Anime conventions have been a core fiber for the experience of every Filipino anime fan, otaku, and Japanophile. For longer than some may admit, Cosplay.ph has been the point of the spear in popularizing cosplay in the Philippines, as well as making it an accessible hobby for everyone.
In recent years, conventions have been getting larger and more extravagant, with several famous foreign guests getting top-billing on headlines. As expectations escalate, it’s easy to forget that bigger isn’t always better.
Cosplay.ph tapped into those sentiments and started Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX). ACX 2016 changes the formula by developing a more intimate event where the convention goers and local guests are the stars of the show. ACX acts as both the bridgeway between Cosplay Carnival and Cosplay Mania and a unique standalone event. The organizers envision ACX as an event that “celebrates local talent while preparing for a world-class convention without a huge price tag.”
ACX 2016 made its debut in territory familiar to many con-goers – MegaTrade Hall 3. Although somewhat smaller than its larger siblings, it helped provide a cozier, more intimate environment, bringing exhibitors, cosplayers, and visitors closer together.
Regular exhibitors, like Perry in Disguise, Vogue Royal Cosplay, Hubbyte Toy Store, and others, were always ready to serve customers. Yoshinoya, a stalwart sponsor of many local conventions, held several mouth-watering gyudon eating contests.
Smaller venues often mean smaller Artist Alleys, but intrepid artist-cum-entrepreneurs shared their creations with equally passionate fans.
ACX 2016 continued it’s very popular tandem event, Cosplay Auctions and Storage Wars.
Peppered throughout the event weekend, convention-goers (and often event staff and organizers) bid on all sorts of anime and otaku goods, from J-Pop photo books and dakimakuras to Pokemon plush toys and full, pre-loved costumes. This was a way for many Cosplayers to earn a little cash for future projects as well as give back to the growing cosplay community.
Storage Wars tweaks the format by allowing bidding on semi-blind boxes, where auctioneers can only reveal the top layer of featured boxes. You could feel the tension when intense bidding wars start, although nothing reached the heights of a certain controversial poster some time back.
Winners would often have sneaky smiles after walking away with a veritable steal, getting a Spock T-shirt for P250. Some onlookers even questioned out loud why only guys bid on all the Hello Kitty stuff.
Trivia Throne Throwdown was a new game to entice competitive spirit in every otaku. For better or worse, there was a certain sense of pride in knowing more than your fellow man.
Every trial by trivia would start with just two competitors, going head to head. Whoever got the most correct answers won a seat on the throne. It was then the Crowned One’s duty to tussle with all newcomers. It’s an uphill battle for challengers as they have to answer questions first before King or Queen.
Just like the bloodier eras of history, the crown changed hands several times, with some only lasting a single question. Luck was a real factor as those who entered the Throwdown later in the game stood at a greater advantage. Questions ranged from the names of all the One Piece Straw Pirates to every support hero Overwatch.
In support of Cosplay.ph’s thrust to make cosplay a fun and accessible hobby for beginners and veterans alike, ACX 2016 launched the Cosplay Academy. The organizers tapped several sources to help blooming cosplayers further polish their craft.
Everyone’s favorite senior Cosplayer, Guy Singzon, gave the lowdown on some easy tricks to improve cosplay. He slipped the secret of where to get cheap, quality rubber in Marikina. In addition, other helpful tips included how to make prop weapons more realistic and basic armors more detailed.
Vis Eterna wanted to elevate the stage fights beyond its present level. By using different styles from varied disciplines of beam sabers, the head coaches demonstrated how to utilize disciplined forms to execute more masterful fight choreography. “Just say no to flailing hands and weapons!” The Iga Kendo Club, although not part of the Cosplay Academy, also took time to share the wonders of kendo with the audience.
The Cosplay Tournament of Champions, or TORCH, has reached its seventh iteration this year. Cosplayers from around the Philippines competed in different cities, earning the right to represent each region.
ACX 2016 held the Manila TORCH qualifiers, headlined by a very animated One Punch Man cosplay team, led by a practicing doctor no less. The performance included quick character changes, unique prop usage, and comedic references. The team needs to work on their lip-synch, choreographed sequences, and overall characterization to grant the edge over the completion at the TORCH finals at Cosplay Mania 2016 this October.
Expectations remained high as winners always go on to place at the Asian Regional Cosplay Championship in Singapore.
Some people work well in teams and others shine on their own. ACX 2016’s Solo Cosplay Catwalk was the perfect venue for the latter. Cosplayers of every skill level got the chance to strut their stuff in front of an impassioned audience.
It’s an absolutely perfect way to build confidence for future contests. Several special prizes were awarded, largely based on audience impact and judges’ entertainment. These included Heart Stopping Hair, Fan Favorite, Peak Performer, Crafty Craftsman, Priceless Props, and Treasured Trap. The Overall Winner will go on to get a secured spot in the Cosplay Mania Cup in October and compete for P100,000 in cash prizes.
The Pinoy romance with karaoke was a tale as old as time and, at ACX 2016, the story was no different. What started as Cosplay Karaoke at Cosplay Matsuri earlier this year became Cosplay Karaoke Encore at MegaTrade Hall 3.
Over Day 1 and 2, elimination rounds produced the top winners. On Day three, the finalists went mic-to-mic to determine who was the King (or Queen) of the Karaoke.
The winner will go on to perform in a music festival in the Land of the Rising Sun. Being able to perform in Japan was definitely a dream come true for grand winner, Jennifer Pongos!
ACX 2016 put its own spin on a popular TV with the Cosplay Got Talent. Everybody was given a to grab their moment in the sun, whether they’re a band, a dance group, or a solo artist. All talents were welcomed warmly, from a kinetic martial arts demonstration and a reenactment of an anime. Only the worthiest contenders could stand a chance to become the front act of some of the biggest talents from Japan. They will be the opening act to the Cosplay Mania’s Anisong concerts. This turned out be quite the grand audition for the winners!
No anime convention is complete without some fun cosplay. It is in the name of ACX 2016 after all. Here’s a short compilation of some of the awesome cosplay featured at the first ever Anime & Cosplay Expo! Stay tuned for more pictures!