That got intense so fast.
Crossposted on Tumblr as well.
Because of the current situation and the company probably not wanting to risk it, VolFes 2020 got cancelled and instead was turned into a pop-up shop so that they can sell the goods meant for the event.
Around an estimate of 99.5% of Japan events are mostly all about buying merch, so it felt like a bloodbath of sorts as everyone around me was spending money like it grew on trees (someone I know spent at least USD2,000 for merch alone). I’ve been attending Voltage events for three years now and it always amazes me how far the fangirls will go to spend for their favorite character (I’ll be calling them ‘oshi’ [推し]) from this point forward.
As mentioned in this post, it is always good to go to an event on the very first day to avoid disappointment and loathing when the merch you’re eyeing gets sold out.
I took a leave from work for Day 1 of VolFes 2020 Shop as I knew that it would get crazy; the last few merch buying events I’ve been to left me exhausted, even if all I did was buy. It can get pretty intense at times since the people I hang out with can really get wild with the buying spree.
It was announced in the website that they would allow a free-for-all-entry to anyone wanting to buy goods after 2PM. My friend Y and I took this opportunity to eat lunch and relax since it’ll take time; between her and I, she was more tense and kept checking Twitter for any announcements. As for me, I was a bit more chill, knowing that if they run out of goods, I could still buy online.
If you’ve read my past entry, Y is a huge Saizo fan, so she’s more into this merch buying than I since she has to compete with a lot of fangirls for Saizo goods. I’m happy that with Masamune and Ieyasu, the competition for merch for the both of them isn’t as tense as Saizo’s.
The Chara announced on Twitter that the free-for-all entry would be delayed by an hour, so we took our time to have some dessert, then head off to Ikebukuro Marui. While waiting for the distribution of the designated timeslot tickets, Y and I decided to go to the nearby bank so that I could get some money (thought to pay in cash to keep the expenses lower), and on our way back, Y met an acquaintance who was just on their way out as they were done buying merch.
The acquaintance started asking Y what she would be buying this time around, and Y confessed to not buying anything related to Ouji/Be My Princess series as she had gotten disappointed before with her merch pick.
(Spoiler alert: her oshi is Ivan Chernenkov, she tried to get can badges of him by buying up to the maximum number of can badges allowed in one transaction (20 for that event), and ended up with no Ivan. That traumatized her that she swore off buying merchandise from that series.)
Acquaintance was with a friend, who then started asking Y if she could buy 20 (!!!) can badges from Ouji-sama no Propose EK (Be My Princess 2) 10th Anniversary art plus a bromide from MiraPuri (Kagami no Naka no Princess Love Palace), with 20 being the limit for can badge purchases.
At that point, Y turned to me, who was simply listening to the conversation, and said, “Kiyo isn’t buying any Ouji trading can badge merch, right?”
I gave her a confused look. “Yeah, I’m sticking to KoiRan and Ouji, with hardly any trading merch on my list.”
The acquaintance’s friend then straight-up asked me, “If you don’t mind, would you buy me 20 more can badges for Ouji EK 10th Anniversary art? I’ll give you some money to cover for the expense.”
I then took out my list (in Google Sheets); the acquaintance’s friend started dictating to me her wishlist. Upon seeing my list written in English, she gave me a confused look and then said, “Oh… uh, I can’t read English–”
“No worries, I got you covered and I wrote it down. So you want 20 can badges for Ouji EK…”
“Yeah, the ones with the grandsons! 20 of those, and one bromide from MiraPuri!”
Total cost of the merch was JPY9,020, enough for her to get three bonus postcards from MiraPuri.
We then promised to meet up after the buying so that we could hand over the goods, then off we went inside the building to wait for the ticket distribution.
This is the part when my friends and their other friends (at that point, I didn’t know them) got really disappointed and pissed at the free-for-all entry system that had a designated timeslot entry ticket.
If you didn’t know by now, if there’s one thing that sets off a local in this country, it’s the horrible queue/entry ticket system. It’s no exaggeration when someone says that queuing is a national sport/pastime, so if an event is crowded but has a good queue management system, a lot of people would be willing to put up with that.
However, if there are fewer people but the management is horrible, people would really criticize the hell out of it.
Which brings us to Day 1 of VolFes 2020: the website states that the entry ticket they will be handing out will be given at random, which means that even if you arrive late during the distribution of the entry ticket, there is still a chance for you to be able to secure an early timeslot.
Ex. Person A arrives at the venue at 1:30PM and has been waiting for the entry ticket distribution to start, which is an hour away. There’s a chance that they’d be given an entry ticket for the last time slot, which is at 7:40PM ~ 8:00PM.
Person B arrives at the venue at 2:30PM, the designated start of the distirbution of the numbered tickets. There’s a chance that they could get the earliest time slot to buy goods, which is at 3:00PM ~ 3:20PM.
What upset my friends was that when it was time to distribute the tickets, everyone made a run for it as soon as we were asked to queue, and when they gave us the entry ticket, we got a really late timeslot since we were positioned at nearly the end of the line.
In other words, the entry tickets they gave us was based on how “late” we got to the line; the ones that got ahead of us got an earlier slot, despite the fact that the website mentioned that the time slot on the entry ticket would be shuffled and handed out at random.
Everyone around me was ranting about how half-assed (they all kept throwing the word 中途半端 [chuu’to han’pa]) the whole system was (they could have stuck with a full online timeslot reservation system for Day 1 and Day 2), and how they didn’t go through with the promise of giving out the entry tickets that shuffled the entry time of the attendees in the spirit of equality and fairness, while I figured out the loophole of the system.
No matter how early you arrive, if you’re not fast enough to queue for the entry tickets as soon as they ask you to, high chance of you being given the last timeslot.
Since we had two hours and twenty minutes to kill, we all headed for dessert at a nearby cheap restaurant and just chatted with one another until it was time to go in.
Unlike last year, VolFes 2020 is smaller, more compact, and you had less time to have fun and enjoy.
Admittedly, the merch line up is better and much more gorgeous, but goodness, there’s just too many of them that it was difficult for me to decide which one I should purchase.
In the end, I decided to skip out on buying the maximum number allowed for buying random merch and stuck it out with getting 3 ~ 4 can badges.
To prevemt the spread of the virus, anyone who enters Ikebukuro Marui and the building had to wear a mask, sanitize their hands, and had 20 minutes to complete their shopping, from picking out the merch to paying at the checkout counter. They only allowed up to 8 people at a time at the shop so you had to plan your purchases. All of us shopping had a list that we referred to while searching for the goods because entry to the venue was controlled and you are not allowed to go back in anymore after paying.
If you missed out on an item, you’ll have to ask someone whose timeslot to buy the goods is different from yours to buy your merch, you go back the next day, or you order online, which means there’s a three-month waiting period before you receive the item.
Day 1 of the shop was on a Friday so I still had another day to think about any additional purchases, so even if I missed out buying merch, it’s not really a big deal.
[I’m chill that way]
With the buying done, my friends and I headed to another cheap restaurant across the street. Just like last year, the majority of them used that time in the restaurant not to eat, but to open their merch in blind packaging to check and see who they got. If it’s their oshi, they keep it, but for the ones that are not their oshi, they carefully place both the item and the shining packaging inside a ziplock back so that they could trade it with the others.
After we ordered dinner, Y got a message that her acquaintance was at the restaurant we were at, which meant it was time for me to hand over the merch. The girl who asked me to buy for her was so thankful that I think I actually got really shy over it haha.
When I got back to my table, the food was there, so I ate dinner and continued chatting with Y, who also took the time to multitask by eating and opening the merchandise she got. Sad part was, not one of the items she bought for Day 1 contained Saizo, which made me feel sad for her. It’s really rough when you spend so much and end up with no oshi; it’s really the worst feeling in the world.
Y had an early day for Day 2 of VolFes 2020 Shop so we all parted ways early as everyone was exhausted from stressing out whether merch would get sold out on Day 1 and from simply buying goods.
Day 2 wasn’t that eventful, aside from us buying more goods (I bought Ivan’s goods this time around as my priority was Yakov’s), and I ended up trading all my Saizo goods with Y for other characters. Nothing against Saizo, but I know that someone who isn’t me would actually cherish him more than I will ever do.
Not sure if anyone’s interested to see what I bought, but let me know if you’d want me to post photos of my haul.
More event photos: