The Booths, Merch, Exhibits, and Decorations of Kyoto Int'l Manga Anime Fair

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Nearly 200 pictures from Kansai's biggest anime event

The Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair (KyoMAF) — held yearly at the Miyako Messe event hall, the ROHM Theater Kyoto across the street, and at the nearby Kyoto International Manga Museum — is a chance for those who live in Kansai to experience something similar to AnimeJapan without having to travel all the way to Tokyo. The event has huge halls with exhibitor booths, a cafe area with themed food, stage events, exhibits, a cosplay area, and of course, tons of merchandise.

This year's event took place on September 16-17. Last year the event saw 43,936 attendees, but attendance may be down this year as a typhoon hit the region on September 17.

The gallery at the end of the article has nearly 200 pictures from the event, but check out the images below for the highlights.

The Venue

Miyako Messe doesn't look like much on its own, but it's in a good area for tourists.

The ROHM Theater Kyoto building across the street is where the main stage events are held.

Both buildings are right next to Kyoto's famous Heian Shrine. The shrine itself is a great place to visit, and in front of it is one of the largest torii gates in Japan.

It's close to the Higashiyama train station, and usually around the time of KyoMAF the Kyoto subway will have some decorated trains. This year trains featured Fate/Apocrypha, Code:Realize, and Ensemble Stars designs.

The Booths

While last year there was only one main booth exhibitor area, this year there were two, allowing some of the larger companies to have bigger booths, and more room for attendees to walk around. Here's some of the more interesting booth layouts, including ones for Fate/Apocrypha, My Hero Academia, Black Clover, Vatican Miracle Examiner, Wake Up, Girls!, Osomatsu-san, and more.

The Merchandise

Here's a taste of some of the figures and merchandise that were on display in the exhibitor halls.

The award this year for weirdest merchandise item goes to this Black Jack toilet paper roll.

The franchise that had the longest line for merchandise was by far Ensemble Stars.

Similar to previous years, there was an area where attendees could purchase and help make traditional Kyoto crafts with anime designs.

Other booths sold merchandise for other traditional crafts like weaving and candies.

The Food

The food this year was themed after Fate/Grand Order, and Animate also had a food truck in the building. The line for the food was often over an hour long.

The Decorations and Exhibits

These cute Love Live! Sunshine!! lanterns decorated the general area where attendees could sit and relax.

The event also had an exhibition for the HiGH & LOW franchise, including the recently concluded manga by CLAMP (the CLAMP manga also inspired a series of anime shorts).

In addition, this year there was an area featuring several dozen booths for manga magazine editors. Attendees could make appointments with certain magazine editors, and give the editors samples to critique. As expected, the room was very quiet and the atmosphere was a bit tense.

"Get On! Kyoto City Subway" Stage Event and Merchandise

The moe girls of the "Get On! Kyoto City Subway" campaign had a big presence at the event this year, including lots of merchandise. The booth selling the merchandise had a nonstop line.

KyoMAF held a stage event for the campaign, which now includes three anime commercials and light novels since it was unveiled in 2011.

The stage event screened a 20-minute-long anime episode featuring Moe, Misa, and Saki. In the story, it's the start of a new school year, and Moe, Misa, and Saki are considering their future plans. All three start studying hard so they can move forward. However, because of this, the three don't chat as much as they used to through phone texts, and they don't hang out either. Moe wants to ask the other two to hang out, but she knows they're both very busy so she holds back. Miyako-kun, the floating train mascot, asks Moe why she's feeling so down, but Moe brushes it off. Miyako-kun then contacts Misa and Saki to tell them about Moe, and the two girls surprise Moe as she gets off the train one day, saying they should all hang out. Moe cheers back up, and thanks Miyako-kun for his help.

After the screening, the hosts showed three finalists for a four-panel manga competition for the franchise. The competition featured entries from students attending Kyoto's various universities. The five voice actresses from the series read out the lines, and the hosts declared the winner. Afterward, theme song singer Harumi Ooki came on stage to perform two songs to end the stage event.

Kyoto International Manga Museum

The Kyoto International Manga Museum is three stops away by subway from the Miyako Messe. Attendees can purchase joint tickets to KyoMAF and the museum at a discount. The Kyoto International Manga Museum is a gorgeous old building with creaking floors, small hallways, and an old wooden smell. It's just as much a library of nearly all manga that ever existed as it is a museum, and it's a real treat to walk through the hallways and bathe in nostalgia of old manga. The museum also has two areas of exhibits that change every few months. In collaboration with KyoMAF, the museum had more cardboard cutouts of Fate/Apocrypha characters, as well as more Love Live! Sunshine!! lanterns.

The two exhibits on display right now are for the Ikemen series of games and for the Cooking Papa manga.

General Impressions

KyoMAF is much smaller than AnimeJapan, but it still provides a fun fan experience, without the crazy crowds. You're guaranteed to walk out with at least one oversized advertisement bag full of flyers and other free samples. Oddly, the event in the past has been held on the same weekend as Tokyo Game Show, but this year the events take place on consecutive weekends. With the event taking place also at the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and next to the famous Heian Shrine, it's a good weekend destination for visitors who want to experience a big anime event in Japan while also checking off some items on the Kyoto bucket list.

If there's one critique I have of KyoMAF, it's the cosplay area. It's shoved in a corner next to the Open Stage area, which often has concerts and screaming fans during the stage events. The cosplay area is very crowded, it's hard to hear, and even harder to take pictures.

The next big events in Kansai advertised at KyoMAF are the upcoming One Piece collaboration with the city of Kyoto in October and a Fullmetal Alchemist exhibition in Osaka in November.

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