Comic Frontier is one of the biggest Japanese content events in Indonesia. Its 15th edition held this year marks its return as a physical event, two years after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
In general, Comic Frontier 15 has gathered tens of thousands of visitors over the weekend of September 24-25 at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition venue inside BSD City, Greater Jakarta.
We take a look at select highlights of the event held at the country with the highest concentration of VTubers in Southeast Asian region.
VTuber Activities on Stage
Comic Frontier 15's stage program features VTubers from Hololive Indonesia, Nijisanji, Alterly and MAHA5. A third of the event's schedule per day is allocated to VTubers.
On Day 1, HoloID's Airani Iofifteen and Vestia Zeta drew each other in a live drawing session; Nijisanji's Mika Melatika hosted an Otaku Quiz; and Alterly talents performed on screen, which was enjoyed especially by that one guy in the front row performing air drums.
Day 2 saw Nijisanji's Layla Alstroemeria and Etna Crimson hold a live storytelling session; HoloID's Anya Melfissa and Kaela Kovalskia judge an Otaku Cosplay Competition where all contestants dress in their Akihabara-inspired fan gear; and MAHA5's Andi Andinata, Alia Adelia and Nia Redalion held a live concert. Fortunately, these segments can be watched again on Comifuro's YouTube page.
Syahrian Naufal Alfarizy of Ayukawa Media (Nawala Karsa / Nakama Virtual) shared with NewsDrop a list of agencies, circles and individuals who set up their respective booths during the event.
The majority of the names on the said list sell merchandise such as stickers, pin badges, keychains, posters and the like. There were some cosplay photo books on sale as well.
What we understood is that the purchasing power of Indonesian VTuber fans were considered in the production of official or fan-based character merchandise.
The one with the biggest exposure is DigiKagi (a collaboration between OMNIVR and Kunci Games), which sponsored the Utattemita karaoke open mic segment. Other agencies which have a huge presence include AKA Virtual and MAHA5. (AKA Virtual has done something unprecedented among its peers, which will be discussed further in this post.)
We also looked into the list created by Valentino Ringo, also known on Twitter as @VRchama. There, we see a list of 15 agencies and their specific locations, with 13 of them scattered around the exhibit hall. Only Hololive Meet and DigiKagi were the exceptions.
Agencies ARVI and VILITERA made their mark by having cosplayers. In the case of VILITERA, they got Surabaya-based illustrator Sarasenia to cosplay as virtual content creator Mahiru Rui.
Mozaic Heaven Atelier, a VTuber artist workshop, also made its presence there, letting fans try a VTuber tracking setup.
Hololive Meet at Comifuro 15 went successfully, with known personalities even getting their chance to meet its VTubers. Take for example cosplayer Larissa Rochefort, dressed as Mori Calliope, who met squirrel Ayunda Risu.
Among all the happenings at Comic Frontier 15 is a surprise appearance of AKA Virtual's talents—cosplaying as themselves, in person.
AKA Virtual's Airi Cordelia and Caerula Aki dressed up as themselves at the event, which sparked another discussion about VTubers breaking the norm in Indonesia. Despite the danger of being doxxed by anyone, some VTubers took the resolve to show who they are—in person. They now refer to themselves as "hybrid" VTubers.
NewsDrop asked Airi about her decision through email, and she replied in kind. Being a hybrid means you can do activities in both virtual and IRL realms:
Q: Why did you decide to be a hybrid VTuber?
A: "I decided to become a hybrid VTuber to allow myself to create even more diverse content. I want to interview people in real life, but still while playing as a character. It's like bringing the VTuber roleplay to real life. I also thought it would be nice to be able to meet people face-to-face as Airi on events, such as Comic Frontier."
Of course, not everyone understands the idea, but if the agency's ok with it, why not?
Q: From your point of view, what feedback have you received so far following your decision?
A: "I received a lot of support as well as backlash of course, but a lot of the backlash is caused by a misunderstanding of something I’ve publicly said before rather than people being unhappy with my decision of becoming a hybrid VTuber and the uprising of hybrid VTubers in general. What's most important to me is that my agency, AKA Virtual, is happy with my decision and they fully support my activities as a hybrid VTuber."
The idea of hybrid VTubers does look interesting, but let's not forget that this adds another layer of responsibility and respect among peers.
Q: Are you (or in a wider scope, is AKA Virtual) looking forward to more hybrid VTubers appearing in the future?
"I am definitely looking forward to seeing more hybrid VTubers, but I hope everyone will be wise regarding the content that they create. And of course, I hope everyone can respect all creators who want to remain 2D or slowly transition into real-life content."
This though is not the first instance of VTubers crossing dimensions, as their kind also exists outside of Indonesia.
Cosplayers Clarissa Punipun, Nekonoi Katsu and Ola Aphrodite, dressed up as Kobo Kanaeru, Usada Pekora, and Gawr Gura respectively, found themselves distributing free carrots.
The cosplayers, who are representing the local hobby store Lichtschein, were handed a bag of carrots by someone dressed as an abyss mage (from Genshin Impact). Naufal told NewsDrop that the carrot distribution was unexpected. We do consider this as an influence of Usada Pekora's character—as a bunny who has a carrot stuck in her hair braids.
Despite setbacks including a crowd that was larger than expected, Comic Frontier 15, made its mark in the country's pop culture event scene. The growth of VTubers in Indonesia led Comifuro to integrate them to its activities, even before the pandemic started.
We certainly look forward to visit Indonesia and see how the VTuber community develops further over time.
Naufal also shared to NewsDrop an album of photos taken during the event, which are also posted on Facebook. Here are some choice photos of VTuber cosplays from the event:
Future Side-Events for the Indonesian VTuber Community
NewsDrop approached Rafly Nugroho, who was in charge of the Comifuro 15 program, to ask his perspective regarding the growth of Indonesia's VTuber community.
Do we look forward to a possible side-event for Indonesia's VTuber community, much like Thailand's V-FESTA?
"I think a separate side-event for VTuber can be a possibility in Indonesia. Since the numbers of VTubers keep growing every day, and especially in 2022 we’ve seen another wave of VTuber hype where there are some VTubers who can reach the “normie” audience, such as Kobo from Hololive, and some other indie VTubers who do collab with influencers from general audience demographic such as Windah Basudara and Luthfi Halimawan.
With the number of VTubers talents and audiences having a significant growth, I think there can be a possibility for VTuber-specific event in Indonesia."
Now, is there a possibility for Comifuro to establish such side-events?
"But if you ask whether Comifuro will held a side-event for that, well that’s not something that I can directly say or announce since I’m not the one who decide it, but for me personally it should be an interesting idea for Comifuro to be able to host a Vtuber specific event in the future."
Thank you very much to Naufal, Airi and Rafly for sharing their time and experience with NewsDrop to bring another set of perspectives in the recently-held Comic Frontier 15.
Photos in this story are taken from Nawala Karsa and are used with permission.