On the weekend of the 4th and 5th of November, both Jay and I attended MadMan’s Anime Festival in Melbourne, as part of the media coverage for the event.
The venue was great and easy to get to. We were able to access food and ATMs much more easily than the Showgrounds, another popular convention location, which would have required a connecting train or tram for an extra half an hour.
It also didn’t smell at all inside – a frighteningly common convention hazard – and it was a fantastic temperature inside (not too cold for my shirt and shorts cosplay, and not too hot for those in full suits). I can think of a few events in Melbourne that have overlooked the virtues of proper ventilation. The only smell that was in any way overpowering was that of of Spanish donuts from one of the food vendors, and I can hardly complain about that.
We arrived the next day at the venue and happily walked past the long line for ticket collection, showed our wristbands and were welcomed into the large venue.
The first thing we saw were giant posters from anime that MadMan licensed. This kept the convention hall looking vibrant and interesting. The first thing I noticed about the convention is that the venue is HUGE. Everything was very well spaced and it didn’t feel cramped at all. There was lots of room for all the vendors and every event or exhibit. The main convention had a stage where they had small panels and performances by idol groups. It was very fun near the stage. The crowd was full of energy and I recall people waving light sticks in time with the music during performances. I uploaded a quick MadFest tour video where you can see what the main hall looked like, featuring one of the performances.
In addition to the main hall, there was also a theater where they were showing the latest anime movie releases (including Love Live and No Game No Life 0), but during the day the theater hosted larger panels, such as with voice actor Bryce Papenbrook and the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichirō Watanabe.
Both Jay and myself went to see the panel with Bryce Papenbrook, which was insightful and entertaining as Bryce seemed like a genuine and passionate bloke. He was truly charming and seemed to genuinely enjoy his work. Unfortunately we didn’t get to attend the panel with Shinichirō Watanabe.
As for exhibits, there was one for Your Name to celebrate the upcoming November 8th release, where they were handing out free Your Name posters.
As Shinichirō Watanabe was at MadFest and MadMan was just re-releasing it on BluRay, there was also a Cowboy Bebop exhibit with art from the anime and manga, as well as concept art. At the end of the exhibit there was a ‘shooting range’ where you could win a nice art print by shooting targets with Nerf darts. This was great fun. Both Jay and I won a print despite our comically bad aim. In any case, we were congratulated. You could also get a photo with the cast from Cowboy Bebop! (Okay, life-size cut-outs of the cast, but close enough is good enough.)
There was an Attack on Titan exhibit which had a lot of art from the manga, as well as a VR experience. Jay wouldn’t let me pay too much attention to the art on display, as he didn’t want me to be spoiled on the show. It looked pretty impressive though.
The last exhibit was for Sword Art Online, featuring art from the show, however the exhibit wasn’t as large as the Attack on Titan or Cowboy Bebop exhibits.
As for vendors, Couch Warriors were there with tonnes of consoles set up with fighting games, both old and new, as well as the latest edition of Taiko Drum Master! Jay and I were both huge fans of Taiko Drum Master at the arcades in Japan so unfortunately, this now means that I have to buy Taiko Drum Master to play at home.
Couch Warriors also had Street Fighter V, which Jay was happy to play against other people while I took photos of the convention floor.
Speaking of video games, there was also multiple monitors and consoles set up so people could either play the demos for Ni No Kuni II, Code Vein and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Neither of us played Ni No Kuni but both of us were successfully sold on Dragon Ball FighterZ which was heaps of fun. Sadly, much like Taiko Drum Master, both Jay and I will have to buy Dragon Ball FighterZ when it releases in January, as it was a fun little demo with a solid roster of characters.
Both video game areas had enough consoles that there was never a long wait and people were courteous enough not to hog the stations.
It seemed that, in general, MadFest had anticipated and accommodated for the large amount of visitors that conventions bring and were successfully in making everything as easy as possible. As I mentioned earlier; the venue was massive, so it was never cramped, even in the busier parts of the day.
As for food options, there were multiple food vendors selling donuts, coffee, Japanese food, and burgers. The food wasn’t overwhelmingly expensive, considering it was a convention, and there was a pretty great variety, as well as enough room for people to sit.
There were multiple places for cosplayers to get their photo taken in booths or in front of various posters or standees of anime characters.
Speaking of cosplay, I found it interesting that the two most cosplayed franchises were DanganRonpa and Love Live, both of which started as a video game and not an anime. Another really popular franchise (judging by the sheer amount of cosplayers) was My Hero Academia – there were so many people cosplaying My Hero Academia and they all looked absolutely amazing.
I was cosplaying as Taichi on Saturday and Yamato on Sunday. A few people came up to me on Saturday and said “Oh wow! It’s so nice to see people cosplaying something from a dead franchise.” I recommended that they watch Digimon Universe Appli Monsters. It’s not a dead franchise, I promise.
On Sunday, I met three lovely cosplayers; a Taichi and Yamato from Digimon Adventure and a Hanyuu from Higurashi! The Taichi said she follows us on Tumblr! This made my weekend.
There was also a lovely little area where MadFest was streaming anime from their streaming service (AnimeLab). There were nice bean bags where people could sit, relax, and watch anime.
There was also a room connected to the venue where people could play their portable consoles and relax.
I have attached all of my photos in an album to this post. We would love to go to another convention with the intention of covering it for the blog as this was a lot of fun. It would be nice to try and organise an interview with a voice actor next time.
In short, MadFest was a fantastically organised event and was accommodating to all who attended, there were many helpful and friendly volunteers and lovely vendors as well as fantastic exhibits and events for things to do and see. I will definitely go in 2018 and I hope to see you there too!