By: Seleny Santamaria - Research Assistant and Leslie Benitez - International Business Assistant CCJCI
Anime, Manga, Graphic Novels, Comics, Fantasy Literature, Science Fiction, Video Games, Role Playing Games, Cards and Strategy and more activities, were held from October 13 to 17, 2022. In the dragon festival, as The Leisure and Fantasy Hall is also known, which is held in Bogotá, which brings together alternative communities and cultures and meets every year to share their hobbies in a single space.
The First Hall of Leisure and Fantasy (SOFA) was held in 2009 in Bogotá at the Bima Shopping Center with an attendance of 4,000 people. This was a meeting of alternative cultures and fantastic universes, where Japanese illustration, Western illustration, designer toys, video games, role-playing, cards and strategy, fantasy literature and science fiction all came together. Contests, tournaments, exhibitions, conferences and special guests,
From 2009 to date, SOFA is one of the most anticipated events for entrepreneurs, fans, cosplayers and artists to both offer their products and make themselves known to all the attendees who participate in the five days of the fair, registering this year 227 thousand visitors, breaking attendance records.
After a SOFA 2020 with limited attendance due to the restrictions due to the Covid 19 contingency, the SOFA returned with more surprises and with pavilions never seen before, generating spaces for digital interaction and entertainment.
JAPAN ON THE SOFA
The SOFA has always been considered a space for fans of comics, pop culture and the film industry to coexist in different stages prepared by the fans themselves. Japanese Culture is part of these scenarios, highlighting samples of anime, manga, video games of Japanese origin, and artistic representations, graphics and cosplays of Japanese animations.
It is common to find in the different pavilions ventures of original products or merchandise of these animations, this generates that these companies import these products from Japan itself in advance of the event. Thus, fans can easily access products from anime or manga franchises without having to have an intermediary in Japan.
The evolution that Japanese Manga, Anime and Video Games have generated in recent years has generated that more people become fans of these productions, to the point of acquiring these products that remind them of their favorite characters.
Not only commercial enterprises have space in the SOFA, but also language academies that are located in the city of Bogotá, these language academies teach both Chinese, Korean and Japanese. These academies are promoted so that Corferias attendees find the institute that they like the most to learn these languages. The desire to learn the Japanese Language has increased in recent years due to the interest of young people and adults in being able to express themselves in the language in which their animations are presented.
We cannot leave aside the traditional Cosplayers, those people who have become an important nucleus of SOFA over the years. From simple cosplays that involve makeup or clothing alluding to the characters of your favorite anime, manga or video games; even those people who took this hobby to transform it into a vocation. These Cosplayers invest large amounts of money in clothing, accessories, quality wigs, among others, to stand out at the event. It has already become customary for different national cosplayers to announce the days they will be present and the different cosplays they will wear so that people prepare to take photos with them.
As mentioned, every year SOFA presents different activities in its different pavilions so that attendees have an immersive visit to the different topics that participate in the event. Thus having the second floor of pavilion #6 dedicated to the evolution and representation of Japanese Animation. In this pavilion its history, its importance and its aesthetics are disclosed in an artistic format representing an art gallery.
The importance of Japanese entertainment culture in Colombia has come to be present in this type of space, attendees always expect to visit and take photos with the characters of the anime of the moment. And those who are interested in the core of anime and manga can enjoy these kinds of Expos, which teach us about the symbology and the people behind fan-favorite works.
METAVERSE ON THE SOFA
The metaverse is a digital reality that we access through special devices or applications that allow virtual or augmented reality through which we can interact with other users or objects. This year a pavilion that caused a lot of interest among SOFA attendees was the Metaverse Museum, you could enter this by downloading an application on your cell phone which allows you to enter a virtual art gallery where you could interact with various paintings and digital sculptures made by local artists.
This allows artists to make their works more dynamic and to experiment with various artistic and digital techniques that allow them versatility in their works, where the viewer has a different experience than being in an art gallery in the physical world. A small window to the future that shows us how we are going to relate between the physical and virtual world in the different spaces of our daily lives, with the advances of technology in this field in the future, experiences of this type will be increasingly immersive, transforming simple physical spaces into spaces where you can transform them.
SOFA 2022 exceeded expectations in terms of attendance and content, now we will prepare for SOFA 2023 that has a lot to show because the tastes of the fans are increasing. We have already seen a pavilion dedicated to Digital Content, which leads us to ask ourselves, what else can technological tools offer us to enjoy audiovisual pieces or digital transformation; we also enjoyed a pavilion dedicated to the culture around K-Pop and South Korea, along with ventures and activities inspired by traditional games and food from this country; likewise, there was a space dedicated to children enjoying different recreational activities and entertainment spaces according to their age. We will expect different surprises for the next edition of this event, hoping that both digital and face-to-face activities and interactions will increase, and this space will be taken to the next level.