We previously attended Anime Festival back in 2016 — Madman’s inaugural convention in its hometown of Melbourne. Once known as Madman Anime Festival and now rebranded as Anime Festival, did the Anime Festival Sydney 2020 event (March 7-8) live up to its reputation and fans’ expectations? CtrlGeekPod finds out!
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PANELS AND GUESTS
Despite guest cancellations in the lead-up to the convention, Madman Entertainment rescued themselves spectacularly at the last stroke of hour.
Attaining some of the latest dubbed voice actors of the business, the Anime Festival Sydney guest list was led by super-star guests David Matranga (Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia), Ricco Fajardo (Mirio Togata from My Hero Academia) and Bryce Papenbrook (Kirito from Sword Art Online, Eren Jaeger from Attack on Titan).
Luckily for us, we got to attend Sunday’s voice-acting panel featuring these awesome guests. The dynamic banter between them was lively and super fun to watch on stage — it was something that they don’t usually do together, especially when they voice their roles in separate booths.
Unfortunately, dub voice actors don’t receive much credit in comparison to their Japanese counterparts. However, it was evident that they have major respect for the original Japanese voice actors, and their desire to work extremely hard in order to meet fans’ expectations. You can check out our voice-acting panel article [here].
In addition to the voice-acting panel, we went to Shingo Adachi‘s Live Drawing Panel (featuring Bryce Papenbrook). If you didn’t know, Shingo Adachi is Sword Art Online‘s Character Designer. Not only was it fun to watch Shingo draw SAO characters on stage, but he also offered great insight into the design process and his thoughts on the series.
While we didn’t get to see much of the other guests including Cosplayer Mon and Jpop idol Arisa Uki, we hope to see these guests return to Australia one day!
Bringing anime fans together, Anime Festival is a fantastic way to showcase their passion and talent for cosplay. This year, My Hero Academia reigns supreme again with many fans cosplaying fan-favourite characters such as Bakugo and Todoroki. In addition to this, we also saw plenty of Demon Slayer and Persona 5 cosplayers. You can check out our cosplay article [here]!
EXPERIENCES / EXHIBITIONS / GAMING / VENDORS / ARTIST MARKET
We love strolling through Anime Festival for its unique exhibitions and experiences, and we definitely weren’t disappointed at this year’s event.
Besides the usual Itasha exhibition and Maid Cafe, one of the most surprising exhibitions was the Digimon exhibition. Celebrating 20 years of Digimon mania, you can test your Digimon knowledge with a puzzle game and reminisce the good times by looking at life-size figures of Digimon characters: Agumon, Gabumon and Biyomon.
Another exhibition highlight was Shingo Adachi’s Art Gallery. Featuring original sketches and character designs, we love looking at the behind-the-scenes process and how it all comes together in the end.
Besides the exhibitions, there were plenty of ‘experiences’ that attendees could participate. Although we personally didn’t participate in any of the experiences due to long lines, it was great seeing many fans taking the initiative.
From showing their strength on the punch bag to running laps, they could earn their hero licence at the My Hero Academia experience. At the Demon Slayer experience, fans had to go through the maze of red strings to avoid Demon Rui’s wrath. And then you have Attack on Titan fans trying to collect clues around the venue in order to achieve the scavenger hunt.
Despite the limited floor space, Anime Festival managed to cram many gaming booths into the event. From One Punch to Final Fantasy XII Remake to Animal Crossing, this gave fans the opportunity to play upcoming games before their release.
Over at the Akiba Shopping Zone and Artist Market, we enjoyed gawking (and buying!) fan-made artworks and official merchandise. From figurines to keyrings, our inner-geek was totally over the moon. For those who had a long day, you could rest up at anime screenings; do a sketch or two at the live-drawing sessions; and watch AGS102 perform live onstage.
Overall, Anime Festival Sydney 2020 was a small convention compared to the ones that we’re generally used to. However, the event actually utilised the space very well and it offered everything that we would want in a convention. From guests to interactive exhibitions, it was great to see fans coming together to celebrate another year of anime awesomeness.
While the future is unclear due to the state of the nation, we know Madman will keep making great anime conventions. We’re already counting down the days for the next event …until then!
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