Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anime Festival Asia 2011: Day 2 (Nov 12)

Continued from AFA Day 1...

My body clock was my worst enemy that morning.  No matter what time I've slept, I always wake up at 6am, despite sleeping past 1am that morning thanks to the room romping pajama party at the 12th floor earlier that night.

I spent the next hour fixing the costumes while trying my best not to wake any of my roomies.  By 7am Jewel was awake and left the room 30 minutes later to pick up our AFA tickets at 8am.  Rotch and Rael left later at around 8am to take a walk leaving me by myself fixing and preparing the costumes for later.  I used one of the big boxes, and with the rope we brought along, fashioned it into a crude backpack.  Then Jewel, Rotch and Rael came back around 10am, and before leaving, decided to have a very heavy brunch before dragging the costumes to Suntec.  We decided to eat at this food court where Jewel and Rotch decided to eat a claypot meal and Rael and I some Indonesian fare.

Claypot Meals Pork "Liempo" and  Sausage
Awfully bland Pepsi Twist :P
Claypot cooking intrigued me.  Its basically putting a rice topping meal over a super hot clay pot, practically burning the bottom rice portions into crunchy flakes (or slabs, depending on how long you let it burn before tossing it around).  Jewel was immediately addicted to them, and Rotch swears to it like manna from heaven.  Im not a big fan of burned rice slabs so I opted for the softer Indonesian food, which unfortunately slathered in super hot spicy sauce.  And to make matters worse, all of their canned softdrinks were bland! Its because the Singapore government regulates the sugar levels of the food they consume, which includes Pepsi products. Either way I was meant to be doomed in this culinary challenge.

Slightly past lunch we all went back to our hotel room and each of us carried a piece of our costumes to Suntec.  The mall was already filling up with visitors so it was inevitable that we were getting lots of stares from mall goers carrying huge armor-like items across the mall corridor.  But finally reaching Suntec and overcoming the "Escalator Challenge Stage", we parked our stuff just outside the AFA entrance as Rotch and Rael forged ahead past the crowd to secure our pathway inside.  Meanwhile we bumped into our friends who were already dressed up for the event: Pablo as Voltes V, Tanya as the Bozanian Baroness Zandra and Guy as Garo.
Photo by Jin Joson
Rotch and Rael found a nice little niche for us to leave our boxes, although dressing up was indeed awfully awkward, as passerby's took every opportunity to see our mechas being assembled step by step.  Good thing we already showed up wearing our appropriate clothing.  It was amusing to overhear some of the onlookers commenting "Oh look, the Zakus actually wear jeans!".

Unpacking the armor

Floor clutter
Ready to go!

What are you staring at?!
Beforehand, we asked people who went to AFA last year how was the crowd density and they said it was manageable, enough for potential cosplayer mechas to walk around comfortably.  That was last year. This year it was like walking inside one of our cons, except that the people there are more obliged to step aside and let you pass, unlike here in the Philippines where several cons are treated like public mosh pits, particularly the hordes of fans coming after the usual celebrity suspects.

Rotch and Rael led us around the con and along the way many asked us to stop and have our pictures taken solo or with their friends, which we didnt mind at all since it was common practice back home.  Many noticed our shields which words "Go Team Philippines! Give them Hell!" were stenciled.  A lot of people thought we were the actual Philippine RCC representatives but we kept correcting them saying we were only the cheerleaders.  We got that term from the story about how the 2nd placer of Cosplay Mania's Tournament of Champions, the Vostel Team who went and congratulated the winning couple Team March Omega and said:

"Now, you carry our hopes and dreams with you to Singapore. Give them hell!"

It was witnessed and published by my friend and President Pablo Bairan in his Facebook entry.  Believe me, nothing says comraderie and sportsmanship in one sentence than this one.  I used to be jaded by what I keep hearing about sour graping losers in the Philippine Cosplay Community, especially those who couldn't take a loss and being to anal about cosplaying to win, but coming from Team Vostel, the ones who didnt win, it brought a tear to my eye when I read about that.  Now if Team Vostel is reading this blog, I want you know that you have made your loss as everyone's (including yourself) gain: the inspiration to give our best.  We decided to continue to extend your message for Team March Omega that day by making it a part of our cosplay as well.
Photo by Steve Yau
Along the way we passed by the Nico Nico Douga booth where one of the staff asked us (or particularly asked Rotch, since we cant hear very well in our helmets, plus she knows how to speak Japanese) to line up and be part of their live streaming show.  Their concept is that the video feed is fed live in the internet site and their viewers can comment in real time and posted on the screen.  Before me was a Sasuke cosplayer who posed in front of the video cam and the Japanese lady host translated the kanji being posted onscreen as "Sasuke kawaii サスケかわいいので!" and "Sasuke too emo サスケそのエモです!"  When it was our turn, the whole screen was jammed with comments such as OMGザク(omg zaku), ザククール (cool zakus) and :D:D:D:D:D:D:D to say the least.  But bedlam occurred when the host announced that the one wearing the black Zaku is a girl, as marriage proposals 私と結婚する suddenly filled the screen.  But when the host later said we were a married couple, the mood shifted to "that's my daughter!" posts.

There were photographers with media pass ID's who took our pictures, and whenever one of them asks for our picture, we would pose then I'd approach him/her and give them our "cosplay card".  Now there's a story behind that card, as earlier in the hotel, as we were preparing to carry of our costumes to Suntec, Rotch casually asked if I had my cosplay cards ready.  I was having this "huh?" face when she explained that cosplayers have these personal business cards with a cosplay theme that had your name/internet identity, email address and FB/website.  The main purpose was to inform photographers on where they can send copies of their hi-res photos, at the same time when you meet new friends, you can spare them the effort of writing down your info and just give them a card.  So i spent the next 15 minutes crafting a small card compartment in my arm armor and Rotch gave me around 20 cards where I wrote down all the information needed. Its not much but it worked.  Two days after I got home from Singapore, the photographer Kar Hei Eu emailed me his photos, pretty nice of him to do so. :)

It was amusing to hear from Jewel that a lot of people there were very surprised that it was a girl under the black Zaku mech costume.  It started when she would accidentally bump into somebody, and then the would-be irate victim would suddenly lose their annoyance and gasp in surprise as they would hear a girly "sorry!" come out of the helmet.  I guess its unheard of in Singapore's cosplay community for women to cosplay mecha, much less mecha itself.  As we walked around I only saw one armored mech-like cosplay, and its pretty cool since it too had lights, boosters plus wings.  The material used looked like its made from sintraboard.
And we got some serious cosplayers here… - from 

From there I'm reminded of Clive's Gundam Raiser 00 mecha costume, how its made of sturdier material similar to plastic sheets.  This gave the costume a model kit feel, not like our rubber sheet Zakus where visually you'd still know its made of softer material.  He also mentioned that one possible reason why not a lot of people does mecha in Singapore: other than the sheer amount of love you need to cut up plastic sheets and the amount of time to construct them, he felt a lot of people get mad when he walks around in his humongous costume.  Imagine being stepped on one! And probably part of the reason is that the plastic armor, with its pointy edges, might not be so crowd friendly.  I was looking forward for Clive to have brought his Gundam Unicorn that day, but I got a text message from him that he wasnt able to finish in time and wasnt feeling well too so I guess I'll get to see it another day.

The Zakus took a walk in the exhibition grounds… - from 
We were going around the premises because we were hoping to be chosen as one of the top 10 finalists for the RCC Singles Category.  The rules are tricky: you need to be seen by the secret roaming judges, so its important you go around the place a lot to be noticed.  We mostly hanged out at the large area in front of the Butler/Maid Cafe.  After spending an hour walking around and with no indication whether we were noticed or not, we decided to just simply retire our costumes in our corner and do a proper hangout of the place, visiting booths and all that.  So imagine our surprise just when we were about to take off our costumes when one guy tapped my shoulder and told me we "made the cut".  At first I didnt understand what he was saying, and he was with two Vocaloid cosplayers.  I also notice a huge crowd was forming and they were taking pictures of those Vocaloid couple.  Then he said the name "Kaname" its when i realized who they were and who they represented!  So we sorta fawned over Kaname while apparently he also fawned over our costumes. Their escorts took our names and contact numbers and that was that.  We were happy we got chosen and decided its the best time to go around AFA for real.

Crowd shots

Sure is packed!
Apparently with the famed low crime rate, we were told that its safe to leave our boxes full of Zaku armor in the niche area we used to dress up in.  So I got free reign in going around without the bulky costumes.  Since I never had a lot of money to begin with, I simply went around fawning over the new figures and toys that I never saw in the Philippines, like a large Tachikoma articulated figure (100 SGD), Zeon and Federation shirts (40 SGD each *cries*), Evangelion plugsuit Rei and Asuka pair that i havent seen before (40 SGD for both, wah!) and Macross posters (20 SGD, holy crap they'd better be signed!).  Instead I opted to just collect all the free flyers I can get.  My loss of money was totally compensated when I found a Hello Japan booth where they were giving away flyers, maps and info mags for free.  One such map was the Hakone Instumentality Map, an official Gainax map featuring real life locations that inspired the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.  I guess it was the next best thing to get without paying for anything.

Freebies when you aint got no monies!

By 5pm we decided to head on back to our hotel and freshen up and get ready to attend the Anisong concert titled Rock your Soul which had famous Japanese artists like Aniki Ichiro Mizuki (he sang the Super Robot songs like Getter Robo and Mazinger Z, yep, in the flesh!) and FLOW (Naruto's Fighting Dreamers and their rendition of RK's 1/3 no Junjō na Kanjō).  The concert actually started last night with Hatsune Miku and May'n was slated for AFA's last day tomorrow.  There was a huge crowd lining (or ganging up) at the front entrance as we met up with Jin, Miguel, Kat, Sese and Dom.  We formed a defensive circular position as we anticipated what was supposed to have opened by 6pm, was delayed until 7:30pm, in which the crowd literally flowed in like water off a broken dam.  We also got free glowsticks to wave in the dark when the concert starts.

Hanging out Jin, Miguel, Sese, Dom and Kat.  The weird white streak is actually the glowstick
Dom never ceases to amaze me
The concert itself started almost 9pm but it was worth the wait just to see Ichiro Mizuki who sang his usual medley of Super Robot Songs which unfortunately most werent that popular in the Philippines but when he started singing those that were like Getter Robo classic and Shin Getter, Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser, Grandizer and Kamen Rider theme songs, we were pumped! After a few more artists and then FLOW, who sang songs from Code Geass, Naruto, RK and Eureka Seven.  Apparently RK's 1/3 no Junjō na Kanjō doesnt seem to be very popular in Singapore, as we were singing at the top of our lungs the lyrics, while almost everyone else was just dancing.  I felt the only ones I hear singing the lyrics outside our little group are also fellow Filipinos, as Rurouni Kenshin was very popular thanks to AXN anime channel back then.  My only regret was that cameras were not allowed in the concert.  The pics you saw earlier was before it started.

The concert ended at 12 midnight and we split ways with Jin and her friends to meet up again with Clive, who also promised us a "night out at the town".  We were beat and spent with the concert but we trooped on when Clive arrived with Caroline, whom were feeling better now.  We were picked up and drove around by Caroline's parents, who took us to an outdoor dining spot which was the site of an old wet market now converted into a collage of different BBQ restaurants.  They asked us what we want to try and we told them we're pretty adventurous when it comes to food.  So they didnt pull any stops.

The Lau Pa Sat Festival Market
Street food, Satay (BBQ) as their specialty

The cook preparing our meal
Our newly wed friends and hosts Caroline and Clive 
Our Satay meal of pork and chicken
Best with Milk Tea, but they used condensed milk!

The one we unapologetically call Naked Prawns on a Stick

We really didnt know what we were eating, but after taking a few bites and avoiding the huge bed of chili, we were told it was Stingray, which was surprisingly good!

Very spicy Fish Cake
Also another spicy dish, snails! Caroline's mom's favorite
This was pretty exotic to us, its Nan bread (Indian) but with ground meat in the middle like omelette
After that awesome food adventure, we thanked Clive, Caroline and their in-laws for giving us an interesting and memorable dinner and got back to our hotel by 2am, hoping to wake up early later to prepare for the cosplay RCC finals.

Continued to Anime Festival Asia 2011: Day 3


  1. Can't wait to see day 3 entry XD
    I really love how you write your AFA's experiences. ^^

    I think that last pic is what we all call, "Martabak" ?
    Martabak is a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread with minced mutton, along with garlic, egg and onion, and is eaten with curry sauce.

    I hope I can treat you guys our Indonesian "Martabak" when all of you come to Indonesia. ^0^

  2. Yeah, it really is rare to see females in mecha armors in Singapore. XD;

  3. @Vienni
    Thanks, although I feel that there's still a lot of grammatical errors but im glad its not as confusing as I thought it was.

    Martabak? Clive called it differently but I think Jewel still remembers. But yeah, it was gooooood! And the pieces you dip in curry sauce!

    This is the part where i regret not being able to mingle outside where majority of the cosplayers were. I would have asked anyone who we'd befriend and find out why. Is it because they feel its inappropriate? Or maybe something more basic, like mecha is really not their thing.

  4. Actually there was one Resident Evil cosplayer couple during AME who also gave photographers cosplay cards. I wonder if that would catch on here too. Then again maybe not XD

    I believe that mecha is Cybuster from Super Robot Ward Original Generation.

    Oh man, if only Pablo's Voltes V costume made it into the finals. A picture of him with Aniki would be like, cosplay milestone, man.

  5. @Batangbatugan
    Oh yeeaaaahhh! No wonder it looked familiar but I keep matching it with a Quebley because of those wings. -_-;; Both him and Pablo would have made a nice Super Robot team. :)

  6. Hihi.
    Hope you enjoyed AFA as much as I did. And for the food, ENJOY PLENTY OF THEM!!!! Haha. Hope to see you next year. haha.

  7. Well, mecha really isn't their thing.

    What I noticed in Singapore cosplay is that they tend to follow what's hot in Japan. For example, if Japan starts cosplay Tiger & Bunny, SG cosplayers would follow suit.

    Also, another problem is the lack of resources in Singapore. Rubber sheets aren't available, so they will either build stuff using craft foam or Styrofoam. What will make it difficult is that they will need so much more time and effort to make mecha, whereas they can just buy a sewing machine and have a new costume made.

    Lastly, I think space is also a problem. They won't be able to store so many mecha cosplays in their flats. XD;

    /just an observation from someone who stayed in the Lion City for some time.

  8. @Aeneid
    Do you think another possible reason is that rubber sheets may not be in par with the environmental laws of Singapore?

    But I agree with the space issue, not just for those in Singapore but for everyone trying out mecha cosplay. I have that issue too, that's why in the past I recycle my costume to build new ones. Having already two Zakus in the house already cramped my garage. I dont I'll be able to build a brand new mecha unless I lose one or two of my mechas by either selling them, or use them until they are dilapidated and thrown away.