Over the past weekend, people raised concerns over the conduct of Cosplay Carnival 2023, the first event of Cosplay.ph (CPH) in its “Cosplay Mania Event Series” calendar.
Many attendees posted on social media saying they were disenfranchised because the marshals were forbidding them from sitting on the SMX Convention Center floor and photographers were barred from setting up their equipment, among others.
These concerns are not new. In fact, these have been raised whenever CPH holds its events, from the issues regarding availability of tickets as they remain the only anime event organizer not to allow on-site ticket sales (citing what they claim as venue limitations due to the pandemic, even though the country has entered its post-pandemic phase where venue regulations have already been ditched), to concerns regarding how event attendees were being treated.
Now, some event attendees have been comparing CPH’s events to its counterparts organized by Ozine, which are now making a big comeback in the anime convention scene by holding numerous free events strategically held in different Ayala Malls properties, starting with Anime Fair held at Ayala Malls Manila Bay last year.
It’s no secret that Anime Fair has made some contributions to the increase of Ayala Malls Manila Bay’s foot traffic and encouraged people to go the said mall which lagged behind its Bay City competitor, SM Mall of Asia.
Because of this, Ayala and Ozine held more free events, including the three-leg Ozine Fest Summer series in TriNoma, Glorietta, and Ayala Malls Manila Bay. Not only that, Ozine announced that they will hold a “wildcard” event at Ayala Malls The 30th in Ortigas, another Ayala Mall whose foot traffic is negligible compared to SM Megamall, Shangri-La Plaza, and even Ortigas Malls’ Estancia.
Just this Wednesday, Ozine also revealed that they will hold two more Anime Fair events, one at Ayala Malls Cloverleaf in Balintawak and another in Ayala Malls Manila Bay. All this are on top of the ticketed events Ozine will hold at the SMX Convention Center and Megatrade Hall at the SM Megamall.
Cosplay.ph issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday apologizing for the treatment of everyone during Cosplay Carnival 2023, noting that the way the security people treated the event attendees were “inexcusable.” They also took responsibility for what happened over the weekend.
Moving forward, they said, they are going to implement ways to improve the experience of attendees, including designated rest areas, security and marshals being briefed about customer service, the removal of the “Bawal Umupo Rito” (Don’t Sit Here) signages that were held by SMX staff at the convention, and the consideration of a photographers’ area for future events.
If you would look at the Facebook groups of the respective event organizers, many have been making comparisons of the two events, with CPH being treated unfavorably and Ozine being hailed as a “hero” for not just allowing free events but also allowing cosplayers and photographers to enjoy the event.
I understand that some congoers, photographers and cosplayers are doing this out of frustration, and they have the right to be frustrated, as they pay top peso—₱451 to be exact, including additional fees—just to enter Cosplay Carnival, yet they felt disenfranchised.
Some guests, including a cosplayer who attended the event, also shared their frustration on the perceived treatment by the security and the marshals during the event, which all the more added to the firestorm directed at CPH.
It also did not help that one of their colleagues got the brunt of the criticism for comparing the recently concluded event to other events, calling him “insensitive” for not understanding the plight of those on the ground.
It would be inevitable that event organizers will have “fans” of their own and that these fans will be defending their organizers.
Let’s stop comparing
Let me be frank on this: I’ve had my ups and downs with these two organizers. Who could remember our scathing editorials criticizing how Ozine Fest was held some years back, and I have also been critical to Cosplay.ph lately for not being transparent about their issues on ticketing. But on both occasions, they were gracious enough to answer issues head on and answer the big questions on the minds of event attendees.
Now, with that aside, let me just say this: It would be inevitable that event organizers will have “fans” of their own and that these fans will be defending their organizers. But sometimes, it is plain inexcusable that fans have to pit events against each other.
This trend is not new. People had been doing this since more J-culture events have been held in the country. They will always point out the lapses of “Event A” and compare it unfavorably to “Event B,” while being blind about the issues with “Event B” that they felt that “Event B” is so infallible. They will simp at “Event B” simply because “Event B” was superior and friendlier than “Event A,” and so on and so forth.
This has to stop.
Whether they are veteran event organizers or newbies, they should NOT compare these events with each other, as they offer a different view and a different taste for event attendees.
Let us not compare events, and fans should stop this practice. It’s as if we are living in the Pop culture version of the Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos rivalry, or even the infamous “network wars” between ABS-CBN versus GMA versus TV5.
I have been attending events for 18 years, and covering it for 16, and the one thing that I have noticed is that event organizers won’t try to compare themselves publicly against their rivals. They always believed in the mantra that their only competitor is themselves the year prior, that is why they never stop at looking ways to improve it year after year.
Let us also be reminded that event organizers are also human. They are not infallible. Whether they are CPH, Ozine, Primetrade Asia, or Toycon PH, they will have their own issues and ups and downs, but comparing each organizer and making them rivals is unhealthy for the J-culture scene.
Whether they are veteran event organizers or newbies, they should not compare these events with each other, as they offer a different view and a different taste for event attendees.
It is also not right for fans of other event organizers to make snide remarks to the detriment of other organizers. You think being friends with the organizers and criticizing others just because you simp them would make you that cool? Nope.
And much worse, event boycotts are not healthy. It should never be an option.
I came across a post from Peter Pham, the executive producer of AcadArena, the organizer of the pop culture and technology event ConQUEST, who suggested to hold a roundtable among event organizers to settle the differences between each other.
I think it is a noble idea to have a talk such as this to learn from each other and share experiences. But to do that, every organizer should be willing to sit down and talk, and discuss what is the best for J-culture events moving forward.
A united front for events? I hope it’s possible, but we need to find a common ground.
But first, let’s stop the unhealthy comparisons.
Red Mendoza is a Special Correspondent for Anime Pilipinas. He also works as a News Reporter for the national broadsheet The Manila Times.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].
UPDATED (08 April 2023 19:30 PHT): Made several corrections including spelling errors and omitted words from edit. We sincerely apologize for the errors.