Cool costumes, colourful displays at Anime Festival Asia

Kyen Yap (above centre), eight, who turned up as Yurick from the video game, The Last Story. With Kyen are Singapore cosplayers Wenwen Char (left), in her 20s, as Crusch Karsten from the anime, Re:Zero; and Hime Ai, in her 20s, as Re:Zero's Ram.
Kyen Yap (above centre), eight, who turned up as Yurick from the video game, The Last Story. With Kyen are Singapore cosplayers Wenwen Char (left), in her 20s, as Crusch Karsten from the anime, Re:Zero; and Hime Ai, in her 20s, as Re:Zero's Ram.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Artworks inspired by anime series, such as these by artist Zzyzzyy from Toronto, whose real name is Val Zheng, were sold at the Anime Festival Asia.
Artworks inspired by anime series, such as these by artist Zzyzzyy from Toronto, whose real name is Val Zheng, were sold at the Anime Festival Asia.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

From exhibitor booths to guest stars, there was something for everyone at the Anime Festival Asia

An explosion of colourful costumes and wigs and anime theme songs took over the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre over the weekend with the return of the Anime Festival Asia.

And those who were not dressed like characters from various manga, anime series or video games had their hands full with bags of merchandise, lightsticks pointed to the sky or phone cameras aimed at a celebrity cosplayer.

About 60,000 anime fans attended the Japanese pop culture festival last Friday and Saturday, says organiser Sozo, a local events and entertainment company.

Fans such as Mr Terence Tan, 20, come every year - not to dress up, but to soak in the lively atmosphere. "I enjoy coming for the festival because I can see all the anime I like, such as Sword Art Online and Kantai Collection, in one place," says the student, who spent $100 on merchandise such as books, badges and a pillow case.

"I come for the girls in cosplay," adds his friend Haiqal Geach, 25, a student and fellow anime lover who was at the festival for the first time.

He used to be a shy kid, but cosplay has helped to build up his confidence. 

MS TOMI YU on her son Kyen Yap, eight, who turned up as Yurick from the video game, The Last Story. With Kyen are Singapore cosplayers Wenwen Char, in her 20s, as Crusch Karsten from the anime, Re:Zero; and Hime Ai, in her 20s, as Re:Zero's Ram

The nine-year-old festival, which ended yesterday, had something for everyone.

It was the biggest iteration of the festival in Singapore. There were more than 200 exhibitor booths and more than 200 invited guest stars, including celebrity cosplayers, voice actors and singers. Television channel Wakuwaku Japan brought in comedian Piko-Taro to perform his viral ditty Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen at the festival yesterday.

There was also a music concert component called I Love Anisong.

Tickets cost between $13 and $88 a day, with a three-day VIP package - which included a chance to get an autograph from a music star - going for $428.

The organisers expect a total attendance of 100,000 - almost four times the visitorship in its first year in 2008. Last year, the festival attracted 90,600 people.

Student Jarod Yip, 19, who has been attending the event every year since 2008, says: "It was very crowded compared with the past few years. People are becoming more aware of cosplay and putting more effort into their costumes."

Dressed as ship systems engineer Isaac Clarke from the video game Dead Space, he spoke to The Straits Times with his face dripping with perspiration. The costume, which he made himself, sported elaborate details such as a full-faced mask, replica weapon and flashing lights.

 

He adds: "Perhaps the organisers can consider opening up more halls next year to accommodate the number of people."

When The Straits Times visited last Saturday, the crowd had spilled into the common areas of the convention centre where cosplayers could be seen posing outside the packed exhibition hall.

The festival, which was also held in Thailand and Indonesia a few months ago, drew a diverse crowd.

Office workers Elsa Paramita, 27, and Nina Burer, 27, took a ferry from Batam at 10am to attend the event for the first time last Saturday.

"The festival was held in Jakarta, but this one is nearer for us. We find it really cool because we don't get to see cosplayers in Batam," says Ms Burer, who is a fan of the manga series Naruto and Haikyuu!!.

Eight-year-old Kyen Yap and his mother, Ms Tomi Yu, were spotted waiting in line to catch a glimpse of fresh-faced male cosplayers Hana and Baozi from China.

Ms Yu, a housewife in her 30s, had made her son's costume and prop sword - he went as Yurick from video game The Last Story - by hand. She herself was not in costume, saying that she was "too old" to dress up.

She says: "In the beginning, I would choose the characters for him. Now, he is the one who chooses. He used to be a shy kid, but cosplay has helped to build up his confidence."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Cool costumes, colourful displays'. Print Edition | Subscribe