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C3AFA 2018 Day 2

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 / No Comments

Every year I attend the Singapore edition of C3AFA - more commonly known as Anime Festival Asia - I'm reminded of how much the exhibition has grown since its first run in 2008, where the attendance was barely a third of what it is in recent years. This year's convention pulled out all the stops before anyone even entered the halls, not surprising considering that this is its 10th anniversary. The talent lineup for the I ♥ Anisong concert and Day Stage activities would've sealed the deal for many visitors, myself included. Think Kawasumi Ayako; the voice actress for Fate/Stay Night's Saber and her many variations, Mimori Suzuko of Love Live! and Tantei Opera Milky Holmes fame and Takahashi Rie; voice actress of Megumin from Konosuba and Emilia from Re:Zero. Personally, the exhibitors, Creator's Hub and Akiba Stage activities were a bonus, seeing how much focus was placed on the Day Stage activities.

It's been more than a week since C3AFA has concluded its three-day long run and I think its a good time to take stock before next year's edition. Unfortunately, or otherwise for the organisers, I feel that the event is experiencing some growing pains and scaling issues. But there's definitely much praise to be given to this year's C3AFA.

The Good
Like I said, the talent lineup was amazing, especially on the 2nd day's Day Stage which featured Fate/Grand Order, Sword Art Online: Alicization, Love Live! Sunshine!! and A Certain Magical Index III. Visitors were queuing way before the section's doors opened just to get front row seats and I'm willing to bet more than a few of them didn't even leave because they were fans of all the franchises that were featured. I could barely sneak in a lunch break between the Fate/Grand Order and Love Live! Sunshine!! slots. That being said, standing and seating room was abundant because the Day Stage area would serve as the venue for the I ♥ Anisong concert later in the evening. The icing on the cake would be the emcees for the two activities enhancing the overall experience, kudos to them.

Although portions of the artiste appearances were obviously scripted and certain guidelines and formalities had to be followed, it was hardly a snoozefest, with fans getting more than their money's worth. Perhaps the most memorable moment would be the Fate/Grand Order panel being genuinely surprised to find out that almost every member of the audience played the Japanese version of the game instead of the English one and were up to date with it, to boot. It made the experience a lot more casual. Likewise for the Love Live! Sunshine!! panel, where the audience understood enough Japanese to perform the call and responses with Saitou Shuka and Furihata Ai without the need for the emcee translating, amongst other moments.

For the main exhibition, the booths were much bigger and grander than previous editions, especially the Fate/Grand Order and Bandai Namco ones. Heck, there were even two gigantic posters promoting the English version of Fate/Grand Order, with each one being one to two storeys tall. The other booths were no slouches either, being a lot more immersive and well-designed than the spartan booths of years past. I sincerely hope that the scale and design of C3AFA's exhibiton hall reaches the level of Japan's Wonder Festival or even FGO Fes in recent years.

Even Akiba Stage was packed with appearances and entertaining performances. Judging by the crowd and how enthusiastic the artistes were, one could hardly tell that it was the fringe lineup that was being featured. There was definitely something for everyone in this year's C3AFA, be it the hardcore merchandise collector or casual anime fan. I swear the Creator's Hub was a lot bigger than I remember it to be as well, which brings me to my next point...

The Bad
Unfortunately, as talented as the artists were and as much as I wanted to snap up a few fanmade stickers of my own, the Creator's Hub was a chore to navigate, especially with dual entrance and exit points. The crowd was relentless and it seemed as if every lane was packed at any given moment. I was fortunate to get the attention of the stallowners quickly and bought whatever I needed, with a free Nero Claudius sticker to boot. However, I did not enjoy pushing my way through the crowd and I didn't even consider entering the hub a second time.

The problem with crowd management seemed to be an issue through the whole exhibition as well and not just for the Creator's Hub, especially as booths held their own games and activities that attracted more than a few people. The organisers could've improved the layout of the booths or expand the exhibition hall itself while shifting the I ♥ Anisong concert and Day Stage activities to another area but that in itself is a hassle. I'm looking forward to next year's edition to see how this problem is dealt with. On the flip side, it does mean that C3AFA today is far from a niche convention and having a packed hall is definitely better than an empty one, especially with the entire floor being dedicated to this one event.

What's Next?
All in all, I definitely enjoyed C3AFA this year despite how packed it was on Day 2 and even though I spent a good amount of time in the Day Stage area rather than the main exhibition. Heck, I didn't even have time to take a look at the Food Street. The event is experiencing some growing pains of its own but that's to be expected, considering it's the biggest anime convention outside of Japan. Although I'm more interested to know whether the organisers behind popular conventions in Japan are keen on porting their own events to our little red dot, seeing how big the market is for anime and Japanese pop culture in general. In the meantime, one can hope.

Written by ET

Figure Unboxing and Review: Lavi (Megahouse G.E.M.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 / No Comments
Hi everyone! The best holiday season of the year is finally upon us! It really brings back memories of staying up late watching anime on Arts Central and aside from Shaman King and Inuyasha, my brother and I reaaaaally enjoyed D.Gray-man! So when I saw that Lavi was about to have a figurine, I had to order my favourite boy.

And the first thing I did when I got him was to stare at his face ( ´ ▽ ` )

I didn't spend much time on the packaging; it's pretty standard G.E.M. packaging, although I do appreciate the close up of his face on the back!

Unfortunately, the base is frankly quite disappointing. I'm not a fan of the huge white slab, nor do I believe figurines should be labelled... I feel like a rock to balance Lavi on or at the very least a black or dark maroon base to suit his colour scheme would be much better.

Lavi's scarf is removable so I took it off as I wanted to decrease the chance of colour transfer!

Also, as you can see from here, his hammer hovers as well (since it obviously can't sit nicely on such a flat plain base) which kind of annoys me...

He really is good looking... ( ´ ▽ ` )

Close up, the sculpting and painting gets a little messy where smaller details are, but I do like the lines around his eyes!

Megahouse sculpted the clothes rather well, and I really like the way it seems as though his shirt is clinging to him due to the wind and his dynamic pose! However, they are a bit heavy on the shading especially on his pants.

The lack of musculature detailing is a slight downer though, seeing as they put in so much effort into the ruffles of the clothes. I do like how well-proportioned his hands and feet are, as some figures tend to have feet too small or hands too big.

As mentioned before, the detailing of the clothes are definitely well done.

One thing that took me by surprise was how far apart Lavi and his hammer are. From promo pictures it looked like Lavi would be stepping on his hammer. Although it looks alright from the front, it does seem a bit awkward from the other angles, and due to the plain base, his pose seems a little out of place (个_个)

Also, just a couple of closeups showing how the belt and scarf should sit!

Overall, while I'm satisfied with the way Lavi was sculpted, I'm not a fan of the base nor the positioning of the pose. Lavi came a bit out of the blue as the DGM franchise has been pretty quiet, but I'm still more than happy that I can add him to my collection (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

Written by Nana

Visiting SpookyTown "The Lost Carnival" by KidZania

Saturday, November 10, 2018 / No Comments
On 3 November we visited SpookyTown "The Lost Carnival" by KidZania. Word has it that many years ago, there was a mysterious explosion caused by the town’s famous alchemist, Dr SpookZ in SpookyTown’s annual Carnival. Everyone in the once-bustling town vanished except SpookyTown’s Mayor Fabiola. And if you step into SpookyTown and listen attentively, you can still hear carnival music from The Lost Carnival. Indeed this is enough to make my hair stand as I recalled a similar incident when I was doing my NS duty patrolling late at night. In a deserted section of the reservist camp, I heard what sounded like an old Japanese World War II music. I didn't stay to investigate. There were only less than 50 soldiers in the entire camp and it wasn't a good idea to ask for help if I was captured or worst, if I got time-travelled back to the 1940s!

Our lovely media assistant cum photographer was super excited to visit SpookyTown to soak into the Halloween spirit.

Beautiful stage for the little boys and ghouls to take photos.

SpookyTown is a 81,000 square feet kid-sized city, complete with buildings and paved streets. The white mist provided a mysterious air to the atmosphere. In this corner, there was an abandoned ambulance. It seemed there was a zombie outbreak.

 As we walked further, the mood became lively with the presence of happy kids and adults. Stepping into the Carnival Games zone, the kids were queuing up for their turn to play some games and win prizes.

Angela gave out some cute Halloween stickers to some of the children. We then queued up to enter the "Rehabilitation Centre", which was one of the Haunted House.

As we entered the Rehabilitation Centre, we were briefed that there were three parts to the journey. Firstly, we had to find the cure for the citizens of SpookyTown or else well, we would join the hordes of creatures outside. Second, the medical staff attending to the patient would ask if we had found the magic cure. Finally, we got to witness how effective the magic cure was.

This was the first room and it reminded me of the chemistry lesson in my secondary days. Only creepier as the room was pretty dim. I was prepared any moment the medical lab technician would yelled at us. Luckily she didn't as there were kids in the room.

Loud banging on the wooden wall....

 As we approached the next room, the setting was that of a hospital ward. The doctor was trying to treat the male patient whom was fighting for his life. And I was prepared to fight for mine as well, that is, if he came near me...

We got a little relieved as we entered to the last rehabilitation room. Mankind had found a cure which was purple in colour and the girl patient was being treated and monitored. From time to time, the patient would look into her small mirror and smile in a creepy manner. She would also stand up and walk towards us which freaked some of the smaller kids. Overall, the scare actor and actresses did a wonderful job in the "Rehabilitation Room", balancing being professional and making us feel comfortable.

Next, we ventured towards the "Forgotten Garden".

 The staff inside the room were preparing the little "pond" for the next batch of kids to do some fishing. The kids must find the missing "Words" to help reverse the curse that had befallen SpookyTown's resident farmer. 

 In KidZania, there are a few F&B outlets for a little stopover.

 Stepping into KidZania's SpookyTown made us feel that we are in other parts of the world. The climate was cool and comfortable to just roam about.

If modern technology such as Google Map fails you, we could fall back to the good old traditional map.

We then proceeded to the second floor to visit the "House of Antiques".

All shoes outside...

The "House of Antiques" was the designated Safe Zone for the little boys and ghouls to take part on drawing, colouring and balloon sculpting, whilst keeping them calm from the Halloween activities going down below. What a thoughtful idea from KidZania!

Behind Angela was a large poster of our creation, Kakichan "Spookalicious 3" Halloween theme illustration. We placed a black-and-white version of Spookalicious 3 for the children to colour, along with some Kakichan stickers. Kakichan was very well received throughout this Halloween season.

Angela loved the cool indoor climate. While she was taking a rest and made herself comfortable, I revisited the ground floor to snap more pictures.

I took a photo with a zombie guy holding a ragged doll whom seemed to be more scared of me ^^.

The "Best Dressed" for the night went to this team of suicide squad Harley Quinn. Kudos ><.
We spent about 3 hours touring SpookyTown and it was a very enjoyable experience. The queue were not long, averaging about 20-30 mins. It was evident that the venue wasn't packed to the brim even though KidZania could easily sold more tickets. But that would had made people wait longer in the queue, inadvertently reducing the quality (and experience). In today's climate where on a moral level, we often ask ourselves "To Do Things Right" or "To Do the Right Thing"? KidZania had impressed me by opting for the latter, forgoing business over quality.

Written by Max Wong