Is This The Future of Philippine Cosplay Conventions? A Review of FanFes Online 2020

FanFes 2020, ah yes. The first online cosplay convention in the Philippines and how did this fare out? That’s why I’m here. By the way, there will be few screenshots for this one because Cosplay.PH only allows a few screenshots and no recordings can be done.

The event proper didn’t start until 8:00 PM but the whole online festival started when the Discord server opened on July 30 and the lobby has officially been opened to the general public (at least yun mga nasa Discord server) the day after that.

The way the Discord channels are set up as follows: there’s the main atrium where weebs can go ahead and interact with one another and then there are stalls. Yes, virtual stalls.

Unlike your usual cosplay convention, dito sa Pinas, stalls are king and most of the features ay nasa stage.

Aside from people selling merch, artists are also given the space to show their talents to the weebs. Ito yung equivalent ng mga art stalls sa convention. Meron ding virtual con table that’s being streamed on the voice chat. Yes, may voice chat din.


The Freedom Wall Pre-Show

At 5:00 PM PHT, may Freedom Wall wherein a limited number of people can join in the Zoom call which is understandable since di kakayanin ng Internet connection kung i-accommodate lahat.ng nagregister so kailagan pa nilang iscreen kung sino ang pasok and sino ang hindi but for those unfortunate enough na di makasali sa Zoom call (including yours truly), may simulcast sa Facebook live.

Yung mga nasa freedom wall Zoom call are mostly the peeps from Cosplay.ph and some cosplay media personalities like Jay Agonoy. Then they talk about who they wanted to be a co-host with and they are talking about their experiences with hosting.

During the Freedom Wall stream, they showed a promo video of Fuwa Fuwa, some brand of Japanese soft bread. Parang Sari Roti pero Japanese.

Shoutouts are common during the livestream and they gave away a voucher for T-TEES (they are a Cosplay.ph sponsor for all of their events since 2010) and the whole freedom wall stream has lasted for an hour so there’s that.

There is a two hour waiting time between the freedom wall stream and the main event proper so the hosts have time to prepare their shtick and for the weebs on Discord to gather some rest before the event starts.


It’s Time For The Main Event

Finally, at 7:55 PM PHT, the main event begins. Just like the Freedom Wall show, the Zoom session is being simulcast on Cosplay.ph’s YouTube channel for those unlucky to get the invites to Zoom and may sariling simulcast din sa Discord.

Whoever created the opening package for FanFes 2020 has been affected by Zoom’s audio capabilities as it lowered the audio quality. I’ll be honest here, I don’t expect anything much as wala akong kilala sa mga JAM performers.

I’ll be explaining the events as it goes on since it would be more fun for me to comment on things as it goes on but before that, a “popular” Vtuber will be a special guest, popular being an operative word.

The first event is a game; it’s called “Guess the Sketch”. Imagine Pictionary but being on YouTube and to get some contestants, they did a question and answer portion a la Jeopardy wherein you have to guess who the character is by asking a question. Someone already broke that rule early on hahahaha. Once they picked contestants out of the Zoom people, the handpicked ones will pick an artist and then a number.

A time-lapse video of the artist doing a sketch and the first contestant to give the correct answer gets a point. Whoever completes a column first, wins the prize. What a unique way to do a Pictionary game.

After this, the Cosplay High Five challenge begins. It is a virtual cosplay competition consisting of 30-second skits and it starts and ends with a high five. After the usual mentioning of criteria (70-30 between judges and audience and all of that stuff), they then present the top 10 contestants in no particular order.

So while the votes are still ongoing, Hino Fujiwara appears on the screen as a special guest.

She’s both a public school teacher and a weeaboo, something that’s rare in the teaching profession, especially in the Philippines lalo na at most of the teachers are boomers who are not in tune with what the kids are into nowadays.  

She answered some questions with her most memorable performance is when she headlined JAM 2019 with Gurenge from Crunchyroll’s Anime of the Decade and how LiSA is her favorite artist to being focused on her day job on weekdays as a form of time management.

After that, they showed Hino’s performance at JAM 2018 which gets censored on YouTube because the Japanese are strict when it comes to copyright (see Nintendo vs Cover Corp.). After that, may product placement tayo from Fuwa Fuwa, the Japanese equivalent of Sari Roti I talked about earlier.

After that product placement, the “famous” Vtuber is being introduced. His name is Aimu Sora. Who?

Anywho, he’s a bilingual VTuber and as far as the weeb community is concerned, Aimu Sora isn’t someone people can easily recognize, at least with the people in my weeb circle.

I know more people who recognize Tsukino Mito from Nijisanji than people who know this Sora dude and that is why I put quotes under the word “popular”. He answers 10 questions about favorites and stuff.

Can somebody please stop zooming the camera on his face?

That’s one of the nitpicks that I had with the performance and also, his English voice is a bit irritating. Other than that, Sora is okay.

Now it’s time for the cosplay auctions, let’s see what items do they have in store but before that, only Zoom peeps can bid for the items and they have to pay the item within 30 minutes once the winners receive the form. The auction master considered the YouTube people who watched the stream so she also suggested to have the YT audience to ask anybody they know from the Zoom audience to bid for them.

That doesn’t matter as for one, I usually don’t find anything of interest with the auction items but I will stay for what items they present and then see if there’s something that gets my interest this time. It gets cut off because they have to go to the next segment.

Saibu Showdown’s next and I want to know what’s this all about. After the whole Jeopardy method of getting contestants, the contestants will be shown an anime clip and then they will be given a multiple choice question. Once again, the people watching on YouTube are getting screwed not because of Cosplay.PH but because of YouTube’s copyright system. Thanks, Google.

Unlike the previous game, this one’s just an ordinary game of multiple choice and once again, whoever gets three points first, wins. Nothing special, moving on.

Another spot for T-TEES. It’s just the same spot that we got from the Freedom Wall hours earlier. Another JAM Cover guest segment is next, and this time it’s the group “Night Shifters”, Cosmania 2018’s opening act.

It’s a three girl act and basing on their appeal, they have this steampunk/enka group. What started as a LoveLive! Group with nine members and spawned a sub-unit of that group.

After another censored video performance (Thanks, Japan), we are now almost on the final part of the show, the winners of the Cosplay Hi-Five Challenge will be presented. They showed the same VTR they presented during the beginning of the voting period. Was this done to just to pad the show so that it can run for at least an hour more? I certainly don’t know.

It turns out that they have just closed the polls and the last guest to be presented is a ikemen evangelist named Hiroto Kuramasu, who also turns out to be the voice of that Aimu Sora dude.

He is working for Cybird, a company who releases otome games and he’s handling the English titles for the Ikemen series.

He also answered some questions regarding the Ikemen series and Aimu Sora.

His English voice is more tolerable than his Vtuber counterpart, must be something with the voice modulator. The photo they used for Hiroto on the promos kind of makes him look like a gay Kota Ibushi.

The auctions continue and they show more items that I am not interested in. Maybe because the event coincided with Yaoi Day that this batch of auction items are based on yaoi/BL properties and series that have a lot of fujoshi in its fanbase. Moving on.

Finally, it’s time to announce the top three cosplayers for the Hi Five Contest. Congratulations to the Arknights cosplayer who won first place.

The show ends with a tribute to the people who serve at the front line during this worldwide pandemic using a song from My Hero Academia.

So that’s the end of the show, but the Discord server is still up until this Sunday, July 2.


Parting Words

For the inaugural show, FanFes 2020 really captures the feel of what a local cosplay convention should be and the feel of being in a convention hall is there from the stalls to the artists and even up to the Manong Guard bot in Discord.

The Zoom situation is understandable but what I can suggest next time is to use another platform with less strict copyright rules like Twitch so that the people who are unfortunate enough to be able to join the Zoom session to see the event in full.

Aside from that, CPH really knows their stuff when it comes to this and this is one of those times that brings us weeaboos together in spite of the current worldwide situation.

Although this is a great idea, the concept of an online cosplay convention might be scrapped once the world goes back to normal but there are some unique ideas that can be implemented here like a Discord server and an online shopping platform that would allow home delivery options so that you don’t have to carry a dakimakura to your house.

Also, to Naru, who got tested positive for COVID-19, I, no, we hope you get well soon.


That’s it for now, back to regular programming tayo with all these Hallo Hallo Café and MNL48 iSchool episodes to watch and these won’t review themselves. I might also do more of the cosplay “deep dive” stuff or some show reviews and whatnot. Until then, see you next time.

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