but AFA is by far the largest and often has special guests flying in from Japan.

There’s also a concert thing, but I don’t care about that! I really don’t! If you do, you can read about it here: http://sgcafe.com/2011/09/anime-festival-asia-2011-september-media-preview-live-coverage/

Fate Zero playing on a screen

There’s two parts to the main event, the Festival and the Stage area. The Festival area is where all the tiny, cramped booths are where you can buy figurines and prints and shirts and tapestries and files and plushies and shit like that for 2x the price that they normally sell at, all to help line the various distributors’ pockets.

ODEX runs a booth. You could buy stuff from them!

There’s also various special attractions every year that never quite seem to repeat themselves. In 2009 there was a karaoke machine which doesn’t exist anymore, 2010 brought about a SEGA exhibition with Project Diva arcade machines, which also ceased to exist. What we do have this year though, is a NicoNico Douga Livestream (http://info.nicovideo.jp/afa2011/), where you can choose to be interviewed for the world to see. Otherwise, more or less it’s the same stuff year by year.

NicoNico Livestream

The stage area is vaguely more interesting. Each year, various important people from various places come down to give talks, presentations or performances at the stage area, most likely for self-promotion purposes. Danny Choo is a frequent guest, and is actually the translator for this year’s events.

Stage stuff is usually quite interesting, since you can get to meet various seiyuu(I saw Chiwa Saitou and the Milky Holmes gang today), and sometimes they speak English! It’s the kawaii kind of English where everything is mispronounced, but in a cute way.

There’s also lots of cosplay, which is always nice too I guess.

That concludes my fact dispensation, here’s some personal thoughts now:

I’ve been attending these since 2009, so this would be the third one I’ve attended. It’s by far the most crowded, and probably better-run than the previous ones too. Still, this happens:

Shit.

I have no desire whatsoever to become a human pancake, but AFA doesn’t give me a choice in the matter. The amount of space for this year is actually more than the previous year in terms of floor space, but in practice that means jack shit. Walking about is a nightmare, and you will be forced to become a chikan in the process of getting from point A to point B.

It helps that people love to stand still in the middle of aisles to take photographs too. Singapore must have the highest DSLR-to-population ratio, almost everyone seems to carry one around.

I don’t know how cosplayers feel about this, but it must be quite terrifying for them too. When one person stops to take a photograph, the person next to them stops and whips out their huge, telescopic lens with umbrella-thing camera to take a photograph too. It’s not long before they’re surrounded in a semicircle with flashes constantly going off. It must be terrifying.

Luckily, this guy has armor.

This kind of makes me sad, and I don’t really bother trying to take photographs of cosplayers since it’ll be impossibly crowded once I take a picture. It was slightly better last year, when there was a huge empty hall for all the cosplayers to gather in. This time though, the cosplayers were left to fend for themselves, gathering in the corridors around the venue and generally being all over the place.

I wish that the organisers would do something about this, but that’s probably impossible since it would cost too much to rent an area just for the cosplayers. What a shame.

That just about wraps up my thoughts on day one, if you live in Singapore and yet still somehow don’t know anything about this event (but somehow know about this website, what that makes no sense), you can still has attend day Two. Just search for Anime Festival Asia, you should be able to find all the information you need.