Otakufest 2023: Cebu’s Premier Anime Convention

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Anime fans gathered at SM Seaside to celebrate Otakufest 2023.

It may be extremely popular now, but Japanese animation or anime used to have quite a niche fan base. Finding other people who enjoy this unique art form was difficult. Fortunately, recent years have seen a steady growth among anime enthusiasts worldwide.

Anime fans are called otakus, and when given the opportunity, they passionately display their excitement for their favorite anime shows or movies. Conventions are a good example, as fans get to dress up as their favorite character and celebrate with other people who share the same love for anime.

Filipinos are clearly massive otakus, showing their love through personal items or collectibles and social media posts. You can also witness this at local conventions such as the famous Otakufest in Cebu.

Because of the anime fan base in Cebu, local organizers created the convention.

The Otakufest is a public gathering of anime fans, cosplayers, artists, hobbyists, and collectors, where they can geek out and talk about their favorite anime shows.

Despite the name suggesting a focus on anime, the convention has expanded to cater not only to otakus, but also to film junkies, comic book nerds, and die-hard gamers alike.

The convention typically takes place within a spacious public area for participants to walk around in. In 2023, the event was held at the Sky Hall Convention Center and Sky Park at SM Seaside Cebu.


Singing contest at Otakufest 2023

Many otakus dressed up as their favorite anime characters.

Otakufest 2023 was a two-day event, each with its own set of fun and lively activities. Whether it was singing contests, gaming tournaments, or meet-and-greets, everybody had something to look forward to.

The main event area at Sky Hall housed artists, toymakers, and merch stores of different pop culture references. Some exhibitors were also known for joining other similar social events like Cebu Lit Fest and Bon Odori.

Participants walked around the aisles looking for keychains, stickers, face masks, mouse pads, and even body pillows to bring home and showcase their love for their favorite fictional characters.

Toy collectors also sold intricate replicas of fictional weapons and figurines from famous anime shows. One table specifically featured Gundams, while others sold katanas from Demon Slayer and wands from Card Captor Sakura.


Cosplaying is one of the exciting activities that participants look forward to at the event.

Many participants were seen cosplaying their favorite characters. Each had their own unique approach, with some getting extremely creative with their costumes.

You would see many popular characters from famous anime shows like One Piece and Naruto, and even games like Valorant and Mobile Legends. 

Others went as more bizarre characters like a non-playable character, a transport balloon from Genshin Impact, and a box Gundam.

Cosplay allows one to fully embody a character they would otherwise only see on their TV screens, so many of them made sure to document their costumes before leaving the event. Professional photographers even approached cosplayers and took photos for more high-quality images.  

Aside from dressing up as your favorite character, the event also allows you to take selfies with fellow cosplayers. It isn’t every day you get the chance to see Phoenix, Jett, Kamen Rider, or even the Teletubbies in person!

Hats from famous characters in Anime

If you want to join in on the fun but don’t have a full costume to wear, you can buy hats, beanies, jackets, or footwear inspired by your favorite characters at the several stalls at the event.


Hobbyists playing trading card games at Otakufest 2023

The Otakufest also featured Cebu’s budding hobbyist community.

Aside from cosplaying, the Otakufest also promotes Cebu’s hobbyist community. Everyone has their own personal hobbies, but the convention focused specifically on trading card games (TCGs), tabletop RPGs, and fighting games.

TCG players playing at the Otakufest 2023

Ever since Yu-Gi-Oh! was popularized in the Philippines, more TCGs like Magic the Gathering, Buddy Fight Vanguard, and Pokemon TCG have made waves around the city. 

Tabletop RPGs, on the other hand, require a lot of imagination since players create characters and scenarios in fictional settings. This is a fun activity best experienced with a group to de-stress from reality.

If you are in any way interested in these activities, you can find stores selling cards or board games at malls in Cebu City, like Ayala Central Bloc at IT Park.

Cebu’s fighting game community (FGC) also graced the event to hold tournaments for famous games like Tekken and Guilty Gear Strive. Participants fought to see who was the best player at the event, complete with casters for an E-Sports-like experience.

The Otakufest has evolved from being a gathering of anime enthusiasts to a convention for everyone interested in a particular TV show, movie, or video game.

An event like this gives you the chance to meet people who enjoy the same things you do. It’s an easy and fun way to make friends and show your love for your favorite shows.  

You don’t even have to be an anime fan to appreciate an event like this. Having an interest in a particular movie, show, or hobby is more than enough to enjoy the activities at the Otakufest.


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