Friday, November 05, 2004

Animax article

Animax is Here!
In partnership with Philippine Ragnarok Online, SkyCable, Home Cable and Ayala Center, Sony Entertainment brings to Manila the Animax Carnival held last January 4 at the Glorietta Activity Center.

Animax is the first 24-hour all anime cable channel in Asia and is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment. It had its first broadcast in Southeast Asia last January and currently has more than twenty anime programs on air, including Get Backers, Clamp School Detectives, Ghost in the Shell, Chobits and .hack//Sign. Filipinos would be familiar with their other titles like Cyborg Kurochan, Princess Sarah and Nobody’s Girl, which have been shown in local channels a couple of years back.

Even before the mall opened there was already a queue at the entrances, and a mad dash to the Activity Center ensued when the guards finally opened the mall’s doors. It was approximately around 10:30 when the event started with hosts Vivian Tan and Apollo Abrahim welcoming all guests, visitors and participants.

The Carnival started off with the first of the five Meet and Greet sessions with Astroboy. People lined up to have their pictures taken with him, who was also celebrating his first birthday this month (though Astroboy was created in the 50s, his character was “born” on April 7, 2003). This would be the first time that Astroboy would visit the Philippines, and there was even a birthday cake for him!

.hack// director, Koji Sawai
Gracing the Animax Carnival was the director of the series .hack// Legend of the Twilight, Koji Sawai. Mr. Sawai also did work with .hack//Sign (TV), Irresponsible Captain Tyler (OAV) and Ranma 1/2 (Season 2-5). (Source:

He gave away autographed copies of Legend of the Twilight posters during the two autograph signing sessions and gamely answered questions from the audience. With the help of his interpreter, Mr. Sawai gave a synopsis about his latest work, and how it is related to the earlier .hack. When asked who is his favorite character, he smiled shyly and said, “Everyone.”

Cosplay Galore!
Probably one of the most anticipated activities in any anime event is the cosplay and with the Animax Carnival, it was no exception. Though there were only 100 slots available for the contest itself, there were more people milling around Glorietta wearing costumes. A lot of shoppers were surprised and amused while kids excitedly pointed at the participants as they recognized the characters from Animax programs.

The 100 contestants were then trimmed to 30 semi finalists. Judges were .hack// director Koji Sawai, veteran cosplayer JM Chua, Igor Cabbab of Questor and ______ of Animax. These 30 finalists were then trimmed down to ten participants, which included a huge blue Tachicoma of Ghost in the Shell, a very impressive Astroboy mascot, Rogue and Crusader from Ragnarok, Dita from Chobits, Gundam Girl, Yuna, and Shaider. Each contestant paraded in front of the judges, doing their best to impress them. Some of them even went through impromptu battle scenes to score points. However, the winner was determined by a poll wherein the audience can cast their votes for their favorite cosplayer. And the winner is… Krizelle Yuchingco as Gundam Girl!

Ragnarok also had a separate cosplay for people who wore costumes of their favorite characters from the game. There were three categories: Best Female, Best Male and Best Monster. Emerging as winners were Hideto Matsumoto as Crusader for Best Female, Glenn Padua for Best Male and Choi Elegado as Best Monster for his Raydrick costume. Winners received cash prizes, gift packs from Animax and Level-Up as well as an autographed Ragnarok art book from Myung Jin Lee.

Extra Extra (Contests, Yo Yo Exhibit, Guest buffet)
There were several booths set up around the Activity Center by the event’s sponsors such as Sky and Home Cable, Gamesmaster and K-Zone magazine and of course, Culture Crash. Freebies such as wrist straps, posters, t-shirts, mouse pads and magazines were given away to lucky guests, contest participants and those who were patient enough to stay in line for an hour or so. There was even a buffet courtesy of Zen Japanese Restaurant for the VIPs, crew and guests.

The audience was also treated to a spectacular display of yo-yo tricks courtesy of Bankee Trading. Different styles were introduced and tricks that one might not think possible where presented. There were even tricks that could be done without the yoyo tied to a string. It was pretty amazing to see all those tricks and it just makes you want to go and buy your own yoyo.

There was also an area where you can doodle to your heart’s content called the “Mega Drawing Wall.” There were several drawings that the artist painstakingly worked on, while there were some which had humorous messages and sayings. Some did sketches of their favorite anime characters while some did their own original work.

Ragnarok: War of Emperium
Though the game has been around since late March, Level-Up games teamed up with Animax to officially launch “Ragnarok: War of Emperium” to the public (those who weren’t into Ragnarok, anyway). The fourth “episode” in the Philippine Ragnarok Online world, War of Emperium (also known as Guild Wars) allows guilds from all five servers to get a guild fortress (known as Agits) and protect them against other guilds that want to take over. War of Emperium also includes Turtle Island, where players can encounter newer, bigger and fiercer monsters.

The launch started with a dance number by the “Theives of Morroc.” Gamers would recognize the music they danced to as the remixed version of the game’s background themes. Hosts Vivian and Apollo wore spiffy new Ragnarok shirts courtesy of Penshoppe and gave away Drops and Poring plush toys to the eager crowd.

Then Ben Colayco, pRO head, stepped onstage to tell the audience about WoE, but instead of cheers, the crowd went wild with catcalls and jeers. Ben gamely accepted all these and said, “Bring ‘em on. I know I deserve it.” Players were not happy with the fact that the servers have been down for the last few weeks, and have been losing their items every now and then. Taking all this in stride, Ben assured the players that the server will be up and running soon. He also urged the guilds to participate on the “Road to Seoul” tournament as the winner will get to compete against Japan, Taiwan and Korea in an all out Ragnaork tournament. No details were given yet, but Ben did say that the tourney will take place in July.

7 Shots then came onstage and performed the theme for War of Emperium “Step Inside the Game.” They revved up the crowd with upbeat songs from their new album as well as renditions on popular songs like “Where is the Love” and “Officially Missing You,” while giving away Ragnarok maps. They also gave away a Ragnarok jersey (which was the only one in existence) to a lucky group of guys who sang out loud to 7 Shots’ performance.

Being one of the major sponsors, Philippine Ragnarok Online also had several contests aside from the cosplay that day. First there’s the On The Spot drawing contest. Divided into the Junior and Senior categories, the theme for the contest was "The War of Emperium: Teamwork inside and outside Ragnarok Online.” However, those who joined the contest may not have been given the theme (I asked the girl in charge if there was a theme but she told me that I can draw anything related to Ragnarok). Winning the Junior divison was Alodia Gosiengfiao (whom many would recognize as Rikku at last year’s C3Con).

Then there’s the pRO Guild Meet contest, which obviously, only those with guilds can join. Guilds with the most number of players present wins the contest, and the award goes to Alarius Eversoar with 21 members.

In the end…
The event was definitely jam-packed that security had to work double to ensure the safety of everyone. There were moments when you can hardly move from one location to another and would sometimes have to resort going out of the Activity Center and looking for another entrance. But it was well worth it for all the activities and interesting things to see. Though the event ended a few mintes before 8 pm, everyone was satisfied, albeit a bit tired. The event was definitely a success and I would say that another Animax Carnival would definitely be welcome in the future.

Published: Culture Crash Issue 15, October 2004
Note: This version is slightly different from the one that was published

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