For Day 2 of Anime Festival Asia 11 we’ll shift our focus from the Festival Hall to the Main Stage, where the Grand Finals of the AFA11 Regional Cosplay Competition and the presentation of the AFA RCC Solo Cosplay Showcase finalists will be held. With not one but two major cosplay competitions held on this day, the very last day of AFA11 is shaping up to be one helluva ride for Philippine cosplay fans.
After a quick presentation of the performers for the last day of I Love Anisong (yes, that is Kalafina in the middle — you’re welcome <3), the stage was set for the 2011 installment of South East Asia’s most anticipated and hotly-contested cosplay competitions. With teams from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand clashing for the third time on AFA’s stage, the RCC judges — which include Japanese celebrity cosplayers Usagi -兎娑妓- and KANAME☆, have their work cut out for them. The event was emceed by Culture Japan host Danny Choo.
Breaking the ice for RCC 2011 was Team Indonesia: OPJ Duo Kamuret, with a skit from Kamen Rider Kiva. Employing a combination of stage tactics by last year’s Team Indonesia and Team Thailand, the two performers wore not two but three sets of intricately-crafted KR armour, with the finale capped off by the “beheading” of the main antagonist by Kiva’s Flight Style form. The performance drew praise from KANAME☆, who was a big Kamen Rider fan.
Next up was Team Malaysia: Queens of Freedom, with a skit from Crest of the Royal Family (Ouke no Monshou) — a long-running shoujo manga series from the late 70s. In a fight scene reminiscent of the pivotal flashback in The Mummy Returns, Isis and Carol took the tension to a new level with a dramatic ending. Major props also go to team member Anthony (yes guys, her’s a dude), whose ladylike portrayal of Carol lured several male members of the audience into a trap.
Team Singapore: Kiloh * Bishie re-enacted the climactic scene from the anime series Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto — an obviously popular choice judging from the excited squeals of the ladies in the audience. Their beautifully-tailored costumes and sweeping gestures were a sight to behold, but the show was stolen by their impressive LED light-up swords. Their Cybody friend Tauburn also made a brief appearance near the end of the skit — now wasn’t that nice of him?:D
Thailand returns to defend its crown with Team NeKo cosplaying Lightning and Caius from Final Fantasy XIII-2. Craftsmanship-wise, this was my favorite set of costumes! Reir armour looked like real mythril — shiny and strong, and yet was light enough to allow the cosplayers to move like fighters locked together in a duel to the death. Caius transforming into Bahamuth used a tried-and-tested trick by Team Thailand, but seeing it a second time certianly did not diminish the dramatic effect.
Last but not least was Team Philippines: March Omega, featuring Zhel as the Warrior of Light and AC as Gabranth from Final Fantasy: Dissidia. After running the gauntlet in the Philippines — first in their home city of Cagayan de Oro for the Regional Finals of the Cosplay Tournament of Champions II, and again in Manila for the Grand Finals, March Omega entered the stage brimming with confidence. It certainly showed in their entry: their costumes were perfect and their performance spot-on. The judges as well as the host Danny Choo heaped praises on their costumes and acting.
With the scores being tabulated, it was time to bring out the finalists to the Solo Cosplay Showcase. Ten individual cosplayers were selected by Usagi -兎娑妓- and KANAME☆ to strut their stuff onstage, and take home close to SGD 1000 in cash prizes plus a brand-new Canon G12 for the Grand Prize winner — that honor went to eva_guy01 (aka Robert Wong) in his custom camouflage Zaku from the Gundam universe. This was a pleasant surprise for Robert and his wife Jewel (who was also a finalist, in her custom black Zaku also from the Gundam series), who came to Singapore to cheer for the Philippine team at the RCC Finals.
The RCC teams finally return to the stage, where they are joined by the judges and other AFA dignitaries. Although all the finalists are winners in their own right this was still a competition, and the entire hall was excited to find out who was the winner. Third place was bagged by Team Indonesia, and the award was given by Usagi -兎娑妓- and fellow Indonesian cosplayer Richfield Edbert. Team Thailand had to settle for second-place this year, as they took home the Runner-Up Prize presented by KANAME☆. The big, big win went to Team Philippines: March Omega — much to the delight of this year’s sizable AFA Philippine contingent. Their prize was presented by Anisong Legend Mizuki Ichiro (ANIKI).
AFA11 was rounded out by the last of the three I Love Anisong concerts this year. Featuring a stellar line-up of acts that included angela (Sokyuu na Fafnir), Kalafina (Kara no Kyoukai), and MAY’N (Macross Frontier), the 2011 series will go down in history as some of the most successful Anisong concerts in the world.
AFA11 has turned out to be truly memorable: this was the first RCC win by Team Philippines, and rounds out a truly stellar year for Philippine cosplay which started out in August with the sweep at STGCC and capped off with the latest sweep at AFA. I hope that our success spurs on other Philippine cosplayers to give their very best at our local competitions, as well as encourages them to go out of their comfort zones and attend events not just in Manila, Cebu, and Davao but Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo as well.
Thank you very much to Sozo and the Anime Festival Asia 11 Staff for my Media Pass.