An UnCon-Eventional Story: Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2019

UnCon-Eventional Stories are event recaps more on the event itself than the experience.


Credits to Anime Festival Asia (Sourcefor the featured image, and the various images and posts seen here.

I DO NOT own the rights to any of these photos, if mentioned.

ALL rights belong to Anime Festival Asia, and other respective parties.

Also, credits to the following folks for organizing the event.


Introduction

…man this story sure came from a land AFAr AFAr away. 🤔

Also rated 42.0% likely to get F-ed by some folks from Singapore for this one. ._.


What, The FAQ?

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Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photo. Source.

Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2019 is the 12th iteration of an ACG/Concert event that’s been held in Singapore as far back as 2008.

The 3-day long event was held from November 29th to December 1st, making it one of those events that lasted “2 months long”.


Who, The FAQ?

The main organizer for Anime Festival Asia is unsurprisingly…Anime Festival Asia, but that’s surprisingly half the story.

Interestingly enough, apparently AFA claims to be a ‘Specialized Business Unit of Sozo”, according to their official About page.

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Credits to Sozo for the photo. Source.

Who is Sozo you ask? Basically, they’re responsible for bringing in the many Japanese artists that perform at pretty much every AFA event over the years.

For reasons that’s likely a combination of very strong relations with the entertainment agencies in Japan, and Sozo’s well established reputation over the last 12-ish years, it explains how does AFA keep consistently getting these big named performers to perform at their event.

A power not many organizations within South East Asia have. 🤔

Now to be fair, AFA is technically called C3AFA, the result of their partner organizer SOTSU’s C3 (Character Culture & Contents) iniative established in 2001, which is responsible for the many official licensed exhibitors/vendors seen at the event.

You know it’s probably a good thing they managed to only come up with 3 Cs, 1 more would’ve made for a VERY awkward name.

Also accompanying AFA for its 2019 event include organizers Zepp Live, and HoriPro, specializing in their respective fields of concert management and celebrity talent management.


When, The FAQ?

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Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photo. Source.

The dates for AFA 2019 was confirmed as far back as April 22nd, with a cover photo that highlights the many events Anime Festival Asia had planned for 2019.

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photos. Source (Left Photo), Source (Right Photo).

But first contact about AFA itself would only come on August 1st, with the confirmation that AFA will still be held at Suntec Convention Centre. This is followed by an updated post highlighting the many concert acts they have planned for the event on August 31st.

Only this year’s theme had to do with a Plane simple theme called, AFA Airways.

I imagine the conversation for this year’s theme had to do with getting real high on a plane or something. 🤔


Where, The FAQ?

Held at the fabulous Suntec Convention Centre, this sprawling 2-3 storey event hall is known for hosting conferences, exhibitions and concerts alike, making it sort of fitting for AFA to continue its partnership in hosting at Suntec.

Since AFA technically does all 3, and yes, normal attendees meeting one another in the field technically counts as a ‘conference’, as if the Day Stage content doesn’t do that already.

IMG_6263

Also, this water dispenser is still the best thing to find at Suntec, better than the whole goddamn confusion incarnate of a shopping mall.


Why, The FAQ?

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Credits to Sozo for the photo. Source.

AFA is interestingly, an award winning Tourist Attraction for Singapore, evident by C3AFA’s 2018 winning the Best Leisure Event. at the Singapore Tourism Awards 2019.

Which helps justify the event’s continued existence, by giving the organization more to prove and push its level of quality, which is more effective at putting Singapore on the world map than say some…

Standard marathon thing charted full of arrogance and traffic jam causing.


How, The FAQ?

AFA is famous for many things, but the most notable content usually revolves around the many celebrities, concert performers or guests they manage to bring in from Japan.

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photos. 

With a Day Stage Special Guest and Schedule list to sum up what can one see during the daytime, there’s also the AFA I Love Anisong Night Concert lineup that stars at least 4 acts per night, with no recurring acts across all 3 days. 😮

And it’s one of the reasons people are still at the event even after traditional event closing times of 7ish pm.

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photos. Source (Left Photo), Source (Right Photo).

But celebrities from Japan are just one-half of the content attendees are interested in, as evident by the terrifying amount of folks lining up for guest cosplayers autographs and  guest performer shows on the Akiba Stage. o.o

Yeah, as if nobody went ‘meh’ when it was announced that one of Japan’s biggest named cosplayers is coming over, alongside an iconic duo’s final appearance at ACG Events for good.

Also holy sheet, they got that actress lady from Go-Busters, who’s now a DJ? Man that’s some dank stuff.

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the photos. Source (Left Photo), Source (Right Photo).

Side note, some of the performers from the Akiba stage are Emcees too! 😮

Split across the Akiba Stage and AFA Play Stage…but wait, dafaq’s an AFA Play Stage?

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the post. Source.

Ah, it’s part of the AFA Play section of the event, which highlights a flurry of game based activities, both video and physical stuff to participate in.

Following 2018’s spotlight on Fate Grand Order, 2019’s spotlight for the AFA found itself featuring a game with some impact. Honkai Impact.

…yeah, still don’t get it. 🤔

#C3AFASG19 100 talented creators in Creators Hub this year! Who are your favourites?Browse through their extensive…

Posted by AFA – ANIME FESTIVAL ASIA on Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the post. Source.

Probably the biggest promotional album for the event comes AFA’s Creator’s hub, a nearly 3-digit sized album featuring the many works of various domestic and international artists attending the event.

Jeezus, now this is how you promote an artist section of an event.

Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the post. Source.

But what’s an event without food, especially one themed around Japanese Pop Culture?

AFA’s Food Street, that comes in a literal street in the field, brings out the best kind of food one can expect to see.

Especially the Cup Noodles booth of an $3 buck offer, of a cup/bowl of noodles that comes with a bag of chips.

That’s the most value for money food to getto at the event or back home.

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Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the post. Source.

Like any event, there’s bound to be exhibitors clogging up ALL the event space, as stretched across the Event Hall comes Akiba Town’s content.

From toys, tech and children’s card games, there’s definitely something worth looking into regardless of your interests.

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Credits to Anime Festival Asia for the post. Source.

Oh right, there’s apparently an after party at night, for the fine folks who are into the DJ-ing/Wotagei scene’s brand of hype dancing.

Yes, we’re calling it that now.


The Good Goods

The God Goods brings you ALL the best bits an event has to offer!

Please keep in mind this is only for the current iteration of this event, which may or may not repeat for future events.


  • Double AA Action

2 As to take note here, Accessibility and Adaptablity, both aspects that fit AFA’s 2019 event well.

In terms of Accessiblity, you can find pretty much any escalator going up to enter the event, barring some issues that cropped up on Day 2 (More below), it’s clear the organizers want the attendees to be able to access the event without much fuss.

Especially the double exits thing, which helps with convenience.

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In terms of Adaptability, you may have noticed that across all 3 days, the staff actually put up makeshift barriers out of plastic separators, in order to accommodate the overflow of people lining up for event tickets.

The best part, is that they actually dismantled those barriers later, as the crowd sizes eventually died down, since that stuff was more of an annoying obstacle getting in the way at that point.

In short, AFA itself is rather, Rated A for 2 things, but also being Asian.


  • Tourist Stop

Apart from winning an Tourism Award, AFA is surprisingly part of Singapore’s Tourism pool of events, which is a great thing since you’re getting government backing and endorsement of the event.

An excellent means to like, showcase tourists visiting the country, especially the ones who might be interested in it, that such an event exists, and that they should totally come.

It’s a beneficial partnership that, makes it something many organizers should consider pushing for with their local Tourism Departments, assuming they’re not lazy Fs who can’t even promote the country’s domestic food.


  • Are we in Japan?

Well no, but that Day Stage content though.

Regardless of what you think about AFA’s day stage content, the fact they managed to get those celebrities from Japan to conduct shows that you wouldn’t get to see unless you were living in Japan says a lot, about the kind of rare content that’s a definite crowd pleaser for folks who love that stuff.

You thought the concert is hot shit? The Day stage content stands out more in my view, since access to that kind of content is something not many organizers can pull off, especially when it involves getting celebs from Japan itself.

Very good stuff to check out at AFA.


  • Creators Convenience

The last event I can think of that gave ALL their Artist booths those white walled background booths, was honestly Popcon, from earlier this year.

It’s not cheap, but it is very neat to know that AFA has a strong stance on wanting to prioritize Artist booths over other types of booths.

Not that other types of booths can’t exist, but intel from the locals indicate that it’s more worthwhile for artists than cosplayers at an event like AFA, which makes sense since the majority’s likely more interested in the guests more than anything.

Anyways, the promoting of these booths is absurdly well done too! To the point that organizers should really consider doing this more, since these artist booths already paid to be at your event, at least F-ing advertise or promote them dammit.

Still one of the best highlights to come out of AFA.


  • Food Heaven

Holy F- the portions they have prepared in the hall even during the morning.

It’s kind of absurd that they’re allowed to prepare so much to the point that they almost run out of stock, outside of some booths that need to downtime to cook up because of how fast they’re selling.

But it’s awesome to be getting this kind of food, without being at an outdoor event or something, or a restaurant.

What’s funny and interesting is that the amount of attendees sitting around eating Cup Noodles across all 3 days is absurdly huge, like…dayum, that’s a lot of people who like Cup Noodles.

Thanks Final Fantasy 15/XV.

Also, shout out to those back corner spots people can camp at to eat, those spots are some good sheet.


The Bad Blehs

The Bad Blehs brings up some…bad stuff, about events, which need to be talked about since no event is without issues that can’t be fixed for the future.

Future Organizers and/or spies from other event organizers, you can learn a thing or two of what not to do at your event here. (As a guide, so that you’re not too busy repeating history.)

Please keep in mind these are only for the current iteration of this event, which may or may not repeat for future events.


  • The Early Bird Pickle

At first I thought AFA didn’t do early bird tickets, but I was later informed that they do, but it’s strictly an online only arrangement, which comes with its own shipping system and whatnot.

But it raises the question of…why doesn’t AFA do physical early bird ticket sales?

Especially well…you could just do it for Exhibiton Area Tickets only no? Pretty confident to say that most folks wouldn’t bother with the other ticket types anyways, since not everyone’s up for the concert or day stage content.

From the absurd amount of crowds who came on the event days to pickup tickets, it highlights a major issue that can be addressed, such that why not expand to having other outlets sell physical tickets too?

You could even have them be sold by the various shoplots at Suntec or something, just do something to cut the amount of absurd crowds that lineup for tickets , as not everyone’s up for ordering their tickets online.

And no, just because some people get online early bird tickets, does not mean everyone will, some will stubbornly not trust internet transactions until their funeral.

Also, if the main reason why they don’t distribute physical tickets is because they want to flex photos of the crowd sizes, that’s a stupid ass decision that can be remedied with other parts of the event that are just as crowded.

However, I suspect the main reason behind the only online early bird tickets thing, has to do with avoiding foul play tickets, ie distributors who may be doing some shady deals that would cause AFA to lose ticket sales as a result, so best to avoid that risk but cutting it out entirely.

But, they should still find an alternative to distribute physical tickets more effectively rather than just count on online sales and postage. A good start would be to involve the vendors who are already coming to the event already, since they can serve as 3rd party outlets that AFA can at least keep track of.


  • Photag Walls

The following point does not include photographers who actually put in the effort to still ask for permission to take someone’s photo.

I don’t mind if the photographers ask for permission to photograph someone after I finish, but it’s the twats who think they have automatic right to tag along all because someone is doing an ongoing shoot that pisses me off, and these F-nuggets deserve this call out.

I do acknowledge that this shit happens at any event, yet I find it strangely convenient that AFA is where I seen it at way more extreme levels in comparison to past events.

A prime example I’ve noticed is that many of them tend to tag along to form a wall, only after someone asked first and is doing their shoot, which raises the question, why couldn’t you people ask first?

Or what, they’re too much of a wuss to ask for a photo, but are gung-ho enough to tag along as though they have automatic rights? And don’t have to ask for permissions because “Hur…the person already said yes duh,”.

Before anyone plays the whole “Oh but Japan does it too” card, you do realize that protocols in Japan are drastically different than here, to the point that most shots you see from Japan, especially Comicket, tend to revolve around the same area, almost as though the person being photographed often has their photos taken at the same spot, and not anywhere else.

To the point that you have to join a photo wall in order to photograph, because the person is not obligated to leave their spot.

This can be a future topic, but we’ll leave it at here.

In short, barring the photographers in a photo wall that actually ask for permission to photograph, the other tag-along twats deserve the blast for both not being able to ask for permission, or ask if it’s ok to take their photo before a wall even happens.

It’s almost as though there’s more NUS tier people amongst the public or something.


  • Uncertain Shots

For those unaware, when it comes to certain types of content Japan, there will often be times when you will hear the official event staff saying “No photography or recording.”

For AFA’s case, the Day Stage and that one Lumica Stage segment is a big no-no.

That’s not a problem to me, as we wholeheartedly respect these kind of decisions out of respect, but there’s one problem for some bits of content found in the event hall.

Especially the Naruto Booth and the booth showcasing those artwork drafts, where both booths had 1 publicly available section that we were told to not photograph.

But…there wasn’t any indication that we shouldn’t, not even a sign I’ve noticed, which is weird since why not put a sign there at least?

Obviously it won’t deter the twats who want to try their luck, but at least it’s a clear indication of a “Can’t photograph this” zone.

Just add indications to stuff that can or cannot be photograph/recorded is all we’re asking for some of these booths.


  • Ticket Confusion

Okay…pretty sure not everyone would understand the difference between an Exhibiton Ticket, and an Exhibiton + Stage ticket.

Because…with the way the main Exhibition Area comes with its own stages, it will raise confusion to some folks thinking that the stage area in the Exhibition needs a special Exhibition Stage Ticket.

Which is not the case, but then let’s not pretend people have mind reading powers to see things the same way as the people who planned these ticket types.

What I can suggest here, is a more detailed explanation, for those in the field, because I find it kind of annoying that the people manning the ticket booths pre-event can’t bloody explain that the Exhibition + Stage ticket is for the Day stage content/

Or just, add something as detailed as the stuff seen on the online site? Pretty sure most attendees can read this information, you just have to present the physical information properly.


The Sequel?

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Pretty much confirmed, according to the standing banners seen at AFA itself, which includes their 2020 plans for the absent Penang Anime Matsuri from this year.

Start calling dibs at those accommodation dates now. 🤔


The Verdict

There’s a very good reason why Anime Festival Asia holds the reputation of being one of Asia’s biggest and most well regarded ACG events outside of Japan.

A combination of content they manage to bring directly from Japan and well planned execution, is enough to showcase what they’re capable of.

However, that does not exempt their in the field issues that’s likely to get brushed under the carpet, as no event is without pickles that cannot be improved or fixed. But these are issues that shouldn’t be ignored.

In short, if you’re in town for the end of November weekend, consider dropping by for a look see, in this land AFAr AFAr away.

*END*


Author’s Note:

Thank you so much for reading!

If possible, I’d love to hear your feedback on what can we do better.

Be it the bad writing, horrible pictures, or just the fact I need more water, I’d love to hear about it.


Also,

Wonder what the event is like in the field? Check out A Con-Eventional Story: Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2019

Check out more stories over at S.I.R House, of Content 2019.


That said, siteinrelief has a Facebook page!

For some reason, a Tumblr now too! 🤔

And also…a Twitter three. 🎄

Page us anytime, anywhere, Amway offers will be shot on sight, no questions asked.


 

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