AFA 09 was a great event done up by horrible organizing. It is only great because it is what it is: an anime festival where otakus all over Singapore come together and unleash their inner otakus within an atmosphere where it is encouraged.
Amidst all the fun, the happiness and the crazed crowd, one can't help but notice how incredibly amateurish the way this convention is being organized. Oh well, it's a good thing for us and a bad thing for them.
Firstly, the organizers, for whatever reasons unknown, decide to overprice the tickets at $18 for one day, $25 for a set ticket for two days. I know many people are turned off by the mere look at the price. I don't get it, it's just a convention. I foolishly thought that this year's AFA is going to be worth its price, but I was wrong. The whole place is like a PC fair only that it has merchandises for anime instead. Luckily, there's a free way in.
That idea came about when I heard Hatman (some name I came out with) mentioning the 'backdoor'. We know that the loading bay is actually the back of all the convention halls and each hall have like 2 backdoors. Again, you think they are smart enough to at least put guards at the doors to prevent freeloaders and protect their $18/$25 entrance fee but nooooooo... it was unguarded.
To add on to that flaw, this is how they keep track of the returning people. The ticket actually has one tear-able part (two if you got the $25 one) to indicate that it was used. In other words, your ticket is only there to allow you in. To know that you are a returning customer, they use those famous UV 'chops'. Woo! Way to go freeloaders! I enter from the back, get a chop and I'm officially a ticket holder for that day! Eat that ticket buyers!
Ah we must not forget the concert. $108 for one day, $188 for both days. Looking at the crazy pricing, I initially thought that at LEAST it would really be a $108-worth seat, maybe a bit less since it's makeshift at a convention hall. Maybe outsiders cannot even view the concert, that would actually make some sense. But when I entered AFA, I saw it the so-called 'viewing area' for myself; a mere 5-6 steps away from the last row seat. Sure, it's an improvement from last year's 0 steps, but c'mon.
The long long long queue...outside.
Oh that's not all. I really wished I was done with this rant and go on to the more happy stuff but no it doesn't end here. There is actually a queue for non-ticket holders. Initially it was within the convention but at around 6pm, they brought it outside. What now they are afraid that their $18/$25 ticket plan is backfiring? Now they are allowing even outside people into the concert! $0 to see all your anime idols! They don't even bother with checking if you are AT LEAST a ticket holder to let you in...so I guess it really is part of their plan. To confirm that they are really desperate, there's a few marshallers walking up and down our queue asking if we are ticket holders. Dammit, I thought it was pretty obviously that we aren't already.
So we can see just from these examples that due to desperation and bad planning on the organizer's part, you can actually pay $0 to see everything. Even if you don't backdoor, you can still pay $0 to watch the concert! Who asked them to even name such a price for AFA? Are they implying that they only want to let richer otakus to enter? Why can't they think of the people selling stuffs at their booths inside? It's effectively $18 to get in and $4 to get a simple badge...that's $22 for a badge. I know those hardcore otakus wouldn't care, but think of the rest man. You are supposed to be PROMOTING anime, not the other way round.
Queue barriers, very useful for queues!
It doesn't help to know that it took them so long to realize how useful queue barriers (the pic above) can help them. They discovered it on the Sunday afternoon (2nd day btw). I overheard two organizers talking about how awesome it is =/
So on to the AFA itself, aka the happier stuff.
that's Kar/Son, the bakahiki.blogspot guy...wonder if he updated :p
Cosplays are not so bad overall for AFA 09. I actually didn't cringe during the cosplay competition that took place at the afternoon. I spent most of my Saturday at the Weiss Schwarz tournament area (after the tournament...I didn't take part) and playing like 5-6 games. Even though I went myself, I met up with quite a number of my friends and ended up following them around.
1/35 Gundam with incredible detail
Everything else is pretty much the same. The huge Bandai booths, Gundams, mechanizes, freelance artist booths, Animax, KKnM, etc. I kinda regretted not trying out the maid cafe, but the stuff there costs $25 for a full meal, so I think I'll pass. $18 for entrance and $25 for meal makes it almost $40+. That's most than 80 arcade games right there.
I'm not really a big fan of Danny Choo, but I know his appearance there made lots of people happy. He even has his showcase of figurines, which I ended up taking the nendroids XD.
The concert was great, just like last year. Shoko went on stage first, but sadly I only knew like 2 of her songs (the Gurren Lagaan OP and the Evangelion one). Hatsune Miku came up next on the screen -_-; Everyone was crazy excited about her. Essentially, it's just her on the screen dancing the same dance steps as the PSP game. After singing 3-4 songs, she left. I'm glad she did tbh, it was quite painful to my eyes after all that lagging. Afterwards, Aniki came up.
Shoko + Aniki = lots of happy people!
I thought I wouldn't be as happy to sing along with Aniki as I did last year, but god his robot songs are just too fucking gar and awesome. His stage time was quite crazy...I thought he was going to die from heart attack from the way he's singing. There's no way to describe this awesomeness in words so I'm not even going to try.
Sunday was quite strict on the phototaking at the concert area. They actually have this fat orange guy catching people. Ya sure he can catch the people, doesn't mean he can stand on some platform and block my !@#$ view =/
It's her~~with a huge gun!
Of course, the main course before the concert on Sunday was supposed to be the K-on live dubbing + interview with the seiyuus. When 4 seiyuus went on stage, everyone instantly knew something was wrong. Of all the people to be missing, it must be the seiyuu for Mio, probably the most popular of all the K-on cast. Zzz what a disappointment, but it's okay, it's not the organizer's fault, but they should at least put on their website right? Oh wait, that would diminish the size of the already small crowd.
Overall, for me it's a rather good convention. Pricing probably screwed up alot of people though, but aside from that it's pretty decent. However, you can actually tell it's not really going to be good for the organizers since the place wasn't really as packed as last year. There are areas that seemed almost...empty.
For more photos: click here