Now this is what I call a weekend well-spent. We headed off to Ani:ME which was the biggest Anime and Japanese festival being held in UAE this year and we weren’t disappointed. We bought our tickets online so we could get a nice discount and so we wouldn’t have to wait in line at the event and set off for Yas Island bright and early. If you haven’t been to Yas Island before, the signage to the du Forum might be a bit difficult to follow but there was no shortage of taxis who were willing to help point us in the right direction.
We entered, of course, through the torii, past Japanese eateries just opening up and straight into the tent, where we were met by a giant Robo Grendizer.
There were loads of places to be and tons of things to do, so we started by getting some of our favourite manga from Kinokuniya, drooling over a million and one gundam kits on sale and trying very very hard to exercise self-control… which, let me tell you, was not easy. Especially when you see the entire perfect edition of the Monster manga on sale…. and Noragami right below it.
Apart from getting your hands on mangas at events like these, it’s also a perfect opportunity to buy prints from your favourite animes from local artists. There were lots and lots of artists with ready prints for sale, while others were sketching on the spot. Is it too much to ask to find someone who loves Allelujah Haptism from Gundam 00 as much as me so I can plaster my wall with his photos? :P
I resisted the tempatation to buy any FMA prints and we headed towards the area where all the signing events would be taking place. It turned out that Todd Haberkorn, who was the voice actor for Raki in Claymore and Ling Yao in FMA: Brotherhood, was going to be there so my brother lined up patiently for a photo, an autograph and a chance to talk about some of our favourite animes.
Yashuri Nightow was also there – the guy behind Gungrave
Apart from the anime and manga madness which included a screening of Naruto and cosplay competitions with a chance to compete in the World Cosplay Summit, there were also lots of cultural activities taking place, from calligraphy from the famous Ryujin Kobayashi, mochi pounding and kimono dressing.
My favourite, and I would definitely classify this as being a “cultural” activity, was taking pictures at the photo booth. We didn’t get a chance to go wild and do this in Akihabara so we decided not to miss the opportunity here. The photobooth was set up by Puripix and we ended up going… not once, but twice! The photos were printed at the booth in the form of stickers and you could choose to have 2 photos sent for free to your phone through the app, but we were hoping that all photos could be digitized because we had so much fun taking the photos and decorating them. When we downloaded the app, it turned out they were all digitized! We had to pay to get the other pics but it was well worth it- the picture quality was amazing, in fact I think the photobooth produced better quality pictures than a photo studio these days and for a much much better price!
We finally headed out for lunch, deciding to skip the long lines for Soba and went to Yas Mall instead but not before saying bye to the bunny! There was a whole line-up of events for the evening, concerts and Gundam building contests. We weren’t able to stay longer, but there’s always next time :)