Here’s What Went Down At The Banquet

On the 6th and 7th October 2018 at Evolve Concept Mall, 星宴 The Banquet made its highly anticipated event debut – highly anticipated perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Weeks prior to the event, its organisers, M8 Community Events, came under heavy fire from local community members for issues ranging from ticket pricing to guests mismanagement and even social media graphic design.

It was definitely a far stone’s throw from the event’s original intentions. Described by its organisers as “the most conventional ACG event [presented] in the most unconventional way”, the event aimed to foster a community of “producers” in SEA, from cosplayers to independent artists. This was inspired by famous international events like Fancy Frontier, Comiket, and ComicWorld which provides platforms for the community to be creative.

Come event day, the combination of this conflicting information had both attendees and non-attendees alike curious about the turnout of the event. That’s why we’re here to recap our experience at 星宴 The Banquet – the good, the bad, and the underlying potential of this event.

Out with the bad…

Beginning prior to the event day, most regular event-goers showed hesitance toward attending 星宴 The Banquet because of its ticket price of RM30 per day. It was a hefty price tag for a first-time event in a small venue, matching the price of tickets for the largest ACG event in Malaysia, Comic Fiesta, which was held in KLCC last year. This was despite its star-studded guest list, or perhaps, because of it.

A cosplayer busy signing prints at her booth.
Majority of the event was made up of cosplay booths, but there was the occasional doujin booth.

The event appealed to many niches in the community, from TCG to Vocaloids, but it may have narrowed its scope a little too much. Unless you were part of the TCG, Vocaloid, or Touhou community, or a fan of one of the long list of cosplayers at the event, there was very little else left to sustain your attention. Its activities lacked the universal appeal of other recurring events, and that left the most common event-goers with little to do.

For example: One of the biggest highlights – as well as the most frequently occurring stage activity – was the event’s Guest Cosplayer stage panels. These segments took up majority of the stage time, leaving non-cosplay fans few reasons to stick around for more. The organisers also made a strange choice with the space surrounding the stage, purposefully leaving a smaller space in front of the stage that prevented a large crowd from gathering there.

Misa during her cosplay panel, one of the many cosplay-focused attractions at the event.

…In with the good!

Despite those sore points, it is undeniable that 星宴 The Banquet managed to break some new grounds with their event. Notably, they hosted the first Vocaloid contests officially endorsed by piapro – a song creation/cover contest, Vocaloid illustration contest, and live on-Voca talent contest. It’s already a rare sight to see Vocaloid activities at recent events, making the amount of spotlight that was shed on Vocaloid at this event a refreshing sight.

Besides that, the event also hosted the Malaysia Regional Bushiroad Championship Series which saw a good turnout of players from all over to challenge each other at Cardfight!! Vanguard, Future Card Buddyfight, and Dragoborne. The top three players from that weekend will go on to represent Malaysia in the Bushiroad Championship World Finals.

The scene at the Bushiroad section of the event.

Contrary to the standard mix of Guest Cosplayers at events recently, the organisers invited some new and rarely seen faces in Malaysia including Misa, Sakana, CMYK, Tomia, Sansin, Rithe and more! The biggest attraction of the event was undoubtedly their cosplayer panels on stage, which featured some biting questions from the emcee. While some questions may have been purposefully drama-mongering in our opinion, it was still interesting to hear issues widely regarded as taboo being discussed openly at an event.

Another hyped activity at the event was the free play area hosted by INC. One of the more universal attractions at the event, the gaming corner was a nice respite for attendees waiting for the next activity to begin. Much to our delight, the event also served up some food (hence, fulfilling their namesake) which offered attendees more options for meals that weekend.

Attendees fixated on the games provided by INC.

Room for improvement?

Interesting in theory, but not perfect in execution, we’re sure 星宴 The Banquet has many notes to reflect on for next year. As event-goers ourselves, we’re interested in the prospect of an event that deviates from the standard formula and highlights more niche areas of the community. However, balance is certainly key and 星宴 The Banquet will need to be able to retain both general and niche event-goers in order to sustain their events in the long-term.

We’ll definitely be waiting to see what changes they make next. Until then, leave us your comments about the event below. Did you attend 星宴 The Banquet? What did you think about your experience?

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