SMX Aura was the venue of three days of Japanese pop-culture with Coslandia 2019. It was only the second Coslandia event ever held, although one that is three times more ambitious than the first. Hallohallo Entertainment (HHE), the operators of MNL48 were once again the organizers, and they brought in Japanese idols, movies, hosted guest cosplayers, and of course, MNL48.
Several activities were happening simultaneously on the Coslandia concert stage, satellite stage, and booths, starting with the Movie Stars Cafe Cosplay All Stars who kicked off the Coslandia festivities on the concert stage last November 1 through a series of Japan-themed performances, followed by MNL48‘s performance of their newest single and Coslandia’s official theme song “High Tension”.
MNL48’s popularity has been steadily rising ever since their debut in 2018, and ‘High Tension’ makes a good case for mainstream popularity. The choice of MNL48 Gabb Skribikin as center seemed a very enlightened one as she showed that she can attract new fans as well as perform on a high level expected of a center. Reception of the new single was mostly positive from the attendees.
MNL48 weren’t the only idols in Coslandia 2019. Mini concerts of idols Amatsusora, Hazuki Tsubasa, GracoRex NEO, Tomoka, TJ, Fairytales, and Pastel Mix all took the stage. Meanwhile, gravure Japanese idols Ebisu Muscats, who held a press conference early that afternoon, debuted their first live performance in the Philippines, which served as the main performance for the first day. These segments were hosted by Aisaku Yokogawa, a Japanese OPM artist, who also acted as a translator to help overcome the language barrier and communicate between the Japanese and Filipino guests.
One of the highlights of the entire event is the Coslandia Girls Collection, where select MNL48 members and kenkyuusei modeled the chicest Japanese fads designed by Fancy Moi, Kana Mori and Tokyo Girls Collection along the runway. Notable models where members Abby, Belle, Laney, Dana, Gia, Frances and Sela (who was not present during the first day but was there during the second day). The members who’ve had previous modeling experience truly shined. Everyone expected Abby to look great during the runway, but I felt that the member/model to watch was Laney, who walked down the runway like she owns the place.
Cosplayers also geared up for the cosplay competition conducted by World Cosplay Summit (WCSPH), under Armor- and Cloth-themed Solo Cosplay Category, wherein Mr. Vian Verzon and Ms. Ranemay Nufable emerged as winners. Pop Culture Hiroshima (PCH) NCE Qualifiers was also held with Ricki Buzon and Tsukino Aoi (Team Blackout) reigned as winners.
There were activities happening on the satellite stage too. A screening of anime film “Your Name“, meet-and-greet session with Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel, live demonstration of new MNL48 Team Shuffle card game developed by Ludus Distributors, and WCSPH’s Hallo-Cos: Trick or Treat cosplay contest for kids in which Alexandra Mae Putman was declared winner.
Day 2 saw the press conference of the live movie adaptation of the manga of Seikimatsu Blue, with the director himself, Tetsuya Hashi; the manga creator, Shintaro Hirota; the main cast which included MNL48 members Abby, Coleen, Brei,and Kay, as well as Reira from Japanese idol group 1-Girls and others. Tomoka was also present in the conference; she wrote a song of the official movie soundtrack and sang it live for the first time.
But the biggest event of Day 2 is definitely the MNL48 mini-concert. Despite the controversy surrounding the ticket prices (which were separate from the entrance fee), fans still flocked to watch and the group, the professionals that they are, performed their hits with the energy level they are known for. They also performed all the songs from the upcoming fifth single: title track High Tension and Green Flash by the senbatsu, and 1234 Yoroshiku! by Team N-IV.
The third day of the festival was more relaxed, albeit still fun and full of activities. Hado Pilipinas, a new technosport in town, was one of the big attractions then. Attendees got to try the exciting augmented reality game and some MNL48 members had the chance to battle with their fans. It was a surprisingly fun activity that made me wish that it had been available for all days as people were pretty interested in it.
A singing contest was also held that day where participants showed their talent in singing Japanese tracks, with winner Dayvid Ybanez winning the hearts’ of the judges and audience. Naruto Cosplayers Philippines were also present and conducted a ‘J Culture Hour’ that featured music featuring local idols, and shows that promote Japanese culture.
Attendees enjoyed a maze of various booths, starting with the Fujifilm Photo Booth and RapidShots 360 Video Booth, Brother Philippines post for printing needs, Oishi and Pocky booths that gave away free snacks and photo booths, Seikimatsu Blue autograph signing area and MNL48 Card Game Booth. By far the most fun booth is the RapidShots 360 Video Booth that MNL48 members themselves went down to pose in. Personally? I’m not a big fan of card games, but the MNL48 Card Game by Ludus Distributors drew a lot of interest. Maybe next time I’ll try it out.
Before the end of the event, MNL48 members had their Final Janken Tournament on stage. MNL48 Jan won the Janken tournament and will be the center girl for the card game app that will soon be released. This card game app is also the same one they promoted in Tokyo Game Show 2019. Coslandia concluded its three-day event with MNL48 performing High Tension on the satellite stage for the finale.
I enjoyed the three-day event, even though I just came off a fever the day before. Like any event that I have covered, it has its great points and areas that they would need to improve on. First of which is communication: a good example of this is the MNL48 mini-concert. Fans generally do not mind having to pay extra for an MNL48 event but announcing it a day before the event is definitely not the right way to do it. There were also some empty booths like the Voltes V booth, and some of the promised movies weren’t screened. I think the only reason why people weren’t up in arms over this is the fact that they are busy crowding around MNL48 members who periodically go down to the main event hall.
There’s also the schedule itself. All Saint’s Day is usually a family holiday and more often than not, fans would opt to either spend it with their loved ones, or return home to their provinces. Also, during the second day, the organizers lifted the video and photo ban during the events without giving us a heads-up. While this has a good effect of allowing wide-spread coverage of the event, it also made us, the media partners, redundant. I really don’t mind it if everyone is allowed to take photos and videos of the event, but we’re obligated to take footage in somewhat more difficult circumstances (non-media in a supposed designated media area for example). At least we had our room and were ultimately allowed to cover the mini-concert (which MNL48 does not normally do).
Going through the event, I couldn’t help but feel that HHE could definitely pull off an idol-centric event. Of course they have MNL48 which – in terms of local idols – is currently the top dog. True, the shadow of last year’s Manila Idol Matsuri is still hanging over everybody who attended it, but looking at the events in Coslandia, you can clearly see which ones are clearly in the company’s element and which ones are not.
I do commend the choice of SMX Aura as the location as it was adequate for the amount of people who came. Everyone knows that a rival event was taking place in SM Megamall, but Coslandia would have attracted MNL48 fans more than anyone else anyway. To other people the total number of attendees wasn’t worth comparing to other events’, but if you’ve been in last year’s Coslandia, you’d know that this year’s number of attendees is a huge upgrade.
All in all, Coslandia 2019 is a fun festival that – if they keep improving – will definitely be something to look forward to next year. Stay tuned in the coming days as I unleash the rest of our pics from the event.