In contrast to Animate Girls Festival 2019, the event this year was scaled down immensely because of the current situation worldwide.
Despite all this, I somehow managed to get a chance to go to Ikebukuro Sunshine City indoor venue.
This year, while the right to enter the Sunshine City venue was still done through ticket balloting, there was no entrance fee, and the number of visitors entering during the two-hour timeslot was limited to 1,100. Also, the venue has been downsized to a single exhibition hall; in contrast, AGF 2019 had rented four exhibition halls.
Exhibition Hall C was used as a holding area for the attendees waiting to enter Exhibition Hall D, so we all queued there.
The who goes a later number queued inside this following area:
Meanwhile, since my number was within 300 ~ 400, I was asked to queue outside. Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold, so the wait was bearable.
There were supposed to be three people before me but they did not show up; same goes with the other rows as the situation may have been scared them off from going. Around 16:30, the staff announced that since no one was entering the venue anymore, we could move up to the front of the queue.
After 10 minutes or so of more waiting, we were allowed in to the venue and… that’s when everything felt so off for me.
I’ve been to Animate Girls Festival twice in my life (2018 & 2019), and while I had gotten used to the crowds and how busy it could get, seeing it so empty made me question if I was at the right venue… then remembered that to prevent a potential cluster from happening, they had to totally reduce the crowd and the booths.
All in all, the event felt more like an exhibit than a merch-buying spree.
If it were up to me, I’d be done in 20 minutes, but since hardly anyone was there and I went through the trouble of applying for a ticket, I took my time going around and taking photos.
Male VTuber Group Holostars Booth:
Holostars is the male-spinoff of hololive, which is an agency of virtual Youtubers by Cover Corp. My friends are very much into with this ‘virtual Youtuber’ world but I am not, so seeing their booth was a surprise. Since I had nothing better to do and I had time, I ended up talking to the staff at the booth, who were more than happy to explain to me what this ‘Vtuber’ business was all about. In the end, I ended up buying a key holder of Rikka (律可), as I like Fuyuomi (冬臣)‘s character design of him the best.
Because AGF’s target audience is females, Ensky showcased Ensemble Stars goods at their booth:
Next, I went to the Project Scard: Scar on the Praeter booth; looks promising but let’s see how it’ll all go. I have my eye on Nogami Sho’s character, Karasue Jin.
Since AGF is always held in Ikebukuro, the movie Kimi wa Kanata had a booth at the event as well.
Lately, there has been an influx of yakuza-themed manga for the shoujo/josei/TL genre, so another booth dedicated to those was also there.
Before I left, I decided to check out Broccoli’s booth, which showcased Uta no Prince-sama, and Jack Jeanne.
Because this is UtaPri, I began laughing inwardly when I saw the text:
I had to wait for a bit to take photos as they were limiting the number of people in the booth, but I guess it worked out in the end because I got to savor the hilarious text.
These were the photos inside the booth:
And then, Jack Jeanne.
I am honestly on the fence for this, so I’ll probably wait for the reviews before I bother getting into it. The artstyle’s also not my cup of tea, but what the hey, hope the others would support and buy this game in my stead.
Compared to the heart-pumping craziness that was AGF 2019, AGF Aozora Marche was more calm… at least, for the Sunshine City venue. They separated the locations for this year, with the outdoor goods selling done at Sunshine Doori, while the VR Kareshi was done in Naka-Ikebukuro Park, which was near the Animate Flagship Store.
Just to compare the attendance for this year and last year’s:
AGF Aozora Marche Sunshine City Venue Attendees: 4,818
Animate Girls Festival 2019 Main Venue Attendees: 40,438
Attendance this year is down by nearly 90%, but it really wasn’t surprising, considering that they had to downsize for everyone’s safety. This event felt like a gamble to me since I couldn’t determine if I was an idiot for even considering attending the event or if it was good timing since everyone was being more cautious.
(As of this writing, cases in Tokyo are rising but despite this, everyone is still acting as if the virus does not exist.)
This year as well, with the limited number of exhibitors at the venue, the event seemed more like a museum, since the majority of the exhibitors there were unknown to me, while the ones that I do know, they turned their booth into an exhibit.
Personally, AGF this year was also a bit lonely since I was on my own. My friends had actually forgotten to apply for a ticket to the event as this was the last thing on their mind (it’s been a very tough eight months for all of us), so they went to karaoke while waiting for me to finish up. On the bright side, this event was good for my wallet since I didn’t buy a lot of merchandise.
Still, I am hoping that the situation normalizes next year so that AGF 2021 would be back to its usual craziness of queuing, merch buying, and crowding. Despite hating crowds, I am actually missing it… it felt normal back then, and honestly, I’d give anything to have that normalcy back in my life.