CON REPORT: No Bam for FAM

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(Written for school newspaper project)

Third time’s the charm is how it should go, but not apparently in the case of this year’s annual Funan Anime Matsuri (FAM) event.

FAM is a weeklong event appropriately held during the June holidays at Funan Digitalife Mall celebrating Japanese pop culture – more specifically anime and Japanese pop. However, despite it being in its third year, many event-goers are still expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction toward its management.

FAM, since its first year, has been infamous within and outside the local cosplay community for unruly behaviour exhibited by cosplayers in the shopping mall. In 2014, there were reported cases of cosplayers laying on the floors of the walkways on top of each other and posing inappropriately.

This year, there was a cosplayer reportedly going around shooting members of the public with Nerf guns for no rhyme or reason.

In FAM’s attempt to better its old reputation, the event organisers invited A-list Japanese pop culture celebrities and idols. In turn, many overseas artists, J-Pop bands and cosplayers showed up for the event, attracting many loyal fans.

However, the guest cosplayers could not freely walk about as they were constantly chased by fans.

When asked about how he felt about the event, cosplayer Alexander Tan could only shake his head and sigh. “A shopping mall is no place to hold a cosplay event, no matter how small scale it is,” Alexander says, “There just is not enough space to contain the event goers and it will inconvenience the public greatly.”

Fellow cosplayer Andrea Tan agreed with Alexander, “The space is too constrained and is not suitable to hold a cosplay event.”

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Cosplayers crowded up the event area by throwing their bags haphazardly across the floors and sitting around using their phones.

Many cosplayers took to hogging the walkways and using them as areas to put their bags while they wandered off. They also stood around in the walkways, chatting or taking photos with each other, getting in the way of shoppers. A security guard forcefully kicked bags away while trying to clear space for the public to walk, and had to constantly remind cosplayers to clear the walkways.

Also, cosplayers crowded the toilets to put on their costumes and makeup, with no consideration for members of the public. The narrow toilets were cramped and became stuffy with the amount of people inside. At one point, it was almost impossible to walk in and out of the restrooms on the first and second floors of the mall.

FAM also provided the opportunity for budding artists to rent out booths at the event’s ‘marketplace’ to sell their hand-drawn goods to the event-goers.
However, the booths were located on the fourth floor, completely detached from the main event, which was held at the first floor.

One of the booth owners stated that she did not know the location of the booths until the day of the event itself. When she arrived to the event, she was shocked to be redirected to the fourth floor.
However, she said that the crowd coming up to view the booths was “not bad”.
When asked about this, an organising committee member who declined to be named said that the booths were placed upstairs in order to divert traffic away from the main event as the booths could worsen the crowding.

While FAM’s website did list the ‘marketplace’, it did not state its location and many event-goers left the event without ever finding out where it was. Valerie Yip, a Japanese pop culture enthusiast, was looking forward to buying merchandise during the event. However, she left empty-handed. When asked why she answered, “I didn’t know where the booths were. I tried asking a few people but they didn’t know either.”

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