Anime Events Feature

Anime Friends – 2023 | Anime Con in Brazil!

Today we bring something I haven’t written about before: An event! From the 13th to the 16th of July 2023, we had one of the biggest anime conventions in Brazil named Anime Friends. Wondering how are events down in South America? Let me guide you!

Guide from the Start!

Anime Friends was celebrating its 20th anniversary this year; that’s quite a long history! It was located in the Distrito Anhembi Expo Center, which honestly is a good pick for the size of the event. My experience with the event comes from the two days I went: Thursday, which is usually so dead that they distribute free tickets in order to increase traffic, and the busier Saturday.

Before the entrance itself, I faced some issues. On Thursday, I decided to go on one of their buses leaving from the Tietê subway, a big station that is relatively near to the event, but about a 20 minutes walk away.

It was organized well once you got into the vehicle itself, but it was far too crowded to even get into it. It seems they didn’t arrange enough buses for the amount of people they should realistically already be expecting. It took me about an hour and a bit to finally hop in one.

On Saturday, I went with a friend who had his own car and it was definitely easier. There were plenty of parking spots. However, the price itself for the parking lot was quite expensive and a major complaint by those visiting.

Once inside the event itself, we find one of the biggest appeals of the event: Variety.

To tell you about them, I am going to mostly divide it into five stages that were set up.

Anime Friends 2023 - Area Floor

K-Pop Area

Starting off, we had a stage specifically for K-Pop. Despite not being the biggest fan of the genre and just listening casually, I appreciate the inclusion as they are also a part of asian pop culture.

Most of the attractions here were related to dancing and singing the songs as they played, with small challenges for the audience to win prizes. There was even a workshop to teach people how to dance to some of the songs that were played.

As well as K-Pop, there were interviews here on topics like the impact of BL(Boys Love)/Yaoi outside of Asia and the limitations of access to the culture for the general public. There was also an event called NoraePOP, which was a singing contest for asian songs with a prize pool of about 80 dollars for the first place. It was really fun to see people of all ages trying their shot at KPop songs, anime openings, and more. There were so many things to experience.

Cosplayer at Anime Friends

Cosplay Zone

Here is where the bulk of cosplayers would normally get together to take photos and talk to each other; It was basically a socialization zone for those interested in cosplay.

The stage here was used not just for cosplay competitions, but also manga announcements, from publishers like Panini and New Pop. It was honestly one of the stages I stayed the closest to, partially thanks to having some friends in cosplay and interacting there, but also thanks to the huge size of this area. Luckily, it didn’t feel crowded.

To the side of the stage, there was a zone where only people on cosplay could enter and, from what I was told, it was a bit crowded at times, but it was well managed and cleaned. It also led to the back of the stage so that contestants for the cosplay competition could enter and present themselves from the curtains.

The competitions themselves were quite fun to see. The level of quality on the cosplayers were really high. They all had amazing costumes, with a large portion coming from Genshin Impact, Demon Slayer and also League of Legends. They were all really engaging to talk to and find out how they got into the hobby. Each had very varied answers to the same questions, which was interesting to find out.

There were also some presentations in this stage. Yurika Violin had an amazing performance on stage, stopping even the chat of people far away to come and listen. She was incredibly charismatic too, which helped to bring eyes to the stage and introduced me to her work.

Artist Alley

Taking a break from stages, we head towards the Artist Alley. For those who don’t know what it is, the Artist Alley is basically a portion of the event dedicated to small shops for each artist that applied to sell their art there, be it prints of drawing, pins or even books.

There were 220 different tables there, so you can imagine the amount of different amazing artistic views all in one place. It was a unique experience to walk towards the middle of them. I do feel that the area it was hosted in could’ve been a bit bigger to fit them all, as even just three people in a row could block movement. It didn’t stop me from having a good time though

I am glad that the event brings in a huge amount of artists. It was a good place to enjoy by browsing after seeing the main events at Anime Friends. From what I’ve been told from the artists presenting, the only complaints were that the mentioned issue about space and that they could maybe offer water for everyone working there, as the huge influx of people also brings a lot of human heat to the area.

Maid Cafe

After a lot of walking, maybe it’s time to stop by the Maid Cafe to grab something to eat? We had two options this time, Chest of Wonders and Sugar Club.

I didn’t attend as a visitor (I normally bring my own food) but it was quite well decorated and the maids themselves always had a smile when I passed by. Maintaining a smile while working there for long periods of time must be exhausting, so I have to praise that. I’ve heard the food itself was okay too.

More Stages? Yes, indeed!

Aside from the other two mentioned beforehand, there were three more stages that generally focused on the same aspect: Music and talk shows with the invited guests.

The music quality is definitely something I can’t complain about. There were some amazing artists brought here for the event. Nano, Burnout Syndrome, Scandal, Flow, Survive said the Prophet, and many more who were present over the four-day duration. Unfortunately, not all things are perfect.

Most musical performances were done on a stage with a black cloth covering most of the perimeter, with the intent of making sure the light show wouldn’t affect the rest of the event. The outcome was that many people couldn’t see the show themselves, thanks to the cloth limiting space within the stage but also blocking the view from far away. Even some who paid for the ticket to see the artist couldn’t fit in well. It was a good idea but bad execution. I am pretty sure this idea is not coming back, seeing the amount of suggestions on how to change it.

Anime Friends 2023 - Meet and Greet

Meet & Greet!

The guests invited to the event were a great hit with the public. There were legendary figures from Tokusatsu like Hiroshi Watari, famous for his contribution as an actor and stunt double for many series, and Takumi Tsutsui who was the protagonist of Jiraiya, a famous series of the genre. There was even a small panel near the entrance of the event focused entirely on Tokusatsu and its impact, along with prizes for quizzes and such. It was heartwarming to see the relatively small community here in Brazil grow over the years.

There were also many beloved voice actors who dub media for Brazil, like Guilherme Briggs and Wendel Bezerra. The former is known for characters like Brook from One Piece, Kled from League of Legends and even Superman in all of the DCU movies, to name just a few. On the other hand, Wendel also has an extensive list with honorable mentions to Goku, Spongebob, Jackie Chan in the animated series and also Lee Sin from League of Legends.

While seeing them live was amazing, the system for the meet & greet itself was unfortunately very flawed. The booking could not be done much earlier than the event and it could’ve been done in a more straightforward manner. For example, there were no clear indications on where the photos taken could be found. Meeting tickets were also sold when it was clear the estimated time for artists would already be expired, so some people bought the meet & greet experience and didn’t get to do it due to time. It felt really shoddy and I hope they fix it for next year, as those experiences are why some people come to the event.

Everything in the Middle

Between all the big attractions, there were also some smaller presentations. There were AirSoft guns for people to test, the Brazilian Wrestling Federation doing some amazing moves in their ring, and baseball for those with the iron grip. And of course, there were plenty of stores.

Most of the stores had anime merchandise with some gaming products here and there. I was particularly interested in the store that had older consoles and games to check out. The products were all well made from what I saw, a bit expensive, but that’s expected at events.

The food inside was a tough subject, as there were a lot of great options but most of them had huge lines; not unexpected when there are so many people to feed. On top of that, they were all really expensive. A simple combo you would get at a fast food restaurant was about $10 USD, so many people would simply eat nothing at Anime Friends because the food price + ticket cost + other expenses to get there was just too high.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Anime Friends is an event that tries really hard to bring good experiences to people. It has great attractions, good quality stores, and far more as a bundle. But it feels like they miss the mark when it comes to some very obvious aspects to make sure people can enjoy the event, which feels odd for an event that has been running for 20 years. It’s certainly something that can be fixed, and I hope so because I have good memories of the event.

Want to read more? Please check out more of our Event Coverage. Or want to check out some of the latest games? Maybe of our game reviews will be of interest.

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