Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day I Attended Taylor's Anime Fest (TAF) 2012

One week after AniManGaki, it was TAF's turn to shine. I was unable to attend on Saturday (Day 1 of the two-day event) due to a sudden migraine attack, but I did manage to head there on the next day all the same.

Now I have not been attending to any TAF events before this, mostly due to a bitter experience I've had with the very first event that left a sour taste in my mouth, but I decided to attend this time to support some of my friends who were part of the organizing committee of this said event.

Please note that everything mentioned here is based on observation and what I had experienced on the said day :)

Let's begin with the very morning that I had arrived. I headed off to Taylor's Lakeside Campus with a friend who knew the way to the venue of TAF. It was a good thing that I was with her, for if I had gone there alone, I would have gotten temporarily lost trying to figure out the exact location of the hall (given that it was only my second visit to this college). All the same, it took me a while to second-guess where the hall was because there were no signage nor a trail of people (or a mob) that indicates the crowded popularity of an event venue.

Went in and asked for my media pass (I had given a call a few days back about this and received my confirmation that I'll be getting them on the day) but to my surprise, I was told that there wasn't any more Media passes. Seems like they had given it out to "unexpected people" who arrived the day before (remember, I didn't attend on Saturday) and so they ran out of passes. This was a rude shock to me because  not only did they not know how to deal with me (I was asking how could we resolve this, they suggested stamping my hand as a pass but no Media pass) the fact that the Media passes were simply given away to a bunch of people from a same band/group/society.

In the end, my friend helped me by crossing out the words "Doujin Booth Owner" and replaced it with "Media" instead. With a pen. Guess what, for the entire day, friends who saw me exclaimed, "Eh you opened a booth here? Where's your booth?" and while I didn't mind explaining the mishap, I was definitely annoyed. Some of you may scoff and say that it's silly for me to get mad over something so small, but to me, it's bad because it indicates that you, as the organizing committee, had not firmly allocate passes for media beforehand and gave them away freely when asked for it.

Strike one there for that.

Anyway I went in and surveyed the hall. It was quite well-lit with interesting booths that greeted you as you walked in.

Be greeted by a row of lovely figurines, and this beautiful girl as well :)

Learn the Japanese language the fun way with this Moekana card game

Met up with some friends who opened booths there, and we chatted for a bit. Some of them even grouped together to sell off their past costumes, wigs, props, shoes, and even scraps of fabrics! It was an interesting sale, and great for those who's looking for a bargain! :)

For sale: cosplay props, scraps of discarded fabric, shoes, wigs etc

Lovely pre-loved costumes that were up for grabs. I wish they were in my size :(

Funny story: As my friend and I were chatting by the costume booth, we kept turning our heads towards the stage wondering what was going on there and whether or not the cosplay competition had begun. Turns out it was just a random "game" thing that was going on...I think? =P

A friend whom had set up a booth on that day :)

The stage area, where it was pretty quiet. I was amused when I processed this photo, for that girl was actually posing for the camera when I wasn't even aiming my lens at her! Hahaha

There was a gaming section relatively close to the stage, and though I didn't really stand there to check out what were they all so hyped about, I had fun watching their expressions going "Oooooh!!!" and "Arghhhh!" from time to time!
Gamers Hangout?

Also not to forget the singing competition which happened some time after I had arrived. I didn't really stop to watch because I was hungry and had to leave the hall in search for food! But I did manage to stay long enough to listen to the very first contestant, who was pretty good!

Hello, judges for the singing competition!

Like most conventions that I know of, most cosplayers tend to loiter and 'hang out' at the outside of the hall. This was no exception. Met most of my cosplayer friends here and chit-chatted with them for a bit.

Hey look, there's onigiris for sale! I didn't try any of them though :(

I don't have many photos after I had my lunch mainly for two reasons:

  1. There wasn't much I could snap photos of that would seem like a repeat of what I had taken before this
  2. I was suddenly roped in to be a judge for the cosplay competition

Yep that's right. Little ol' me was suddenly roped in to be a judge. I was shocked and rather amused about this. Shocked, cause I didn't expect my friends (who were, like me, pulled in to be the judges at the very last minute) to bring me in. Amused, because this was so last minute and it was clear that they hadn't looked for the judges in advance instead of finding people to judge the competition last minute.

First time judging, I wondered what to do. Bad enough that my anime/manga/game knowledge was next to moot (I rarely keep track) there were no references at all for us to peruse and compare between the illustration and the cosplayer! In desperation, I had to use my phone and do a quick Google Image search for some contestants and roughly judge them from there. Sad, right?

Nevertheless, I did the best I could. Overall, I gotta admit that some contestants were pretty good and there were those who were decent enough. One thing I had noted, though, was the alarming display of concurrent Kingdom Hearts Organization XIII participants. Seriously, it was one after another! I vaguely remember Roxas and Axel, but I don't know the rest. Sadly, it was rather obvious that some of them had no idea what to do on stage. It looked as though they were just asked to be on stage as 'fillers'.

Once the preliminaries were done, we had some time off to get on with our socializing (and to do whatever else we wanted to do!). I ended up staying outside once more (there wasn't much to do in the hall) and chatted with some friends who were busy prepping up for a photoshoot.

Some time later, we were requested to return to the hall for the finals of the cosplay competition. Several thing I would like to stress out here is:

  1. We were asked to set the game play for the finals, which was in about...20 minutes time? I really had a look of "Uh, what?" on my face as we tried to brainstorm for game play ideas. First time as a judge and now this. Whoa okay.
  2. Lack of communication. One person tells us that we need to set the game play, and then another came to tell us that the cosplayers had agreed to perform based on 'special requests by judges'. My brain just went on a lockdown. What's what and HUH?

Oh right, finalists were chosen based on who we, the judges, had liked. Then again, our scorings were almost the same for all (on an average LOL).


Emcee told us that the finals will begin at 4.20pm (it was roughly 4.10pm by then) and then he headed back stage to inform the rest of the participants. 5 minutes later, someone else with a microphone announced that "the hall will be closing at 4.30pm in preparation for the Matsuri event, so please clear the hall by then" (words are not exact, but you get the idea).

Whoa. So the cosplay competition will be held with no one in the hall? Friend and I started to *fantoi* (or in English terms, we began to "flip tables"). It was one mess after another and nope, we were all not amused.  BMJ (one of the judges) quickly resolved this by talking to them, but hey by then, about a quarter of them had already left the hall. Damage was done.

Found out later that BMJ was pretty irked at the fact that the committee had requested the vendors to pack up in 20 minutes (since they were closing the hall) which pretty much stinks since for sponsoring booths, they generally need more time to close off and pack up. Not a good way at all to treat your vendors :(

Anyway back to the finals. I suggested having random props to be given to the participants and they had to come up with a 2-3 minutes skit on stage. It was an easy idea and I remembered seeing a cosplay competition doing the same before this. The suggestion was accepted and the emcee headed off to booths asking if they would be so kind enough to lend us some items for their cosplay competition.

Now when we had suggested this idea to the emcee, one thing we had noted is that booth owners would want to know "what is in it for them" and came up with the idea of "promoting their booth by stating which props came from whom" before the start of the skit.

Guess what? That never happened 8)

Anyway once the judging was done (with someone hovering slightly impatiently for the results) we handed in our list and left. Each of us had something else to do by then. But hey, congrats to the top three winners! You guys really do deserve it! :) It was entertaining watching the lot of you perform, I admit, and I had fun laughing over the comedic displays in your skits too!

I didn't linger for Matsuri, though I happily snapped a quick photo of friends everywhere lounging by the side of the lake.
Apparently I had missed the "Gangnam Style" parody dance. I don't even know if that is a good or a bad thing *groan*

Overall, I'd say that this event needs a lot of cleaning up to do. My advice is to take tips and pointers from those who have had experience in organizing cosplay events, particularly on college level (start small, then move to the bigger picture). It doesn't hurt to ask, and if you do it right, you'll glean a lot of treasured knowledge about event organizing too! Perfect if you're a Communications student. If you're not, well, this experience would allow you to reach out to broader prospects out there one day.

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