OzineFest 2016 – Goin’ with the Flow
OzineFest 2016, the biggest anime event of the summer, has come and gone. It was certainly an experience for everyone involved from the organizers to the convention attendees. Whereas many things can be said about OzineFest 2016, more articulate stories can be found elsewhere. In the immortal words from Monty Python, “always look at the bright side of life.” Here are some of the exciting highlights that shined a beacon of fun during the convention that kicked off the summer season!
OzineFest 2016 had five international guests this year. The beautiful Luffy’s back once again, having visited last December for previous Ozine Event. She’s joined by fellow Hong Kong Cosplayer, the ever-so-genki SiuTao. She even brought her own Love Live dolls. Taiwanese Cosplayer Ely brought an air of elegance with her Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls cosplay. Hailing from Vietnam, the adorable Miu rounded out the guest cosplayers. But that wasn’t all of the guests. Japanese artist and illustrator DYMO completed the crew, bringing plenty of comics she brought from Comiket!
Cosplay at OzineFest 2016
As impressive as our distinguished guests were, the turn up from the Filipino cosplay community was nothing to be laughed at. Although Sunday tended to draw more participants, Day 1 of OzineFest 2016 had more than its fair share of cosplayers. Some donned their costumes solo while others came in themed cosplay groups, like Ghost Fighter, Love Live, or One Piece. The gallery below was just a glimpse of the crowd during Day 1 of OzineFest 2016.
Artist’s Alley and Merchandising Booths
The other major draw for many convention goers are the merchandising booths and the Artist’s Alley. Anime goods are normally available in specialty shops in select locations. Having the big names all in one place is a boon for both newbies and veterans alike. Everything from doujin and dakimakuras to costumes and figurines are ripe for the choosing but, sometimes, heavy on the wallet. OzineFest also provided a space for people with common interests to meet offline. Some popular online groups would gather, like Love Live Philippines. Other smaller and more intimate would simply claim a space and lounge around playing games.
I have always had a soft spot for Artist’s Alley Booths. A certain level of dedication is needed for those blessed with artistic talent to elevate their passion into a business, formal or otherwise. It takes courage to put yourself out there and hope for the best. Hopefully, the risks taken are fairly rewarded. Conventions also provide a unique opportunity for creators and fans to interact in real life, beyond the rapport usually developed online. It’s fun to see several different interpretations of the fandoms we hold dear.
This highlight of the evening was here, the moment that fans have been waiting for since it was announced last March. Flow was finally on Philippine soil, inside SMX MoA. All the frustration melted away, at least for the next few magical hours. The anticipation in the room was ready to burst with several cheers occurring with every change in the lights and testing of instruments.
The SMX Function hall exploded when lights finally changed and the first guitar riffs declared definitively that Flow was in the house. Fans finally laid eyes on Vocalist Kōshi “Koshi” Asakawa and Lead Guitarist Takeshi “Take” Asakawa, the founding brothers of Flow. Vocalist Keigo Hayashi acted as the unofficial MC of the night. Bassist Katsutaro “Got’s” Goto and Drummer Hiroshi Iwasaki, the “father” of the group, rounded out the entire band.
Fans jumped out of their seats the moment Flow opened up the show with one of their Naruto Shippuden songs “Sign.” The wild jumping started when they heard “JIBUN WOO,” the first lyrics of “Colors” from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. Thankfully, the floor withstood the excited jumping of hundreds of fans. The energy emanated when Flow performed “Niji no Sora,” another Naruto Shippuden song, and “Ai ai ai ni uta rete bye bye bye” from Samurai Flamenco. Things took a more chill tone when Flow performed the hip-hop themed, Eureka Seven opening theme, “Days,” as well as a relatively slower, ballad type song, “Ryuusei.” “World End” from Code Geass closed out this unofficial part one of the show.
The vocalists gave way for the instrumentalists to show off their skills. Under dim lights of the stage, the darkness helped emphasize the audio experience. Take, Got’s, and Iwasaki took turns giving awesome solo performances, with Keigo acting as the hype-man. When it was over, a strange sight appeared. A man, who turned out to be Take, stood alone in the darkness covered in what seemed to be Christmas lights. After the crown settled down, Take interacted with an over-the-top audience. This back-and-forth culminated in an impromptu sing-along of the Voltes V theme!
Returning to regular programming, Flow performed their latest single, “Steppin’ Out” from “Durarara!!x2: Ketsu.” The head-banging intensified with Re:member from Naruto and the universally popular Cha-la Head-Cha-la, which Flow performed for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. “Black & White” came before what was easily the highlight of the evening. Flow saved one of the best for last, “GO!!!” from Naruto, the single that put them on the map of Otaku consciousness.
Flow ended their songs and gave their goodbyes to a massively appreciative audience. It didn’t take long for the “Encore!” chants to echo in the room. It took minutes of verbal coaxing before Flow to come back to the roar of Filipino fans.
Flow decided on “Hero -Kibou no Uta-” from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods to begin the final act. A soulful rendition of “Garden” had the entire room waving their hands to music. Flow bid the members of their first Philippine show a fond farewell, shouting their desire to come back again one day! Follow Flow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Your fans will be eagerly waiting for the day of your return!
Room for Improvement
“All the plans of mice and men…”
OzineFest 2016 should be taken as a serious lesson for the future. My alma mater, the University of Pila, has trained me how to survive lines. Not everyone is blessed with that skill. Measures must be taken to reduce waiting time as much as possible, especially for those who decided to invest in your premium offers. I understand the need to make things affordable for the most amount of people, but don’t forget to consider those who would be more than willing to trade that for convenience. Know your strengths and delegate the rest to third parties, if necessary.
Very few plans ever survive first contact with reality. Nevertheless, we all can try our best to do cover all possible scenarios. As a tip from a performer, never show your audience that what you’re doing is difficult. I say this because I noticed that very often the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, with people being passed back and forth. Smaller groups focused on just one or a few things are good, but there needs to be a clear line of communication between everybody. I hope your team had a good, constructive pow-wow together after the event.
The events leading up to the Flow concert could have been much worse. I think it’s better for people to know that something is happening rather than leaving them in the dark. Keeping people out of the loop unnecessarily may result in people thinking of things much worse than what’s really happening. Friendly PR and gentle, yet firm crowd control can help prevent unrest from escalating.
I don’t know the whole story and I may never know. Try your best and when you stumble, even spectacularly so, pick yourself up and aim to do better. Although it may not seem like it, I would hate to not be able to go to another OzineFest.