Manifest 2009 - Full Report
Manifest 2009 - Pre-Convention interview with the Convener

by Jon Hayward,

At AVCon last month we managed to spend five minutes with the convener of the Melbourne Anime Festival. Avi Bernshaw is one of the most focused and driven conveners in Australia and he has spearheaded in a whole pile changes for this year's Manifest, in convention and out. Here's what he had to say.

Avi: For those that don't know me, I'm Avi Bernshaw, the evil genius behind (well let's face it, not genius just evil) Oztaku that has been running since 2003. It's the Australian manga community that also does a fair bit publishing, running runs classes and events and we're just trying to get Manga happening, getting people not just reading it but making it. To that end we have done three Doujicons which are manga artist conventions. We haven't run one this year as I'm tearing my hair out / running the Melbourne Anime Festival which I am convener of.

ANN|AU: Manifest which is coming up on the 21th to the 23th of August at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Avi: Yes, it's a three day event.

ANN|AU: I hear you're doing a full day on Friday

Avi: We are, we're billing it as educational Friday. Whilst people of all stripes are welcome to attend we're actually appealing directly to schools to come as a cultural excursion and we're trying to arrange more of the educational and cultural panels for the Friday instead of just the fun stuff that happens over the rest . On Friday expect martial arts demonstrations and Japanese language workshops.

ANN|AU: I also hear that you're running overnight on the Saturday.

Avi: You mean the midnight madness of which I will not be attending as I will be getting sleep. Basically we saw a couple of American conventions where people kept saying we had so much fun continuing the screenings and gaming all night. And I don't know if it was sanctioned by the American conventions themselves or people stealing into a theatre but we decided we would make it legit so that people for a small extra fee people and who are also overage can stay overnight and keep playing video games, tabletop games and watching the more adult orientated anime we are putting on during those late hours.

ANN|AU: That actually sounds pretty good, a great way of celebrating Manifest's tenth anniversary.

Avi: Manifest is finally grown up and we're bigger, better and we have got more adult content. We've looked at our demographics and we've noticed something very startling, being that Manifest is a very old convention by the standards of Australia and many of the attendees we have grown up with the convention and are here ten years on. That means we have a large amount of people in their late twenties and early thirties.

ANN|AU: This is excellent to see more recognition that it isn't young adult.

Avi: Yes, adult adults! These are the people who grew up when anime meant “the manga effect” we all remember that ad right?

ANN|AU: you need to get a version of that done for the Manifest opening, which would be awesome.

Avi: I don't know the legalities of it but we want to use it for one of our adverts for mani-midnight during our adult screenings. We haven't heard back from Manga Entertainment about using it but we're hoping they will say yes.

ANN|AU: So out of curiosity all this is coming to a head and you seem to have everything together, do you believe you will be getting a large interstate contingent on this one?

Avi: Well we have done our best to promote interstate and we could have done better. Unfortunately our best isn't up to my own personal expectations and I personally think that's a good thing as you always want to be striving for more and better. We've done a lot more to appeal to interstate attendees we have a great deal for those who want to stay at backpackers and there's also a hotel deal, I forget which hotel it is off the top of my head.

ANN|AU: Some hotel with beds I hope?

Avi: It's a proper hotel with private rooms where you don't have to share bathroom and need to sleep in the same room as someone freaky. Unless you want to! If you're into that by all means, you're consenting adult I'm sure. We're trying to appeal a lot more to the interstate people. We're actually hoping next year we'll be able to provide a multi con super pass where people who travel to all the cons all they have to do is go online and enter their details and their credit card number and it'll book them in for all interstate conventions and hotels at the same time.

ANN|AU: So we're getting Manifest travel agents next year?

Avi: Yeah! We're still trying to come up with a suitably engrish name. So far the working title is super happy fun multi con pass, I wanted to just call it the interstate convention passport but I was voted down.

ANN|AU: So is there anything else you would like to say to the anime fans of Australia about Manifest

Avi: Manifest is a convention based around doing things not just consuming things. There's more than just buying stuff at traders, although we do have that. We have things like cosplay chess, cell painting workshops, zoids constructa-thingy-jigga mecha, manga drawing classes, learn to shop in Akihabara class! So come along to Manifest if you want to have the full otaku experience, but please bring deodorant.

Final Note: For those that would like further information, it can be found on the Manifest website at We hope to see you there!

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