I am going to start of my review and say: ‘Madman must be completely MAD!’
This past weekend we had the first ‘MadFest’ for 2017. For those who are unaware ‘Madman Entertainment’ in conjunction with ‘AnimeLab’ (the official anime streaming service for Madman’s Australia/New Zealand fans) held their second Madman Anime Festival; otherwise known as ‘MadFest’. The first one was held last September in Melbourne, the home of Australian anime and Madman Entertainment. This year Madman was going to do something that was completely unexpected, they were going to hold three festivals in three different states; Perth, Brisbane and rounding out in Melbourne at the end of the year. I was a bit sceptical at first thinking how they could pull off a con in six months after the last one and did at time think that this could either end as a complete mess, however my expectations were blown away.
So the first festival for 2017 was held in my home state of Perth, Australia’s most isolated city. When it was announced last year I nearly lost my mind. I firmly believed that I was probably the only anime fan left in the state and was a bit concerned as to whether or not the festival was biting off more than they could chew with having the festival here in Perth, however what surprised me was the amount of people that did attend over the course of the weekend. It started of slow with the number of people walking through the convention doors, but once it hit midday on the first day then the festival truly was alive. In comparison to the first MadFest that was held in Melbourne the guest list was very small. At this MadFest we had two American dub actors (Erica Mendez and Crispin Freeman) and two international famed cosplayers (Knitemaya and Angie) who would be the main guests of the festival. The biggest draw card for the festival was the Australian Premiere of the much anticipated movie ‘Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale’ which is out this week for a limited time. Unfortunately for fans there were no Japanese voice actors or anyone from the Japanese anime film industry at this festival, which I must admit was a bit of a let down as a lot of fans crave the chance of being in the audience listening to their favourite creators of anime.
So I thought I would just give a run down on some of the things to happen over the weekend:
Sword Art Online Australia Premiere:
The hype for this movie was insane, I have never seen so many anime fans come together in one spot to see a movie. The crowd was insane and they were the most well behaved audience. Everyone was super excited and we were lucky to have Erica Mendez and the international cosplay guests introduce the movie to the audience. Mendez also announced at this premiere that the dub for the movie will be released later this year. The movie itself is damn good. As a fan of the series it was brilliant to see our favourite characters again in a new story on our screens again. If you get the opportunity to see it, you need to go! Also I wont spoil the story, but it is advised that you stay till the very end of the credits as something is revealed!
Perth did not disappoint in terms of anime cosplayers. We had a huge variety from all sorts of anime. It was amazing the turn out for the cosplayers as the weather was not kind to those poor fans who had to wear layers upon layers of costume, however they still did it and it was just incredible. It was amazing seeing all of them being so nice and happy to take photos with everyone. I’ll also mention that they had a special photo area where cosplayers could go and take photos with the international cosplayers and have their photos printed out thanks to Canon photography services.
Mai Wish- Maid and Butler Café
Exactly like last year, the Mai Wish café made its presence known in Perth. The best thing about this particular café was that it was separate and not in the expo hall like it was in Melbourne. It created a much nicer and welcoming environment for all the patrons. The maids and butlers were extremely interactive and very friendly and tried to do their best to make sure that everyone had a fun time.
Now, unlike the Melbourne MadFest where they had lots of opportunities for people to go and play the latest games being released, at this festival we saw a lot of ‘old school’ gaming opportunities as well as some new stuff. I really enjoyed this as people got to have a go at some of the old consoles that they might have forgotten or used when they were growing up as kids in the late 90’s/Early 00’s. Very interactive area and it was constantly packed with people wanting to have a go.
I was extremely lucky to have purchased a VIP pass for this festival as I found it extremely handy last year at the first festival, and this year it was just as good. The VIP purchasers were treated like VIP’s. They were given a lot of perks, goodies, being able to use photography equipment, early access to everything and easy access to meet the guests. I recommend this pass as it was very reasonably priced and they give you so much in return.
Now admittedly this is one of my favourite parts of any convention and these panels were conducted extremely well and ran in appropriate time without seemingly stale and boring. They were fantastic opportunities for fans to be able to interact with their favourite guest and ask all those burning questions they have probably been dying to ask for years. Erica Mendez held two fantastic Q&A panels; Andy Trieu of SBS Pop Asia moderated them both. Crispin Freeman held a Q&A on the Saturday and on the Sunday a fantastic lecture panel on the mythology of Japanese and Western animation. I absolutely loved all the panels and the way the guests were more than accommodating to answering questions and interacting with the crowds. Erica Mendez even gave a small performance on stage singing ‘History Maker’ the opening theme to the hit anime ‘Yuri on Ice’ to the delight of the audience. Cosplay panels were also held and were a big draw card for the beginner to professional cosplayers. In comparison to other cons, the way the panels were conducted was extremely professional and of a high standard, respectful of all audience members.
Probably the best panel for the anime nerds and geeks like myself who are dying to find out the latest news and information from Madman entertainment. The panel was hosted by Madman’s own Sly and Jess, who revealed upcoming DVD/BR releases as well as upcoming anime movies that will be released extremely soon. The biggest shock for me was definitely ‘Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry’ with the first trailer being shown at the panel itself. They also revealed the next guests for Brisbane MadFest; including Cherami Leigh and a select group of international cosplay stars (with more announcements to come soon). The best thing with this panel was they wanted to get feedback and opinions from the audience as to how the festival could improve and what they liked and did not like it. The panel were also good sports in participating in a singing challenge, seeing Jess getting the crowd cheering (and getting out their glow sticks) at her rendition of ‘History Maker’.
Exhibits in Expo Hall:
Extremely interactive exhibits and games for fans to go in and enjoy, plenty of room for fans to kick back and relax as well as spend lots of money. They had the ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ exhibition that debuted at MadFest Melbourne as well as the ‘One Punch Man’ experience. Of course it wouldn’t be Madman if they didn’t promote ‘Love Live’ and ‘Love Live Sunshine’ in all it’s school idol glory with opportunities for fans to take photos at the idol displays. This festival had the addition of the ‘Sword Art Online’ exhibit, which allowed fans to go pose with the SAO cosplayers and build the hype for the new movie. Artist alley promoted a lot of local talented artists. Expo hall was smaller, however it had a much nicer feel as appose to the Melbourne Expo hall. The staff and volunteers were extremely nice and more than accommodating to all fans.
This is just a taste of what I experienced at Perth MadFest, and that was just the start. There were lots of things for fans to do and it catered for all age groups. People were extremely friendly and welcoming and it was just nice seeing the passionate Perth anime fans come together to this event and show it so much love. I cannot wait to check out Brisbane MadFest if this is what we were able to experience at this event. If you are the beginner anime fan, this is the place to be, if you are the extreme anime fan, again this is the festival to go to. The atmosphere and general attitude of the festival was extremely positive and it would be a shame if the festival doesn’t come back here, it was without a doubt one of the best festivals I have attended!
I rate it 4.5/5
It was the first time the festival was held out of state and done in less than six months of the original MadFest, Madman entertainment should be applauded for providing fans the opportunity to make their city come alive with anime again.