The otaku banquet | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Guest cosplayers: Ying Tze, Yannbyull, Aza Miyuko, and JDoll.

MANILA, Philippines—If you are an anime fan who feels irrelevant because you are in a circle that does not speak much otaku language, then you better step out of that cage and fly to where your feathers will find so much of its kind – not now though, because the event where they were just wrapped up.

Just last weekend, from April 25-27, one of the most massive anime-themed conventions in the country then again played cupid to thousands of anime, cosplay, gaming, and Japanese music fans. The Ozine Fest 2014, held at the SMX Convention Center of the SM Mall Of Asia, provided a haven for kindred otaku spirits for three days.

The Festival

From the moment you step into the convention hall until you explore every exhibition stall, gaming table, and store set up at the venue, all you will feel – if you are a fan of this culture – is bliss and nothing less.

Enthusiasts already on top of their games early Friday morning. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

Card and online gaming tables were the first itineraries to greet every Ozine Fest attendee. In this part of the convention hall, you will see enthusiasts duke it out with fellow card or online gamers, while fans (or gamers next-in-line you can say) watch and wait for their turn to showcase their very own gaming expertise.

Anime figures displayed and sold at the venue. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

In another part of the venue, crystal cabinets containing anime figures amuse collectors who, by just looking at the items, already feel extreme excitement.

A store selling plush toys. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

If this writer’s math is correct, almost 70% of the fest’s venue was occupied by stores selling anime collectibles like beanies, costumes, DVDs, key chains, plush toys, tees, stickers, and even on-the-spot drawn sketches – you name it. So you really have to drop the phrase “on a budget” if you plan to attend Ozine Fest.

Ozine Fest Battle of the Bands and Karaoke Singing Contest Stage.

A part of the hall was also dedicated to a stage catering to the band and karaoke singing contests hosted by the fest. For three days, amateur groups and singers were able to showcase their talent and personal take on the Japanese music artistry.

This is actually one of the most exciting parts of the fest as participants prepared songs mostly from anime soundtracks.

Tarpaulins of the maids serving at Ozine Fest’s “Maid Cafe”. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

And in one corner of the convention center, even if you don’t intend to, you will notice a long cue that leads to a covered cafe. According to a regular attendee of the festival, the “Maid Cafe” is one of the well-visited stops of the Ozine Fest. Some fanatics even attend all three days of the fest just to be able to meet all maids serving at the cafe. Interesting.


It would have been a totally absurd anime convention if cosplayers were not present during the fest.

Many anime fan boys and girls came in their respective anime outfits and some even stood out for either cosplaying a popular character, or, for simply being extra awesome.

Ria Hasebe cosplaying “Chariot,” a character from the anime Black★Rock Shooter.

One cosplayer who caught attention was Ria Hasebe, a first-time Ozine Fest attendee who was all out in her Chariot cosplay. later on found out that Ria came all the way from Negros Oriental to experience the convention. She was accompanied by a fellow “Dumaguete Cosplay” group member, Joahnna Abalos who was also a head-turner in her scene hair.

A sponsor in cosplay. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

To fit the event, even some of the sponsors came in costume.

On the third day of the event, Ozine Fest brought together cosplayers who were determined to take their hobby to the next level by competing with other fellow cosplayers. In solo and group cosplay contest categories, Pinoy cosplayers performed their respective “anime skits” while in character. This portion of the convention left the crowd cheering and laughing – definitely a blockbuster segment of the event.

The meet and greet

Guest cosplayers: Ying Tze, Yann Byull, Aza Miyuko, and JDoll.

And the treat does not end there. Cosplay fanatics who purchased tickets to the “Meet and Greet” sessions, which went on for three days, were given the chance to say hi to their idol cosplayers. Some even got to hug these ladies during their photo op.

Three of them, by the way, are cosplayers from South Korea: Aza Miyuko, JDoll, and Yann Byul while the tall lass in violet shade, Ying Tze, is from Malaysia.

To acquire a better insight about the meet and greet, caught up with one attendee who has just finished taking photos with the guest cosplayers.

Gevan Pantaleon, a two-time attendee of Ozine Fest, says he is an avid fan of cosplayer Aza Miyuko and that this was actually his third time to meet the artist. Gevan is among the circle that exerts a lot of effort, and cash, in order to get a closer look on their idols. The fruit of his labor, you can say, is whenever Aza Miyuko sees him in the crowd, he earns a wave from the renowned cosplayer.

Patience and perseverance

But while the Ozine Fest sounds like a laid-back type of convention, in truth, it is a gathering that requires patience and perseverance. For three days, the convention center had to regulate the amount of people being accommodated in the venue as approximately 20,000+ individuals went to Pasay to experience the fest. This, to the dismay of some attendees, caused them hours of lining up before they were able to enter the convention premises.

According to Organizer Bryan Uy, Ozine Fest only had around 2,000 attendees during its first year in 2005. But as the event went on, the population of attendees gradually increased and, eventually, ballooned to almost 25,000.

VIP ticket holder Gevan Pantaleon says that the best day to attend a three-day convention like Ozine Fest is on its first day which usually falls on a Friday. As most fans are probably busy with school or work, this is when you will have the opportunity to enter and explore the venue without having to worry about long lines and crowded areas.

The experience

Outside the venue of Ozine Fest 2014. Image contributed by Janelle Villagracia.

The venue was indeed crowded – almost to the point that you have to say “excuse me” for every single step you make – but this can never spoil an experience that lets one reminisce the bygone days of anime domination in the Philippine local TV.

Ozine Fest definitely served as a platform through which attendees can come to know new anime series and games, but it also took everyone to a trip down the memory lane, especially when one “Battle of the Bands” group contestant played “Kimi Ga Suki Da To Sakebitai” (I want to shout I love you), a soundtrack from the popular sports-themed anime series “Slam Dunk.”

Moreover, it became a haven where Japanese culture fans were able to express and unleash their love and fondness of the culture in ways (cosplay, impromptu art-making, singing contest, etc.) that they enjoy and that everyone else appreciates.

Lining up for three hours or more is definitely exhausting. But the experience that comes after – getting to enjoy anime stuff with true blue anime fans – is something that one cannot encounter on a daily basis.

Indeed, finding your place in this world of diversity is one of the best rewards one can ever get, and for anime fans who seek a circle that has the same heartbeat as they do, Ozine Fest is definitely a place for you.

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