[REPORT] Sawachi Nijikai 2013 (part 1)
We’re finally back! We had a blast participating in the May 11th BL-only event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia–Sawachi Nichijkai!
This was Otome’s Way’s second time visiting the lovely country of Malaysia–our last venture was around Christmas time, and while it was admittedly a bit strange last time being met with the sweltering temperatures of Malaysia when it was the middle of winter in Japan, this time we traveled while Japan was just greeting Spring. But temperatures in Malaysia weren’t even warm enough to be called “hot”, a sort of everlasting summer, and all our staff were in agreement as to the tropical atmosphere the temperatures left everyone feeling.
Visiting Malaysia this time were the dashing trio of Otome’s Way’s representative Azuma Heyta, writer/producer and international PR rep Akeba Yumiko, and our own mangaka Yusura Ai–plus a tagalong engineer from our partner corporation Tigris. The quartet lifted off from Tokyo early Thursday morning (May 9) and landed in the Kuala Lumpur international airport before heading off to check-in at the hotel via a car generously provided by local staff. The photo on the above-right was taken at the entrance to the Pearl Hotel, where the event was to be held (and where OW staff were staying for the duration).
The day before the event (May 10), we had meetings with the Sawachi Nijikai organizer and shared a meal with editors from big-name Malaysian magazine “漫画王 (Comic King)”, where we were graciously treated to some delicious Malaysian cuisine. One of Malaysia’s most famous foods is satay, which is kind of like grilled skewers in Japan. There were both beef and chicken skewers, and they were both absolutely delicious! Local eateries like this are hard for visitors to track down unless they’re with natives, so we were super grateful for the opportunity. Sandra-san, Yuna-san, Phoebe-san–thanks so much!
May 11th marked the long-awaited event! The hall was set to open at 10 AM, but by 9 AM, there was already a huge crowd champing at the bit to get inside, gathered around the elevator to the hall. Otome’s Way’s booth was right next to the entrance, and you could feel the energy seeping inside from the hallway! We taped up posters and illustrations designed by Ai-sensei all over our booth so visitors couldn’t miss us.
Otome’s Way attended the event this time as an official sponsor, collaborating with super-popular English BL site Aarinfantasy (perhaps you’ve heard of her? ;)), and Aarin’s really helped us out over the past few months since our debut. The picture on the above-right is a shot of our booth taken by Aarinfantasy’s cameraman!
Probably the biggest difference between Japanese doujinshi/BL events and those held overseas in countries like Malaysia and the US is the focus on cosplay. Malaysian fujoshi and fudanshi all seem to love cosplay! Some arrived dressed as their favorite characters (and couples!), and everyone seemed to really enjoy the displays. The contest corner was particularly popular this year. You can’t find BL manga lining the shelves at your average bookstore in Malaysia like you can in Japan, so it left us all with the impression that their passion for BL was that much stronger than that within Japan itself. And everyone was so young! The age range tended to be much younger than that among Japanese BL fans as well, with the average falling in the teens and early 20s–not to mention there were quite a few guys there to boot! Everyone really seemed to love Japanese manga and anime, and it filled the OW crew with a deep sense of gratitude at the reception.
On the right here we have a shot of Ai-sensei prepping for the event at our booth! This was her second time attending an event in Malaysia, so already there were no small number of local fans attending with hopes of meeting her in person. A multicultural country, Malaysia is full of native Malays as well as those of Chinese and Indian descent, and students learn both English and Malay in their language studies at school. With those of Chinese descent also speaking Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) among their family at home, it’s not rare to find tri- and tetralingual people around, so of course all of the fujoshi volunteering to help out at the event were multilingual. Add to this their passion for the Japanese language, and it was no trouble finding those who spoke a fair bit of Japanese, too. There were no small amount of visitors who could at least converse in broken Japanese, and it seems many use Japanese anime to foster their learning. The OW staff were once again bowled over by the influence of this Japanese subculture on the world around them.
That’s all for today, so look forward to more in Part 2!
[event report translated from the original Japanese]