Anime Festival Asia, or AFA for short, has grown into a mainstay convention in Singapore, with each iteration busting out bigger chops year after year. As the annual blend of gaming, cosplay, and anime excitement kicks in yet again, the familiar space that is Suntec Convention Centre looks set to welcome the lively crowd, ushering in both event staples and new elements in store.
Sticking to the roots of its DNA, AFA 2019 featured popular Japanese artistes and renowned guest cosplayers in all their glory. The first day saw the likes of fhána, Maaya Uchida, SCANDAL, and TRUE gracing the ANISONG concert stage on separate occasions, as they charmed fans with their song sets and high-energy performances.
But these big names aren’t the only ones adding to the long-lasting appeal of AFA. Though expectedly fewer in numbers (it was a Friday, after all), cosplayers from all walks of life also attracted the attention of event-goers, dressed in the deftly-crafted outfits of characters from trending titles such as Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) and Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia).
The Creators Hub, meanwhile, drew in throngs of fans. Featuring an array of fan-made merchandise from enamel pins and keychains to art prints, there was a little of everything for everyone, especially for enthusiasts of Pokémon, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Haikyuu, and of course, the aforementioned two series. Do note, however, that the alley can get extremely crowded at times, and we’d expect the same for the next two days as well.
Toys – who can forget detailed, fine-sculpted figures? The likes of TAMASHII Nations, Banpresto, and the like have pulled out the big guns, with gorgeous, glossy models up on display.
Loyal veterans of AFA would notice there are two newly-added sections for this year’s edition. First up is the AFA Play, a dedicated zone that features esports competitions, anime games, and casual gaming sessions, where players can show off their Super Smash Bros Ultimate chops, or speed their way to victory in Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled. Trying not to burn down kitchens in Overcooked 2 and stacking builds in Tetris are also equally enjoyable alternatives.
The biggest highlight of this area is the Naruto x Boruto: Ninja Selection Exam, which is making its way to Asia for the first time. For the event, participants are to prove their mantle as capable ninjas as they complete challenges as a six-member team – and it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Accompanying AFA Play would be the AFA Film, where various titles will be screened, including Frame Arm Girls Movie: Kyakkya Ufufu na Wonderland, CENCOROLL CONNECT, Zombie Land Saga LIVE: Franchouchou Minna de Orabou in SAGA, ONE PIECE: STAMPEDE.
What’s a full-day event without some food? AFA 2019 has brought several new vendors into the fray, with Tiger Sugar serving cups and cups of brown sugar bubble tea, Meatballs In A Bucket for those juice, meaty bites, and SIn福 dishing out soba and barbecued meat combinations. As per tradition, Nissin continues to have its own booth.
The first day of C3 AFA 2019 certainly saw great response, considering how it was still a working day. It has certainly served as a good opener for the remaining days, and the crowd’s only going to get bigger.
Day 2, let’s go!
Si Jia is a casual geek at heart – or as casual as someone with Sephiroth’s theme on her Spotify playlist can get. A fan of movies, games, and Japanese culture, Si Jia’s greatest weakness is the Steam Summer Sale. Or any Steam sale, really.