With the slogan “2 days of non-stop Japanese Pop action – made for the region by the region”, Anime Festival Asia hosted AFA Singapore 2020 Online, a two-day pop culture online convention, on December 5 and 6, 2020. The convention treated Southeast Asian anime fans to delectable exclusive content, which is very much welcome in these trying times without conventions to go to!
The next segment featured the popular gacha game SINoALICE, and voice actresses Yuuko Sanpei (voice of Pinocchio) and Reina Ueda (voice of Snow White) acted out a scene from the Reality Arc of the game. Several updates to the game were shared, the highlight of which was the Christmas Job Classes.
For AFA fans who wanted exclusive goods, Akibatown Online showcased some AFA-exclusive goods, such as t-shirts and a gaming chair. There was also a section dedicated to Cells At Work, which talked about the upcoming Special Screening Edition for fans to get special goods – such as posters and postcards – with their ticket purchase.
Then, performances from various artists were showcased for all the music fans. After short messages of encouragement and appreciation of Singapore, the artists showed an MV of their works.
First was PelleK of WACAVA performing an English version of LiSA’s “Catch the Moment.” After that, Burnout Syndrome showed the music video of “Phoenix.” Seven Billion Dots then shared the video of their first single, “Stay With Me.”
The all-girl band The Peggies shared a video of their single “Centimeter,” while the idol group 22/7 gave fans a peek of their video for “Kaze wa Fuiteruka” and showcased their dancing skills. COALAMODE showed their video for “Kachofugetsu,” which was shot in the Czech Republic. HALCA’s very lively video, “Kokuhaku Bungy Jump,” was definitely a bop. Tomori Kusunoki’s first attempt at shooting an MV with “Hamidashimono” was as cool as she hoped for, even though she mentioned that she was very nervous during the filming.
Cosplayer Liyuu made her debut in the Japanese music scene last January and shared the MV of her second single, “Carpe Diem.” Ayaka Ohashi shared an MV from her 3rd album, “Start Dash.” Yui Ninomiya, a voice actress for Peter Grill and the Philosopher’s Time, showed us the MV for her single “Tsuranuite Yuutsu,” which was used as the opening song.
May’n expressed her sadness that she wasn’t able to come to Singapore this year, but she mentioned at the same time that she’s grateful for her opportunity to make an appearance online. One of the segment’s highlights was promoting her monthly concerts “1-5”, scheduled from January to May.
Professional illustrator Artgerm showcased his art skills during his live stream. He gave aspiring illustrators advice on how to draw faces. His most memorable advice is to learn how to have fun and that the best way to learn art is to enjoy it.
Cosplayer Rithe, one of AFA’s recurring guests, reviewed the AFA PC prototype by Typhoon Systems during the Typhoon Systems showcase.
Popular voice actress and idol Sally Amaki talked about her (in)famous video for AFA United, where she ended up doing around 10 minutes for a 5-minute video segment and discussed how she snuck out to Singapore last January. She was also the sole contestant for the Singapore quiz challenge, where she had to answer several Singapore-related questions. The challenge was to get five questions correct, and Sally passed with flying colors.
Rithe and Ashu Nekota then showcased their cosplay journeys through various pictures of the costumes that struck a chord with them. We could see the evolution of their craft during this panel and see how passionate they are about cosplaying.
Figure enthusiasts weren’t left out as Kotobukiya showcased some of their most anticipated figures. Hakken also showed some irresistible merchandise, the most prominent being the AFA loot box; it contains $120SGD worth of goods for only $50SGD!
More artists shared their messages for their fans and showed their MVs. DISH// started the MV parade with a live recording of their song “Neko,” which featured projection mapping. Ryokushoku Shakai showed the video for “Shout Baby” and started by mentioning that three out of the quartet were classmates and had visited Singapore before. One of the most interesting things about the video was that it was made up of stop-motion images and was painted over with watercolors.
Ami Sakaguchi introduced her single “Central,” which was one of the themes for Boruto. As a nod to her international fans, she spoke in English during her introduction and shared that there were English subtitles for the video on Youtube. YOASOBI showed the MV for their song “Yoru ni Kakeru.”
One of the night’s major highlights was a segment on the Paradox Live project with two voice actors being interviewed. Toshiyuki Toyonaga (voice of Nayuta Yatonokami) and Shogo Yano (voice of Reo Maruyama) talked about both their groups’ styles. One of the interview’s highlights was when they were asked to compare themselves to their characters. Toyonaga mentioned that a single mother raised him so he could relate to Nayuta having a hard life, but jokingly said that Nayuta was more handsome than he was. Assured by the host that he was attractive as well, Toyanaga jokingly showed his fans his scalp as some sort of exclusive. Yano mentioned that he was similar to Reo because they were a bit pampered due to having older brothers. Reo is a bit of a whale in-game, while Yano’s first app purchase was Paradox Live’s stickers on LINE.
The last part of Day 1 was another set of artists showing us their videos. SPYAIR showed us clips from live footage of the Just Like This event, which has their songs from Haikyuu and Gintama, “Imagination,” and “Samurai Heart (Some Like It Hot).”
Day 2 started with a Spot the Anime quiz featuring Hololive Indonesia’s very own Moona Hoshinova. In this quiz, she was asked to guess what the anime show was based on pictures of real-life locations.
As with the previous day, various artists talked about their Singapore experience and how they feel about Singapore and then shared an MV representing their work. The first one to present was Yanagi Nagi, who showed us her video “Ame,” made by a paper-cutting artist. The next artist was former Supercell guest performer KOEDA and her newest single, “Little Daisy.” The next part was of duo ORESAMA sharing their latest single video, “Gimmme!”. KISIDA of KISHIDAKYODAN AND THE AKEBOSIROCKETS introduced their Touhou remix, entitled “Akeboshirocket.”
The next panel was an interview with Violet Evergarden’s Director Taichi Ishidate and the music composer, Evan Call. When asked about his feelings about the movie finally coming to South East Asia, Ishidate mentioned that they have always followed one principle: they should create something that everyone could enjoy. As such, he hoped that fans in SEA would enjoy the movie too. Call mentioned that it was his first time composing music that emphasizes kindness with orchestra music since he’s usually creating battle music. Ishidate said that, when creating, he made it a point that it should not lose out on the music, though he felt that the art might be a little pale compared to the music this time around. The art and music were kind of rivals that also worked together, which amplified the other’s effect. Before the art and music were created, the scenario was mapped out, and they noticed a part where Gilbert talked a lot. Reiko Yoshida, the scenario writer, had insisted that a line be kept because if he did not say that, Gilbert would not be Gilbert. This left quite an impression on the director and made him feel better understanding the character. The staff hoped to create a close to the Violet Evergarden saga with the movie.
Another artist feature followed this, and JUNNA started with a video from “JUNNA ROCK YOU STREAMING LIVE 2020~MOVE ON”. Also featured was SUKIMASWITCH, who shared footage from one of their concerts.
Aimu Sora’s “Sora’s Senpai Club” had May’n as a special guest. May’n talked about her past concert experiences and mentioned that, despite the language and culture barrier, it’s excellent that overseas fans could enjoy the music to the same extent that Japan does. She was really touched by it. She was so inspired by it that she wrote a song called “Phonic Nation.”
EXINA showed footage from one of her concerts, and Anly showed a video of “Kara no Kokoro,” which was one of the themes from Naruto Shippuden. Lozareena shared a video for her single “Marionette.” ReoNa, the despair-style Anisong artist, introduced her song “Anima,” which was used as the opening theme for Sword Art Online: Alicization- War of Underworld.
The next panel was another special SINoALICE segment where the voice actresses talked about the game.
M.A.O, the voice actress of Alice, talked about the game and its unique worldview. She mentioned how great the music and the characters are and how the atmosphere was very well crafted, but if there was just one thing people should focus on, it’s how they have unique personalities. She also talked about her character and how determined she is to revive her author. Alice may appear stoic at times, but deep inside, she harbors powerful feelings. M.A.O. made sure to act very subdued while making sure that her strong emotions still show through. She mentioned that since the game had many classes that showcased a different side of each character’s personality, it was great that players would discover another facet.
Maaya Uchida, the voice actress of Gretel, hopes that everyone loves her character. She mentioned that her favorite thing about the game was the dark atmosphere. She noted that every time they recorded, they were wondering how depraved the characters are. Talking about Gretel as a character, she’s always trying to talk to her brother, who may or may not actually be there, and constantly makes the viewer wonder who Gretel really is. Uchida mentioned that she likes how Gretel is a bit of a tomboy but is a bit insecure. She made sure that, when playing Gretel, she only had her brother in mind. Half of her lines were just saying niisama (“big brother”), and she made sure that she poured her heart out for those lines.
Reina Ueda, the voice actress of Snow White, mentioned that the dark lore of SINoALICE makes you feel like you’re delving into a deep part of each character that you’re not supposed to know… She talked about Snow White, whose impetus is Justice, and crushes whoever opposes her “justice.” Snow White slowly changes and struggles with her beliefs. Even though she seems to be very in control of herself, she has a bit of a fragile side.
The next panel was a demo of the XP-PEN Innovator 16 with Rachta Lin, who drew the mascot of this year’s AFA.
The next part was another segment of artists and their music videos. The first one was Eir Aoi and her video “I will…~have hope~”. ASCA shared the video for “Howling.” Miki Sato shared her recently released single “Na mo nai Hana” video. LiSA shared her single “Homura” video from her latest album, which was used as the theme song for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.
The cosplayer KANAME made an appearance dressed as the Vocaloid KAITO. When asked about his costume, he mentioned that he and his friends were doing a concept where they showed up in costume and threw paint at each other. This concept was very playful, and they had a lot of fun doing the shoot. He had to choose a location number that corresponds to a location in Singapore, was shown a street view of the area, and the host, Reiko, proceeded to inform him about the site.
Day 2 ended with a watch party of the previous Animelo Summer Live (ANISAMA), featuring producer Koji Saito. Saito then gave valuable insights on the featured clips, and one of the most exciting bits was when THE ANISONG “Get Wild” was shown. Saito mentioned that TM NETWORK’s song for City Hunter was considered as the national anisong.
All in all, AFA Singapore 2020 Online was an an interesting way to give fans an event focused on Japanese content. While keeping in mind this was a free event, it could have been more riveting if there were more live content instead of archived clips, as well as fewer promotions. Hopefully, the organizers can find a way to make the event feel a bit more fan-focused in the future.
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