The Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022 made its exciting return on July 16-17 of this year, at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Philippines. Many people came dressed up as their favorite characters while others joined to see the interesting shops and exhibits. The convention was overall a very lively ensemble of unique sights from the anime, cosplay, and the whole Japanese pop-culture scene.
Anime and Cosplay Expo has grown from its humble beginning in 2016 to the large-scale convention we know today. It is noticeable though that ACX 2022, or any other convention on that matter, just doesn’t feel the same as compared to its pre-pandemic years. That’s why it’s all the more remarkable that in these circumstances, ACX 2022 succeeds in holding a post-COVID event that everybody deserved.
Few of us from Anime Corner met many different anime-lovers who shared their passionate stories and “why they do what they do” during this weekend. Their stories were truly interesting, so without further ado, here is a summary and report of the ACX 2022 experience.
Stress-Free Experience Began With the Smooth Lines
Once the doors opened at 11:00 AM, large crowds of excited con-goers instantly filled up the second floor of the SMX. In case you missed it, Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022 implemented a new ticketing and entrance system to prevent a repeat of the overcrowding during the first day of Cosplay Carnival that happened in May. This, together with the ever-present staff that provided safety reminders, improved the overall atmosphere and paved the way for a stress-free event.
In addition to the lines, the inside of the convention was fully air-conditioned and much more spacious. Just imagine, a crowd of con-goers shopping by a booth, another one having photos, and another one passing through – it was that roomy! When it got twice as crowded during the second of ACX 2022, con-goers could walk around the busiest parts of the hall and find a comfortable spot away from the crowd.
The stage events didn’t start until the afternoon so instead, anime opening and ending songs were blasted from the main stage. It was already a lot of hype and by this time, my fellow writer, Marvic, had found his calling. He was very dedicated to his mission at ACX 2022 – taking photos with his “anime waifus.”
The Stage Events Brought Life to the Party
In the afternoon, con-goers gathered and sat comfortably around the stage. (The carpet floors added that homey/lobby vibe.) It kicked off to an exciting start with the special performances and the auction.
Cosplay Karaoke was one of the most-attended events. Cosplayers sang enthusiastic songs such as LiSA’ “Gurenge” from Demon Slayer, “Hikari Are” from Haikyu!!, “Fighting Dreamers” from Naruto and the most hype of them all for both fans and non-fans, “Zankoku na Tenshi no These” (also known as Cruel Angel’s Thesis) from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The crowd also mellowed with emotional songs like “secret base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono” from AnoHana and “Sincerely” from Violet Evergarden.
During Cosplay Got Talent, participants showed off their moves with some more songs and dances. For instance, a Nami, Robin, and Boa cosplay group did an enjoyable dance performance, while a Thoma cosplayer also had his own fiery dance with his broom. A Marin cosplayer did an amazing act performing the Queen of The Night Aria by the Magic Flute Opera, while another group also displayed their fervor for Magic Knight Rayearth and the Sailor Moon theme songs. The excitement continued as Emoji Master, Solo Cosplay Catwalk, and Scene Zone followed. It was one of those amazing and engaging experiences that make you realize you’re in a crowd of fellow anime fans.
One of the highlights of ACX 2022 is the special guest, Singaporean cosplayer Xiao Yukiko, who cosplayed as Anya Forger during the first day, and Genshin Impact’s Kokomi for Day 2. She appeared on stage on both days and also held a meet-and-greet where she “bonked” her fans.
After the event, Yukiko shared her thoughts on Facebook: “It was my first time ever in [the] Philippines! Thank you everyone so much for the warm welcome to [the] Philippines. The hospitality from every single one of you was heartwarming. I enjoyed ACX so much! Having the opportunity to meet you PH homies and guests at ACX was my huge pleasure.”
The Amazing Cosplayers at ACX 2022
ACX 2022 was undeniably filled with many brilliant cosplays. While joining the convention is one thing, coming in full costume is a whole other level of dedication to the craft. Con-goers were quick to give love and appreciation to the cosplayers who came as their favorite characters. It was easily an inspiring and creative stage for anime fans, and some even came as memes!
Genshin Impact characters continue to be the most abundant cosplays in the crowd, while Spy x Family follows right behind with its waku-waku energy! Vtuber cosplays such as Gawr Gura, Coco Kiryu, Shxtou, Yugo Asuma, and Millie Parfait, brought a lot of excitement to the crowds. There were also cosplays from games such as Valorant, MLBB, Arknights, and Little Nightmares. Superheroes, such as Loki, Thor, and Spiderman were also spotted.
There were also a lot of people who served laughs. There was the Harbinger Signora in a coffin made out of a balikbayan box. (boxes used for “sending gifts back home” in the Phillippines culture). There was also Rengoku dressed as a donut, a muscular Anya, Yor with a wine bottle, Venti with beer crates, Twilight/Loid who proposes to every Yor, Klee with a rifle, and lastly, a cosplayer carrying a face-in-the-hole board of the internet famous Katori Yutaro meme with the “Is this cosplay?” subtitle.
Meeting the People Who Keep the Community Alive
Half of the convention space of The Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022 is dedicated to the fan fairs and hobby stores. Art prints, keychains, acrylics, figures, plushies, dakimakuras, manga, cosplay props, and shirts – you name it and it was here! Con-goers hopped from one booth to another, engaging in relatable conversations of happiness and (broke) frustrations. It was definitely one of the best parts of what ACX 2022 offered for the ever-growing Filipino anime community.
We also got to meet one of the talented artists at the fan fair, SketchyGerry! He mainly makes character art from games and anime and has also ventured into streaming. SketchyGerry shared with us that it was the era of the first Dragon Ball that started it all for him (a classic Filipino 90s kid!). He began his art career in 2017 and has participated in conventions like these but truthfully, he has always been fond of both art and anime since he was nine years old. He said that he has rewatched Ghost Fighter multiple times, but in his own opinion, Luffy from One Piece is the most likable and the perfect main character of all time. One Piece fans, unite!
At another corner of the convention, we also got to meet Aggie Tea, an art student who we found just as relatable when she shared with us her love for drawing anime waifus, like Marin and Yor Forger. She also occasionally draws husbandos and is greatly inspired by Satchely VelinquenT, the artist of DokiDoki Literature Club. In the words of a true waifu artist, she says that these waifu drawings are not just for her, but for everyone as well.
Among the cosplay booths was the Pinoy Cosplay Podcast, a passionate group dedicated to discussing all things anime, cosplay, voice actors, and J-pop culture. They were motivated to become an alternative to conventions, a source of solace when cosplayers and anime fans were stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast forward to now, they’re going strong hopping and vlogging around live events, such as ACX 2022. They also include in their podcasts helpful guides for beginner cosplayers!
Aside from these creators venturing into their own anime-style creations, Minute Burger also takes its anime/meme marketing content to another level with their new “Animeal.” The buy-one-take-one burger meal was exclusively seen first at the Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022. It was also revealed with a flashy anime-like trailer that captures a fun take of childhood Tagalog-dubbed animes. Many con-goers expressed their fascination with the original characters, while others commended its good taste and affordability.
For the manga-readers, Tankobonbon’s place was a haven. Their table was filled with stacks of a lot of books and various manga titles. Tankobonbon is a light novel and manga shop that offers both English and Japanese versions. The young owner shared with us that their name is based on the Japanese word tankonbon (which means volume). She started the business when she returned from overseas and noticed how manga was more accessible there than in the Philippines. Bon (a nickname that happened among her customers) said that it started out as a “pasabay” or proxy service until it became so popular that she opened a website, became an official distributor, and now, a physical store in Dasmariñas, Cavite. This was also their first convention. One of the most notable parts about this bookshop is that they resell while keeping original prices! Bon is an anime fan and collector herself so she understands what it feels to buy. Her favorite manga and the one that made her grow in the industry is Blank Canvas by Akiko Higashimura.
Lastly, our most interesting and best meeting is with Aniporium, a retail business that is focusing on bringing unique anime-themed experiences here in the Philippines. The Japanese and Filipino staff were very cheerful and friendly, making us feel as if we were shopping in the streets of Japan. We were able to speak to Mr. Zab Leccio, the general manager, and he enthusiastically shared with us Aniporium’s game plan and goal which is to “bring the Akihabara feel to the Philippines.”
He also added that it all started with Mr. Aoi Ikeda, the owner of Aniporium, as well as from Avalon Oath Retail Business Inc. and the Manila Shimbun. Zab said, “One thing is he [Aoi Ikeda] likes anime, he has the passion and I’m more on the business side. He has a dream to provide solutions to the anime community because there is a lot of overpricing. Everything here [in Aniporium] is from Japan — not bootleg, everything is authentic. It’s also cheaper because we’re in a direct partnership with companies. That’s what [the service] we want to provide to a lot of people.“
Aniporium also offers its own take on a figure raffle or lottery which they call, “Ani Kuji.” (Just like Ichiban Kuji.) If you win, you have the chance to win a special figure but if you lose, you get to pick a smaller but cute prize. For example, our colleague Euridel was one of the lucky winners and won a Miku Hatsune figure! On the other hand, Marvic – who thought hard about this decision and strategized his pull – lost the raffle… twice. An authentic Japanese raffle experience, indeed.
The small Aniporium booth has big plans coming soon with a physical store opening this year, gachapon machines on the way, and a full-blown entertainment center in five years. They’re also officially in partnership with Cosplay.ph so they will be attending all their future events. So far, their ACX experience has been very relaxed, organized, and fun.
Brace Yourselves, Cosplay Mania 2022 is Coming!
Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022 doesn’t end without its official announcement for their next and most anticipated convention, Cosplay Mania 2022. The biggest cosplay con will take place this October 1-2, 2022. They also revealed their special cosplayer guests Thames Malerose, Yosuke Sora, and Onnies. The ticket prices for CosMania include ULTRA at PHP 399 (Best price, lowest quantity), PLUS at PHP 449 (Medium Price, Medium Quantity), and Regular at PHP 499 (High price, High quantity.) More event details such as Gold and VIP tickets, as well as the JAM Concert Reveal, will be announced at a later date.
As of writing, the ULTRA passes are sold out. As announced on their page, PLUS tickets will begin selling on July 22 at 5 PM.
Update as of July 23: PLUS tickets are sold out. Information on Regular tickets will be announced at a later date.
Looking Forward to Future Events
With the return of these conventions, the anime community is slowly getting back to its face-to-face groove. Aside from the rainy weather outside and the crowds we can’t help but be wary of, Anime and Cosplay Expo (ACX) 2022 was an awesome event! The organizers made a lot of improvements from the last Cosplay Carnival and it should not go unmentioned and unappreciated. Kudos! For more information on Cosplay.ph’s upcoming events, visit the official Cosplay Mania Facebook page for more information.
In case you missed it, ACX 2022 will be followed by an event organized by AcadArena, the CONQuest Festival. The convention of all things gaming, technology, anime, and pop culture as a whole, makes its grand comeback this July 23-24, 2022 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City, Philippines.
Thank you to cosplay.ph and to everyone who made this event possible. Special thanks as well to Marvic, Euridel, Eli, Anne, Jersey, and naixworks for their contribution to the photos and research.
AnimeCorner was an official media partner for ACX.