Over the past weekend, ZAM attended the 10th anniversary Vana'diel Festival 2012 in Pacifico Yokohama. The second part of our recap will cover the event itself, complete with commentary and photos!
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I arrived at Sakuragicho station on Friday afternoon. Although VanaFest wasn't scheduled to start until the next morning, the Final Fantasy XI nostalgia was already present in scenic Yokohama.
You have the waterfall from North Gustaberg.
And there's even an airship dock.
Joking aside, this area of Yokohama was very relaxed compared to the central Tokyo areas I'm used to, so wandering around and taking in its unique style made for the perfect pre-event on VanaFest Eve.
Anyway, let's get to the show!
VanaFest 2012 was held in the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center. The event was much different than previous VanaFests and was styled after the North American FanFest. Instead of simply filing into seats in a theater and watching the show, attendees were free to roam around and enjoy various activities and visit shops. It was a huge production, and it took up the entirety of Event Hall B.
The doors opened up at 9am on Saturday morning. Celebratory flowers were placed next to the entrance along with one bunch shaped like a Nomad Moogle.
There were definitely more attendees this time than at VanaFests in the past. The line streched from the entrance gate, out the door, and snaked back and forth a bunch of times outside. There did not appear to be a cap on ticket sales, so many people had to wait outside during the event until crowd levels went down so they could allow more people inside. With such a huge turnout, it makes you wonder if VanaFest could be made into a profitable convention for Square Enix.
The hall itself was pretty huge and accomodated the crowds fairly well. There was a large area blocked off in the middle where the developer talk sections and various concerts took place.
Square Enix also went the extra mile in preparing tons of references and easter eggs for longtime fans of Final Fantasy XI. There was the iconic crystal from the game's opening movie...
A campaign wall, complete with warning sign: Danger! Please do not attack the wall!
And even a little puzzle printed on the floor of the hall. Apparently, there were puzzle hints posted on the walls in some areas, and by combining the hints with the symbols on the floor, you could spell "Adoulin" (in Japanese). However, the expansion was revealed a mere two hours into the event, so it was mostly just a cute riddle that fans could enjoy cracking together.
Alongside the partition for the concert area, there was a giant mural that depicted various game monsters to scale with a Hume at one end for reference. Some of the monsters were so big that they extended beyond the top of the wall. The mural was a popular spot to take pictures and eventually became the unofficial cosplay exhibition area. We'll get to more of that a little later.
On page two, we'll look at specific sections of the VanaFest 2012 event hall.