The Best of Anime 2011 was held this previous weekend — 17th and 18th of September, at Function Rooms 4 and 5 of the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City. A co-located event of the Manila International Book Fair, and put together by the MIBF organizers Primetrade Asia Inc., The Best of Anime 2011 featured exhibits, activities, and contests for Filipino anime and cosplay fans.
Spanning two halls on the third floor of the SMX, BOA 11 was divided into three distinct sections: the dealers booths, the organization booths for university and college anime clubs, and the main activity floor. There were some unique features such as a Japanese garden constructed by event decor specialists Pido, and Sam’s Maid Cafe put together by event caterer Albergus. Onstage, there were various contests and musical performances — including a set by winners of J-pop Anime Singing Contest Himitsu Heiki.
The Best of Anime 11 has a slightly lower turnout of exhibitors selling anime merchandise and apparel, but they have a better variety of booths — there were even booths run by Koreans (beta sign-ups for a new MMO) and Taiwanese (anime and manga merchandise from Taipei). My personal favorite was by Witty Will Save the World, who produced a line of deluxe autograph books (aka slam books) that were a throwback to my elementary school days. Featuring hilarious Q&A options such as “Gender: Male, Female, Plant” and “In the illustration of feet provided, encircle your favorite toe.”, grab one and have fun at your next Christmas school reunion.
BOA 11 manages to do the nearly impossible by providing university and college anime organizations a venue to promote themselves outside of their campuses. However — and this is just a suggestion for the said organizations, instead of just selling fan-made merchandise to raise funds why not go all out and create a short comic to sell to con-goers? If all of you manage to turn the college org aisle into a mini Comiket you would have made your org proud and a lot of people (myself included!) very happy.
Without a doubt, the most awaited event of the day were the cosplay competitions. The Best of Anime has two separate cosplay events organized on two different days: All-Star Cosplay Competition and The Best of Anime Cosplay Competition. Day 1 features the All-Star Cosplay Competition, where cosplayers regardless of genre got to strut their stuff onstage. The winners walked away with cash prizes and trophies from Primetrade Asia and other event sponsors.
All-Star Cosplay Winners:
3rd Place: Dennis Isidoro (Kamen Rider Accel)
2nd Place: RB Cheng (Deathsaurer — Zoids)
1st Place: Guy Singson (Kiba — Garo)
Some of our favorite cosplayers who did not make it to the top three include Shidou Hikaru from Magic Knight Rayearth, Chun Li from Street Fighter, and War Machine from Iron Man. I was personally delighted to see that more ladies are taking on the big boys when it comes to armour cosplay. Some of the biggest props at this con were carried around by girls who barely cleared five feet — an indication of how challenging the field has become, and it is no longer enough to wear cat ears and a sailor uniform if you want to stand out in the crowd.
BOA 11 is easily one of the better, bigger cons on the local scene. Primetrade Asia clearly put their years of experience to good use, as well as took copious notes from their maiden event back in 2010. The dealers hall had ample hall space between booths, there was a good mix of merchandisers and affiliated anime clubs, and there were plenty of open space in and out the con for cosplayers and their attendant photographers.
There is always room for improvement, as always. Sam’s Maid Cafe was an okay attempt, but it lacked the distinct atmosphere that made maid cafes what they are. The Artists Alley was sadly bereft of artists — it looks like local circles were not informed so they were not able to apply for slots (hopefully this won’t be the case next year). Lastly, the cosplay contestants should have been briefed beforehand about the performance time limit — some cosplayers clearly overstayed their welcome 😐
Thanks to The Best of Anime 2011 and Primetrade Asia for the asking us to be an official affiliate for a second year in a row.