Anime Festival Asia (AFA), has over the last five years, transformed itself from a grassroots anime and Japanese culture event to a brand that is now easily recognized not only within South-East Asia, but Japan as well. Fans all across Asia had been long hoping for AFA to be hosted in their own nations, and Malaysians finally got their wish this year.

Held at the Putra World Trade Centre over the course of the 9th and 10th June, the event attracted an amazing 41,000 guests, and featured six Anisong artistes- numbers that easily beat the first AFA in Singapore. As the dust settled over the venue, it was clear that many Malaysians carried away fond memories of the event in their hearts.

Ani-Culture.net was on hand to cover Anime Festival Asia with writers Tueac, Makotosato, Tama-Tan, Avalonexa and NBCwarrior. This post is our overview of AFA Malaysia, including the media review on 8th June. Its a very long post, so prepare yourself!

Without further ado, let’s check out AFA Malaysia 2012!

 Media Preview

Unlike the private media previews held in Singapore, AFA MY’s Media Review was held at in a open atrium between Plaza Low yat and Federal Hotel, allowing ordinary fans were able to catch a glimpse of the artistes even before the event. When we arrived at the venue, there were almost close to 300 fans waiting!  While the media preview was delayed, the crowd continued to wait patiently and giving the occasional cheer when certain artistes’ trademark songs were played over the PA system, especially those from Kalafina and Flow.

Our MCs for the night!

After a nerve-wrecking wait, MCs Danny Choo and Yoshimi appeared to greet the audience, drawing a tremendous cheer from the crowd . They asked the crowd whether they knew AFA is the largest anime event in the region and the audience responded with resounding “YES”!.

Looks like the AFA brand is strong!

After the initial introduction, a video introducing the Anisong lineup was played, and fans eagerly cheering for favorite artists even though that was just a broadcast. The Festival Director, Shawn Chin, took to the stage and gave thanks for the fans support- without it, AFA would not be where it is. He dropped a bombshell- that Indonesia would have its first AFA in September, just barely three months after Malaysia- to the excitement of the Indonesians in the crowd.

With the atmosphere reaching a climax, cosplay artists, AFA Veteran Kaname, and SPcats members Tasha and Miyuko appeared on stage. Of note, Tasha was wearing a fabulous Diablo-3-themed armor and Miyuko was wearing her cute Kuroneko Maid uniform.

Danny tried his Korean on the SPcats members, with rather humorous results. Tasha said she enjoyed the spicy Malaysian food and Miyuko loved the country.

Kaname, cosplaying his own original character, was decked out with a Blonde wig in a green shirt and blue overalls farmer suit. He said that he had become quite familiar with Malaysia,  having already visited the nation twice prior and had become fond of Malaysian Curry Rice.

Following that, they bought up the first batch of Anisong artists- Kalafina, Aimi and Maon Kurosaki. Personally, I liked how they tried to communicate with audience in Bahasa Melayu, for instance- Maon Kurosaki introduced herself with the phrase “Nama saya Maon”. Aimi, of Vanguard fame,  said she was very fond of Malaysia, having visited the nation three times prior. Kalafina trio of Keiko, Wakana and Hikaru, expressed their excitement at being able to perform in Malaysia, and like the other artistes, enjoyed the local cuisine, especially Mee Goreng.

Now a hallmark of AFA, the Moe Moe Kyun maids and AR butlers paraded on stage. A funny moment was when Yoshimi and Danny to mimic the moves of the maids and butlers! They did it pretty well but Danny’s expression on his face was so funny that the crowd roared with laughter.

Moe>o<

Danny’s expression is…

Right after that, they bought on the second group of Anisong artists- SEA*A, KOTOKO and FLOW, earning a cheer from the crowd. SEA*A said they were very happy to finally be able to perform in Malaysia, made more memorable by the fact that Wynnie comes is Malaysian herself. She said she had been waiting for a long time to perform in her homeland and sincerely hoped that everyone would enjoy it.

KOTOKO said that her experience thus far was really memorable, commenting on how nice the people were and the great local cuisine. FLOW, in particular, seemed to be really enjoying their visit to Malaysia, recounting their story of their trip around the Kuala Lumpur, and how they loved the liveliness of the capital.

The artistes’ positive remarks about Malaysia struck a chord with the crowd, bringing on numerous rounds of cheers!

Danny Choo with his father Jimmy Choo

The media preview ended on a high note, leaving the fans with high hopes for the weekend. As we were leaving the place, we spotted Danny Choo with his father, Datuk Jimmy Choo. We can only imagine how proud they were to be in Malaysia.

The official AFA MY facebook page has more photos- https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150891235301022.400503.91683256021&type=3

With that, the media review drew to a close, let’s move on to the main course- AFA Malaysia 2011!

 

The First Day

Despite it being the wee hours of the morning, the ticketing area was packed with excited people! In a minor annoyance, there was considerable confusion with the ticketing lines, with the queue stretching to the end of the corridor and back. And there were no clear signs to indicate directions to the exhibition hall. We can only imagine that the organizers were overwhelmed by the response. Hopefully, they can improve on this in 2012.

While there was a considerable wait for tickets, people seemed to take it in their stride and cosplayers were gamely posing for photos around the ticketing booths.

Cosplayers outside the exhibition area

We finally made it to the exhibition hall and surprise surprise, the place was packed!

What a crowd!

Queues for the maid and butler cafe!

There was certainly a nice selection of booths, but we will get to them in the second day review, as I wanted to make it for the stage events.

I just managed to make it for the first Anisong stage appearance with Aimi, Kalafina and Maon Kurosaki. And while the session was short, it set the stage for a thrilling concert in the evening, with the audience worked up and cheering non-stop!

The stage layout seemed rather familiar…

All of the stage events were well received- to the extent that people had to stand or sit on the floor! They did not seem to mind however, seemingly content with the fact they were able to attend.

Danny Choo’s segment was a crowd pleaser as usual, and people were smiling and laughing all throughout the talk. We will not spoil the contents of the talk for you, but here’s an interesting tidbit- Danny Choo will make 4,000,000 copies of a special mirai touch and go card for Malaysia! (They admitted that they forgot to omit a couple of zeros later on. >o<)

Mirai on your touch and go very soon!

Aki-sachou from Good Smile Company also came up to the stage to announce Madokami Figure and others.

The doors for the concert were scheduled to open only at 6.30 pm but people were already queuing at 4.00pm! We were fortunate enough to have media seats, so we only had to wait for around 30 minutes.

The queue just goes and goes on…

In Malaysia, there is a official government policy that local talent must be showcased alongside international performances. As such, the concert opened with a local singer’s performance, which was surprising quite good, and helped to set the tone for the first artiste- Maon Kurosaki.

To put it simply, Maon Kurosaki made the night memorable for me. Prior to the concert, I was only aware that she sang the openings for  Toaru Majutsu no Index’s, but every single song she sang was awesome. Her performance truly rocked my world! And given the crazy response from the audience, their’s too.

Aimi Terakawa came on next, and while she’s still a relatively new face, I still throughly enjoyed their passion and energy of her performance, singing her trademark songs from Bento!! and Card Fight Vanguard. To top things off, she did her own rendition of “Sakura Emi Kimi Omou” from D.C II and “Hare Hare Yukai” from Haruhi Suzumiya. “Hare Hare Yuaki” was especially well covered, and certainly very memorable. As a special touch, Aimi ended her performance with a MC segment, expressing her thanks to the audience for attending her first major live ever. In my personal opinion, she may not be as polished as the other ani-song artistes at the moment, but she has the potential to be a superstar in a few years time. Do your best Aimi! I’m rooting for you.

Kalafina was the last to come on but I felt that they shone as main star for the first night. Even before they came on stage, the crowd went crazy, cheering and screaming like there was no tomorrow! They opened with a powerful “Magia” from “Puella Magi Madoka Magica, before moving to other trademark songs from “Garden of the Sinners” and “Kuroshitsuji” and ending with an amazing “to the beginning” from “Fate Zero”!

Every song sung evoked powerful emotions, enchanting the audience with their beautiful voices. To compliment the experience, there were segments of small talk with the audience, like asking for recommendations for the best local dessert and a discussion about their favorite character in Fate/zero (Hikaru likes Saber, Keiko likes Kiritsugu, Wakana likes Rider).

Overall, the concert was a great success but it was not without its criticisms. The stage lights were positioned in such a way that they sometimes blinded the audience. Security certainly needs to be tightened as too many still took pictures in spite of the many reminders by the crew. Lastly, perhaps of being spoiled too much at AFA Singapore, I would have liked to see encores from the artistes, and the crowd could have been stronger in cheering for one.

The Second Day

I certainly had an easier time exploring the exhibition grounds on the second as the crowd had considerably thinned down. Notably, the exhibition groups are not as big as the one found at Singapore’s AFA. There were the traditional big booths like Animax, Canon, Good Smile Company, Bushiroad, Bandai Tamashii Nations, MMK and AR cafe, but the mini stage was strongly missed.

Bandai Tamashii Nations!

Akibaranger’s SHFigurarts is spotted at Bandai Tamashii Nations booth.

Good Smile Company!

The big boss of Good Smile Company drops by for photos!

Miku racing Itshas!

Madokami!

Everything you could possibly want- well, almost.

Cosplayers are everywhere.

And daughters…

And so are the photographers….

Smile!

The trademark live dubbing station!

Of particular interest were two booths- one by the Macross Fans of Malaysia and the other by Malaysia Vocaloid Party booth.

The Macross Fans of Malaysia booth was filled with many Valkyries and figures, and they screened the Macross F’s Movies. The exhibitors were friendly, and were nice enough to let take some photos of their collection (although I secretly wanted to snatch one that day.)

Macross Fans of Malaysia booth

The lovely girls of Frontier.

The Malaysia Vocaloid Party was just right beside of them, and had numerous photos of local cosplayers portraying Vocaloid characters. They too, had an impressive display of Vocaloid figures from the Nendoroids, Figmas and Scaled Figures series.

The Malaysia Vocaloid Party- would you join if it was a real political party?

While the collection was nice, the main draw was the AR software that displayed a Virtual Miku in real time from the webcam. It was certainly amusing to see a virtual Miku dancing and walking around the QR code laid on the floor as people were walking by!

What’s that guy doing behind Miku?

The doujin area was rather small at AFA MY, with about 6-7 exhibitors. While there were few, the quality of the artwork on display made up for it. I visited the collateral damage studios booth, meeting my friend KC Komicer and snatching a Madoka Doujin Artbook and a Fate/Zero Tapestry.

Fate/Zero- do you want it?

Amazing renditions of your favourite artworks!

If you were lucky, you might have been able to see your favorite artiste at the AFA shop!

For all your AFA needs and then some!

I was fortunate enough to catch SEA*A for an Autograph session for the last 5 CDs left at the store!

All the best girls!

The AFA shop stocked the usual AFA goods, but the main draw was the MOEKANA cards!

M.O.E.K.A.N.A

All sorts of people snap up the Moekana cards!

Happy Moekana Owners!

They had previously run out of stock the first day, but we hear some brave soul went to get more for the second day! If you know who he is, please thank him!

A mission of AFA Malaysia is to hopefully one day stamp out pirated Anime goods. Visitors were encouraged to leave their messages on the booth wall, expressing their hopes for a piracy free Anime industry for Malaysia.

We can do it!

The most popular booth was undoubtably the culture Japan booth >o<. The booth was adorned with Mirai goods, but the main draw was the Mirai Itasha!

Its all about Mirai!

Chibi and cute!

Kanata and Mirai cosplayers!

Which one would you pick?

Would you like a kitsune for a daughter?

The Mirai Itasha-its a beau, no?

Looks like someone is really enjoying himself!

During his stage segment, Danny Choo showcased the Moekanji project- intended to help Japanese language learners tackle the difficult Kanji aspect of the language.  I managed to get the Moekana set and while it’s very lovely, the Moekanji set is even more irresistible! I really hope it comes out soon…

The queue went on and on…

Like the day prior, the concert opened with a performance by a local band called REy (from Rock Everyday). They performed 3 songs, two of which were covers of famous ani-songs! Their choice of songs seemed to go down well with the audience.

Kicking off day two’s concert proper was SEA*A! They started with “Deli Deli Delicious”, “Friendship Birthday”, and finally ending with their debut single “Dream Shooter”. I really enjoyed “Friendship Birthday” and “Dream Shooter” was a crowd pleaser as usual.

After having watched several of their performances, I must say that they were certainly more polished and confident this night. At the end of their performance, they announced that they will hold auditions for more members to join SEA*A!  Good luck, SEA*A!

KOTOKO took to the stage next, and I personally had been looking forward to it. Having the opportunity to listen to her live that night made my trip to Kuala Lumpur worthwhile. She stirred up the crowd with evergreen songs like “Shooting Star” from “Onegai Teacher!” and the theme song of “Hayate no Gotoku”!, but the atmosphere really fired up with  “Light My Fire” and “Unfinished”! While her concert was draining, I still wanted to see her come on for an encore…

Rounding off an amazing experience was non other than FLOW! At this point, I could not even stand properly, but their songs were so powerful that it energized my spirit! As expected of Flow, they were masters at firing up the crowd, making it an electrifying experience . I admit that I am not a big fan of FLOW,  but with each song they sang, my heart kept beating stronger and stronger. Their performance really captured my heart.

When Keigo signed off with their last song, the crowd could not accept it and demanded for an encore! Flow gladly presented the crowd with a very special encore and it was an awesome way to end the night. Everyone was jumping and screaming.

It seems funny that just a while ago I could not even stand properly and I ended the night  jumping like crazy! I guess that the right kind of Music can give you strength and energize your spirits. I will not be forgetting this night any time soon and I certainly hope I feel this way again someday.

A lot of things happened over the three days, but I still left AFA MY with more than I had hoped for, and I believe the same can be said for the Malaysians who attended.

While it would be unfair to compare the standards with the flagship event in Singapore (it is still a satellite event after all), there is certainly much room for improvement in all areas, particularity in terms of organization and ticketing.  Overall, I felt that AFA MY sought to bring a slice of Anime and Japanese Pop Culture to Malaysia, and in that aspect, they succeeded.

As an Indonesian, I certainly hope that AFAIndo will be able to live up to those expectations as well, and perhaps even exceed them. For me, AFA has been and will always be an life-changing event, and I love it with to the bottom of my heart.

Till we meet again!

This article is not the end of Ani-Culture.net’s coverage of AFA Malaysia, as we will be filing our interviews with Ani-Song Artistes Aimi, Maon Kurosaki, Kalafina, SEA*A and Kotoko in the coming days! I will personally be writing my impressions of the Malaysia Cosplay Competition qualifying round and Danny Choo’s Culture Japan Night as well, so please look forward to that!

There are still two more AFAs this year in Indonesia and Singapore, so it will not be long till we meet again! See ya guys!

For more AFAMY’s photos do check at gallery below this post, thank you.

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