Manifest Blog - Day 1by Jon Hayward, Sep 25th 2006
I must admit that after Friday's mess, I was not expecting much from the weekend as the experience had put me off attending the weekend. However, when I got to the convention on the Saturday morning I was treated to a completely different experience. The Friday was pretty bad but the Saturday was well worth the price of admission, even if it did have it's share of faults.
I had already received my ticket on Friday so I was able to wander around the convention. I decided that I would start my day with the rest of the convention attendees in the admission line. Surprisingly, the line was roughly twice as the size of the Friday line which was line was approximately 150 metres long and five people deep. However the issues with pre-registration had been sorted out on Friday so the doors opened a mere ten minutes late. I later found out that people purchasing day tickets had to be turned away so Manifest is definitely doing something right according to the anime fans of Melbourne.
I decided to avoid the Saturday morning traders rush and investigate some of the other activities occurring at the convention. The theaters were already modestly filled for the weekend. The fan groups and activities rooms started slowly, so I found myself in the Zoids' customization workshop. Manifest has apparently tried to run Gunplay workshops previously with low attendance so Rick, the organizer of this room, decided that he would try Zoids. This turned out to be popular with many people dropping in through the course of the Saturday. Some were simply curious and many people decided to try out kit-bashing for the first time by cannibalising Crush Gear Turbo's, disused parts and a very large supply of paint.
The Manga Industry panel started around mid-morning with Avi Bernshaw (from Oztaku) leading the charge. Support was provided by Slyvester Ip from Madman Entertainment and Kumar, a translator from Dark Horse manga. The panel touched on experiences in the industry from their three different perspectives but was mostly a question and answer session. Kumar provided a unique view into professional translating, which is a fairly unknown area of manga. There was a couple of manga artists who quizzed Avi about publishing their work, and the best way to secure that contract with a large publisher.
Cosplay was overcrowded in both the theatre and the auxiliary screening rooms so I could not attend. I decided to take advantage of the quiet time and have a look at the fan traders. Close to twenty various artists and tradersut the convention. I found I often missed events because I was confused about where and when they were. Also a lot of the larger events conflicted with each other so on Saturday afternoon I was pressed to decide what to attend.
The Traders hall was a completely different. Something that has amazed me while at Manifest is the amount of attendees. With cosplay venues packed the traders hall was still packed. I had to fight my way through to check out the wares. There were ten traders in attendance including Shin Tokyo, Madman, Meatbag Manifest, OzAnimart, Tamarket and Anime Anytime. Oddly enough, there was not as much manga on sale as I had expected. The majority of stock was figurines, keyrings, mobile phone tags, posters and pencil boards.
Now, I must air some grievances. Overall while I was enjoying the convention some of the smaller details seemed to have been missed. You cannot have a great multi-building convention without signage. Later, I realized I had missed out on half of the events in the second half of the Old Arts' building purely because I did not realise they were there. It's not that Manifest had no signage, as signs were on the room doors but no signs directing you to them. The booklet was the only way to find some rooms. The rooms had also been renamed from their actual names so the university signs were useless. There were several rooms that I was only vaguely aware of and I could only find one toilet.
Scheduling was personally the largest letdown of the convention. It would have helped if the program was displayed throughout the convention. I found I often missed events because I was confused about where and when they were. Also a lot of the larger events conflicted with each other so on Saturday afternoon I was pressed to decide what to attend.
Volunteers were generally given too many hours and overworked. Volunteers and committee members also had to pay full price for entry. The volunteers received a lunch voucher and a Manifest 2006 t-shirt, while this sounds ok on paper, lunch was a sausage in a bun from the SES bbq. This in my opinion is an insult to the people who do the bulk of work on the actual weekend. They do receive entry to the fabled “Minifest” held in the first half of the following year but it does seem to be a bad deal.
Food and drink were readily available in prominent areas. A variety of drinks and a wide selection of Japanese snacks were able to be purchased. The SES group was serving up dim sums, burgers and sausages on bread so quick food was close to hand.
Overall Manifest on Saturday from a attendee's perspective was a lot of fun, once you got over the steep learning curve and worked out where and when some things were. As you can see from the pictures there were a lot of cosplayers with most being of a fairly high standard. There was always something you could do so good marks all round.