Branded as the largest and most followed Jpop culture event in South East Asia, AFA (Anime Festival Asia) has provided an oasis of sorts for J-culture enthusiasts in these trying times. Given that conventions are a big no-no amid a pandemic, AFA has managed to reach out to those parched for J-culture content by hosting a one-of-a-kind event, the AFA UNITED on April 26, 2020. AFA UNITED is a 2-hour online event that aimed to showcase J-culture enthusiasts’ solidarity by encouraging fans to stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy.
Before the show started, a montage of posts from SNS under the tag #AFAUnited was shown. Host Reiko Yokoi then started the overflowing messages of support with a Japanese saying that translates to “The time that we cannot meet each other makes love between us grow even bigger. During these times, our passion for J-culture will grow ever stronger.”
Popular South East Asian cosplayers Rithe from Singapore and Punipun from Indonesia showed their support through video messages. They shared what they’ve been up to recently, like watching anime and watching people playing games. Rithe also thanked the people who are staying home and the front-liners who keep things running.
After the support messages, we get some much needed lighthearted content, as we are shown a clip of the hilarious Idolmaster seiyuu Eriko Nakamura banter with Hisanori Yoshida, during an interview of sorts. Nakamura-san provided hilarious quips when asked questions like “How does she prepare” or “What she does in recording studios.”
The home-recorded messages of support continue, and here are some of the highlights.
First off, Sora Tokui of Milky Holmes fame recorded a message in English. She then thanked the evolution of technology since she can watch Neon Genesis Evangelion and Love Live!.
Sally Amaki then talked about her struggles with staying at home and her Animal Crossing-related challenges, as in she’s sorely in need of some oranges in her game! She also celebrated her birthday on April 26th, so everyone greeted Sally a happy birthday!
Of course, no self-respecting anime event would be complete without some bops. Footage videos from previous AFA events were shown to liven up the night.
JUNNA opens the musical performances with a soulful rendition of “Here”, the opening song of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.
Blue Encount then rocked their hearts out on stage as they performed My Hero Academia’s theme song “Polaris.”
ReoNa offered a short message of support before a concert clip of her performing “Niji no Kanata” from Sword Art Online: Alicization was shown.
Among those who sent in messages of support were the band members of ORESAMA, ELISA who has a new song for Legend of the Galactic Heroes titled “Hikari no Hoshi”, Konomi Suzuki, who celebrated her 8th debut anniversary last April 25th, nano, and Luna Haruna.
Eri Sasaki, who is currently working on a personal project to introduce Japan to the world, gave a heartfelt performance of her song “Fuyu Biyori” as a bonus for AFA UNITED viewers.
fhána started the second half of the event with their very lively performance of “Aozora no Rhapsody,” the opening theme of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
May’n who is celebrating the 15th anniversary of her career also gave a very powerful performance.
bless4 graced AFA UNITED not only with a video interview but also with a very touching performance, an acapella version of Sousei no Aquarion. AKINO is celebrating her 15th anniversary as a solo artist on April 27th.
The latter half of the event was determined to end things with a bang, as more special exclusive performances and concert videos from previous events were shown.
Lotus Juice recorded an event exclusive performance, YURiKA sang BEASTARS’ ending song “Le Zoo,” EXiNA performed an acoustic version of her song “Neon”, and Mika Kobayashi sang “Tsukaisute.”]
Anisong featured prominently during the last part of the event as Rico Sasaki performed “Play The World” from BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense. and a concert video showed TRUE singing “Sincerely,” the opening theme song of Violet Evergarden.
SCANDAL ended the event with an upbeat show of girl power as they belted out “Saishuheiki, Kimi.”
Shawn Chin, Founder and Managing Director of events company Sozo, which organizes Anime Festival Asia and AFA UNITED, expressed his gratitude to the staff for their efforts in organizing AFA UNITED, as well as the fans who tuned in to AFA UNITED.
All in all, AFA UNITED was a fun romp during these trying times. It also provided an opportunity for an experimental foray into digital hosting of conventions. It provided anime fans everywhere a short reprieve where they could have fun and indulge in the things that they’re passionate about.
For fans who want to show or support AFA for this event, they have various goods for pre-order.
About AFA UNITED
Date: April 26, 2020 8PM (SGT)
AFA UNITED Website: https://animefestival.asia/afaunited/
AFA Official Website: https://animefestival.asia/
AFA Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/animefestivalasia
AFA Twitter: https://twitter.com/animefestasia
AFA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/animefestivalasia/
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