Manifest (convention)

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Manifest (Melbourne Anime Festival)
Status Defunct
Venue Melbourne Showgrounds
Location(s) Victoria
Country Australia
Inaugurated 2000
Most recent 2013
Attendance 7,100 as 2009[1]

Melbourne Anime Festival, colloquially known as "Manifest", is a defunct three-day fan convention held in Melbourne, Australia. It focused on the art of anime and manga, East Asian culture, and its associated fandoms. Manifest was held at the Parkville campus of the University of Melbourne until 2009, when it moved to the Melbourne Showgrounds. It was held in August each year. Following the 2013 convention, Manifest closed its doors.

Run by the not-for-profit organisation MAFI (Melbourne Anime Festival Inc.) and staffed entirely by volunteers, Manifest is the longest-running anime convention in Australia. The organising committee held regular meetings to plan and organise the event, and was made up of 30-75 people. In addition, more than a hundred individuals volunteer their time on the event weekend to help run the convention.

In 2009, Manifest moved to the Melbourne Showgrounds and, for the first time, ran overnight with a branch-out event called Mani-Midnight. The focus was on providing a more adult event, including:

Manifest 2008 ran at The University of Melbourne for three full days, starting on the morning of Friday 26 September, and finishing the evening of Sunday 28th.

In 2007 Manifest added another event to the schedule, the anime ball Amaranth, which took place on Thursday 13 September, the evening prior to Manifest's commencement. The ball, Amaranth, was a huge success. It continued to be a part of Manifest, with the event traditionally occurring the Thursday for several years before being moved to the Friday in 2011 and continued to be a part of the event up until Manifest's dissolution in 2013


Typical Manifest programming included:

  • Several screening theatres, in which anime is shown on big screens throughout the convention.
  • Discussion panels hosted by experts. Two notable recurring panels are the Madman Entertainment panel and the long-featured YAOI panel.
  • Workshops on subjects such as model or cel painting, or how to draw manga.
  • A Traders' Hall, in which commercial vendors and fan groups set up booths or tables to sell their merchandise.
  • An Auction, in which MAFI sells special, limited-edition items. Attendees can also submit appropriate items to be sold.
  • The Art Show, in which amateur artists may display their artwork.
  • Karaoke.
  • An "Anime Idol" competition, in which contestants aspire to become the "Manifest Idol."
  • A trivia competition, traditionally run by members of AVCon's committee.
  • A range of events that showcase Japanese and East Asian culture. Examples from previous years include ikebana, origami, taiko drumming and the Chinese boardgame Go.
  • A video game room in which attendees may play a variety of console games. In addition to the free-play games, tournaments are typically arranged.
  • Free Dance Dance Revolution free-play and competitions.
  • An "Iron Chef" anime music video competition, in which contestants are given set footage (the "ingredients") and a time limit in which to create an AMV.
  • An "Iron Artist" competition, similar to the "Iron Chef AMV", but using traditional cartoonist mediums for the purpose of creating a comic page.
  • Cosplay competitions. Many attendees spend most of the convention in costume as their favorite anime, manga, or video game character. The cosplay competitions, often held over multiple days of the convention, are one of the most popular events at Manifest.
  • Cosplay Chess, based on Human Chess, began in 2006 and has become a regular event.
  • Trading Card Games, including Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • A drawing room, in which people are free to sit and draw, as well as receiving feedback from professional artists if they request it.

An all-night event named Mani-Midnight was added to the line up in 2009, with an additional charge for those wishing to attend an extra 8 hours of anime screenings, games, and workshops. No traders take part in this overnight event, and one does not have to purchase a pass to Manifest's daytime events to attend. All Mani-Midnight attendees must be aged 18 or over, and are subject to ID checks.

Attendees to Manifest received an attendance pass. These items became collectible items amongst attendees and a full set was sold at the Manifest Auction each year. Attendees would also receive a showbag, traditionally containing the event Programme Book with information about the event and schedule and marketing material from Manifest sponsors.


In 1998, the anime clubs of Melbourne and Swinburne universities (WWWA and SAC, respectively) and the Melbourne Anime Society staged a fundraising event for the then-new Monash Anime and Comics Club (MACC]), with six hours of anime and a barbecue lunch. The four clubs put together a similar event in 1999 called Anime Marathon '99, adding cosplay and a live band. Taking inspiration from anime conventions in the United States and elsewhere, in 2000 the clubs transformed this event into Australia's first anime convention, and named it Manifest. The convention ran for two days in August, including a cosplay competition, trivia competition, fanfic competition, anime music video (AMV) competition, discussion panels and anime screenings.

The 2001 event added role-playing, a great debate event, and a selection of traders. 2002 saw the addition of an artwork competition, auction and karaoke. 2003 added more artwork competitions, and minor events. The LaTrobe University Anime Society (LUNASY) also became involved in the organisation of the convention. The increasing size of the convention, and increasingly diverse organisational talent (with members of the community who were not members of the clubs volunteering their time) prompted the formation of the non-profit Manifest Inc., to which the clubs ceded control.

The 2004 event added an Anime Idol competition, Trading Card Game tournament, model painting and Japanese video games. The number of discussion panels had increased over the years, as had the number of screening theatres and traders in the Traders' Hall. 2004 dropped the great debate event and the live band. An unexpected increase in attendee numbers caused the convention to hit an attendance limit imposed by venue size and before the end of the first day many people had been turned away.

In April 2005, Manifest Inc. staged a small, single day convention called Minifest. This small convention (with approximately 350 attendees) was used as a gesture of gratitude to people who had volunteered during the Manifest 2004 event (these volunteers gained free entry), a training camp to give newer Manifest Organisational Committee members experience before the much larger Manifest event, and as a launch for Manifest 2005 pre-registration. Minifest featured anime screenings, video games and an art room provided by OzTAKU. It did not feature a Traders' Hall.

In 2005 the Manifest event was moved to September to acquire the use of a third building at the University of Melbourne. The date chosen also allowed the convention to expand into Friday, and the committee added a half-day of events. The RMIT Society of Anime and Manga Addicts (SAMA) aided Manifest in the organisation of aspects of the convention in 2007.

In 2008 the Amaranth Anime Ball was introduced. In 2009, Manifest moved to a new venue of the Melbourne Showgrounds. The venue greatly increased capacity so no one had to be turned away as in previous years, but was plagued with a number of teething issues as the committee had never run a large scale event outside of the confines of Melbourne University, and "Acts of God" (or Mothra attacks, as they were described by MOC) such as the roof being torn off one of the hired buildings by high winds six days prior to the event.

On 1 December 2013, it was announced that Manifest will not be running again in 2014 due to financial and staffing issues. [2]

Event history[edit]

Dates Location Atten. Guests
11–12 October 2001 Melbourne University
Old Arts Building
Melbourne, Australia[3]
10–11 August 2002 Melbourne University
Melbourne, Australia[4]
8–10 August 2003 University of Melbourne
Economics and Commerce Building
Melbourne, Australia[5]
14–15 August 2004 University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Melbourne, Australia[6]
23–25 September 2005 University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Melbourne, Australia[7]
22–24 September 2006 University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Melbourne, Australia
14–16 September 2007 University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Melbourne, Australia
26–28 September 2008 University of Melbourne
Parkville Campus
Melbourne, Australia[10]
21–23 August 2009 Melbourne Showgrounds
Melbourne, Australia[1]
20–22 August 2010 Melbourne Showgrounds
Melbourne, Australia
7900 2
26–28 August 2011 Melbourne Showgrounds
Melbourne, Australia
17–19 August 2012 Melbourne Showgrounds
Melbourne, Australia
16–18 August 2013 Melbourne Showgrounds
Melbourne, Australia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Manifest 2009 Information". Melbourne Anime Festival. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Manifest 2001 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  4. ^ "Manifest 2002 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  5. ^ "Manifest 2003 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  6. ^ "Manifest 2004 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  7. ^ "Manifest 2005 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  8. ^ "Manifest 2006 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  9. ^ "Manifest 2007 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  10. ^ a b "Manifest 2008 Information". Retrieved 2008-06-19. 

External links[edit]