Singapore to hold Japanese pop culture festival

by Siti Rahil

Kyodo

The first Japanese pop culture festival in Southeast Asia will be held in Singapore in November, showcasing some of the hottest Japanese “anime” (animation) blockbusters, “manga” (comics), toys and games, according to festival organizers.

Anime Festival Asia 2008 is expected to attract about 100 participating companies and some 80,000 visitors, the organizers said, adding they hope to make it an annual event.

“With Japanese popular culture in Southeast Asia currently undergoing tremendous growth in popularity, there is definitely a need for a global platform like Anime Festival Asia to showcase anime-related content in this region,” said the festival’s director, Richard Tan.

It will feature, among others, giant robots from the “Gundam” anime series and life-size Power Rangers.

Several anime directors and producers and manga artists from Japan are also expected to attend the Nov. 22-23 event, which will be held at the Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Center in downtown Singapore.

It is organized by a local company, I-Promo Events and Marketing, and the Singapore subsidiary of Japan’s Dentsu Inc., and sponsored by Bandai, the world’s third-largest producer of toys.

The festival is being held here amid the recent move to set up the Japan Creative Center in Singapore to feature Japan’s “soft power,” such as contemporary pop culture, including anime and manga, and design.

To be opened by the end of the next year, the center will be the first in the world for the promotion of Japanese culture that is set up as a collaboration between Japan and a foreign country, said Hirohisa Chiba, director for information and culture at the Japanese Embassy here.