5 things you missed if you didn’t go for AFA 2016

As it has been for many years, this year’s Anime Festival Asia (AFA) took place in the cavernous halls 401 and 402 of Suntec City Convention Centre. The activities were straightforward – you could buy your fill of anime goods, marvel at the display of figurines and look at Overwatch characters strolling past Thunderbolt Fantasy characters (with their luscious locks and extravagant capes). Or you could get separated from your friends in the crowd but bump into them later by chance.

The Bunka Admin team went for the convention to bring to you 5 things you have missed if you were not here last weekend.

5. Amazing cosplay

What is a manga/anime/game convention without its die-hard fans dressing up as their favourite characters? If you didn’t know the way to the convention, you could easily follow the cosplayers to find your destination. Upon arriving at the third level of the convention centre, we found them at every corner, either posing for the camera or camping outside the halls. These cosplayers have been up early in the morning to prepare their look of the day, while we, dressed as normal civilians, slept in.

If you thought all of them were Singaporeans, you are utterly wrong. There is a number of cosplayers such as Kael (picture above) from neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and much more. It is not uncommon for cosplayers to travel to other countries to attend events like this.


Granny from Looney Tunes
Granny from Looney Tunes

One cosplayer that really caught our attention was this lady, Aunty Shirley. Now 69, she has been cosplaying ever since 2011. (You can check her Facebook page here.) She is not the only person above the average age of cosplayers; we also chanced upon a mysterious man donning a full body armour.

When we asked for a photo, he immediately struck a battle-ready pose, his expression grim. After we thanked him with a thumbs-up, he relaxed his grip on the spear and marched away without a word. “Was that Genghis Khan?” We never got to know the answer.

4. Merchandise

If you are obsessed with a particular manga, anime or game, you could buy as much merchandise as you wanted. Honestly speaking, we prefer getting our things online but how could we not buy that keychain before our very eyes? Or that dakimakura (large character cushions)? Or the shirt? Or that figurine? We were really spoilt for choice.

There was also a corner for creators selling their fan-made goods, ranging from posters to EMW stickers and tape. Unfortunately, we saw a tweet regarding a certain booth stealing people’s artworks and selling them. Such things do happen so we must stay vigilant and spread the word!

3. The Main Stage

The key components of the convention were held at the main stage. It hosted talk shows, screenings and demonstrations in the day and the Anisong concerts at night. We entered the hall when the Wake Up, Girls were waving goodbye to the audience and suddenly, we found ourselves swimming against a great wave of hot-blooded men who were making an exit. Everyone settled down quietly for the next item.

After a while, the lights went dim and ear-piercing shrieks echoed across the hall as a movie trailer played on the screen. Then, the emcees and one of the notable Japanese voice actors, Okamoto Nobuhiko, took to the stage and the girls went absolutely crazy. We could only watch in amazement on how drastic the audience had changed.


“Long baajon,” he spoke into the microphone and the audience cheered. There was PIKO-TARO, breaking into his quirky dance and singing the extended version of the viral hit, “PPAP”. The Japanese comedian came onstage at around 6:45 pm and everyone quickly fished out their mobile phones to take pictures of the man with leopard prints and a drawn-on moustache. When the song played, everyone literally shouted the lyrics of the whole song. Funny how he does not earn a single yen from it despite its huge success. For those who are still clueless about what we’re talking about, please watch this video:

1. The crowd

We don’t know about you, but we were blown away by the monstrous crowd when we first arrived at the convention. You can see for yourself the queue for entrance tickets:


It took about 30 minutes to get the tickets before we could saunter our way around the exhibition hall. In actual fact, we were rushing to watch a live interview with Okamoto Nobuhiko (as mentioned earlier), so the time spent in the queue was very, very intense.

From the food section
From the food section

It was a pity that we didn’t fully utilise our tickets (actually wristbands) to see the celebrity cosplayers – Yosuke Sora, Baozi & hana and KANAME, just to name a few. Yet, we were relieved that we went because of the sheer compassion displayed by everyone who was there. You could see the different worlds collide, with creators and fans gathering together, all for the otaku culture.