Anime fest now attracts more than 80,000

Anime fest now attracts more than 80,000
Cosplay duo Hana & Baozi will be making an appearance at the grand finals of the AFA Regional Cosplay Championship.

When Mr Shawn Chin launched the Anime Festival Asia at Suntec in 2008, he expected a turnout of at most 5,000 people. But about 27,000 enthusiasts showed up.

The number shot up to more than 80,000 visitors last year, and he expects to see more than 85,000 people at this year's three-day event, which kicks off at Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre today.

The festival, which celebrates Japanese pop culture, has become so popular that it expanded last year with the launch of editions in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

Despite the name, the Anime Festival Asia does not feature only anime, or Japanese animated productions.

Besides the main exhibition area, where Japanese pop culture products such as anime, fashion and technological accessories are displayed and sold, the event also features Japanese pop music in live concert shows.

There are areas that showcase unique Japanese experiences too, such as a maid cafe, where cutesy women donning French maid outfits wait on customers in a sweet, docile manner.

Mr Chin, 40, says he was prompted to hold the festival in Singapore after seeing examples of such an event in other parts of the world.

"I love Japanese pop culture and used to wonder why there was no single big event for Japanese pop culture enthusiasts here, like the Japan Expo in France or the Anime Expo in the United States," says the founder and managing director of Singapore-based events and entertainment company Sozo, which stages the festival here as well as in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

"There are some community-based events here, such as small cosplay get-togethers, but not a single platform where consumers can get access to all sorts of Japanese content. So I thought there would be potential in this idea."

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