Let’s keep this account honest and open. I’ll begin by saying there was a lot wrong with this year’s Manifest. Maybe I’m not in a position to judge, but the organization of this year’s Manifest was abysmal. It really showed this year that everyone was just barely managing to keep the event running at all, with schedules being released midnight before the event, half the events and traders missing, things improperly advertised, security and management completely nonsensical and inappropriate, and more. Structurally, this was the worst Manifest I’ve been to, no doubt. I’m not going to question the reasons behind this, I am merely stating how I feel based on what I’ve seen. This isn’t the Manifest I know and love – it’s falling apart at the seams, and I fear for it’s future if this pattern continues.
However, I still managed to have a fantastic time. Let’s go into some of the pros, and why I enjoyed myself this weekend.
I complained that I didn’t feel there were as many traders as there was in past years of Manifest, and while that’s true, there were still many hidden gems in this Manifest. I managed to find a hidden stache of visual novels imported from MangaGamer. From there I picked up the two Higurashi games! That was a find I was never expecting from an Australian convention, and one that really made the trip memorable! The same store had the Yukkuri shirt from J-List, which was an instant purchase for me. By Sunday I even found some Rewrite mugs and a Dengeki G’s magazine all about ef! Fantastic find. The items weren’t numerous, but there were some great gems scattered about the common items.
We don’t talk about the Little Busters porn.
As always, it’s fantastic to see Team Four Star down in Australia! Unfortunately this year I didn’t get a chance to interact much with the other guests, but I’m sure their presence was greatly appreciated by many others. The TFS panels were hilarious as always, and the 18+ panel will remain one of the highlights of the con for me. Just remember, what goes on in the 18+ panel, stays in the 18+ panel. It’s great to hear that all of our guests love being in Melbourne so much~
The Video Game area was fantastic this year, a really cool setup with heaps of games for everyone to play, and many competitions too! Problem is, it wasn’t advertised at all in the schedule, so nobody really knew there were any video game competitions. Yeahh… But still, I had a great time entering two brawl comps – the singles and doubles. Had some fantastic matches, didn’t end up winning, but came oh so close!
The brainchild of new anime distributor Hanabee, this year’s maid cafe was constructed to promote Hanabee‘s upcoming release of Toradora in Australia, with the cafe constructed to look like the classroom, many props and decorations from the show, Toradora music playing throughout, and a menu of crepes based on the show! I had to try the Salty Vanilla, it was very delicious! Entering this cafe will remain one of the highlights of the con, bringing the goodness of Japan’s wacky maid cafes to the comfort of our local Anime con, and celebrating Toradora at the same time! Major props to Hanabee for coming up with the idea, and to the La Petite Creperie and Doki Doki Station for helping make it a reality!
Speaking of all this Hanabee loving, on going to their panel, not only was I treated to free donuts served by a Halo
marine spartan (that alone is worthy of praise), I was ecstatic to discover that Hanabee had acquired the license to distribute ef – a tale of memories and ef – a tale of melodies. Quite possibly my favourite anime series ever. I’ve pretty much been nagging the distributors to release Toradora and ef in Australia for the longest time now, and to finally see Hanabee step up and make my dream come true… God, you can only imagine how much I fanboy’d out right then. XP I had a feeling that today would be the day, I got up fresh out of bed so that I could make it to the Hanabee panel on time, and my god it didn’t disappoint. Both Hanabee and Madman had a few other announcements, but none of them really interested me that much (except for that Geass announcement…), ef took all the cakes for me. Announcing two of my favourite animes for release in Australia when nobody else would, before you’ve even really started? Needless to say, you have my full support Hanabee – you’ve won me over.
Before I forget to mention, I even took the chance to chat with the people in charge of Hanabee, and they sure were warm and welcoming, great to see! I asked them why ef wasn’t getting a Blu-Ray release, and they assured me that they’re doing everything they can to make it happen, but it’s just not looking likely due to the economic and political complications of Anime localization. So, even though it was pretty much a straight ‘no’, it’s the best answer I could’ve hoped to get from them. I trust these guys, they’ve proven their worth to me so many times in such a small space of time, I have only the utmost respect and support for them. As far as I’m concerned, Hanabee were the winners this Manifest, and are one of the biggest reasons this year’s Manifest was one to remember. But, the biggest reason I had such a great time this weekend:
Friends and strangers alike, it’s the people that make up a convention like Manifest. Having many more people that I expect come up and say “Hey you’re Battler! I love Umineko!”, seeing the great variety of amazing cosplays, the spontaneous mobs dancing to Gangnam Style, the feeling that you’re among thousands of people sharing your interests, nothing compares to it! Even if Manifest was reduced to a cardboard box with the words “cosplay contest” on it, as long as the people turned up and made it what it is, there wouldn’t be an issue. I’m sure this is a sentiment just about all of us con-goers share. By remaining non-commercial and community-oriented, Manifest is made what it is by all the enthusiastic fans of Japanese geek culture. It’s by no means unique, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that melbourne’s otaku community is pretty impressive in it’s own ways. Each one of us choosing to represent our fandoms, meeting others who share our love, isn’t it a wonderful thing? Above all else, I hope that Manifest doesn’t lose it’s heart. As long as the people keep coming and making it amazing, I’ll keep returning.
Thanks Manifest. Thanks to all the staff, volunteers, and groups and individuals that helped make it happen. And thanks to all of it’s attendees! I look forward to returning next year. Keep on shining, my brothers and sisters!