The festival is now in its second year. Originally it began in Melbourne in September 2016 as part of local film and video distributor Madman Entertainment's 20th anniversary, with additional conventions in Brisbane and Perth earlier this year. I think it's a pretty good initiative from Madman as local conventions did die off a bit in the early 2010's, possibly due to the expense and trouble in running them, and partly because at the same time anime clubs started to become an endangered species across the country (the main fan organisations that ran the conventions). Certainly Melbourne has a very strong fan community as evidenced by the amount of anime related stores dotted around the city (surprisingly far more than Sydney). This year's festival was being held over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of November at the Melbourne Convention and Entertainment Centre in Southbank, on the Yarra River, only about a 10 minute walk from Southern Cross Station.
Vicroads faux Japanese licence plates poster (more on that later), a festival t-shirt, a festival branded cyalume glow stick, four single disc DVDs, a box of Pocky and a voucher for one piece of hot chicken at a local Asian take away food chain.
Kana Ueda, most famous for Rin Tohsaka of the sprawling “Fate” franchise) and making bookings for the Mai Wish maid and butler cafe and “Attack on Titan” virtual reality game. There were a number of displays in the main hall including a “Cowboy Bebop” one which included mostly setting materials, copies of cels against backgrounds, life sized standees of the main characters and a shooting game. There was also a small “Your Name” display which mostly had promotional artwork and focused on the characters, a similar “Sword Art Online” display and finally in the same vein, one for “Attack on Titan” which mostly focuses on the manga but included the virtual reality game. In addition to those, there was also a small display of life sized standees of the girls from “Love Live! Sunshine”.
|The line for Ely at 9:30am on Saturday|
AGS 102. These seven (supposedly) Japanese girls perform at the Angel Garden cafe, which is part of rather popular worldwide chain of cheesecake shops from Fukuoka, Uncle Tetsu, which its Sydney shop often has a line up right out the door. Closer inspection of the flyer I given by one of the girls reveals that the chain is opening two shops in the CBD of Melbourne this month and next. That night I had a quick look online to see what it was all about and unsurprisingly discovered that it is nothing more than a blatant promotion for what is a terribly overrated cake shop and was originally trialed at their store in Toronto, Canada. I suspect the girls who make up the group aren't Japanese and are playing stereotypical idol roles, but I can't be sure (I know, I'm rather cynical). The group even brought merchandise to sell and took photos with fans.
At 10am the horde was let in. Despite what certain people in anime fandom will tell you about a lack of diversity in that fandom, I noted the con goers were a wide range of ages and ethnicities, divided pretty evenly between the sexes and even quite a number of families with young kids showed up. There were also a couple of con goers in wheelchairs and quite a number of poor fathers dragged along by teen daughters. Sure, the bulk of attendees were either teens or young adults of either descended from a white European or Chinese background, but you could not claim that the con didn't include a diverse range of people from society. It kind of annoys me when certain people within our fandom assert the opposite is true. Of course there was lots of cosplay everywhere and by the early afternoon of day one I noticed a few worn out teens who went too hard too soon, zonked out like zombies sitting against the hall’s walls. Madman claims the con draws in 10,000 people. Because the convention is spread out over a really wide area, it was a bit hard to tell, but I think over the two days they probably went close to that.
|"Fate" fan meetup group photo with Kana Ueda and Ely|
|Ladybeard and Andy Trieu on stage|
|Madman National Cosplay Championship Final|
|Fan group Doubutsu Chatto performing anisong covers|
Overall, I really had a lot of fun over the two days of Madfest. Perhaps things could have gone a bit more smoothly and I sort of wish so much competing stuff wasn’t packed into such a small timeframe, but these are minor quibbles. Looking through previous conventions in this country, I really wish I had been proactive over the last five years and gone to more. I will most certainly on the lookout for other conventions around the country and will probably end up going to quite a few more in the next couple of years.