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CharaExpo 2017 Day 1

It's that time of the year again and what a great time it's shaping up to be. The spate of exhibitions and festivals celebrating geek culture are jam-packed into the final quarter of the year. I could have sworn the previous edition of CharaExpo was held barely a few months ago. How time flies, eh? The Japanese entertainment exhibition has been held annually since 2015 and the third iteration is its biggest yet. Although there aren't any official visitor numbers, the fact that I was caught sandwiched in the crowd on more occasions than I can remember is a clear sign of the expo's popularity. To sweeten the deal, Bushiroad celebrated their 10th anniversary at CharaExpo as well and their booth size certainly showed that.

To most visitors, the giant inflatable Eren Yeager Titan was the first thing they must have noticed upon entering the exhibition floor. I definitely did. Impressive is an understatement and there were countless people taking pictures with and of the display itself. I wonder how many people will start watching Shingeki no Kyojin because of this!

Merchandise plays a huge part in any anime festival and I'm thanking my lucky stars my wallet is spared from any abuse this time round thanks to my recent trips to Japan. Queues formed at lightspeed and I noticed visitors running around with plastic bags from the various booths barely an hour or two after the doors opened. Fortunately, the merchandise on sale ran the gamut and there was a variety of scale and prize figures, cosplayer photobooks, badges, pins, posters and apparel to satisfy even the most hardcore otaku. Hatsune Miku fans had a field day at the Good Smile Company booth, which featured both her Nendoroids and Good Smile Racing t-shirts.

I, for one, particularly enjoyed the other scale figures and Nendoroids they had on display and for more impatient collectors, fret not. These figures and Nendoroids are either released already or are available for pre-order. Fingers crossed that Alter, Revolve or other scale model manufacturers will join Good Smile Company and set up shop at future editions of CharaExpo or C3AFA.

The other exhibitors certainly held their own, to say the least. Popular brands such as Aniplex, COSPA and Sony had their own booths and drew the crowds in easily with the merchandise lineup they boasted. I had my fill in Akihabara, Ikebukuro and Nakano so it was nice to see Singaporean anime fans being able to purchase these items from the comfort of our home country.

However, Bushiroad clearly stole the show that day, taking up huge blocks of space for various booths and minigames. They even showed off their latest TCG, Dragoborne. It had a more western flavour and it was a nice departure from their stalwarts of Cardfight!! Vanguard and Weiss Schwarz. For Magic the Gathering fanatics, it might just be your cup of tea.

Although I avoided spending much money at CharaExpo, I did spend a huge amount of time at the Love Live! School Idol Festival booth. It featured the key visual of Love Live! Sunshine!!'s second season along with two minigames and a standee of Kurosawa Dia, the game's ambassador for Singapore. The first minigame was one that you'd expect to see. It was a blown-up version of the Love Live! School Idol Festival mobile game and had songs from both μ's and Aqours. Needless to say, the queue was long and as much as I like the game, I didn't have the patience to wait that long to play one song. 

The other minigame had you perform a simulated 11-time Honour Scout for the Aqours and if you pulled an Ultra Rare or Super Super Rare card, you received a sticker set and a chance to win an Aqours pencil case. I didn't have the luck needed even after two tries but on the bright side, my odds in the actual mobile game haven't been that bad.

As I made my rounds through the exhibition, I begun to notice these Kemono Friends standees. If you're wondering where Serval, the main character was, she's situated at the Aniplus booth. Hululu, the one pictured, and the rest were peppered around the expo. I'm sure there was a prize to be won if you had a picture of every single one of them.

The final highlight for the first day were the events on the main stage. The cosplay competition was especially gripping, with the top three contestants sporting costumes that wouldn't look out of place in a movie set. Any one of them could've clinched the top spot but the Fate/Grand Order fan in me was happy that the Jeanne D'Arc (Alter) cosplayer won.

Myth & Roid's performance following that was electric. Only two members of the unit were able to make it but they had the energy of the whole group. For those of you wondering, they did perform Paradisus-Paradoxum and Styx Helix from Re:Zero, to the audience's pleasure. These were accompanied by L.L.L from Overlord along with Jingo Jungle from Youjo Senki. The duo didn't miss a beat and even the MCs in between each song was done in English to cater to the audience. It was the highlight of the day for me.

CharaExpo has grown leaps and bounds since its first exhibition in 2015 and I'm glad I had the opportunity to cover this year's edition as it was a huge improvement compared to last year's expo. I hope that it continues to grow both in scale and in quality and with C3AFA around the corner, the organisers will have ample time to take note and prepare for next year.

Meanwhile, please read Fluffysheep's coverage on Day 2.

Written by ET

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