Anime Festival Asia

A press conference was held today at the Japanese Association of Singapore to announce the inaugural Anime Festival Asia (AFA) to be held at Suntec City conventional hall on 22nd and 23rd of November. The event is organized by I-Promo and the Singaporean branch of Dentsu and it is sponsored by Bandai. The official site is up at afa08.com. You’ll probably read about it in tomorrow’s news.

Yes, Singapore is finally going to have a real anime convention!

What is it?

AFA is intended to be a regional event that celebrates Japanese pop culture. The long-term goal is a large scale event on par with TAF and Anime Expo, but the current target is 80 thousand people over two days.

After a recent shift in policy, and the appointment of Doreamon as Japan’s Cultural Ambassador, soft power through pop culture is becoming a larger part of the diplomatic toolset of the Japanese government. Although it is kind of funny to picture a bunch of serious-looking Japanese politicians in suits talking about promoting anime, we shall put that aside and accept this. So anyway, as part of this renewed effort to export the hikikomori phenomenon to an international market, the Embassy of Japan in Singapore is building a Japan Creative Centre here to brainwash Singaporeans with moé propaganda. Awesome. This happens to coincide with the Singapore government’s desire to turn this country into a regional media hub, which is a euphemism for an outsourcing animation factory, and everyone is happy.

But I digress. AFA08 (pronounced “ah-far-oh-eight”) is original conceived as a pre-event to the opening of the JCC. It will feature upcoming animation, merchandises, cosplay and performances, some of which is making quite excited about November, almost enough to make me forget that that’s when my A’levels will be. Take a look at the AFA08 website for information.

Anime Festival Asia

Why should I care?

I know, I know. We’ve all been here before. “Anime” conventions in Singapore are generally not very appealing to real anime fans. Lack of content and local commercial presence means that the organizers often have to turn to non-anime stuff, ostensibly to appeal to a wider target audience, but mostly just to fill up the booths. But AFA08 might just be different. Here’s why.

Guests

There will be Japanese guest speakers and performers appearing on the main stage during the convention. Currently only Kouji Morimoto and Marimi Sakurai from STUDIO 4°C are named, but more will be announced on the website. (i.e. the organizers want to do it like Anime Expo) I can’t give any specific names because everything was totally off-the-record, but let’s just say that the “song performances” listed in the programme booklet will not be performed by some random guy they found in the park. The names that were unofficially floated around were highly intriguing, to say the least. ;)

Exclusives

There will be exclusive merchandises (including figurines) being sold during the event. Bandai has already confirmed that some limited edition Gunpla will be available, although they are saving the juicy details for a later date. Several other hobby and toy companies will also be involved, but again I can’t name them. All I can say is, this could be the first local event where I end up spending any money.

Organizers

Bandai Asia is a major sponsor, and of course it has a lot of ties with its parent company in Japan and…Sunrise. Dentsu is one of the largest advertising companies in the world, and no doubt its Singaporean branch benefits from Japan-side connection. The event has been in planning for more than a year (I first heard about it last year around this time) and from the looks of it, it is going to be the most well-funded and resourceful attempt at organizing and sustaining an annual anime convention in Singapore.

Also, I could tell that the event organizers were credible because they read my blog, and my Code Geass entries in particular, lol. This will definitely be an event to look out for if you see yourself as more than a casual Naruto viewer. I’m pretty excited about it. :P

Details

Date: 22nd and 23rd Nobember
Time: 10:00am to 9:00pm
Venue: Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centure, Halls 403 and 404
Ticket: $5 for one day, $8 for two days, children under 6 free

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