Animaga held its 2nd annual expo this past weekend at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, Australia. I haven’t been to any anime or pop culture conventions in a nearly a year, but many of my friends were attending this and since I did not attend the expo’s inaugural year in 2014, I was curious in checking it out and catching up with some new and old time friends.
With Manifest (Melbourne Anime Festival) no longer running (it was last held in 2013), this personally to me felt like a replacement for the convention as it pretty much held many of the same events, activities, traders and panels that Manifest had (wish it had an auction though). Being that it was held at the Royal Exhibition Building, Animaga is a much smaller convention with about a little over 2,000 people attending over the weekend.
I bought a 2 day pass for the expo although I only took some photos on the Sunday of the convention, which was the much quieter day.
And here is the program guide and timetable.
With some ad flyers.
There was a great attraction just outside the building showcasing some itashas with Animaga displaying its very own one!
A few of the other itashas.
Upon entering the building, the commercial traders were the very first thing I came across. The building is part of the Carlton Gardens area and although I had been around the garden area before for cosplay meet-ups with friends, I had never actually went inside the building to see the inside of it until now.
The building does have a great interior design but I’m unsure if it was right to place the commercial traders in the centre of the pathway of the building. At times, it felt really congested with the traffic of people coming in and out (particularly Saturday) and only having one out of the three available entrance doors open. To be fair though, most of the big conventions always have huge traffic congestion when it comes to the traders area and it seemed more people had turned up to the expo than Animaga had expected to (which is a great thing), but perhaps it would’ve made it more streamlined if they were placed on both the inner side areas (swapping with the fan traders, video games and panels area) to better manage the issue, as well as placing the information desk in the centre right near the entrance. Or maybe they can open up the other half of the unused space of the building (if they can afford to) to free up the centre pathway for walking and people stopping to take photos of the cosplayers. This is the only minor issue I came across as everything else seemed fine for the convention and these are just suggestions for next year if they are to hold it in the same venue.
Onto the traders, there were many usual merchandise you would expect to find such as DVDs, Blu-rays, manga, figures, plushies, all sorts of accessories, etc. I’m not sure what Animaga’s stance on bootlegs is but Manifest had a zero tolerance policy for them and told vendors to remove them if they were being sold and would boot them out if they ignored repeated requests. Nearly all of my anime purchases are done online now so I didn’t really browse through much of the stuff that was being sold although I was told from a friend that there might have been a number of bootleg stuff spotted.
The one thing that did stand out to me from the traders was a giant classic Nintendo controller, which could be used to play the original Super Mario game.
Other random things I took photos of included some Gundam model kits from the model kit building area.
And a garage kit model of Illya from Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya.
I didn’t really take much photos of cosplayers in the building other than a few of my friends and ones I found funny, but I did find some Working!! cosplayers on Saturday lol (didn’t take a pic though), with that being the only new anime I’m currently watching I think I should’ve! XD
There was a maid cafe that was running on both days, but I didn’t go, partly cause I heard the queue took as long as 90 minutes to get in and having already been to one back at Manifest a few years ago. I did take two quick shots when they were recording a dance outside the area on Sunday though.
An unexpected occurrence was me helping out with a NANA cosplay photoshoot for some friends and photographers after running into them outside the building while they were in the middle of doing the shoot on Sunday. Mainly just helped with holding the flash and reflectors. Ended up getting a number of quick shots of my own with the digital camera.
Seeing how Animaga has only run for two years, the con is still in its early days so it will definitely be interesting to see how much it can grow in both attendance numbers and getting industry guests. If this year’s attendance was anything to go by, then it’s looking likely it will only get bigger and possibly better that they may end up having to use the entire Royal Exhibition Building! Personally for me, it was great to catch up with friends and cosplayers that I hadn’t seen in awhile as I hadn’t really been going to any conventions for quite some time. Again, I can see this already replacing Manifest for my annual anime convention fix if I start going again.