In the Japanese pop-culture multiverse, the Tokusatsu fandom is probably one of the most underrated, if not the most under-served fandom.
Sure, we may have been bitten one way or another by the Tokusatsu bug because of the shows that were aired in the old terrestrial networks in the ’90’s, but some of us have drifted from the Tokusatsu fandom into our main anime fandoms. But one thing is sure about the fandom: they have a loyal following.
And that was the catalyst behind the recently-concluded HenshinCon 2015 held last March at the Function Room 5 of SMX Convention Center – Manila in Pasay City. To show to the Japanese pop-culture community in the country that the Tokusatsu fandom is alive, kicking and ready to evoke all of our childhood memories.
As my colleague JM told you about the launch event that was held the day before, which was notable for having the highest single bid in any pop-culture related auction in the country, the main event that followed not only evoked memories and whetted the appetites of the tokusatsu fans. It also showcased how JEFusion, the organizer of the event, pulled out all the stops in bringing an unique event experience like no other.
But first, a side note: Henshincon is the first SMX event I’ve seen where they used the walls commonly used in booths as dividers to block out the view and the audio instead of using black cloth, which I think is a great idea.
Once you enter the venue, you could see how they built up the convention as a way to express their fandom. You will see in the entrance a big superbike, which is reminiscent of the type of vehicle the super sentai heroes use in some of their shows. There was also a figures area consisting of Tokusatsu figure versions from Kamen Rider to Super Sentai and the Power Rangers franchises.
The event itself is simple, no frills and, some would say, intimate. Intimate in a sense that you will be able to roam around freely and see everything. But don’t let the simplicity of the event fool you: JEFusion, in partnership with their Tokusatsu fandom comrades pulled out all the stops to celebrate their fandom with an array of activities that would surely entice everyone.
Of course, the highlight of the event were the two special guests from Japan: Kazunori Inaba and Kei Shindachiya, who were both Super Sentai actors in their prime. Inaba starred as Takeru/Redmask, or Michael Joe in the Filipino dub version, from the series Hikari Sentai Maskman, while Shindachiya played the role of Ken Hozikawa, or Five Blue, from Five Man.
The two sentai actors were delighted to be with their fans, both young and old. And judging by their interactions with the fans, I’m sure that a comeback for them, alongside other past (and hopefully, present) Super Sentai actors in tow, will be in the offing again.
In contrast to the launch party where the bidding for the items during the auction went into overdrive, the auction held during the Main event were a bit more subdued. No item got into the PHP5,000 peso range, and the maximum price an item was bid out only cost around PHP2,000, which is already helpful enough for the event to donate the proceeds to the People Empowerment for Arthritis and Lupus (PEArL) organization.
As for the Cosplay competition, quality over quantity was the theme of the competitions that ensued. Once again, kid wonder Ashley “Misaki” Hernandez was the champion of the Henshincon cosplay competition with her radical persona as a chibi version of Masked Rider Black, which bested other competitors. The last competitor in the cosplay competition was a bit off for the event though, as he cosplayed Spiderman.
The other people who were honored at Henshincon, alongside Inaba-san and Kei-san, were veteran cosplayers Gilbert “Gibs” Sagun and Dennis “Denggoy” Isidoro, both of which had made a great contribution in bringing the Tokusatsu cosplay in a caliber never before done by anyone.
And yes, this writer has known both Gibs and Denggoy on a personal level and suffice to say, their Super Sentai cosplay that they have done for more than ten years is living proof of how they kept the Hero spirit alive and well.
The event in itself is not only a fitting tribute to all fans of the Tokusatsu genre, it was also a culmination of a dream come true for its founder, Daniel Villodres, better known as “GekiDan”, who is also the head writer of JEFusion. It was his dream to bring together every single tokusatsu fan in a convention, but sadly, he did not live long to see his dream bear fruit.
But his co-members in JEFusion made it happen, after a long time. And for sure, GekiDan himself is smiling in his spirit that his long dream has finally come true that one Sunday in March.
Anime Pilipinas is an Official Media Partner of Henshincon 2015. We would like to thank JEFusion and Mr. Lorenzo “Carrotz” Asentista Jr. for inviting us to the event.
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