Thirty-six thousand. That is the total number of tickets bought for Cosplay Mania 15.
Thirty-six thousand people went to the booths, bought merchandises, witnessed the crowning of the country’s representative to Anime Festival Asia 2015’s regional cosplay tilt, and, yelled & cheered for Ladybeard and Pile’s first-ever Manila gig.
And for all those attendees who braved the lines, submitted to the most stringent security procedures, and heeded the call of not taking photos and video of some of the top artists who came to perform, their money was all worth it.
For Team Ban×Kai, who became the Philippine representative in the upcoming 2015 Asian Regional Cosplay Championships (ARCC), their win was also worth it.
Since 2008 when it was first held at the SM Megamall Megatrade Hall 3, Cosplay Mania has been pushing the envelope by bringing top cosplay talents from across the globe and, starting last year, top-caliber Anisong artists. This year was no exception, and not only that, pushing beyond their mantra of “evolution” last year.
Cosplay Mania has brought for the first time in Manila noted J-pop singer & voice artist Pile and Australian-born wrestler-turned-internet sensation Ladybeard, alongside last year’s performers Aya Ikeda and Loverin Tamburin.
Adding to the roster of guests for this year are Cosplay Mania regulars KANAME☆, Jesuke, Vic Kumiko and first-time cosplay guests Itsuki Akira (who also performed at the JAM Concert), Ying Tze and cosplay duo BaoZi & Hana.
Surprises in store at the Exhibition Hall
Cosplay.ph, the organizers of Cosplay Mania, changed their floor plan for the first time since they introduced the three-tier floor plan in 2011. Function Halls 2-5 had been divided to two areas, which are the exhibit area (Hall EX) and the stage area (Hall S), an emerging trend among anime conventions in Asia.
Bronze and Silver ticket holders may not have access to the JAM Concert, but they are still in for a treat. Whether the attendees are looking for button pins & customized t-shirts featuring their favorite anime show, or even official figures & merchandises, it can be seen at the exhibit area.
There are also activities that kept everyone entertained, including card games like Magic: The Gathering, Gunpla building, online games from different game publishers, and fun parlor games for all ages.
The most notable booth on the event would be from the anime streaming service Daisuki.net, promoting the simulcast stream of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-blooded Orphans, which is available in multiple subtitles, including Filipino. This is definitely a great way to promote themselves personally to potential subscribers, and to show that there is actually a free and legal way to watch the latest anime shows from Japan.
Aside from the booths and merchandise shops, the Hall EX stage didn’t fail to entertain the audience with fun giveaways, along with the performance by local idol group Kawaii5, promoting the Japanese drama series Ama-chan airing on TV5.
The most awaited event at Hall EX was the Philippine leg of Asia Karaoke Nodojiman 2015, where the best amateur singers had their best shot in karaoke for a chance to compete in an all-expense paid trip to Japan for the finals this 2016.
Cosplay talent shines again
As expected, cosplay talent shined again on Cosplay Mania 15 with the Cosplay Solo Showdown and Cosplay Team Battle held on the first day and the introduction of the all-new Cosplay Mania Cup, where the winners from NexCon, the Cosplay Mania Roadshows and the top 5 of the solo showdown battled out for a prize pool of PHP 60,000.
The Cosplay Tournament of Champions (TORCh), on the other hand, also evolved into an “All Stars” competition, where the TORCh regional winners from the different Cosplay Mania Roadshows competed for the right to represent the country in the ARCC, the marquee cosplay event of Anime Festival Asia 2015 in Singapore, happening at the end of the month.
All six (6) teams coming from different areas in the country, coming as far north as Baguio to as far south as General Santos, showed to cosplayer-judges KANAME☆, Ying Tze & Jesuke their hunger and passion to show what Filipino cosplayers are all about.
Team Ban×Kai, composed of Steven Vivero and Edward Amparado from Bacolod who cosplayed as Oda Nobunaga and Mitsuhide Akechi from Samurai Warriors respectively, won as the TORCh National Champions and became the country’s representatives to the ARCC at AFASG 2015.
“Sabi ko nga parang (We were like in) cloud nine,” Vivero says in an interview with Anime Pilipinas. “We did not really expect, so we just gave our best and gave something new to the audience. We’re really happy to be able to showcase [our talents] to the crowd and to the judges.”
“Thanks, at least I’m so happy…. With all the years na [sumali] kami, this is the [time] na nag-effort kami, as in dugo at pawis talaga, so thank you sa mga nag-support sa amin,” (With all the years that we joined, this is the time that we really made an effort, through our blood, sweat and tears, so thanks to everyone who supported us) Amparado added.
Passing the TORCh
Also noticeable in this year’s TORCh is the announcement that starting next year, Marko Villaruz, a former TORCh competitor, ARCC representative and one of last year’s mentors, will be taking the reins of the regional tournament.
For Cosplay.ph President Pablo Bairan who, alongside Cosplay.ph Director Guy Singzon and Multimedia Head Jason Tapel, were the pillars of the regional cosplay tournament since the format was first announced in 2011, it has become an opportune time for them to “pass the torch” to Marko, so to speak.
“The important thing here is, things remain creative, dynamic and it cannot just stay the same because if it becomes stale, it becomes boring, it becomes repetitive. So that’s one thing that we wanted to avoid,” Bairan says.
He also said that the changes to TORCh were necessary for the event to “make it interesting and new,” adding that the best thing to do it is to infuse new blood.
“We want to hand it off to more people, the younger generation, so that they will also be more involved. That’s the sustainability, [that] it does not end with us, it continues to change. Having Marko come in, with a fresh mind, with a fresh perspective, will really help in making the event reach the next level,” Bairan says.
“It feels really like the end of an era, tapos na yung (that it is the end of the) Guy, Pablo and Jason era,” Bairan adds. “That’s the thing na we want to move on to the next [level] and it feels kind of sad in a way. but you know, when one door closes, another opens. So I think it’s going to be a good thing, that’s something to point into the future.”
Loverin Tamburin, headlined by lead vocalist Aya and keyboardist Akihiro Nagao, opened the roster of high-caliber performers in the JAM Concert with their second performance in the country. The J-rock band performed songs from their own hits to covers like the themes of Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth.
Another Aya, Aya Ikeda, wowed her Filipino fans once again with her songs from the Pretty Cure franchise. Ikeda’s visit is also her second time to perform in the country and at JAM. Filipino anime cover band Moonspeak, led by vocalist Adrian Sison, was joined by KANAME☆ in the middle of their set and sang the themes from different anime series like Air Gear and Slam Dunk, among others, to the crowd’s enjoyment.
But the loudest performance of the weekend went to Ladybeard whose infectious dance, cutesy movement and nerve-wracking heavy metal voice made the crowd go up on their feet and party at the SMX.
The Australian-born wrestler and heavy metal singer, who became an internet sensation because of his dance videos with his group Ladybaby which has become viral, revealed during his set that he lived in Cebu before, much to the hoots of the crowd.
His heavy-metal infused versions of songs ranging from Utada Hikaru’s “First Love” to Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, to a heart pounding gymnastics-laden encore and an act featuring his “mini” version endeared so much to the audience that when he approached himself to the audience after his set, he was mobbed with hugs and high-fives.
Biggest in history of Cosplay Mania
But the biggest performer to grace the Cosplay Mania stage was none other than Eriko Hori, better known as Pile, who became famous for her voice role as “Maki Nikishino” from Love Live! The School Idol Project.
The legions of Pile’s fans flocked to day of her concert armed with items such as official fleeces, light sticks and even a guide on how will they sync their light sticks to Pile’s songs.
As soon as Pile graced the stage, the crowd erupted in pandemonium, waving up their light sticks in the air, in tune with Pile’s songs. Most people sang along with her, waving their hands on songs that were mellow and jumped up and down and yelled when her songs were upbeat.
Her concert, which was held on the second day of the event, enforced a strict “No Photo, No Video” policy for that day’s entire JAM Concert, including her audience meet and greet. For Bairan, he was grateful that most of the fans followed the strict policy of the organizers & the artists’ management.
“I’m so grateful to everybody, and it gives you hope you know, because a lot of times, the normal thing is, ang Pilipino, pasaway (Filipinos tend to be hard-headed) and that’s kind of the stereotype,” Bairan says. “But I think we broke the stereotype today, because we were able to show respect [to] our guests, and because we want them to come back, we are willing to invest in good behavior in following the rules. I’m really, really grateful for the fans.”
With the success of Cosplay Mania 15, Cosplay.ph is planning for a bigger bash this 2016, starting with the Cosplay.ph Cosplay Carnival to be held in February, NexCon in May and the ninth installment of Cosplay Mania, which is now set for October 1 and 2, 2016.
The plan, according to Bairan, is to interconnect all of the cosplay events and competitions under their umbrella in the lead up to the Cosplay Mania Cup, which will become the marquee segment of Cosplay Mania.
Bairan thanked everyone who came and trusted them to deliver another big event despite the challenge of a bigger venue than their past events.
“The challenge was to fill the area, make it something new, fresh, creative and something that people will enjoy,” Bairan says. “But for me the most important thing for Cosplay Mania is the experience that takes them with you, and we succeeded in making it memorable, to make it something special that something we will remember and something that will look forward to the next event, then I think we succeeded in that. We just have to remember that we’re only as good as our last event, so every event we have to give it our all and give everything we got so that we can continue to build events for people to flock into.”
Indeed, Cosplay Mania 15 proved something for everyone, from the organizers down to the people who paid tickets to witness history and experience a cosplay event like no other… it was all worth it.
Anime Pilipinas is an Official Media Partner of Cosplay Mania 15. We would like to thank Cosplay.ph for inviting us to the event.
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