Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting.

F3 is a project that originated with the Friends International organisation. F3 offers opportunities for young creative people interested in community organisation or entrepreneurship who want to exhibit, perform, develop or sell their ideas. Whatever their dreams happen to be, the incubation team at the F3 community centre will help bring them to life.

In recent years the popularity of anime has risen sharply among Cambodian teens and youths, prompting F3 to organise this anime festival through their community centre. The planning began last year but the event was put off due to the pandemic.

“In the last few years we’ve noticed a big trend especially for youths with anime TV series and cosplay. There are more bookshops focused on manga and there are anime based coffee shops and cosplay events being hosted all over Phnom Penh. That’s what gave us the idea to do an anime festival,” Panha Hong, Cambodia coordinator at F3, tells The Post.

F3 is working with the community and local businesses that are interested in anime and manga to organise the festival. They will be co-hosting it with Phantoms Cosplay – a cosplay team based in Phnom Penh that has been operating since 2019 – and the Anime D. Store Cambodia as well as conceptual artist and illustrator Sam Daro and many other supporters.

Apsara (left) and Nakrak Seung by Sam Daro whose anime style is a mixture of Khmer Angkor, kbach, Japanese and western. SUPPLIED

“The inspiration came from the young people who regularly come to the F3 community centre. Our community centre does different events with food and drink that allow the youths to socialise and a bunch of them asked us to organise an anime or cosplay event,” Hong says.

Hong says that F3 is focused on coming up with creative events for young people in the community and the festival will also bring together the existing anime community and allow them to share their passion for anime with other members of the community.

Ly Pechvattana, co-owner of Anime D. Store Cambodia which sells various anime items, says this isn’t the bookstores first anime event but it is their very first collaboration that involves so many other partners.

Anime figurines and wooden costume swords will be sold at the event. SUPPLIED

“We are so excited about it and really looking forward to the event. In the past we’ve organised some events, but it was just us alone. We didn’t have that many people attend – our place is not as big and spacious as F3’s. Now that F3 has reached out to us we’re interested in doing more together,” says Pechvattana.

“We will have wooden swords for cosplay, Japanese costumes, stickers, key chains and other souvenirs for those who support and love anime and Japanese culture,” says Pechvattana.

Daro, the artist and illustrator who does anime that is a mixture of Khmer Angkorian design, Kbach, Japanese and western styles and just published his first book in late 2021, says he is always delighted to help out with events like the festival.

He says the event will give him the chance to get to know more artists with the same interests and passions who he can exchange views and experiences with in order to form an anime art community in Cambodia.

Anime related clothing will also be available for purchase. SUPPLIED

“I will be exhibiting my first book that I released last year call Nakrak and I’ll have character stickers from the book and from other work I have done in the past. I would like to also launch my Apsara 2022 because I’ve been updating my Apsara yearly.

“One last thing – although I am not sure if I can complete it in time for the festival – but I want to be able to show a teaser for my second book which is connected to my first book,”

Some other features of the event are anime pop-up shops, the cosplay competition with cool prizes to win, anime character makeup station, anime character hairstyling station (including temporary hair dyes), anime character nail salon, cosplay selfie photo booth, DJs spinning Japanese/ Korean Pop and Rock, manga and anime book stalls and exchanges, anime art expo, live games like Pokémon and more, Celestial Crystals pop-up and food like Japanese and Korean snacks, Topokki, bubble teas, shakes, smoothies and ice cream.

“We hope that many people will come and enjoy themselves. This is a place for them to socialise and get to know each other and make new friends,” Pechvattana says.

Panha says that judging by the event response on the F3 Facebook page achieved without any marketing whatsoever they are expecting about 400 to 600 people to attend.

“If you love manga or anime, bring your friends and join us on January 22 from 12pm-8pm at the F3 Community Centre. There will be lots for you to see, hear, taste and experience.

Anime toys and costumes are up for sale as well. SUPPLIED

“With the pandemic situation you never know when something might change, so everyone should keep posted by following our page and getting updates there,” says Panha.

Entry to the anime festival is free for everyone and everyone is welcome to attend but everyone who would like to participate must follow Covid-19 safety protocols by wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“I hope this kind of event will motivate younger artists to keep doing what they are doing, be brave and share their talents, especially their passion for anime,” Daro says.

The F3 Anime Festival will be held on Saturday January 22 from noon to 8pm at #215 St 13 in Sangkat Chey Chumnas of Khan Daun Penh in Phnom Penh.

For more information on the event, visit the Friends Futures Factory Facebook page: @friendsfuturesfactorykh