When thinking about anime and manga in Australia and New Zealand, the first name that comes to mind is Madman Entertainment (“Madman”). Why? Because over the last two decades, Madman has become a household name as the largest and leading distributor of anime and manga in Australia and New Zealand; and after years of bringing anime happiness to our screens, both via DVD/Blu-ray and streaming channels (such as the widely popular Madman associated streaming service, AnimeLab), Madman has launched their first ever anime festival in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia.
As an overly zealous consumer of all things anime, from the many diverse and incredible series to the fabulous merchandise, MadFest, as the anime festival was affectionately nicknamed, was an absolute ball. Thanks to my friends at Madman in New Zealand and Madman’s incredible PR team in Australia, I was incredibly blessed to have been able to attend the festival and spend my first time in Melbourne with my amazing partner in crime (and in anime).
The festival was held across two days at the spacious Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and was fully decked out with bright colours and anime-esque themes, with the two major anime being showcased at the festival prominently displayed at the entrance, along with cars decorated with anime decals (and as an extra, hugging pillows with iconic anime characters, sat in the driver/passenger seats).
The queues to get in were long and I quickly learnt from some of the Madman team that they expected approximately 10,000 attendees. With such a large number of people in attendance, I was slightly worried that the festival would become uncomfortable. Fortunately, the anime community is one full of incredibly nice, friendly people who are passionate about anime, manga, cosplay and all things anime related.
The exhibition floor was well organised with Madman having a large presence, having their amazing collection of DVDs, Blu-rays, manga and merchandise available for sale. There were plenty of other cool exhibitors and retailers at the festival too from Banpresto, a notable anime figurine retailer to Bandai Namco Entertainment, a highly successful video game publisher and distributor. Let’s not forget the many artists present at the festival too, showcasing their fantastic talent and art pieces.
Looking back, it is difficult to pinpoint just one section and aspect of the festival that I enjoyed most. The One Punch Man experience area was awesome, especially with a huge image of Saitama himself. The free to play gaming area was also very cool, with popular unreleased titles such as Sword Art Online: Hollow Realisation, Final Fantasy 15 and Tekken 7 available to play (in parts of course). I was really excited about one particular exhibit though and that was the exhibit showcasing the new upcoming Death Note live action film, Death Note: Light Up The World. Not only were there exclusive images from the film displayed, but also the props used in the film, including the very Death Note book that belongs to the Shinigami, Ryuk.
MadFest wasn’t just about exhibits. Across the two days, there were fantastic events on such as anime screenings, guest signing sessions and even exclusive panels with the special guests, including Tiffany Grant (who is most notable for voicing the popular character Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion), the directors of One Punch Man and Sword Art Online, the producer and character designer of Sword Art Online and the Japanese voice actor of the titular One Punch Man character, Saitama, himself. I am incredibly grateful and honoured to have been given the opportunity to interview these guests, from which I learnt plenty about the inner workings of anime. Stay tuned for follow up posts regarding the interviews.
Finally, as the perfect ending to the festival, Madman put on a fantastic, special show as a celebration of their 20th anniversary. Filled with history, fun facts and plenty of prizes, the celebration was truly magnificent and captured the love we all have for the many great anime shows that have been around for decades.
With such a brilliant and successful inaugural anime festival, I can’t wait for next year. Check out more images of the festival below.