Category Archives: Comics & Manga

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C97 – A Changed Battlefield (Winter 2019)

1 Feb , 2020,
Levin Tan
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No Comments

Oh man! What a game changer! Thanks (or no thanks actually) to the Tokyo Olympics this year, Winter Comiket (and the summer one as well!) has not been able to use a large portion of the halls available at Tokyo Big Sight. 東1~ 東8 were all being reserved as they prepare for the Olympics! It’s been a huge hit to capacity of the venue so much so that Comiket (both summer and winter) was a full FOUR day marathon this time round AND we’ve had to have the corporate booths shift to the 青海 site which is around 1km away! Hurry up and return us our halls!

We’ve definitely had the most number of participants in any Winter Comiket so far thanks to the 4 days. Although we had fewer booths per day, that allowed everyone to come back one more day to participate to result in an overall… 750,000 people!!! (D1:190,000 + D2:180,000 + D3:190,000 + D4:190,000)

A round up of the circles this year: The Fate series has inched up a little slightly, and are still maintaining their lead overall by a large margin to the second spot held by THE iDOLM@STER which shrunk very slightly. Third place last year was Kancolle (艦これ), and they only narrowly lost to iM@S, but this year they shrunk quite a bit so they’re now undisputed third. If they continue to shrink at the same rate, they’re going to lose to Touhou (東方) in fourth place which had the same number of circles as the year before. One important development to note is Virtual YouTubers have become a thing since last Comiket, although I didn’t mention it, but the number of circles covering them have almost doubled! They’re currently in fifth place, but we’ll see how this trend continues next year. Azur Lane (アズールレーン) which I had hoped would start to rise in the rankings seems to have stagnated and actually shrank a little to eleventh place. Seems like that’s going to be where it’ll stay.

The corporate side, however, is another different matter. We still have Yostar pushing hard. They’ve now started to launch Arknights (アークナイツ) as well. It’s newly launched for EN, but actually the JP server has been up for quite a while already! With these two games they had a nice booth up, and really long queues:

Yes, everyone in front of me in this picture is in the queue for the Yostar booth. There’s still more behind me and outside the hall by the way…
サイレンス (Silence) from Arknights in front of the Yostar booth. Corporate booths often hire cosplayers to help promote the booth!

I actually decided to enter it because I wanted some limited edition stuff. A corporate queue like that would easily take around 1-2hrs, but that was no matter since I had already finished my morning raid at the doujins side. But man, the walk was fairly long! I did mention earlier that they shifted to the 青海 site, which is across the bridge of the same name. A journey of about 1km means you absolutely can’t hop back and forth between the two (not that it was actually normal strategy before this).

Join the 1km march over the bridge to the other side for the corporate booths!

There were quite a number of people moving back and forth between the two sites. I actually moved back and forth twice due to some miscommunication, but the weather was great and so I enjoyed the walk!

Besides Yostar, Nekopara (ネコぱら) came back yet again! They had an anime to promote this time (which is currently airing), and there were of course the regulars like NBC Universal, Kadokawa, COSPA, etc. Saekano was also there since they’ve just finished their movie and basically wrapped up the whole series.

Featuring Chocola (ショコラ) and Vanilla (バニラ) with Chocola on the screen as well!
NBC Universal with their “flagship” Gochiusa banner
Saekano (冴えカノ) fine. I didn’t quite check if stuff had run out, but it looked like there weren’t any, which was surprising.

But enough of the corporate stuff and back to the main site! As I mentioned earlier, there were a total of 8 halls that closed. If that was the only thing that happened, there wouldn’t be enough space for Comiket, even with the corporate booths shifting “off site”. Thankfully, we had another few more halls that opened: 南1~ 南4. Along with taking over the space of the corporate booths, this meant that we had to come up with new tactics, because the battlefield was now 3D (the third dimension being height) instead of the usual 2D. (I shall leave some of you to chuckle over the 2D vs 3D inside joke, and whether this whole war is actually 3D or 2D ww). Yup, this is the new hall (which had been open since summer):

Same feel, same structure as the other halls, but its location is different, and that already is something to grapple with.

Now for this year’s featured participant among the unusual stuff I write about: 原田 ひとみ (Harada Hitomi). She’s a well known 声優[seiyuu] (voice actress), and some of her more prominent roles are in Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (バカとテストと召喚獣), Hidamari Sketch (ひだまりスケッチ), THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, and Senran Kagura (閃乱カグラ). However, in Comiket, circles are independent of any corporation (or else they’d be at the corporate site!), and so they never represent any commercial works. Hence naturally, Harada-san here was boothing as her own independent circle HoneyContrast!

原田 ひとみ (Harada Hitomi) holding out her new work which had just run out: 南條さんと原田さん (Nanjo-san and Harada-san). Yes! It’s Nanjo from fripSide! Cute isn’t it?

HoneyContrast (and hence Harada-san) has actually been a regular participant in Comiket (both winter and summer) for the past few years! Her works tend to be on the yuri side, and she even has a binaural audio CD or two which has the fantastic effect of making you feel as though you are actually there by playing around with the spatial placements of the audio. (You can read more about binaural audio from Wikipedia) This latest doujin that she’s seen holding is a 4-koma of her and Nanjo-san. It’s based off their real interactions, or so she says. It is pretty funny!

Moving on, we have a foreign participant circle! From Russia, Moe Era:

A circle from Russia releasing a demo version of their Visual Novel!

When I interviewed them, I found out that they had participated previously in Comiket as normal participants, but this was their first time as a circle! Their game, Moe Era, is a Visual Novel (or VN) with 5 main characters: a Russian, an American, a Chinese, a Japanese, and a mystery character! It promises to be a standard type of VN, but with an intriguing plot which they hope that everyone would enjoy. The game released at Comiket is only a demo version, but they were excited to tell me that the full release of the game will be free on Steam very soon on 4th February!

Over to the electronics section once more (I’ve mentioned before that there’s this strong connection between anime, manga, and electronics somehow), there are booths selling all kinds of things from nifty gadgets to manuals on how to program. This time I wanted to show you one of the circles doing Nixie tubes:

黒井電波 features Nixie tube meters that you can connect to your computer to display your CPU usage in a really cool manner!

There’s typically a whole row of circles showcasing Nixie tubes, and I think it became more popular since Steins;Gate had featured it a number of years ago. But then again, I hadn’t been to Comiket then, so I can’t say from personal experience. The circles doing Nixie tubes all focus on the aesthetics of it, after all, it’s long been superseded by seven-segment displays whether LCD based or LED based. Nevertheless, Nixie tubes definitely have a unique appeal and they are here to stay.

And so concludes the 1st Winter Comiket of the Reiwa era. I must say that I didn’t take any pictures of cosplayers (the non corporate booth ones) this year. I did have a look around the cosplay areas a bit for enjoyment, but because I was quite tired (we planned till around 1-2am every night to get our strategies right), I left pretty early on two of the days to get some rest, and spent the other two browsing the circles or stuck in the corporate booth lines ww. Nevertheless, it was definitely really fun to see how well we could adapt to the new battlefield. We had one or two “casualties” from our list on one of the days, but apart from that, we hit the rest perfectly! (You can have a look at my spoils of war on my Twitter if you want =p ) Once they return the East Halls back to us (should be the end of this year, 2020), the scenario will again change, and I’m again quite looking forward to that.

The change in dynamics had definitely an impact on the Comiket Committee and volunteers, not just us participants. Crowd control was different, and got a bit confusing at times, but everyone cooperated to allow things to continue to flow smoothly, because that’s the spirit of Comiket. Participants (not buyers, nor sellers) are all here to contribute to the atmosphere and zest of Comiket.

I was once again looking for the 現実 (reality) sign at the end of the last day which I had missed last year and the year before, but I couldn’t find it! Perhaps I had stayed too late this time round! Oh no! The hunt for it continues… at the end of this year!

現実に戻ります
C95 Winter Comiket (2018)

C95 – Unusual Guest! (Winter 2018)

1 Feb , 2019,
Levin Tan
,
one comments

Breaking the record of all previous Winter Comikets, this year’s C95 brought in over 570,000 people over three days!!! (D1:170,000 + D2:190,000 + D3:210,000) This is a good 20,000 more than last year. I don’t know about you, but these numbers never cease to amaze me. Here at the Neo Tokyo Project, we also organise something similar in Singapore, Doujima, which is still very young and new compared to Comiket. Maybe we might one day grow to these sizes, who knows?

Anyway, a round up on circles this year: Type Moon (Fate basically, which includes FGO) continued to grow at a stunning pace and kept the top place by a large margin! THE iDOLM@STER (アイマス) also grew at an amazing pace to claim second spot, overtaking Kancolle (艦これ) which shrank a little instead and took third. Touhou (東方) is shrinking slowly along with Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞), but both maintaining their positions in fourth and fifth respectively since the rest of the genres below them are also shrinking. Azur Lane (アズールレーン) which I mentioned would be entering the rankings this year, has debuted (on the rankings) at 10th place.

Speaking of Azur Lane, they’re really pushing very hard. Over the last year I’ve been seeing their ads in many places on the JR lines and even video ads in the new E235 EMU trains. They didn’t have an official booth the last year in Winter Comiket, but this time Yostar came with a big one:

Azurlane booth by Yostar featuring vtuber!

Yomemi is interviewing Ayanami (on screen) at the Azur Lane Corporate Booth.

There’s even a virtual interview going on for you to be entertained while queuing! Yomemi’s “high tension” (テンション高い) personality was uplifting and likeable (although my friend wasn’t too fond of it), contrasting with Ayanami’s dandere character.

Ichijinsha (一迅社) had quite an interesting facade for their booth this year, making it look like a visit to a shrine. Could be said as Ichijinja (一神社) ww. Nekopara (ネコぱら) came back yet again for the 3rd year running, along with Tokyo 7th Sisters (looks like these two are regulars now), but a dedicated Nanoha (なのは) booth was nowhere to be found! As far as I can recall Nanoha had a corporate booth very regularly at Comiket. A little strange… let’s see whether they return this coming Winter Comiket.

Ichijinsha booth looking more like Ichijinja

Remember to ring the bell, bow twice, clap twice, and bow once again as you state your order to the lady at the counter at Ichijinsha/ja!

Another “corporate booth” (though not really) is the IOEA’s (International Otaku Expo Association) which our Doujima event is a member of. The IOEA is here to link up all otaku events around the world so please come on by the booth wherever and whenever you see one to check out similar events from all around the world!

Cosplayer in Kuppa Hime (Bowsette) costume standing beside IOEA signboard with various signatures from representatives of events around the world.

They had a cosplayer cosplaying as Kuppa Hime (or Bowsette) to promote this booth!

Close up of IOEA signboard with signatures of representatives from various conventions around the world.

We of course signed our event on this board too!

Now… you might be wondering what the title of this post was talking about. Comiket accepts applications for a circle booth from basically anyone and everyone, so it’s certainly not unthinkable, but it was still surprising to have Angela join Day 2 of C95 as a doujin booth! Angela is a very popular professional artist duo who have sung well known songs from Soukyuu no Fafna (蒼穹のファフナー) (Fafner in the Azure) and Shidonia no Kishi (シドニアの騎士) (Knights of Sidonia). They are also well known for their fun personality! What they had brought was something really unusual: A CD compilation of their 100 best MCs and an anthology of Angela related material (manga, illustrations, etc). To have them at Comiket in person manning their own booth and distributing their own unique material is really amazing and a treat to all! They even took care to bring enough that despite the long lines and hours of queuing, they only sold out near the close of the day. That meant that everyone who was in queue managed to get a copy!

Angela at C95!

Angela appears at C95! Distributing: 100 Best MCs Compilation CD & Angela Anthology

On to the more usual unusual stuff this year! It’s electronics related this time! Check it out:

Audio level meters crafted by RyoRobot Studio.

Audio level meters and 7 segment USB powered display crafted by RyoRobot Studio.

RyoRobot Studio crafts electronics for making your daily life more vibrant (that’s their motto). What’s showcased here are audio level meters (stereo too!) which jump like the EQ fancy graphics you might see on a digital player, except that these are made from segmented lights rather than display panels. The dancing lights from this booth certainly caught my attention immediately when I came to the section! There are also colourful 7 segment displays powered by USB. Nifty stuff indeed! Head over to his website to see some really nice pictures! (Though be aware it’s all in Japanese)

On to some cosplay! Still relatively fresh, from the Summer season, is Hataraku Saibou! (はたらく細胞!) (Cells at Work!) with cute depiction of cells as humans fulfilling their special roles in the human body, and even fresher, from the Autumn season, is SSSS.Gridman, whose most popular character is undoubtedly Takarada Rikka (宝多六花).

White Blood Cells cosplay

The really cute White Blood Cells (CP:もがみひなた and CP:宇佐美おむらいす)

Takarada Rikka Cosplay

Most popular character Takarada Rikka(CP:真白ゆう) from SSSS.Gridman

And so another Winter Comiket ends. With this one being the one to mark the end of the Heisei Era as well. If you didn’t know about this, it’s actually quite significant, since the Japanese hold their emperor in very high regard. Many of the doujin circles came together to create an anthology just to mark this occasion. I’ll say it in each post, Comiket has a community spirit. It’s the gathering of everyone with a huge passion in their hobbies. No buyers and sellers, only participants and volunteers, and everyone contributes to it in one way or another. This is what will continue to always make Comiket magical.

For me, in the morning raids, my team this year was very on top of things such that we had alot covered. Over the years, we’ve definitely built up strategical and tactical mastery, and I hope to enjoy the next raid even more than this one. The afternoon was relaxed as usual, moving around to browse, helping others pick up things, and just enjoying discovering new works/circles, as well as appreciating the cosplays. Not to mention that because of the ongoing improvement of Big Sight, Comiket each year is slightly different in terms of arrangement, so it’s nice to observe how the dynamics change. This year (2019), the game changes in a major way, and I’m certainly looking forward to rethink our strategies and tactics, as well as to observe its effects. Unfortunately though, I had to rush off a bit early on the last day and so once again I missed the 現実 (reality) sign. Sigh… Hopefully next (this) year!

Photo of Big Sight

The Last Comiket of the Heisei Era

C93 – A Cool One (Winter 2017)

1 Feb , 2018,
Levin Tan
,
one comments

This year’s Comiket was cooler (literally) than average and it actually snowed a little before the doors opened on one of the days! The snow turned quickly into sleet and then a light drizzle though, so it wasn’t that memorable compared to the recent heavy snow that it received. With 550,000 attendees (D1: 180,000 + D2: 160,000 + D3: 210,000) this year, it’s one of the more crowded Comikets.

To get the usual things out of the way first, Kancolle (艦これ) has slid quite a bit this year to lose its previously uncontested top placement to… Fate. There’s an explosion of Fate doujins this year, definitely in some part due to FGO. Touhou (東方) Project has slid quite a bit over the years and this year, it’s now lost second place to Fate as well.  It’s also lost its place to THE iDOLM@STER (thanks to the recent releases of games which brought it back up), which took third, so Touhou (東方) Project is now fourth. Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞) has also slid in numbers and has been overtaken by Fate. Love Live! (ラブライブ!) has maintained about the same number of circles as previous Comikets. Azur Lane (アズールレーン), a newcomer, hasn’t entered the rankings, but I’m sure it will pretty soon…

One of the loading screens in Azur Lane (アズールレーン) was drawn by TwinBox who has a booth here. It’s a shutter!

On the corporate side, Nekopara (ネコぱら) came back again, same with Twin Angel (ツインエンジェル), and Tokyo 7th Sisters. Nanoha (なのは) was promoting their upcoming film DETONATION, with comiket being where/when they exclusively unveiled its PV! Also, notably, Key was selling the 10th anniversary memorial merchandise for Little Busters! and some reaaaaallly premium (¥15,000) anime t-shirts. Wow.

Exclusive unveiling of the PV for the upcoming movie! Comiket is one of those big events where these things happen.

Azur Lane (アズールレーン) has already assumed corporate presence in Comiket despite it being such a young game (only several months old). It had its origins as a Chinese game, but they certainly did well to penetrate the Japanese market. There’s cosplay of it as well! (Not really unexpected knowing how fast these cosplayers here are.)

Pixiv’s Azur Lane illustration compilation sold out each day!

Hellooo Atago! ねむ(nemu✾) is a very pretty cosplayer, and my photo here doesn’t do her justice (T.T) so head over to her Twitter!

One observation in the corporate side I must note, is that there’s been an increasing number of media content providing companies exhibiting year after year. Probably got to do with streaming being increasingly popular, whether be it streaming professional content, or popular livestreams and feeds. This time, I saw Abema TV (アベマTV) had joined.

Abema is giving Nico Nico Douga (ニコニコ動画) a run for its viewers!

With that, let me bring you to the more unusual side of Comiket. But first, this year I “brought” some non-comiket-goers along with me. Well, I say “brought”, but I actually just told them how and when to come because I certainly can’t bring them along with the raid team into the morning first cry of battle. That’d be very cruel. Might I remind you, it’s a war zone after all. And their reactions? Oh yes, they were blown away at the scale of things. One of them had been to the conventions in the US (large ones, certainly), and he was remarking that this is on a very different level! They spent quite some time going around row after row after row to “have a look at what is out there” but gave up exhausted after seeing slightly less than half the booths (on just one day). Comiket is really just that big. Nevertheless, they did enjoy themselves, so as I’ve ever mentioned before, there’s something for everyone at Comiket!

Now on to what I would like to draw your attention to this year. Watches! Well, pocket watches to be precise. Something a bit more exotic than your usual day crafts eh? There were actually a couple of booths selling these this time round, and they did attract a fair number of people (most craft booths don’t have a queue at all typically).

Pocket watches! The steampunk in you can surely relate, and it also carries an air of elegance if you happen to have a top hat and a monocle.

This one was one of the more expensive ones at this booth. (Should pocket watches be called Pokéwatch?)

Another one worth noting is the exhibition of a research project paper at one of the circle booths titled “Towards the High-quality Anime Characters Creation with Generative Adversarial Networks”. If you’re in the AI and Machine Learning sector (crossed with being an otaku as well), you might have heard about this paper a few months back, just after the middle of last year. While the outputs of the networks aren’t perfect, and can look awkward at times, it is a real treat to see it in action. It generates an anime girl based on the selected attributes you want the girl to have: hair colour, hair style, glasses (or not), Smile!, Sweet!, Sister!, Sadistic!, Service!… oops I don’t think the last few were part of the parameters. They’ve even built a website if you’d like to try it. And mind you, this booth had quite continuous attention with always a few people around it talking to the students who did this project, and they could explain it in Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin), and English!

Now with this technology, you can finally have the exact harem you’ve always dreamed of!

So things like that pop up now and then and really add a nice touch to Comiket. Remember, Comiket is made up of its people, or participants (参加者) as we are all called. There are no sellers nor buyers, and everyone adds to its atmosphere and feel.  It’s well worth visiting, and my only regret this year was that I had alot more to rush around for than previous years (along with juggling messaging to different groups of people) such that I couldn’t stop to “soak in” the “Comiket atmosphere” (although I certainly added to it, I hope). In fact, I probably got a bit too absorbed this year, and stayed too late such that I even missed the last “reality this way” (現実->) sign, and I don’t have a picture to show for it! Oh well… Next year it is.

現実へ

C91 – The Depth of Comiket (Winter 2016)

1 Feb , 2017,
Levin Tan
,
No Comments

Comiket (コミケ) is “Comic” + “Market”, but having experienced a few, we felt that it definitely extends to more than that. Thinking about comics and doujinshi is just the surface, and so Haruta and I decided to plunge deeper. This is what this year’s coverage is mostly going to be about.

Firstly, let’s get the usual things out of the way. This year’s doujinshi had the usual top runners still on top: Kancolle (艦これ), Touhou Project (東方), Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞), iM@S, and Fate/Anything (and its spinoffs like Prisma Illya). Corporate booths had a really long queue for Gochiusa (ごちうさ), and the Grandblue Fantasy (グラブル) dakimakura (released ONLY on D2) sold out really fast. Nekopara was also present, and had cosplayers for each of the characters. Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel (快盗天使ツインエンジェル) was promoting its next season. It’s been a long time!

Nekopara!

Making a comeback after 6 years is Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel!

Secondly, if you didn’t already know, Tokyo Big Sight has now expanded by putting up another “double” hall. This year had 東7 (booths) and 東8 (changing room). To take advantage of the new space, both the doujin booths and corporate booths have expanded.

Comiket is just going to keep get bigger and better…

The new hall is still plenty spacious, which means that there’s still room to grow. Needless to say, Comiket is still war. Number of counted visitors this time was 550,000! (Not counting those not in the main queue after noon or so.)  And the booth count was 35,700! The most ever!

Now, something interesting before we carry on. Before the shutters were lifted to start the day, on D3, I had the chance to personally witness one of the doujin booths having 2 of their doujinshi barred from sale because it was just too NSFW. Think about that for a moment. (You may need to have seen some R18 doujinshi to understand what I’m talking about here.) And the reaction around me as the news spread was like “え?”, “まじ?”, “もう?”, and “www”, or a mixture.

So let’s start the dive, and let us bring you first, to D3, 西1.

This is the place for non-doujinshi stuff, and there are a great many things to keep your head turning. Last year I wrote about homemade headphones, this year I’m going to show you glass pens.

Completely made of transparent glass, with various nip sizes to your liking. By Kemmy’s Labo

These behave like quills where you dip them into ink, and the surface tension holds the ink on the nip while accumulating just enough at the tip for you to write! I saw people trying it out and I’m impressed at how consistent the thickness of each stroke is.

Well, there’s not just glass pens, miniature models for your Nendoroids and other similar-sized figurines as well! Check these out! Beautifully crafted; each and every single miniature!

Perfect for Nendoroids. Check out close-ups on her Twitter!

Music lovers are not left out either. This is also the place for you to get your indie music, including niche and very niche genres like 電波ソング/萌えソング, みみかき. DJ mixes are also in. Check out this booth which caries both 電波 and Camelia’s creations! I personally love songs which are かめりあ feat. ななひら. (Camelia does 電波 as well, so he actually has works in both booths!)

Camelia (かめるかめりあ) [left] & Confetto [right] booths, which had pretty long queues at the start of the day!

D3 at 西1 will never be boring, and I’m sure there will be loads more that I can feature each year. But let’s move on a little.

Comiket is getting more and more international every year, as they reach out to other countries with blooming culture and other countries reach in to Japan. The Comiket Official Page on Facebook said that they had probably just gotten the most number of international visitors yet. And this year, as part of their International Otaku Zone, they featured Singapore.

Pictures and short paragraphs describing what otaku conventions in Singapore are like.

The Japanese have probably heard some stuff about Singapore, most likely something to do with that lion with a fish tail (and you can juuust see it in that picture in the middle), but having a zone like that at Comiket is something I’d say I’m somewhat proud to see happening.

Let me now take you outside. To the cosplay areas!

You can find cosplayers just about anywhere outdoors, even mixing with the queues for the booths as seen here!

Comiket is never complete without talking about the cosplay. From swimsuits to armour (the proportion of which swings depending on the temperature), there is a really great number of cosplayers that it makes perfect sense to chillout after hitting your popular booths (most are sold out around noon to 1pm anyway) and have a really long look around. You’ll also see endless blogs, tweets, and posts online of all the different cosplays each time Comiket comes around.

This time, we took a plunge deeper as well, and Haruta interviewed two of these cosplayers. First up, we have Shimizu Taichi (清水 泰地).

Feast your eyes on those muscles! Get more on his Twitter!

A professional body builder who’s put his muscular body to good use for his hobby, Shimizu has always loved anime and manga since young. One day it suddenly occurred to him that his body figure is similar to some of the anime and manga characters. So he decided, why not cosplay these characters? Thus he debut during Summer Comiket 2015 as the green superhero Hulk from Marvel Comics.

Since then, Shimizu has cosplayed several other characters, such as Alexander the Great from Fate/Zero, Broly from Dragon Ball Z, and his most famous, Zangief from Street Fighters. When asked what his next cosplay plan is, Shimizu said he hadn’t thought about it yet, but he’s most likely bringing it out during Summer Comiket 2017! With that, Haruta left him to put on a coat (remember it’s winter!) as he takes a break from posing as Nappa from DBZ.

Next, we have a newbie to the Comiket scene, Kuro, as he cosplays Ezio Auditore da Firenze, from Assassin’s Creed II!

Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Kuro’s a newbie, but goodie!

Although being his first time debuting at Comiket, Kuro is no stranger to cosplay, having dabbed in the hobby for around one and a half years. His first cosplay was Kotetsu, from Tiger & Bunny, in his casual everyday wear.

When asked for his reasons for starting cosplay, Kuro said that he went to a party with his upperclassmen, where everyone is a cosplayer. Due to the influence, he decided maybe he should give it a go, and since then he hasn’t stopped yet.

Kuro also has a passion for swords, and thus likes cosplaying characters carrying a katana. Kuro has cosplayed several Hakuoki characters as such, and more recently, Mikazuki Munechika from Touken Ranbu. Kuro plans to challenge a different type of characters by cosplaying someone from Idolish 7, though which one specifically, he hasn’t decided yet. When asked how long does he see himself continuing the hobby, Kuro said the future is still uncertain now, so for the time being he’s going to try for another two to three years, then take a look again from there on.

Every cosplayer has a story, and realising that (while looking at the numbers), you can start to see why this post is a deeper dive. But of course, we can’t carry that many stories (nor pictures) in one post, so head on over to our Facebook page for a larger album of cosplayers!

Comiket is much more than just comics and commercial booth merchandise (limited edition or not!). I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said before, and this is the view of the organising committee: Everybody at Comiket is a participant. There are no sellers, no buyers.

You see, Comiket is made of its people. Coming together, sharing such a huge passion for whatever they have (really whatever as you would have noticed by now), every single person there adds to how awesome this event is, and everyone is there to enjoy themselves. Even the rush for limited edition stuff are all done very nicely, very “politely” if I may say. And let us not forget the volunteers who work tirelessly for 3 days straight to guide the crowds. Their crowd control and systems they put in place are absolutely amazing (this one you can only understand once you personally see it).

Attending Comiket is kinda magical, and always leaves me with a sense of awe, sense of exhilaration, and a sense of fulfilment in the end. I’m sure everyone feels this magic too. Which is why, never failing, there will always be this at the end of the 3 days:

Sign says: <- Reality ->

C89 – Winter Comiket 2015

16 Jan , 2016,
Levin Tan
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Comiket is just awesome!

Comiket is war. Anyone without a mission, without a strategy, will accomplish nothing on this battlefield.

After C84 with Arvin back in 2013, I certainly was raving to go for another one, so when I finally got another opportunity, I went back to Tokyo once more – for C89.

I cannot emphasise enough how big Comiket is. If you’ve been to one before, you’ll know. If you haven’t, it’s unimaginable. Even my memory of C84 had gotten kinda hazy and I was still amazed at how large it was this time. For comparison, take US’s largest similar convention: New York Comic-Con. They have over 170,000 attendees over 4 days. At Comiket, a single day has more attendees than Comic-Con for all 4 days, totaling at over 590,000 over 3 days! And these are only the attendees who queue at the opening. Those arriving after noon are not counted.

Back in C84, I didn’t care much about doujins and circles, and just went for the commercial booths. My Japanese was quite bad, so I couldn’t understand much even if I did buy doujins. But this time, I upped my level, and really prepared for war. Before flying to Tokyo, I had already met up with a group of friends to discuss our plans, routes, and strategies. We had a Facebook chat group and a Whatsapp group for communications as well.

I took the first train from my hotel down to the Tokyo Big Sight. But when I got there, there were a number of people already ahead of me! Ok, I thought, it doesn’t look that bad. That was until the sun rose and I could see everything…

picture of queue into Comiket on day 1

Everyone in front of me and to the left are ahead of me in the queue! (Day 1)

Queue for Comiket

Nice sunrise while queueing. (Day 2)

The only level up from here is to queue overnight, which is what one of my friends did. You have to be prepared though. This is winter, with temperatures around 4C or lower in the middle of the night. Summer is easier, and that means more people queue overnight too.

Marker for end of queue

This marks the tail of the line. It takes skill to find this fast!

Queueing is almost like what Comiket is made out of. You do that for everything – from getting in, to buying your stuff, to use the vending machines, toilets, everything. And usually, from the tail of the queue, the head is not visible, and vice versa. This can leave people confused as they search for the tail to join the queue. No doubt, with experience, this gets easier.

This year’s comiket was divided into (mostly) Day 1 – BL (and Gundam), Day 2 – Kancolle, Touken Ranbu, and Touhou, Day 3 – iM@S and LL!. I was targeting the commercial booths, Kancolle, and iM@S, so this was pretty much perfect scheduling. The people who arrange these things are very knowledgeable about the fanbase and content, so they try their best to schedule it such that most people can get what they want.

Now, knowing what you want to get isn’t sufficient, you also need to plan how you want to get it, because…

Hall crowds at C89

Multiply this view by exactly 10 times for the total indoor crowd at any time.

That booth you want to visit is a high school classroom sized table located in there somewhere! You aren’t going to get to it without planning! Also, check out the flow of people between halls:

Crowd flowing

When crowds are this thick, people behave like liquid flowing…

Another thing to be amazed at is, despite the colossal crowd, everything runs superbly smoothly! It is crowd management at its finest. You have to give it to them:

Comiket volunteers in orange caps and armbands

These are the volunteers of Comiket who help things run really smoothly.

There are 3,500 of these volunteers who help out on minimum 2 of the 3 days in Comiket. I asked my Japanese friend, and he said that all these people get is a free Comiket catalog (worth ¥2,500), a free meal, and get to keep their hats and armbands. That’s it! And yet, each Comiket has more applications for volunteers than they accept! So why would they sacrifice being able to buy stuff? Well, apparently these volunteers have enough connections that they can get what they want from their friends.

You might be wondering now, how did I get all these photos, wasn’t I located in a battlefield rushing for my own stuff? Well, see, Comiket almost ends at noon. By the time you hit around 11.00am, the most popular booths sell out:

Booth Utsura Uraraka, by Eretto sensei.

Day 1 booth Utsura Uraraka (A61ab), by Eretto sensei. Sold out!

The popular booths then sell out around 1pm, and by 2pm, you are basically left with all the non-famous/popular ones. That is not to say that they are not good, just not as well known. For instance:

FNP from Singapore!

Booth: FNP (Day 2, J03b)
A doujin circle from Singapore!

Circles not from Japan can be found participating in Comiket. I did come across several from China as well, and they sell good stuff too!

On day 3 usually, you can find circles dealing with electronics. Anime, manga, and electronics are somehow related as proven in Akiba, and here is no different:

Home-made headphone drivers

HAL900 (circle name) selling home-made headphone drivers.

Comiket is not just about doujins and merchandise, but also about cosplay. Here’s a shot of one of the several cosplay areas:

Overlooking the outdoor cosplay area

It can be hard to find your cosplaying friends here!

Gochiusa, short for Gochuumon wa Usagi desuka? (Is the Order a Rabbit?) is the biggest thing in Akihabara currently, and I was glad to be able to find a full cast of cosplayers here at Comiket!

Gochiusa Cosplayers

Is the order a full cast of Gochiusa cosplayers? Cosplayers: Cocoa, Chino, Takahiro, Rize, Sharo, Chiya

If you’re looking for more cosplay pictures, check out our C89 Facebook Album!

The spirit of Comiket is meant to be a community thing, as you might find in the official brochure and website. There are no “customers”, but only participants. This is something everyone understands. And while it gets really crowded and disorienting, the whole convention proceeds in a very orderly fashion. Even during one incident I witnessed where a cosplayer wasn’t happy with the way someone was photographing her (rather *ahem* angles) and things got a bit heated, everyone helped to ensure that the photographer didn’t run away and a staff member was called to help. The photograph was deleted, and all was alright.

At the end of it, Comiket leaves you with a tired but wonderful feeling, as you go back to count your loot (which can’t even fit in one picture). I can’t quite describe how that feeling is like, but it’s something of awe, satisfaction, amazement, and accomplishment. Comiket is an amazing experience that will keep you going back for more! However, as you leave, there’s always someone to remind you…

This way to reality.

“Reality, this way ->” is what the sign says.

Manga Festival 2013

17 Feb , 2013,
Crimson
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Singapore’s inaugural Manga Festival took place over the weekend, with a series of activities that catered to the otaku palate.

Organized by key Japanese publishers, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and partners including Kinokuniya bookstore, Manga Festival saw both an exhibition of manga titles and artwork at The Arts House, as well as signings by established mangaka such as  Yaro Abe (Shinya Shokudo), Masayuki Ishikawa (Moyasimon/Tales of Agriculture) and Mine Yoshizaki (Keroro Gunso).

Crypton Future Media, Inc’s president Hiroyuki Itoh (Crypton’s the company responsible for VOCALOIDs) and THE Danny Choo were also present for a meet-and-greet and sharing session (which later included dinner with the fans at a nearby food court).

Admittedly, we found the manga exhibition kinda small. While the shelves were stocked with selected manga titles and merchandise, VOCALOID art, and there were PS Vitas and iPads around for browsing digitized manga, we’d hoped for more content.

No doubt, if the exhibition included original cover sketches, manga panels, story boards and maybe information about the publishing process in Japan, it might have made for a more wholistic activity.  We did enjoy ourselves though, and we’d definitely love to see this event happening in Singapore again.

Here are some of our photos from the event:

 

MCM Expo London Comic Con – Impressions

1 Nov , 2012,
Arvin
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While Cosplay Zombie Walk was going on, I was away in the land of Kuroshitsuji, Steam Punk and Sherlock Holmes – the United Kingdom.

Look at the crowd!

The queues were insane!

Another year, another London Comic Con MCMExpo. This year, however, we managed to get media accreditation (and that’s a first for a local cosplay blog!).

Again it was held at EXCEL, the home of many of the 2012 London Olympics events. After a convoluted tube journey due to subway works, we finally arrived.

I managed to avoid the queues by being Media, however I was reading my issue of Jump (can you guess which character) whilst waiting for my photographer friend Levin, who had to convert his early pass ticket into a paper wrist band (we only had one press pass between the two of us, which was a pity).

The early entry pass ticket allowed entry 2 hours earlier at 9am for a price of 16 GBP (as opposed to 10 GBP).

The large convention hall (approximately 2 Expo halls) dedicated to queues had a replica of a Tardis to sate the appetites of the fans before they even entered the convention. Even then the queues were monstrously long with swarms of people from all over the country and even Europe coming to one of the biggest cons in UK and Europe (The site of the 3rd Euro Cosplay Championships)

We were welcomed by 4 long rows of merchandise stores stretching the entire length of the convention.

Plushies

Yaoi!

Figurines

There was a variety of merchandise being sold. For the eastern crowd, typical anime fare such as merchandise, figurines, tapestry, dakimakura, Gunpla, t-shirts, English translated manga, plushies, posters were sold.

Non-standard merchandise such as collections of doujins imported from Japan (including hentai, yaoi and yuri doujins which were being advertised openly), anime classics VCDs, woodle paddles that said Yaoi, Uke and Seme sating the desires of a crowd many of whom are probably incapable of going to Japan.

Price wise goods were sold at easily double the retail price in Japan.

Examples include Madoka figurines going at 25 Pounds, Gunpla at the prices in Singapore but in pounds, Lightning FFXIII-2 Figurine at 35 Pounds or FF7 Reunion Music Cd at a whooping 50 Pounds.

This was no doubt due to the high import prices but merchandise were still going off the shelf pretty fast for some of the more popular items.

It was quite apparent that the merchandise was pretty mainstream and not as updated as for example there was a dearth of (surprisingly) Sword Art Online merchandise.

On the western front, there was the usual fare of comic books, figurines, Lego, T-shirts, posters, Warhammer 40,000 figures and such.

These were obviously cheaper than in Singapore.

Weapon replicas of Eastern and Western pop culture were selling at approximately half the price that was sold in Singapore no doubt due to lower production costs and a larger market.

Generally compared to STGCC, I felt there was a lesser variety of figurines to buy and it was apparent that the storekeepers were going for mass market mainstream figurines as opposed to pandering to “obscure” stuff like Super Robot figurines such as Mazinger or non-mainstream anime.

Crowds inside!

It was interesting to note there were more Eastern merchandise on sale. I suspect it was due to the general availability of Western merchandise in the UK which was the cause of this.

However either ways it was mainly mainstream products.

What is a multi-genre convention without games?

The big publishers came in full force. XCOM Enemy Unknown and Borderlands 2 from 2K Games, Metal Gear Rising from Konami, Halo 4 and Forza Horizon from Microsoft, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Farcry 3 from Ubisoft, DBZ Kinect, Tales of Graces, Ni no Kuni, Tekken Tag Tournament from Namco Bandai were some of the many titles that came to the show.

The availability of brand new games and even unreleased games was definitely a nice touch to the convention. There were also classic NES games for people to play.

As the arcade culture has waned in the West, this convention was a great opportunity for fans to play the latest and classic arcade games which we take for granted back home.

There were many machines to choose from however one of the most popular games was DDR. Many tried their hands (or feet) at the games which were a dime a dozen in London (or I dare say UK).

In the non-video game segment, there was an area on YuGiOh by Konami and a board games area which featured board games such as Settlers of Catan and X-Wing Miniatures games for the crowd to try. The gamer fans amongst the crowd definitely had a lot of fun.

X-Wing Miniatures

Fancy eating a Pokeball or Domo? 😮

There was the customary artists’ area filled with the usual doujins, posters, art done by the various talented artists.

There seemed to be less of a slant of Eastern art compared to Singapore. However I apologize that neither Levin or I was able to make a more detailed comparison of the artists’ booths. There was also a manga school where students sat in a Tatami classroom learning how to draw manga. Other general stores included a cupcake store that made cupcakes dedicated to pop culture-themed cupcakes.

A dedicated signing area where stars such as Warwick Davis, the Wrestler Edge and Sci-fi author Peter F. Hamilton were autographing and interacting with the fans.

If you are a fan of western pop culture, it was definitely a place to attend.

Even amongst the booths the artist and creator of the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness was there doing sketches and autographs.

There were also many interviews with stars such as Matt Smith (The eleventh Doctor), Ali Hillis (the voice of Lightning) and Once Upon a Time.

The convention had 3 theatres and a stage of varying sizes to handle the multitude of such events. As with all conventions, one must definitely plan in advance to see what you want to see.

Edge

Brian Muir

As this is the West, the 501st Division was in full force.

It was a nice touch to see Stormtroopers “patrolling” the queuing area.

Of course all of the common types of troopers and Imperial guardsmen were there in addition to Lord Vader.

Interesting additions included a full-sized Landspeeder.

However what made my 2nd day special was the section dedicated to Brian Muir, the British sculptor of many movie works such as the set of Harry Potter (e.g. The intricate fireplace), Indiana Jones‘ Ark of Covenant prop and most importantly Star Wars.

He was the sculptor of Vader’s iconic helmet, Stormtrooper armor, CZ-3’s helmet, and the finishing work on the C3PO suit.

Still in shock, I decided to go ahead and “interview” the man about sculpting whilst lamenting the fact that I did not bring my Darth Vader helmet for him to sign. He mentioned that the design of the helmet was meant to be a cross between a samurai helmet and a 2nd World War German helmet. It was illuminating to hear how a professional sculptor built a costume using clay to form a mask and then sent it to a plaster shop to be moulded and recast in plaster, before finally being remoulded and casted in fiberglass.

He also taught us how he used the classic method of grey paint with another coat silver followed by the polished gold finish to get the now famous C3PO sheen, a technique that experienced modellers are no doubt familiar with.

501st Legion

He was definitely very dedicated to his work and his wife showed pictures of his garden filled with trinkets to give it a nice space-y look. He then showed us a photo of his time in a convention in the United States with the First Imperial Stormtrooper Detachment who all took off their helmets in respect to the man who brought us Star Wars.

Not wanting to leave empty handed, I bought a book called In The Shadow of Vader which I promptly asked him to sign and had a photo taken.

It was a great read filled with his experience about his various projects and plenty of photographs.

It was a real honor to meet this down-to-earth and friendly man.

Taiko Demonstration

There was an area in the Comic Con called JapanEX, which allowed con-goers to experience Japanese Culture.

Origami classes, Ceramics were some of the many retailers. There was a stage that had many showcases such as a Harajuku fashion show, Martial arts Demonstrations and a Taiko exhibition.

The greatest lure was however the food stalls. Traditional Japanese Dorayaki, Japanese influenced flavours such as, Yakisoba, Sushi and Kakigori (Shaved Ice) were all sold. The prices were obviously more expensive compared to back home as a small plate of Yakisoba was at 5 Pounds, and Kakigori was at 2 Pounds but it gave the con-goers a chance to experience the more uncommon Japanese food that they probably only saw in anime and in one central location.

Levin and I also bought quite a number of stuff at the Japan Centre booth which sold a variety of goods such as JUMP imported from Japan but sold at more reasonable prices (compared to Singapore) and walked home happily with the lovely September issue of Newtype, a Clamp works in Code Geass and a Dissidia postcard booklet for me and a September issue of Nyantype for him The Japan Centre stall was manned by Japanese wearing a variety of traditional costumes and a female Coser who was cos-ing an awesome Waver Velvet with Rider cloak on Saturday which we sadly did not take a photo of.

Spoils of War

As one of the biggest Cons in UK and probably Europe, it did not dissapoint in the variety of stuff to buy or see.

This sums up our general Con coverage of the London MCM Comic Con Expo.

Hopefully this is a good enough salve for missing AFA on my final year. Please also read our article on the lovely sub-genre of Steampunk and Cosplay and EuroCosplay Championships.

Con Coverage by: Arvin Lim (reporter) & Levin Tan  (photographer)

Check out more photos from the MCM Expo London Comic Con showfloor on our Facebook page!

Japanese Arts Fiesta (JAF) II

27 May , 2012,
Crimson
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JAF II - Promo Poster.

Dunman High School’s Japanese Arts Fiesta (JAF) marks its return next Saturday, with the campus transformed into a playground for cosplayers and fans of Japanese animanga alike.

Helmed by the Yutaka Japanese Cultural Club (DHS YJCC) this year, the event promises more fun and excitement thanks to a the new team promises more fun and excitement, as well as a plethora of stage and fringe activities to whet your pop-culture palate.

Highlights include a maid & butler cafe, a haunted house, a cosplay runway competition, song & dance performances, game stalls, vendor booths, and a studio set-up where cosplayers can be photographed.

Event Details

Date: 2 June 2012

Time: 11 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Venue: Dunman High School (DHS), 10 Tanjong Rhu Road, (S) 436895 (map link here)

Tickets: General admission is free. Tickets are required for the Maid/Butler Cafe ($10) and Haunted House ($2).

Don’t forget to check out the JAF Facebook page for more updates and details!

Free Comic Book Day 2012

3 May , 2012,
Crimson
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It’s time for Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) again, and this year, we’ve got not one, not two, but five players in the market itching to give you, my geeky friends, loads and loads of freebies.

So what’s the game plan, and where should you head to get your comic fix Saturday?

For a start, there’s always GnB, an FCBD staple. They’ve got Ardian Syaf and Nicole Scott, both amazing, amazing DC artists in store for FCBD, where they’ll be meeting the fans and doing signings.

Not to be outdone is Invasion! Toys & Collectibles at Funan DigitaLife Mall. The store’s signed on local illustrator Shawn Yap (13wishes) for the event for prints and commissions.

Check out Shawn's take on The Avengers!

Shawn’s a cool dude who’s published his own work – the noir detective story  “Jack Doe: Anonymous” in 2009, a 2nd book titled “Closets”, and is looking to put out his third – “Letters”, this year.  He’s also worked on both video and tabletop games, and is looking to release his first card game soon.

Our friends from Harris Planerds have also announced that they’re doing FCBD in a big way. In addition to their anniversary sale, where you can get a whopping 60% discount from now till 20 May, Wendy Chew, better known by her online handle Mashi, as well as Rudy Ao, will be doing sketches at Planerds from 12 pm to 6 pm.

Walk-ins will also get grab bags with three free comics, while Planerds members will get a whopping twelve titles. How cool is that?

If you’re big on retail stores, and are in the vicinity of Books Kinokuniya, you can also check out their members only special for FCBD. On top of a 20% discount on comics for members, members are also eligible to pick up a free comic book bundle.

And finally, surprise, surprise. Our friends at Paradigm Infinitum are jumping into the comics and graphic novel market this FCBD. To celebrate the opening of their graphic novels section, they’re giving away comic books absolutely free. Yes, rather than just giving away FCBD goodies, they’re throwing in up to ten actual comic books from yesteryear. Can I say WOW!, or what?

Yep, this year’s FCBD is looking like a regular treasure haul. So it’s time to prep those bags of holding and bottomless sacks, folks.

We’ll see you at FCBD!

ICDS: A celebration of cosplay and pop-culture diversity

1 May , 2012,
Crimson
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International Cosplay Day Singapore (ICDS) is less than four months away, and as we promised in a previous post, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s festivities!

1. Event Theme

ICDS 2012 celebrates “Cosplay & Pop-Culture Diversity”. It’s an all-inclusive convention that transcends barriers by immersing convention goers in an eclectic fusion of Eastern and Western pop-culture elements.

2. Event Details & General Ticketing Information

Date: 26 August 2012

Time: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Venue: Blk 68, Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Convention Center (check out the NP campus map here)

Tickets: $5 (available from July 2012 via www.gatecrash.com.sg, various event partners, and at the door).

3. Guests-of-Honor

This year’s special guests include U.S. based cosplayers Ms. Yaya Han & Ms. Jerry Polence, who will be visiting Singapore for the very first time, Mr Jay Tablante from the Philippines, and the cast and crew of COSPLAY: The Series from Indonesia.

Ms. Yaya Han is a household name in the global cosplay scene. She has more than a decade of experience as a cosplayer, and her costumes have won awards and acclaim throughout the U.S. She has been invited to appear as a Guest, Panelist, Judge, Performer and Host to over 100 conventions and other events all over the world.

Website: www.yayahan.com

Similarly, Ms. Jerry Polence is a U.S. based Filipina cosplayer, model, and blogger with an impressive international following. She has been in the cosplay scene since 2004, and has been featured extensively in various media.

Website: www.polence.com

Known in pop-culture circles as “The Geek with the Camera”, internationally acclaimed cosplay photographer Mr.Jay Tablante has collaborated with D.C. and Marvel to produce some of the most iconic and daring images in comic book cosplay of all time.

Website: www.jaytablantephotography.com

The cast and crew of COSPLAY: The Series will also be at ICDS, where they will be filming COSPLAY: The Series Singapore Special. They will also be performing at the event, and opening Singapore’s 2nd Annual Cosplay Chess.

COSPLAY: The Series started as a web series in 2011 and has since grown into a content and performance franchise. The team behind it calls themselves the Q-Cosushinkai Project, a congregation of unique and talented cosplayers, performers, musicians, artists, writers, designers, and filmmakers. COSPLAY: The Series has since signed on to a professional artist management contract with PT NAGARAJA FMFE NUSANTARA to boost its professionalism in delivering the best possible content to its fans.

Website: www.cosplaytheseries.com

 4. Cosplay Competition & Cosplay Catwalk

Cosplayers of both Eastern and Western pop-culture titles are invited to join the Cosplay Competition at ICDS.

Registration for the Cosplay Competition is open from now till 30th July 2012, and contestants stand to win cash prizes sponsored by our partners Anibee and Paradigm Infinitum. You can view the full details of the competition here.

You could also strut your stuff on stage in our Cosplay Catwalk. Check out how you can dazzle the stage here.

5. Artists’ Alley, Dealers and Sponsor Booths

Adding to the carnival-like atmosphere is the Artists’ Alley, myriad Dealers and Sponsor Booths.

Ms. Yaya Han and Mr. Jay Tablante will be holding signings at their booths at selected time slots, and fans can partake of a wide variety of pop-culture products.

(And if you’re interested in registering for an Artists’s Alley booth, do check out this page for more details!)

6. Singapore’s 2nd Annual Cosplay Chess

This year’s theme for Cosplay Chess is East & West, pitting characters from popular Japanese animation, games and manga against their counterparts from American comic books, games, movies and novels.

Some popular characters that will take to the stage this year include King Tryndamere from League of Legends, Sara Pezzini from Witchblade, Big Sister from Bioshock 2, Joker from The Batman, Gilgamesh and Saber from the Fate series, Vergil from Devil May Cry, and Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear.

With an early start this year, as well as better logistics support thanks to Ngee Ann Polytechnic and our sponsors, we expect higher production value, and greater quality overall.

We’re really excited about ICDS, and we hope you are too!

Don’t forget to keep tabs on our site and Facebook page for more exciting updates and details in the weeks to come!

Here’s to seeing you folks at the con!

Cheerio! ^_^