AnimeCom Fest lives up to billing
From left: Ricardo Carter of the Jamaica Cosplay Club is with the top three contestants in the Jamaica Cosplay Championship — Jerome Wilson, second; Sebastian Thomas, first-place finisher; and, Steffi Singh, third place. The competition was held on the final day of AnimeCom Fest 2022 at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St Andrew on July 31. (Photos: Rory Daley)

FOR two days, guests attending AnimeCom Fest 2022 (ACF2022) immersed themselves in Asian pop culture at the Chinese Benevolent Association on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

The occasion was held from Saturday, July 30 to Sunday, July 31, 2022.

Organisers of the event were pleased with the turnout.

"What can I say? This is way beyond a success. This year we have seen a turnout that rivals a combination of all four years previously," said Ricardo Carter of Jamaica Cosplay Club (JCC), event organisers.

The post-COVID-19 restrictions resulted not only in the release of pent-up demand, but the mixing of old and new fans of the genre. Guests had a lot to keep them occupied over the two days as the event's new location, their largest ever, allowed for a massive vendors' row and activity spots that featured everything from Asian pop culture-themed comics, cartoons, movies, video games, clothing and jewellery to dance competitions, dance exhibitions, and a wide variety of contests. Those more artistically inclined could listen to panel discussions on topics affecting the industry and even visit booths focused on education.

"We are here trying to build something for the creative community. We had Carimac [Caribbean School of Media and Communication], Jamaica Animation Nation Network, the Game Developers Society of Jamaica, Anime Nerds of Jamaica, and the Valkyries of Arcadia, and even more," Carter told the Jamaica Observer.

Attendees were encouraged to come in costume and enter the main event, the cosplay competition, which had a large prize pool. Sunday, July 31 saw the impressive finals.

"I'm really happy with the entries. As everyone can see, this is like nothing ever done in Jamaica. I thought in 2019, when he had our last outdoor event, I didn't know how we were going to surpass that, but this year we blew the lids off," said Carter.

The final had near 30 entrants but many, when they saw the level of competition they were up against, withdrew from the event — and rightfully so as the top nine cosplayers made it difficult for the judges. It was a tense moment as they made their decisions known to the anxiously waiting crowd.

Sebastian Thomas, who finished third in 2019, was propelled to first place with a brilliant showing, wearing his elaborate reproduction of the Wing Exia robot from the Japanese anime Gundam 00.

"I am beyond words, I'm so excited to have won such a prestigious event," said Thomas.

The costume took him three months to make, featuring active lighting elements and moving weaponry. It was his performance that took him over the top with the judges and the crowd, as he battled his young daughter Mia, also in costume, through a miniature city. Following Thomas were the equally impressive Jerome Wilson and Steffi Singh. For Wilson it was a tearful moment as the hard work put into his costume, Dreadking Rathalos from the video game Monster Hunter, paid off. Singh, also known for her spectacular costumes, presented her most elaborate yet, a hand-crafted version of Seth Knightroad.

Beyond their monetary prizes, all three will head to Trinidad to represent Jamaica at the Caribbean Cosplay Championships in Trinidad & Tobago.

Fans of Asian pop culture fill the Chinese Benevolent Association, St Andrew, for the two days of AnimeCom Fest recently.
JaK'D (Jamaica Kosplay Dancers) in action at AnimeCom Fest 2022.
Cosplayers (from left) Tianna Powell, Shauna-Kay Campbell, and Trisean Anderson are out in full force for AnimeCom Fest 2022 held at the Chinese Benevolent Association on Old Hope Road in St Andrew recently.

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