What do you get when you throw into a small confined space a whole heap of anime stuff, a hint of shopping stalls, a splash of cosplayers, a pinch of famous anime voice actors and singers, and a smidge of games and technology? The 2018 Madman Anime Festival.
It was my first time to experience Melbourne’s largest anime festival, however it wasn’t the first time that I had attended an anime themed event. Earlier in the year I had got a small taste at Animaga 2018, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into.
The hype surrounding Madman Anime Festival 2018 (‘Madfest’) was incredibly high, mainly that it was said to be “bigger and better“, however we shouldn’t place all our fruit in the one basket based on the words of others. Walking through the exhibition doors it immediately felt bland! Probably because it was a site that never changes for a regular convention/festival attendee. One under the pressure cafe catering for hundreds of guests, blotches of cosplayer’s flooding the foyers entrance waiting for photographers and fans to notice them, it’s something that never ceases to change. What really disappointed me was that there was no large banners or large anime statues, things that would get you hyped up before taking on the main course, I mean there were cars but let’s face it, these are objects that we see on a regular basis – we want giant ‘Gundams’, yo!
Inside the belly of the beast, getting into the actual event instantly became a struggle with waves of people rushing out from all angles of the room. The atmosphere immediately made me feel very claustrophobic, you literally had to push your way and at times strategically ‘Tetris’ your way through the crowd. Eventually movement picked up and cruising became a little easier. The more I explored the more I found that the event catered more for the business/store keeper side of things rather than provide an unforgettable experience for patrons.
Seeing the heart of the event was a letdown. All there was to cater for a memorable experience were cardboard cut-outs, a giant blow-up head from ‘Attack on Titan’, a balloon statue of Luffy in the ‘One Piece’ area and all these photo opportunities were things that made me glance for a couple seconds before moving on. I was expecting freebies like posters and small incentives that would make the event unique and make you feel that you were valued and appreciated for attending.
While there were console games to play from the likes of Bandai Namco and Nintendo, and there was anime to watch, I felt that this was just thrown into the mix to distract that there wasn’t much to offer in the anime influenced areas, which was another disappointing factor. I ended up completing the entire event in under 30 minutes and found myself outside wondering if there was anything else that I could do to help justify if this event really was worth the $40 dollars that the convention were asking for.
I mean my experience wasn’t entirely negative there were a few highlights that did stand out for me. Crossing it off my bucket list, I finally met Youtube comedian Mychonny which was my major highlight. Being a huge fan of his work, I was squealing like little school girl when he said, “What’s up bro?” to me, followed by all the bromance stuff (brohugs, broshakes the works). Argghhh, that was the best moment ever! I’ve still yet to clean my clothes that I met him in, but it’s okay, I’m not that kind of a committed fan.
The Luna Haruna concert at Madfest 2018 was a completely new experience for me. A sea of glow sticks engulfed the room, which was then followed by an impulse of ecstatic energy. People jumped in the air, were singing along to her lyrics while banging their glow sticks into the air all in sync, right down the colours they changed their light sticks to. To be honest with you, I enjoyed every moment of the concert, the energy and atmosphere was engaging and perfect. The only downside was that I was informed that media were able to take photos and videos of the concert, then a few days later an email was sent through requesting we delete our material. Very disorganised.
Out of all the games displayed at Madman Anime Festival 2018, the Devil May Cry 5 Demo booth the one that had me excited because I am a long-term Devil May Cry fan and finding out that it was going to be playable at the convention sent waves of happiness through my entire body. Picking up the controller gave me so much joy, seeing the visuals accompanied by the smooth controls, epic storytelling, stylish combat system and voice acting made me appreciate the franchise even more to the point that this new game is definitely on my pre-order list.
The Mai-Wish Pop-Up Maid Café was probably the events most unique attraction, as it was an experience that was more interactive and unlike anything available permanently in Australia. The ‘kawaii culture’ was captured so well; the Japanese greeting as you enter the room, the appearance the vibe the atmosphere, the costumes and entertainment, the feeling of being welcomed was incredibly amazing. I didn’t get to dine in the restaurant, however I was able to get a firsthand experience of the service they provide. Each maid is allocated to a table, she will serve, take orders and even draw cute little faces on your food. There are dance performances to keep the upbeat vibe going as well as the option to take instant photos with adorable ‘kawaii’ props. With amazing hospitality and service, the Mai-Wish Maid Café was of the highlights of this convention. I would recommend anyone to have a look into this.
So, the final question, what is the verdict for The Madman Anime Festival? If I was asked if it was worth the money? I would admit forty plus dollars is way too much for the experience I witnessed. I didn’t feel the entrance was as captivating and more could have been incorporated. The anime areas could have been more engaging. The highlights mentioned above were the only factors that made a difference in keeping me grounded at the event.
For those who have still yet to experience this event I would say check it out if you’re curious. You may have a different opinion to mine, but for those who have attended conventions as frequently like myself, Madman Anime Festival is pretty much the same convention/festival experience, only with a different and more specific theme. While the convention is the largest anime festival in Melbourne, there’s still a lot of work and growth needed. Overall, I did manage to have some fun and it still did turn out to be a good weekend.