Japanese animation at Abu Dhabi's du Forum wows all
Abu Dhabi - The Panther, one of Amano's sculptures, valued at $3.5 million is on display.
A giant Godzilla towers above the du Forum in Yas Island. It's a specimen of the surreal world created at the three-day anime, manga and Japanese cultural festival - ANI:ME, which began on Thursday.
Inside the du Forum is the Who's Who of Japanese animation world starting with Yoshitaka Amano, the artist behind Speed Racer and Final Fantasy franchise.
The Panther, one of Amano's sculptures, valued at $3.5 million is on display. The Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, after inaugurating the event admired the 400kg 'Panther'.
A group of artists were busy creating street fighter and other characters.
Anime artist Long Vu, with over 15 years of experience in the field, said its street fighter Ryu and Chun-Li are always in demand. "People come and ask me to draw these two characters," he said showing his works.
At present, he is the creative director and producer at Udon Entertainment. He has worked as a comic creator, illustrator and art director for Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros and more.
Then there are classic manga and anime like Grendizer and Astroganger on display.
Among other activities is cosplay - a performance art where participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character.
Cosplayer Phil Mizuno is among the many international names at the event.
"I am from Canada. It was at a Los Angeles event from where I got invite for this event. I was at the right place at the right time," said Mizuno, who plays as Koga the wolf demon from manga series 'Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale'.
Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, Kanji Fujiki, said this event is only the first step among many planned to build cultural ties.
"We have to expand this kind of cultural event. I hope this event is held again next year in a bigger way. I told Shaikh Nahyan to come back for this event next year, too. Cultural ties are very important to understand each other. I am so happy to see so many local people showing interest in Japanese culture. Through such events, people in the UAE will get first-hand experience of our culture."
And the Emiratis were out in numbers catching up on Anime and Manga works.
Youngsters Ahmed Hashmi and Saif Fahim also bought samurai swords.
"I had seen all of this only through You Tube. I am getting a first-hand experience of the Japanese swords and it's exciting." Hashmi said.
"This is also a platform to know more about Japanese culture. I have always been interested in knowing more about them," Fahim said.
For the hardcore fans, there are stores for collectibles, where one can buy masks and mugs of their favourite characters.
The cultural festival ends on Saturday.