As with previous events, the various exhibitions and vendor booths formed the bulk of what AFA 2019 had to offer, and we personally felt the variety was much more substantial than its predecessors'. On that note, it was nice to see more of the aforementioned "newbie" series take the limelight than usual. No offense, but it can get kind of dry just seeing Kirito or Asuna from Sword Art Online around every corner.
Apart from the in-hall stage, the biggest attraction by far was actually the "Naruto x Boruto: Ninja Selection Exam" escape room, taking up quite a significant portion of the exhibition area. Granted, we didn't get to try it out ourselves, but hey, a long queue should mean the experience was good, right? As far as we know, participants who managed to clear the "quest" were awarded their own shinobi headband, which does actually seem pretty cool.
The new AFA Play section was also a much-appreciated addition to the repertoire, although it did feel like the organisers were just riding on the gaming hype train that's been chugging along nicely throughout 2019. Of course, there was also an Auto Chess event too, but unfortunately it seemed rather out of place at an anime-focused convention like AFA. It did draw some players and interested folks over, but their attention quickly gravitated elsewhere, as did ours. Overall, it's quite the awkward choice from the organisers.
Since we're on the topic of games, the featured titles over in the Bandai Namco section did manage to draw a rather healthy audience, and we actually enjoyed mashing a few buttons in the PS4 brawler One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows.
Now here's something that we can all appreciate. Over the past few years, I've personally shifted my focus from buying wooden prop swords to anime art prints. These independent works, or "doujins" as the community calls them are usually only available at "geek conventions" like these. Generally, this year's offerings tended to lean towards Fate/Grand Order and the aforementioned Demon Slayer, which is to be expected - the latter is a huge rising star where anime series are concerned. I encountered no less than 10 cosplayers dressed up as the sword-wielding Tanjirou or his sister Nezuko (complete with bamboo muzzles) before we even reached the Creators' Hub!
Anyway, suffice to say that most of my budget went to various art prints and fanbooks, as they usually do. On a personal note, I'm a little apprehensive about attending the Singapore Comic-Con that's coming up really soon, since my wallet still hasn't "recovered" from this spending spree yet. Argh, first world problems!