Manila’s biggest pop culture con delivers the actual fan experience, but not without a few road bumps.
Game of Thrones, Netflix and the Gaku Space effect became the dominant themes for this year’s AsiaPOP Comic Con Manila with the event peppered by fans of famous Western shows such as Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things, and as well as the Overwatch cosplayers. Now on its 3rd year, the event evidently continues to evolve as it tries to find the right groove and chemistry, but definitely not by sacrificing its content, and budding fanbase.
Interactivity At Its Finest
Perhaps one of the best things about APCC is how you are compelled to try out what that the booths has to offer with various gimmicks and promos such as Magic The Gathering’s Duel sessions which is said to give out exclusive card packs to participants. Although this aspect of the event is evident with other locally organised conventions, no matter the variety, booth interactions at APCC Manila reaches almost feels like a compelling habit for all attendees, with everyone lining up to have their prints signed by artists, sign up for promotions by the brands present at the event or to just take a selfie with the invited guests whenever possible.
Overwatch: The Dominant Cosplay Theme?
The Gaku Space effect, as we would like to call it, is largely noticeable for this year’s APCC Manila as Overwatch cosplayers dominated the floor from individuals to squads sporting characters such as Mercy, Tracer, Soldier 76, and of course Genji. Just in case you’re wondering Gaku Space, one of the guests for this year is the Voice Actor for Overawtch, Blizzard’s hero shooter video game title, Genji Shimada, and is perhaps one of, if not, the major reason as to why Overwatch characters make up a good percentage of floor cosplayers for APCC, in fact, you can spot a lot of Overwatch cosplayers roaming the event floor that it almost feels like a gaming event if not for the occasional DC heroes, and Jonerys tandems.
A Heart for Local Creators
Despite being an event organised by an international brand, and even though international celebrities are being highlighted on the event marquee, APCC Manila still continues to share the spotlight with homegrown artists and creators with notable guests such as Whilce Portacio spearheading the artists lineup together with Mervin Malonzo, Harvey Tolibao, Carlo Pagulayan, Tatong Jurolan, Gabriel Santos, and even homegrown vinyl toy creator Quiccs.
The ACTUAL Fan Experience
Now I know we’ve talked about how interactive APCC can get when it comes to its booths but perhaps the best thing about APCC this year is how it grants the fandom a slice of what it’s like to be inside the universe of their favorite shows, and interact with some of the iconic elements of their favorite series bringing the Fan Experience to a whole new level, never before seen or experienced in other local pop culture conventions. From finding yourself inside the Bryers residence, sipping a milkshake inside Pop’s Chock’lit Shop in Riverdale, taking a memorable mugshot in Litchfield Penitentiary, finding your place inside the Balete from where the aswang, Elias, emerged from, to even sitting at the Iron Throne with the company of White Walkers, AsiaPOP Comic Con delivers what other locally organised big cons falls short on and that is providing the actual fan experience by bringing iconic moments, even through replications, and letting the fandom actually experience them as if they are actually part of the show, series, or movie’s fictional universe.
Together with the fan experience, APCC’s continued focus on organizing event workshops hosted by some of its guests also makes it a hub for aspiring creators who get to know secrets and techniques by the likes of artists such as Stanley Lau, also known as Artgerm, vinyl toy master Simone Legno of Tokidoki, and the visionary creator of the Anime Franchise Macross, Shoji Kawamori himself.
Never the perfect event; noticeable flaws and what can be improved on.
Despite being the biggest, and although it continues to be the new benchmark of pop culture conventions organised locally, APCC Manila will not be without its flaws with many of them centered around the lack of information regarding a good number of its event highlights. For instance, the event’s guidebook, although it did list down the celebrity guests, and the booths and exhibitors present, did not really relay much information regarding what to expect with some of the event’s highlights, particularly the panels which offer limited seating, although the case of having limited seats is to be expected, perhaps APCC could have communicated better with the fans who were eagerly and anxiously waiting in line as to why not everyone would not be able to join in with the panel sessions, and perhaps major event main stage happenings could have had long gaps between their schedules to allow a fair chance for fans to prepare and join in all, if not, most of them. Aside from the gap in communicating with the attendees regarding to some of the event’s highlights, a few booths and exhibitors at APCC Manila this year could really use some boost as some went unnoticed with evidence being the lack of substantial crowd on these empty areas. Although you can never really force people to visit every booth just for the heck of it, perhaps a good information drive as to what the booths can offer and proper coordination between the organizer and the booth exhibitors regarding what they can do and will be doing can be made just to make sure that everyone gets a good slice of that fan interaction that we keep on talking about.
Overall, AsiaPOP Comic Con Manila continues to grow itself each year, with new and unique offerings when it comes to content while at the same time staying true to its theme, if not for a few awkward moments here and there. Still in its 3rd year, APCC is still a baby when compared to the other big conventions and there are still some major points to improve on, and hopefully, APCC’s organizers would continue to listen to its fans and continue to deliver that sweet, sweet fan experience that we are getting spoiled with every year.