Animanga hit the scene in Melbourne 5 years ago and back then it was just for the small hardcore otaku community. I had been spoilt earlier in the year by going to Anime Expo in Los Angeles, and Animanga felt so tiny. Boy how things have changed!
Animanga is now one of the most popular Anime Conventions to be hosted in Australia and they have stepped it up to hosting it at the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Centre. As I walked through the lush gardens I was embraced by a flow of cosplayers and decked out anime fans. The anime community was finally getting a con it deserved.
I was thoroughly impressed by the convention, it had great vendors, easy layout and heaps of entertainment. I haven’t been to a convention in Melbourne for a few years and I was giddy walking through the crowd.
There were so many stores I wanted to buy from and I knew I had to make the rounds first before choosing my final selections. I’m a sucker for anything anime related on tshirts for the fact that it’s hard to purchase in stores here in Australia. Two stores caught my eye and they were SenpaisJP and Bibisama.
SenpaisJP was my naughty Otaku girl fantasy with t-shirts and hoodies featuring tantalising anime school girls in cheeky positions. There were some more pubically appropriate ones like the Sugoi Girl but I decided to be daring and opt for the girl with an octopus wrapped around her leg. I especially adored the badges they were selling, ones like a plate of gyoza with the sign ‘Get Stuffed’ and your tags such as moe and tsundere. I could see some cute Harajuku girls rocking this merch.
Bibisama was great for those Japanese pop culture reference nerds out there with t-shirts like ‘The manga was better’. It was a difficult choice but ultimately went with the girl entranced by her computer screens labelled ‘Hikikomori‘ as I felt like I had a little bit of that in me. I ended up chatting with the vendor about the designs and it was great to hear that a chunk of the money went back to each of the artists who designed the t-shirts, and not just same massed produce sweatshop scenario.
Walking around the convention I realised there was everything your Otaku heart desired from posters, keyrings, plushies, figures, cat ears and even cute marshmallows in the shape of Pokemon. There were good deals on figures that could even rival Akihabara but mostly of popular animes like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and Love Live!
One thing I’ve always found disappointing was how damn expensive it is to buy manga here in Australia. While I appreciate that import tax needs to be factored in, I still find it
I found one of my favourite series ‘Princess Jellyfish‘ for sale, only to flip it over and see they wanted $40 for one manga! Are you for real? It’s surprising that these vendors don’t offer any special
The cosplayers were one of the highlights for me as it’s your chance to see your favourite characters brought to life. It’s so easy to get swept up in their enthusiasm and creativity that it even makes me want to cosplay next time. I was able to catch bits of the cosplay competition being held and it always blows my mind how long people spend making their costumes.
I was pretty happy to see a respect between cosplayers and attendees, I think the rules of etiquette have finally begun to
Overall Animanga was an absolute delight and makes me proud to be a part of the anime community. I can only hope that this shining jewel will grow and grow and attract some big name stars in the next few years.