This weekend saw the largest annual gathering of Japanese pop culture in the Philippines. Or at least what we can scrap off from the Neon lit streets of Akihabara. Ozine fest plays host to retailers, cosplayers and anime fans here in the Philippines. While it’s not exactly up to par to much more renowned events around the otaku scene such as Wonfes or AFA, we make do with what mainstream media had to offer. It had the makings of a full weekend for me.
Having had the opportunity to attend the opening day and last day, I think I had a fairly good measure of the crowd and what the general activities were on hand. Not much different from what I attended last January, I can safely say that the venue had a better layout and the organizers did a fairly good job of space management and crowd control.
As far as the event goers were, the first day, despite not having a cosplay centered event, there were a good amount of cosplayers who just went there to have fun and, probably, bring a smile to the casual goers. Also since it was the first day, even during the perceived peak hours, one could still walkabout with a good amount of elbow room through out the venue. It was nice being able to walk around with other people not having to worry about their toes being stepped on by a Wookie wearing a Darth Vader mask. Just as well, not having to jostle for photos of cosplayers and Otakai‘s figure displays was a big plus. Didn’t do much on the first day other than look around, stop for a few photos for con goers and cosplayers alike (apparently, some people find a guy dressed up as Lord Vader turned Salary man amusing), familiarized myself with the venue and the odd purchase of a Gundam kit from our trusted retailer.
Fast forward to day 3. Bedlam.
Cosplayers and fans alike have taken over the entire wing. Strobes flashing left and right. And a steady flow of people to the ticket booth extending a dozen or so feet. And this was at a relatively early 11 AM. Only decided to buy the passes at that time and wandered off elsewhere for a quick errand after which I leisurely geared up for a semi impromptu meet with some fellow DC/figure.fm readers. But before that, I paid a casual visit to the defacto trusted retailer for some pre-order updates and a quick walk around the retailer booths for some accessories for my accomplice for the day. Who woulda thunk that I’d run into Lelouch in that crowded corner of the event.
Any-who, after my accomplice had procured her Pink Bunny headbands, we made our way to the agreed upon venue; Teh Ozine Maid Cafe! Albeit no celebrity “maid” was on site like the last time, we still had to wait a bit as it was just after lunch time and a good few customers were still inside capping off their meals. A few minutes after we got our table, the shy Nurue was there to take our orders. Actually felt sorry for as she somewhat felt intimidated by our group of 6, thankfully not because of my hefty size nor my Vader helm. Nope, no sprightly Zelly was there this time either; she was being a promo girl apparently for a game site that day. My hat, or helm, goes off to Nurue -chan, as she did her best to entertain us and offer her maid-ly services and souvenirs to my freshly christened troupe of maid cafe virgins.
After the maki’s and takoyakis and gyozas, a round of drinks and a gunpla group build, my comrades and I agreed upon a birthday chant for Master Jowy who had the (un)fortunate event of having his birthday falling on a Holy day of obligation. Thankfully, our shenanigans did not lead us to getting defenestrated from the establishment.
Out of the Maid cafe and into the fire!
I’m pretty sure the the crowd inside the convention hall doubled since we went in the cafe a short hour and change ago. We could only manage so much with the best of our efforts as far as photographing what handful of credible cosplays and “LoL”plays we could find. With Mikuru popping out of my bag to see the sights and sounds of the event, making our way to the retail booths, and stopping for snapshots of and for cosplayers and con goers every now and then took up most part of the time our brady bunch was together. Sadly we had to cut it short as I and my accomplice had been called back to our little errand.
Shortly after completing my errands, dropping stuff off at my car and a quick caffeine run, my accomplice and I decided to go around the cosplayers that were outside the event hall. They were only too happy to pose for photographers as they waited for their turn at the cat walk. If one took a brief look around, one would begin to appreciate how much of a trooper these cosplayers were, professionals and novices alike.
You could see the exhaustion setting in. “How tiring can that be?” you might ask. Imagine this: You go to a convention to enjoy the sights and sounds of fellow cosplayers, maybe a snaps
hot or 2 on the side, while you yourself are being stopped every 5 minutes for a photo op with some guy using a cellphone camera, putting on a smile as someone else passes a quick hand at your tush, then making your way through crowds to grab that elusive merchandise you’ve been wanting to get on sale all the while trying to keep your costume in check and proper for a good part of the day. And then, waiting in line for your turn at the cat walk doing your best for the judges whilst shrugging off cat calls as exhaustion begins to set in. Tell them stories about fashion models or Ms. uber-galaxy world pageant contestant and they’d probably be able to relate. Photographers, Pros and hobbyists such as myself, only have to contend with how to get a good angle while elbowing for the perfect shot for most of the day.
All in all, it was an exhausting yet very fun weekend; convinced a friend to consider cosplay, met new acquaintances because of shared interests (read: someone taking interest in Mikuru’s brood), put some faces to the names I’ve been hanging with online, and popping their Maid cafe cherries.
Not bad for a supposedly long weekend, though it felt like it just breezed by. Now if you’ll excuse me as I think I’m about to collapse after a rather busy start to my week in the office.