Chiba Prefecture’s Makuhari Messe played host to the first ever Anime Contents Expo, held last 31st March and 1st April 2012. The convention attracted over 50,000 guests over the course of the weekend, and featured massive booths from companies such as Kadokawa Shoten, Good Smile Company, Animate, and Aniplex.
The first day of the exhibit was nearly drowned out by torrential rains, and what was supposed to be a two-stop, hour-long train ride for us turned into a four-hour, three-stop nightmare of icy rain and bitter wind. It’s a good thing we went with the bare minimum of photography equipment, otherwise we would find ourselves on the same boat as the cosplayers dragging their suitcases in the pouring rain.
Disastrous weather notwithstanding, ACE was pretty cool — if a little early, as I was not used to the party starting at 8AM and ending at 6PM on the dot. Unlike the more trade-and-industry-orientated Tokyo International Anime Fair, ACE was more in like the anime conventions we are used to seeing locally and in places like Singapore and Hong Kong. There were lots of booths hosting interactive exhibits targeted at fans instead of prospective licensees and buyers.
The Aniplex booth alone played host to over twenty separate titles — which include the new Rurouni Kenshin, Fate/Zero, Persona 4, and Uta Koi. Alongside the walk-in exhibition, Aniplex also had their own stage where they aired pilots of their upcoming shows, as well as hosted stage events for their veejays and voice actors,
Game and figure companies such as Nitro+Plus and Good Smile Company pulled out all the stops in promoting their exhibits. Nitro+Plus had a bevy of cosplayers portraying characters from their major titles, giving out fliers and answering questions from press and prospective customers alike.
GSC brought along their adorable mascot Gumako to say “Hi!” to fans, as well as promote their ongoing Anniversary promos. She was a huge hit thanks to her adorable looks and cheery personality — and the same goes for the GSC people who accompanied her during stint at ACE (they were always happy to oblige photos — something that appealed to me considering the No Photos policy of the other booths).
Also grabbing the attention of snap-happy photogs and curious hangers-on are the assortment of itasha or decal-ed vehicles, which promoted various shows currently broadcasting or soon-to-be released. Now that I think about it though — not all of them were cars, so I don’t think calling them “itasha” would be appropriate.
But whatever they were, they looked cute and fun and barely street-legal, so don’t expect local car dealers to import them very soon. A tiny, two-person car with no doors and no roof in Manila?! Not likely >.> What’s much likelier to make it to our shores are the 1/6th model figures (about seven feet tall!) of famous mecha such as Tauburn from Star Driver — those would look great standing on your lawn!
If you were a lot more worried about your “health” than getting flattened in Metro Manila traffic riding your not-itasha, here’s a ten-second clip that might help. And in case you were wondering: 1) no, that is not me in the video; and 2) yes, it really is that big.
Overall, I’d say that if you were the sort of person who enjoyed surfing crowds, queuing for merchandise, and pawing the interactive exhibits, then ACE is definitely the con for you. The energy and atmosphere is definitely something to be experienced.
There is still plenty of room for improvement — the main one for me being the lack of “Business Days” similar to TAF; I’d really appreciate the time we could use to network with fellow professionals in the field, without having to wade neck-deep through crowds of fans.
We’re already looking forward to Year Two — we really hope we can take part in ACE again very soon.
Continued in Day 12: Gundam Cafe.