SINGAPORE - Anime fans packed two levels of Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre in all their costumed glory at the C3 Anime Festival Asia Singapore this weekend.
Formerly known as Anime Festival Asia, the three-day event, which began on Nov 24 and runs until Nov 26, is expected to draw at least 100,000 visitors.
The home-grown annual festival started out as an anime-centric event in 2008, and has since expanded to other cities such as Bangkok, Jakarta and Tokyo. It is slated to go to Hong Kong in February next year.
Last year, the event drew 94,000 visitors in Singapore. This year, organisers hope to see the turnout go up by 5 to 10 per cent.
Among the highlights of the festival is the I Love Anisong concert, which features popular Japanese music acts. Some, such as mega girl group Nogizaka46 and pop duo ClariS, are in Singapore for the first time.
Festivalgoers also got to rub shoulders with celebrity cosplayers and popular anime voice actors and watch exclusive anime screenings, such as the highly anticipated series Violet Evergarden, ahead of their release dates in Japan.
Software engineers Kevin Lin and Carl Valencia travelled from the United States to attend the festival for a second time. They were here last year too.
Mr Lin, 24, said he is keen to see music acts such as ClariS, nano and fripSide, whom he has followed for some time but never got the chance to see live. "I fly out of the States very often for concerts and I have always had an eye on this festival," he said. "Every year they consistently get amazing guests and this year they did not disappoint."
Mr Valencia, 32, whose hobby is cosplay photography, took the chance to meet cosplayers from around Asia. "I do like the feel of (this festival) more that the conventions I've been to in the United States, which is another reason why I keep coming back," he said. "The guests are better and the concerts more intimate."
At the convention centre, photographers clustered around elaborately decked-out cosplayers such as Ms Ong Liteng, who was dressed as character Youtouhime from role-playing game Onmyoji, complete with a cardboard sword she had spent one week making.
"It's been a bit tiring," said the 26-year-old, who is between jobs, of the constant attention and requests to pose. "But I like to make weapons and this is a good chance to show them off."
Small children ran to hug Mr Amirul Mok, 22, who was dressed as large squishy robot Baymax from the movie Big Hero 6 (2014).
"Baymax is so lovable," said the security officer, who spent half an hour getting into the inflatable outfit. "I thought kids would enjoy seeing their favourite character come to life."
Inside the packed festival hall, crowds thronged the Creators Hub, at which 100 local artists were selling their merchandise.
Mr Matthew Lee, who works in IT support, said he liked how the organisers seemed to be devoting more space and attention to the hub this year. "It's a good direction to engage local talent," said the 27-year-old, who has attended the festival six times and was dressed as the spirit No-Face from animated film Spirited Away (2001).
For some, the festival was a family affair. Retired civil servant Teo Lye Huat, 80, showed up to support his cosplaying granddaughters Zephyrine and Stephanie Tham, 17 and 23 respectively.
"I was quite surprised," said Mr Teo. "I always thought there was just a handful of people doing this, but there are so many here. I have no idea what they're dressed as, but this is quite fun."
BOOK IT / C3 ANIME FESTIVAL ASIA
WHERE: Levels 3 and 4, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Raffles Boulevard
WHEN: Sunday, 9.30am to 7pm
ADMISSION: $88 for a one-day ticket, available from www.apactix. com/events/detail/c3afasg17