2013 Year In Review: Big Things Come in Droves

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We are hopeful that 2014 will not only be a great, but also a banner year for anime events in the country (FreedomStrike Group photo)

2013 may be best remembered for being the most eventful and the most controversial year that I had experienced. Sure we had the Zamboanga Crisis, Napoles and the Pork Barrel Scam, Calamities, Natural (like the Bohol Earthquake and Supertyphoon Yolanda [Haiyan]) and Man-made (the Saga at the Senate featuring Senator Miriam Santiago and Johnny Enrile), Beauties (like Ara Arida. Megan Young and Bea Santiago) and Brainless (the return of Battle of the Brainless on Philippine TV).

We witnessed how Philippine Television has evolved for the past 60 years (and celebrate it with style), then the slew of happenings that happen during Election season (the campaign, the mudslinging, and the Election Coverage innovations and etc). Deaths, from Bella Flores and Pepe Pimentel, Eddie Romero and Danny Zialcita, to Paul Walker, Nelson Mandela and Cory Monteith.  The Affordable Health Care Act (or Obamacare) had a rough time sailing past bipartisan lines, A US government shutdown, A Movie that will enter the annals of film history as the biggest bomb this year (The Lone Ranger). All that happened this year.

On tech, Blackberry almost succumbed, while Apple revamped its OS to a design similar to its fierce rival Android. Windows Phone slowly gained momentum, as opposed to Nokia ending up from top of its game to its devices unit being a part of tech giant Microsoft. “Selfie”, “Regram”, “Foodporn” “OOTD” “QOTD” and other Instagram hashtags became social bywords. Al Jazeera America and Fusion debuted, while the BBC and TV5’s news operations moved to new sites. Brian Griffin was killed off, only to be resurrected after two weeks. Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams made stunning TV Comebacks, as Breaking Bad and Dexter said  goodbyes, alongside a slew of cancelled programs

All of it, made 2013 the most memorable year I have ever witnessed.

And the Philippine Anime Community also shone bright in 2013.

With so many anime and cosplay events happening every single month of the year, it is no surprise that more fans came into droves whenever there is an event happening.

The Lockdown at SM Megamall Megatrade Hall during Otaku Expo 2013 (Kyle Florencio/ZEN Otaku Honbu)

The Lockdown at SM Megamall Megatrade Hall during Otaku Expo 2013 (Kyle Florencio/ZEN Otaku Honbu)

January came Otaku Expo 2013, and the event, peaceful at first, became marred with an unexpected crime that happened at the SM Megamall as alleged members of the notorious “Martilyo Gang” robbed a jewelry store at the Department Store area, causing havoc and panic among event attendees (this reporter included) and caused the unexpected cancellation of the event’s second day.

The University of the Philippines Anime and Manga Enthusiasts held their premiere event, called AME 1 UP,  as opposed to their previous events, in the latter month of February. It became more commonly known to us as The AME Bowl (because of the unexpected blackout in the World Trade Center which mirrored the infamous Super Bowl blackout that happened that week)  It also marked the return to the country of noted cosplayer international cosplayer Reika and it marked the very first live audio coverage of an anime event via Radyo Pirata.  Cosplay.ph, meanwhile, launched their Cosplay Ranking System, eliciting mixed reactions from the community. TV5 suddenly aired Mobile Suit Gundam 00 at a time Anime fans were still hopeful for the network to bring back the fabled AniMEGA block.

ABS-CBN Launches Kuroko's Basketball via a Print Ad (Ad courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer/ABS-CBN Creative Communications Management Division)

ABS-CBN Launches Kuroko’s Basketball via a Print Ad (Ad courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer/ABS-CBN Creative Communications Management Division)

Then last March, Cherry Credits unrolled their first ever event with Cherry Convention 2013, and this is also the month in which,  with clockwork precision, ABS-CBN  and Anime Alliance released explosive announcements. Anime Alliance formally announced that the Philippines, via their organization, will be finally joining the World Cosplay Summit as an observer nation, meanwhile, ABS-CBN announced their biggest anime acquisition of 2013, Kuroko’s Basketball, and launched it in the Team Animazing block with a grand event held at the TriNoma Activity Center. Kuroko became the country’s next sporting anime darling, as it won its timeslot handily over its competitors.

April saw the release of the first ever Naruto movie to be shown in Philippine theaters, Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja, while Ozine Fest 2013 again proved to be the summer anime event of the year despite an overcrowded Megatrade hall and the issue between Ozine and Otaku Asia. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN exited the MMORPG game business with the demise of AMPED Philippines, while its cable sibling Hero made a roll with the premiere of Tiger and Bunny, while adding more potential eyeballs as Destiny Cable subscribers finally saw the ABS-CBN -owned channel on their digital systems. 

May was a transition period as the World Cosplay Summit Philippines committee discussed in a historic Google Hangout with the members of the anime media the details regarding their first qualifiers to be held in Subic, while One Piece Film Z and Hunter X Hunter Phantom Rouge made its cinema runs. Animax and Tele-Asia, meanwhile add more titles to their line-ups. The Pinoy Otaku Festival, an event organized by David D’Angelo’s Naruto Cosplayers Philippines, took the centerstage at the Starmall Events Center in Shaw. While for the first time, Resorts World Manila played host to the Toycon Launch party and Press conference. It was also during this month that Hero TV had a change in its management structure, as a brand new channel head, Marjorie Neri-Estacio, a veteran of Balls, took the helm of the country’s dominant Filipino-dubbed anime channel,

Erika Garbin and Vincent Estapon crowned as WCS Philippines representatives (FreedomStrike Group Photo)

Erika Garbin and Vincent Estapon crowned as WCS Philippines representatives (FreedomStrike Group Photo)

June proved to be the most hectic month of the year as 5 straight weekends of events were witnessed by the entire anime community. It started with the First ever World Cosplay Summit Qualifiers held at Legazpi City and the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center. Toycon 2013 proved to be the premiere pop-culture event in the country as they hosted Hero Face Off 2013, an “event within an event”, featuring the grand finals of World Cosplay Summit Philippines, No less than the Communications Head of World Cosplay Summit International, Ed Hoff, who as one of the members of the board of judges, personally witnessed the competitors and chose Erika Garbin and Vincent Estapon to showcase our cosplay talent in Nagoya. The month capped off with an event in Olongapo organized by Kosupure Maru. 

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, the anime that sparked so much fan speculation, Arguably the best anime of 2013

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, the anime that sparked so much fan speculation, Arguably the best anime of 2013 (Screenshot) 

July saw the comeback of Sailormoon and the premiere of Yu-gi-oh 5DS on ABS-CBN, while Hero aired DeathNote, Kiba and Gundam U.C. Animax ruled supreme in August with the premieres of Accel World and Three Vessels. Garbin and Estapon also made history by showcasing their cosplay talent with the rest of the world during the World Cosplay Summit held in Nagoya. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, the so-called “Swimming Anime” which Kyoto Animation animated and was based on the “High Speed” light novel, was aired in Japan with a storyline focused on friendship and rivalries, and at the same time making waves because of the anime being a Shounen-ai fodder.

The guests of The Best of Anime 2013, which included Joe Inoue, Stamarie, YukiGodbless and Jiaki Darkness, Karael and Hero TV/Balls Channel honcho Marjorie Neri-Estacio

The guests of The Best of Anime 2013, which included Joe Inoue, Stamarie, YukiGodbless and Jiaki Darkness, Karael and Hero TV/Balls Channel honcho Marjorie Neri-Estacio, alongside PrimeTrade Asia President Irene Lloren (FreedomStrike Group Photo)

September also proved to be a busy month for events, as The Best of Anime continued to rock audiences with the return of noted J-Pop artist Joe Inoue and noted Thai Cosplayers Jiaki Darkness and Yuki Godbless, while Cosplay Mania 2013 sizzled October with the return of Kaname, Reika and Jesuke, but also the addition of Goldy, Vic Kumiko, Reiko, Viospace and other ASEAN cosplayers spread over two days and more than 30, 000 people attending the event.

November saw the announcement of Animax Carnival Philippines, but as Yolanda struck, they had to cancel it in deference to the victims. December ended with the Christmas Toyfair and Ozine Anime Figure special. 

In all of this, I must say 2013 was a year of big things. and yes, they came in rushing towards us. It was surely a big year for Anime Events and the Community here, and for that, We must be all grateful to all the organizers, the marshals, and the venues who lent their time and effort to hold the best anime events of the year.

Knightkira Special Patrol, our first ever program on Radyo Pirata

Knightkira Special Patrol, our first ever program on Radyo Pirata

It is also the year of Firebrand Journalism, as we made FreedomStrike Group operational this year, with the launch of our weekly effort “Knightkira Special Patrol” on online radio station Radyo Pirata, and we continue to do the trademark fearless, balanced, objective and no-nonsense journalism through our blogs, twitter account and, very soon, our own website. In 2014. FreedomStrike is hopeful to launch two new projects, the launch of its own Web portal, and a brand new program, “At Large with Kira Yamato”, to air in January.  I am also hopeful to put some key plans into projects, to which I am not at yet at full liberty to disclose what they are, but like everyone else puts it. Stay tuned. 😀

ZEN Otaku Honbu is going to have a new chapter as well.

ZEN Otaku Honbu is going to have a new chapter as well.

And, ZEN Otaku Honbu, to which FreedomStrike is a proud part of, is going to have a brand new chapter as well, as 1 January 2014 will see ZEN Otaku Honbu transform into Anime Pilipinas. Being a part of the core team of ZEN, having been its Managing Editor and Pioneer Correspondent, it really was fleeting to look into what ZEN has become of now, from our simple beginnings as a message board, to becoming a news and opinion website where we broke the biggest stories and outscooped the competition with a lot of exclusives, plus our incisive long-form features that profile top newsmakers and organizers. I take pride in what ZEN Otaku Honbu has done in the anime community, and the trust event organizers, newsmakers, TV executives, and others have gave us in delivering the best anime journalism in the country, and with that, we are forever grateful.

And with that, The chapter that we call 2013 comes to a close, Other than saying “But you did not die, right?” and “Bahala kayo sa buhay nyo”. Let us remember how hopeful we are for the year ahead, and yes, I am optimistic with what 2014 will bring us (yes, we have said this to 2013, to 2012, to 2011 and to all other years beforehand, but we always try to look forward rather than backward) for everyone, in our nation and in our anime community as a whole. 

From all of us at FreedomStrike Group, our family of Blogs, The Radio and Digital Division and Creatives. MAY YOU HAVE A PROSPEROUS 2014 AHEAD! 

And That’s The Way it is, Headin’ Out! 

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