Madman Anime Festival 2017 (Melbourne)

The Madman Anime Festival is a Japanese pop-culture expo which was held for the second time in Melbourne last weekend. Compared to last year, I really feel like Madman Entertainment stepped up their game. There were more guests, more activities and I had more fun this time around. Although there were no sticker photo booths (which I made full advantage of last year), there were cosplay competitions, drawing competitions, cosplay gatherings, art exhibitions, idol performances and lots of stalls to purchase merchandise and fan made items.

I attended the Madman Anime Festival on the Sunday and was absolutely delighted to meet one of this year’s guests, Ladybeard. Ladybeard is an Australian cosplayer and pro-wrestler who moved to Japan and became a Japanese idol. I have been a fan of Ladybeard since discovering the song “Nippon Manju” when he was in the idol group, Ladybaby. Ladybeard is one of the main reasons I decided to attend Madman Anime Festival this year.

It was so wonderful not only to meet Ladybeard, but to also attend his concert during the festival. The concert consisted of Japanese pop music covers with a heavy metal twist, his own original songs from his new idol band Deadlift Lolita (minus his band member who could not attend) and a surprise wrestling match in between songs. I was laughing so much, I was crying happy tears from the hilarity and cackling. A highlight would be when Ladybeard sung Utada Hikaru’s “First Love”. That was one of the first Japanese pop songs I had ever heard and learnt the lyrics to. It was also a key instigator in making me fall in love with Japanese music and pop-culture. Plus, the heavy metal take that Ladybeard spins on the song is epic and hilarious. Did I mention that Ladybeard was so lovely to his fans? He was giving everyone hugs and was so kind to everyone! I can’t wait for him to come back to Australia again someday.

The convention also had other guests including Cowboy Bebop director, Shinchiro Watanabe, and Fate/Series voice actress Kana Ueda with producer Atsuhiro Iwakami. I attended the Fate/Series panel and thought the new film “Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel – 1. Presage Flower” sounded interesting from the footage they showed during the panel. Unfortunately, I had missed the Australian premiere which had screened for the festival the night before, but after attending the panel, I will be checking out this film out when it is officially released. It was also very interesting to see Q&A sessions with an interpreter as many of the guests could only speak Japanese. Unlike most conventions, the autographs from all guests were FREE. Professional photos were also an option for as cheap as $1.50 if you just wanted a digital copy. Prints were also available for either $5.00 or $9.00 depending on the size. These were definitely decent and impressive prices that are unheard of at other conventions and the photos were good quality too.

I didn’t try any of video games this time around, but I really enjoyed the Cowboy Bebop Exhibition at the festival. At the end of the exhibition, you’re allowed to shoot targets down like you’re in a saloon. My friends were surprised when I successfully shot down three targets. It didn’t matter if you managed to shoot anything or not however, as everyone who attended the mini exhibition received a Cowboy Bebop art card.

The Madman Anime Festival had five film screening this year, four of which were Australian premieres. I really loved how Madman Entertainment allowed non-festival attendees to purchase tickets to the film screenings. At first, I had thought to only attend the film screenings but decided to make a day of it and attended the whole festival. I did end up attending one of the premieres for the screening of “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” which was great because everyone was just as excited as I was to watch them film and I don’t recall anyone talking or using their mobile phone during the movie once which I found refreshing. I really loved the idea of Australian premiere screenings at the festival and if this returns next year, I’ll try attend all of them and not just one like this year.

I really enjoyed my time at the Madman Anime Festival in Melbourne this year. 2017 is a massive improvement from its state debut last year. I understand the convention is still quite small compared to others as it is a very specific market and the festival is still growing in popularity, but I was really satisfied with the changes this year. Fingers crossed there are more premiere screenings for the Melbourne leg next year and that Madman Entertainment find a guest to continue the Sunday afternoon concert tradition (last year with anime voice actress Cristina Vee and this year with Ladybeard). Until then, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the films that I missed, try watch a ton of anime and will count down the days until the convention is held in Melbourne again.

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