- Over 10,000 people attend inaugural ANI:ME event on Yas Island
- Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame topped list of Japanese pop-culture celebrities appearing at ANI:ME
- Two lucky attendees win honour of representing the UAE at the World Cosplay Summit
The Alliance, organisers of ANI:ME, the region’s biggest celebration of Japanese pop culture are heralding the success of the inaugural event. Taking place this past weekend, 27-29 October, ANI:ME saw over 10,000 people from across the UAE and region descend on Yas Island to meet and see 90 exhibitors and dozens of guests and celebrities representing some of the best of the Japanese pop-culture and anime worlds.
“Yas Island has always been a pioneer when it comes to entertainment and our hosting of the inaugural ANI:ME event, the biggest of its kind within the region, remains true to that spirit,”commented Mohamed Abdulla Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral.“ANI:ME, and events like it, pave the way for a host of other pop-culture events, concerts and exhibits to appear on Yas Island – further strengthening not only our outstanding array of attractions, but also what is fast becoming a diverse and exciting calendar of events.”
“As we welcomed ANI:ME to Yas Island, we also introduced ANI:ME visitors and fans to the host of other activities, attractions and events that happen year-round all across the Island. Given that our hosting of ANI:ME is part of a longer term commitment, we look forward to not only welcoming these visitors back for next year’s ANI:ME but again and again throughout the year to discover all that Yas Island has to offer,” added Mr Al Zaabi.
“ANI:ME has exceeded all expectations in terms of both visitor numbers and importantly, their feedback on the event,” said Arafaat Ali Khan, Director of Communications, of The Alliance, the organisers of ANI:ME, as well as the successful Middle East Film & Comic Con. “We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both visitors and exhibitors alike and we believe that ANI:ME on Yas Island will fast become a highlight of the UAE’s vibrant events calendar as we continue to expand our pop culture events line up across the GCC.”
Opening on Thursday, 27 October, ANI:ME was officially inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development; His Excellency Kanji Fujiki, Ambassador of Japan to the UAE and His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Miral.
Showcasing to UAE audiences the many unique sides of Japanese culture, a stellar line-up of global anime, manga and pop culture stars appeared throughout the weekend. Among them were anime icon Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, who drew lines of fans all weekend as he sketched and autographed memorabilia from different decades of his work. The Cineclub and Workshops were also filled to capacity throughout the weekend with workshops by producer, writer and director, Todd Haberkorn – most famous for his voice role as Jadeite from Sailor Moon – Melbourne-based comic book artist, Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz; as well as well-known anime artist and one of the co-creators of Gaia Online, Long Vo. Performances by Japanese rock band, FLOW, and anime music supergroup JAM Project were huge hits amongst visitors, adding to a line-up that included ethereal rising J-pop star, Cuushe; music group, Livetune; J-pop duo, Her Ghost Friend; vocalist and pianist, Mika Kobayash; and Tetsuro Shimaguchi, the sword fight choreographer behind the cult-classic movie, Kill Bill.
Yet another highlight of the weekend was the selection of the team that will go on to represent the United Arab Emirates at the World Cosplay Competition (WCS) in Japan in 2017 in one of two cosplay competitions held throughout the weekend. Through hosting ANI:ME, the UAE has become an official leg in the tightly contested and hugely successful WCS with UAE residents, Sumi and Vega taking the honour through their skit as the characters Albedo and Ainz from popular manga Overlord. Hind Saoud’s efforts as Black Mage from Final Fantasy won her 7000 USD in ANI:ME’s second cosplay competition of the weekend.
Among other highlights of the pop culture festival was the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of anime merchandise, marvel and take photos with a 6-meter high robot animeGrendizer inflatable; meet and take photos with humanoid persona, Hatsune Miku in an augmented reality photo both; see traditional kimono dressers; witness Ken Hamazaki’stranscendent red tea ceremony, and enjoy ramen from Japanese favourite, Shichisai among other attractions throughout the weekend.