Trust Malaysia to do an AFA...
Firstly, I know it isn't very nice, but Malaysia doesn't have a good reputation to begin with for organising itself properly. I shall not further explain since it's a delicate issue. The event was not very well organised. First impressions was firstly, not clean. The floor of the event hall was like a warehouse. It's just pure cement, which is not bad, but it's dusty, and the areas where there isn't a crowd has bits of litter and stuff. One of my friends mentioned that you wouldn't want to sit there, unlike in Suntec. It's quite true. You don't see any cosplayers sitting down at all.
Which brings me to the next thing. Cosplayers. Apart from an awesome Misaka Mikoto who was too busy working at a store to allow me to take good pictures of her (why?! You're the best one I've seen so far and what are you doing as a cosplayer working at a store throughout the entire day!!!), the rest were rather meh. That said, a number or two decent ones were present, and it's my first time seeing a ClariS cosplay too which wasn't bad. But there were a large number of "default Miku" cosplayers which is worse than in Singapore. Vocaloid is popular here too, and one of the most frequently cosplayed characters, but at least there's variety. For instance, I only saw one decent Snow Miku in AFA MY (scarf and gloves both had snow flakes on them! Pretty nice! I didn't get a pic though.) But I've seen more than one Snow Miku, and Magnet themed Miku, and even a Sakura Miku in Singapore, apart from the default Miku. Also a number of Lukas (both default and magnet themed), and Rins, Rens, and Kaitos. AFA MY was mostly default Miku. I only (think! I can't even be sure!) saw 1 of a Rin-Ren pair, 1 Luka, and 1 Kaito, at most. I was wondering why there were so few cosplayers and only upon going to leave that we discovered they were in the next building (a hotel) since that place looked much nicer, cleaner, and cooler, than the event hall.
Thirdly, the thing which irks me the most is that the event helpers, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, didn't know what the next event was, and when it was happening. It didn't help that the "event guide" that they handed out had only the events and no timing NOR THE DAY which it was going to happen. Each time I asked any of the event helpers, they'd tell me "Dunno, you can ask them" and pointed me toward the stage area. I thought by the time I hit the stage hall, at least someone would know SOMETHING, but no..... I had to bloody ask the CAMERAMAN (videographer actually) before I could get a definite answer to when the next event was being held. Mind you, I didn't even ask for the schedule for that day, nor what event was happening next. Terrible!
A plus I guess, is that they had a "food area" outside the event hall for people to buy stuff to eat. Which, if you look at it, they had better do so, since otherwise it'd be a long walk to somewhere to eat, and I think people wouldn't be so willing to come back after that.
I went to the stage area around 1300 to see what was going on, and observed a Vanguard tournament between Aimi (singer + voice actress) and Kaname (cosplayer). I was quite happy with the pictures I got of them (and Danny Choo of course. He's everywhere I tell you...), and happy with the performance of my camera + 70-200 F4 IS. I didn't kit up to look as professional as I did here but that's because I was weary of Malaysia, and besides, with it so badly organised, I don't need to do that to get to any special areas, not like there were any to begin with...
At around 1500+ we decided to call it a day (for the event that is) and head back to catch some shuteye before heading back in the evening to watch Kalafina, which was when I discovered the next two disappointments.
The stage hall was fine, and once inside it reminded me of our Suntec City one, since it was dark, the lighting was good (there was the usual smoke), and the sound system was powerful and good quality enough as far as I can tell. The chairs were like what they did back in AFA '11. White plastic standard stackable with backrest types, which were all cable-tied to one another.
The problem was, however, with the artists, not that it's their fault. I strongly suspect, that the sound engineer didn't do the job properly, or some equipment was lacking. It was most likely the singers couldn't hear themselves perfectly, and were trying very hard to stay in tune. As a choir member for around 10 years now, I'm sensitive enough to slight problems in tuning that I know when a certain note doesn't sound right. I was also familiar with most of the songs they sang that night, so all the out-of-tune parts were glaringly obvious even if only slightly. Kalafina, in particular performed flawlessly back in AFA 11, but had obvious tuning problems in AFA MY. That trio is particularly known for pitch perfect harmony and very well blend of tone and melody lines. These fall apart immediately the moment the tuning is slightly off, and for those who know, a quarter tone off is twice too much. The other singers had problems too, including the pitch dropping when holding a long note. I doubt it's their fault, since it's an amateur's mistake, and all 3 artists that performed that night encountered tuning problems.
The next problem was the audience. We had rows E and F VIP seats. VIP pricing is around double of the standard pricing, and it's supposed to give you waaay better experience, which it does. It also tends to carry a status that says: "I'm crazily into this!" or so I'd expect. Turns out I'm wrong, at least for Malaysia. I saw people sitting down through songs IN THE ROWS IN FRONT OF ME. And when I turned around, there were even more people sitting down (like about HALF). Those were just the VIP seats. I didn't have a look at the standard ticket standing area. Ok fine, most got up for Kalafina, but even then they didn't cheer very hard. Many of them had a "sian look" on their face, or otherwise blank look. WTF is this seriously!? The person beside me didn't raise her light stick past her head level after the first half-hour. Many of them didn't put energy into flicking their light sticks. I say flick, because waving doesn't give the same feel of a sharp movement with lots of energy. And many of them didn't flick, they just waved. Even for the more popular songs! That being said, the audience wasn't dead, since they did shout here and there, although I definitely expected waaay more energy than that.
So that's it for the types of problems. I still did enjoy the concert since the artists put in a hell lot of effort. ALL of them! They made their show really lively, and I could feel it. It's just sad that they could've done better if given a better environment, and the atmosphere could've been better if given a more energetic crowd. Also, I am disgusted by the fact that more than half of them sat down because they didn't know Aimi that well. Ok fine, she's new in the industry and only had 2 original songs to showcase, after which she sang covers like Hare Hare Yukai (Sunny Sunny Happy). But she was putting in a lot of effort, singing her heart out, totally exhausting herself, and she didn't sound bad either. Give her some support would you? Where's your respect? Her two original songs aren't from very unknown animes either: Tenshi no Clover from Astarotte no Omocha, and Live for Life from Ben-To. You know I'd bet that my group was the only one who made her night that night. As one of my friends put it, "I noticed that when she saw our orange light sticks (he's referring to the ones which glow extremely brightly but only for 5mins) she suddenly smiled. I'm sure we made her night"
Kalafina ended the night with "To the Beginning" which was the song we had all been waiting for. Orange lightstick for me. And even after, they had an autograph session. I now own an official "After Eden" CD autographed by Kalafina. I must confess I tried to sneak in to the line and get an autographed Kalafina poster but backed out because
1) I realised they only had 100 posters exactly supposedly, and I might be depriving some poor soul. So I moved right to the back of the line.
2) At the back of the line I was about to get a second check as a "double check". I had evaded all previous checks.
3) There was a camera man filming the collection of posters. I didn't want to make a fuss on camera.
Many times, I've wondered about all these attempts that I've pulled back to avoid "catastrophic failure". Would it have been better to push forward against the odds? It leaves an unresolved air to it, but yet I know that the chances are slim should I have proceeded. Oh well.
So despite it now being around 11pm (the others having left to get Macs again, earlier on while I was still queuing), we still played Tanto Cuore again, till 3 in the morning, having decided that it'd be ok to be zombies the next day since that'll allow us to pass the journey on the bus with ease. And so ended off another awesome night of Tanto Cuore. We still had to sleep though, to avoid missing the bus in the morning.