Held over the Easter weekend, the three-day Sakura Fest promised fun, games and frivolity for fans of Japanese culture, at a fee, of course.
The event had been conceived as a means for the Singapore Flyer to raise money for the Red Cross fund in aid of Japan’s quake and tsunami victims, with stalls set up in the Flyers foyer selling an assortment of Japanese trinkets, games, knick knacks and food products.
It was also (predictably) the place for cosplayers to strut their stuff, what with a contest and all (the semi-finals and finals being held on Saturday and Sunday), an opportunity for J-rock lovers to listen to local bands performing covers of their favorite hits, and for fanboys to catch their fill of budding idol Chiroru Hoshino as well as singing sensations Sunao and Ritsuko.
Since I had the long weekend pretty much to myself (Joey was in Hong Kong doing a spot of cosplay shopping), I decided to hit Sakura Fest on all three days, just so I could get a wholistic picture of the proceedings, to cheer some of the folks who’d attended my Cosplayers’ Roleplay Workshop on, and just chill with the Fightsaber boys, but truth be told, there wasn’t a whole lot going on.
There were a handful of stalls in the vicinity, selling oden (stuff stewed in a hot pot), ramen, $4 popsicles, and moscato at $5 a pop, several sad looking booths that featured Japanese hoop tossing and fishing games, and a New Age guy doing tarot readings, but that was about it.
What stole the show was obviously the cosplay contest (and the entire reason why so many people were probably there to begin with) at the Greek Theatre adjacent to the foyer. (There were also some Free Hugs peeps blundering around, but eh, I ignore them, their Scream masks, and their flagrant sword waving on principle).
It was a contest that saw more than 20 contestants grace the stage, strutting their stuff in a variety of costumes from Super Mario, Ironman, Bleach (go Ichigo!), Reborn, and a whole slew of (groan) Vocaloids. Finalists were, naturally, required to present a skit to highlight their showmanship skills on Sunday – no mean feat considering the poor acoustics at the venue.
While the cosplay contestants put up a strong showing, the emcees (both from Akibanana) were positively cringeworthy. Their lines were trite and cliched, and the whole wussy teacher vs. domineering schoolgirl thing just grated on me. It didn’t help that they had no grasp of comic timing, delivery, or stage presence. They were also obviously in love with the sound of their own voice, and just wouldn’t shut up when their jokes got stale.
The idols, by comparison, were impressive, and managed to galvanize the crowd during the otagei (fan dance) components. In fact, those segments were pretty well executed, and I found myself shuffling along, even though I didn’t feel up to the whole wildly swinging thing. That, and the fact that I didn’t want to be anywhere near otakus in singlets sporting unshaven armpits. And boy, were there loads of them.
Still, it wasn’t all bad for a filler event. It was a time sink, but in a good way. Of course, there’s only one other real event to look forward to next month, and that’s License 2 Play.
So until then, folks, cheerio!