Danny Choo and Kaname dancing Gangnam Style
May’n singing at the Horipro booth
Stage performance at the Canon booth Part 1
Stage performance at the Canon booth Part 2
Sphere live dubbing! Part 1
Sphere live dubbing! Part 2
Sphere stage appearance Part 1
Sphere stage appearance Part 2
Disclaimer: I’m using Facebook as the storage medium because it is convenient and it loads fast (loading 120 thumbnails will take quite sometime), you need to be logged in to view the photos. All photos and videos were taken and recorded with an iPhone 4S, so picture quality and especially video quality might not be that great.
I was off on a terrible start even though AFA is the convention I was looking forward to attending. I had a grand total of 0 hours of sleep/rest before the event. I already have a bad habit of sleeping in the wee hours of the morning and it didn’t help at all that I couldn’t fall asleep despite lying on the bed for 2 hours. In the end I opted to stay awake throughout instead of trying to force myself a sub 2-3 hours of sleep.
I arrived at the venue at roughly 8.10am. Queue was already uber long with people already packed outside the entrance. It definitely wasn’t like this last year. Unfortunately I had to join the queue because I didn’t purchase the ticket online and the AFA shop did not sell the festival area only tickets when I went to buy the Madoka movie tickets. Thankfully the queue moved at a quick pace and it wasn’t too bad of a wait despite the queue looking really long.
9am. Crowd at the entrance started to look like a stampede as soon as the doors opened, and then, QUEUES EVERYWHERE HOLY. Since the movie screening was at 9.30am I had roughly 25 minutes to start taking pictures before the casual crowd arrives in the afternoon. Forgot to bring my day 2 movie ticket so I was unable to collect my exclusives at the redemption area before the start of the movie.
9.30-1pm. At this point the I started to get really tired and I couldn’t enjoy the movie as much as I wanted to (a bunch of people behind me were talking really loudly and it pissed me off too), the movie lasted roughly 2 hours and I took a short break afterwards before going back into the exhibition hall. Walked around/took more pictures, managed to catch May’n performing.
1-5pm. I got really exhausted and literally sat down in a corner of the hall and slept. 1 hour of light sleep really makes a lot of difference. There was free(?) K shirts being handed out I think, sort of sad to miss out on those. It was peak hours and the hall was really crowded and it was hard to get any good shots without having people in them, so I took the time to rest mostly. Started to get real hungry and went out for the second time to grab some late lunch.
5-8pm. After my late lunch at 5pm it was time for more sleep just because sleep is that important considering I still have 1 more day ahead of me. When I woke up the crowd started to disperse and it was time to go on a photo taking spree. The queues were mostly gone from all booths as well! It is finally time to take a look at some of the merchandises that were on sale and WHY SO EXPENSIVE? Ended up deciding to leave my loot acquirement for Day 2 and left at around 8pm. All in all I spent roughly 12 hours there with about 2 hours of sleep in total, damn.
9.30am-12pm. Collateral damage took the better of me and I decided to go for the movie straight instead of my original intention to reach there at 9am to look around. This time the movie started on time compared to yesterday, in which it was delayed for a little (thankfully the people behind me were quiet after me telling them off nicely yesterday). Trailer for part 3 released! MEGA HYPE and cheers going on!
12-2.30pm. As I purchased my Day 2 Stage + Festival tickets along with the movie tickets, there was no need for me to queue and it was time to go back into the exhibition hall again. Massive queue at the SAO booth despite all merchandise being sold out on Day 1 – LiSA was here handing out autographed postcards! Queue was freaking long so no point in joining, no photography was allowed either. Unfortunately there wasn’t any differences in the main hall for Day 2, so there wasn’t much for me to take. Went to grab an earlier lunch since I had stage access today and I predicted I would probably be spending a few hours in there straight.
2.30-7.30pm. Whelp, I did pop in earlier at around 1pm to check out whatever was going on, and when I went back the area was easily twice or thrice as packed. Seats were completely filled, people were standing at the edges because everyone knows, it is time for Sphere’s first overseas appearance! Oh other artistes made a short appearance too but I’m pretty sure the spotlight was on Sphere. It is finally time for Sphere’s segment and technically it was strictly no photography or recording but I took the risk and went ahead to record some footage.
After Sphere it was Danny Choo’s turn to talk about his own endeavors and what is currently planned for the future, afterwards it was the Regional Cosplay Championship segment followed by a Fairytail movie screening. Daisuke Kishio made an unscripted stage appearance before that as well! I had a short recording of that but alas I was tinkering around with the video and ended up trimming what I wanted to delete..
7.30-9pm The sky had gotten dark when I left the stage hall, went back into the exhibition hall to see if there is any closing sales, or loot worth buying. Sadly most booths were either closed or had already started to pack up. Contemplated to get some Moekana but decided not to. As this year’s event draws to a close, it is time for the scavengers to strike. It was really entertaining to see a group of people running around trying to take whatever they can for free, anything and everything that looks remotely worth taking was taken. I had my Madoka exclusives so I wasn’t too upset about not buying a memento. Upon reaching home I decided to leave the writeup for today because writing while being tired isn’t going to be productive at all.
- Queue early or don’t queue at all. This logic applies for all queues. Either be at the front or don’t queue. Really, towards the end of both days where there was no queues left, there was still tons of merchandises available everywhere. Yes, exclusives and hot items will sell fast, that’s why for these types of items you have to be at the front. Everything else will still be there, so why waste time queuing knowing they won’t go anywhere? More importantly, there is something known as closing sales too, where discounts will be given! Day 1 for hot selling items, Day 2 for bargains.
- Be super prepared. Being prepared isn’t enough, having enough sleep is the most valuable lesson I learnt. Having 0 hours and 6 hours of sleep for Day’s 1 and 2 respectively made a huge difference. I easily yawned 3x or 4x more when I was watching the Madoka movie for Day 1. Also bring food and especially water because..let’s just say the price of convenience is a heavy price to pay.
- Camera phones suck at recording/editing. I apologize for the video qualities, but there is really nothing I can do about it, apart from getting a proper camcorder. With sufficient light the phone works fine and all for pictures and videos alike but when the lighting gets dark there is really a huge contrast in image/video quality. Also a note to myself: Youtube has a video limit of 15 mins. I have two Sphere videos that are 17.20 and 19:15 that had to be trimmed because of the limitation. Luckily the cut-off for both parts was good and it wasn’t in the middle of something being said. Editing functions was also very limited, there is no way for me to upload the cut-off portion without having to trim away the video in itself.
Damage done to wallet (excluding food and travel expenses):
Day 1+Day 2+ Movie tickets = $8+$20+$50=$78
I don’t know if inflation is the cause of this, but with each passing year everything seems to get more expensive. The tickets are more expensive compared to the previous year, a gachapon costs a whooping $3-4 per go, mineral water going for $2 (truly a rip-off), the list goes on and on. That was also the main reason why I did not get anything at all this year, as I felt I had already spent a considerable amount on just the tickets and on misc expenditure.
Next, you will notice that there is a grand total of 0 cosplay photos that I have taken. Why? Main reason is, if I were to go around taking photos of cosplayers the amount of photos taken would easily increase by twofold or threefold. Instead of adopting the “take only the good ones!” mentality I rather take none at all. Personally, I don’t really give too much of a damn about cosplayers too, sure I admire their effort and courage for doing so but somehow I’m just not thrilled by the idea of taking cosplay photos just for the sake of taking them. I have taken photos of cosplayers in the past couple of events so it’s not that I’m allergic to taking those, I just prefer not to.
On the whole experience itself, overall I feel it was a satisfying but tiring experience. The downside was obviously the huge crowd (which seems to keep increasing), stuff being expensive, queues being insanely long. I read that there was some problems and technical issues during the concert performance which was quite a shame, but generally the management did their job well as far as the exhibition hall and stage events go. The booths were much more varied and interesting compared to the previous year (can’t really remember much by now actually, just going by my gut feeling). Stage events were awesome on Sunday! Not a fan of Sphere myself but I could certainly feel the positive energy and excitement levels radiating throughout the hall.
For me, there isn’t much of a need to go on both days as there wasn’t any major changes to the exhibition worth warranting a second visit. My level wasn’t high enough so I passed on the concerts too ($_$). I absolutely loved the Madoka movie, watching the remastered movie version made me feel like it was no less than a masterpiece. There was a short bonus of the VAs greeting the audience as well as the trailer for the continuation, can’t wait for the next installation!
The lack of loot is a little regrettable, but I’m satisfied with the exclusives I’ve gotten from the Madoka movie. Notably, there was also AFA MY and AFA ID earlier this year so this year’s convention here was much more well received and advertised. In short the scene is definitely growing larger and larger with each year, with people from all walks of life attending, from kids to the elderly (not joking) checking AFA out. I’m glad to be a part of this year’s AFA and hope that from hereon it is only going to get bigger and better. There’s other small details that I did omit or might have missed but I think I have rambled on for quite a while now so hopefully this was an insightful read!