Mangaholix Manga Mania ’07 Review

Conquests of a Con-Man
Mangaholix Manga Mania
By M. Angue

No, the call-sign “con man” doesn’t mean that I’ve been swindling anyone. I’m supposed to be your guide to the latest local conventions and it’s the wittiest thing we can come up with.

Dateline—May 19, 2007
It was a very... VERY hot day at the SM Mall of Asia and I’m not just talking about the weather—thousands of anime, manga, and gaming aficionados flocked from all over to take part in one of this year’s biggest fan conventions. Naturally, I was there… partly because I’m a sucker for bargain geek merchandise, and partly because I work for the people who ran the event.

Presented by Groundbreakers Inc. and Hero TV, Mangaholix Manga Mania celebrated the launching of Mangaholix Magazine (yeah… this magazine). Conventioneers had more than just that to celebrate about, however. Mangaholix artists were giving away on-the-spot sketches for free, adventurous fans were coming in and walking around already in costume, and there was no shortage of things to do and see (and buy) at the many booths. Book-lovers certainly had plenty to choose from, what with Fully-Booked and Comic Alley setting up shop there. For knick-knacks and assorted playthings, guests had Toy Kingdom as well as lines and lines of smaller hobby booths. Those who were looking for arcade fixes took to mashing buttons at the Quantum and E-Games gaming areas while roaming cameramen from Hero and UniversiTV caught many unsuspecting conventioneers in a couple moments of limelight.

So just in case you were living under a rock then, here’s a run down of what you’ve missed out.

Morning: The convention gates opened at ten and already it looked like it was going to be one heck of a convention. Hosts Sabrina Asano and Kitt Bernardo warmed up the first drove of conventioneers while contestants of Art Arena: Front Line drawing contest started cranking backstage.

Noontime: After a rousing performance by The Kagaws (the first group in the convention’s band line-up), the stage was cleared for two of the Philippine comic scene’s top icons: Battle of the Planet’s Wilson Tortosa and Culture Crash’s Taga-Ilog (sans bucket). They answered a couple of fan questions, regaled the audience with stories of their own comics exploits and received lovely gift packs with t-shirts and baller I.D.’s from Groundbreakers Inc. as a token of appreciation. While guests are given free reign to explore the booths, the stage is set up for performances by Fuseboxx and Eternal Now. Meanwhile, Art Arena continued behind the scenes just a step away from the cosplayers who were getting ready for their three minutes of fame.

Afternoon: By now the con looks like an undulating sea of heads with a few already inches-deep in gravity-defying hair gel. The conventioneers moseyed around to the performance of Lucille before settling down to one of the highlights of the day: The Cosplay Collision contest. People who were unfamiliar with cosplay might have found it strange watching space aliens, red-haired samurai, and robots walk up and recite lines in Japanese but that’s probably a big chunk of the fun. It was around this time that the Art Arena contestants begun handing in their works for judging.
Following the performance of Kala (who may or may not have been there to clear the hall from trans-dimensional aliens) was the group category competition of Cosplay Collision. Over and above the crazy get-ups, the contestants went all-out with their own skits. If dressing up as a ninja in public was strange, it should come as an even greater surprise when they began firing cardboard fireballs at each other.

Evening: The band Squeezers brought the show home accompanied by a fireworks display courtesy of the Mall of Asia. The show itself closed with the awarding of prizes for Cosplay (Individual and Group) as well as Art Arena (both Online and Front Line). After a long tiring day, my slave driving, though equally exhausted bosses had me stay to help dismantle stuff. Oh well.

All in all, I doubt I’ve seen people happier packed like sardines in the heat of May. Then again, things like heat and agoraphobia seem to fly by while you’re having fun.