For 11 years now, Ozine Fest, an anime-themed convention held annually in Metro Manila, has been providing anime and Japanese culture enthusiasts alike a massive avenue where they can indulge in anything Japanese culture-related for three consecutive days.
Apart from hosting booths that sell countless anime merchandise and collectibles, Ozine Fest also holds activities like anime theme song singing contests, costume play (cosplay) contests, battle of the bands, and even meet and greet with popular cosplayers on different days of the convention.
And as regular attendees know, even non-participants of the cosplay contests can actually attend Ozine Fest in costume.
2016, however, witnessed a drastic change in the festival’s calendar as the three-day event, which usually starts on a Friday, turned into a two-day convention held only on April 16 (Saturday) and April 17 (Sunday) at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Moreover, the regular Maid Cafe attraction, which was normally one of the busiest corners of the festival, was not in sight this time around.
But despite the subtraction, followers and regular attendees of Ozine Fest were actually treated to an irresistible addition and, in fact, a must-not-miss show during the fest — no other than Japanese rock band FLOW’s first ever gig in the Philippines.
FLOW is a five-member alternative rock/pop-punk band from Japan. Composed of Kohshi and Keigo on vocals, Take on guitar, Got’s on bass, and Iwasaki on drums, FLOW is well-known among Filipino anime fans for its iconic soundtracks for popular anime shows like Naruto, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, and Durarara!!x2: Ketsu, among many others.
Since its formation in 1998, FLOW has released a total of 30 singles and 10 studio albums.
FLOW’s first time in PH
A big chunk of Ozine Fest’s first day (April 16) was dedicated to FLOW and its fans. Before playing its first ever show in Manila that night, FLOW held an album signing session and a meet and greet with a total of 100 Pinoy fans. But prior to meeting them, the group was also accommodating enough to entertain members of the media for a quick chat.
A quick chat with FLOW
When asked what their first impression of their Filipino fans was, one of the band’s two vocalists, Keigo, explained that as they haven’t met the crowd yet during the press conference, they are yet to see how everyone is. But the vocalist acknowledged that they do get positive responses from their Filipino fans on social media and he shared that they are excited to meet them all during the show.
What initially astonished the group upon arriving in the country, according to them, was the beautiful view they had of the blue sky on their way to the hotel from the airport. It came as a surprise to them though that the temperature in the metro plays around 35 degrees Celsius to almost 40 this summer season.
As the conversation eventually went down to music, this writer (who happens to be a big fan) failed to restrain herself from asking that one question, which she had been meaning to ask the group if given the chance:
To FLOW, what is music?
And the answer did not disappoint.
“Music is life… Energy,” said Kohshi, the band’s other vocalist, immediately, and his brother, guitarist Take added that “…It’s fun.”
And to get their gears started when they create music, especially for anime shows, what the band does according to Take is that they analyze the theme of the anime they need to write for, and then everything follows from there.
As to their own tracks, they also draw inspiration from “many, many other music” of other musicians they have listened to, said Kohshi.
When asked if there is still any other genre they would like to try in the future, Take explained that FLOW’s style is to not centralize its music on just one particular genre, reason why as of the moment, the members are able to incorporate various genres into their songs.
At the end of the day, it makes FLOW feel great and happy whenever they see non-Japanese people sing along to their songs, while some even study the language to understand more of their lyrics.
Before ending the press conference, FLOW expressed that they were looking forward to their first ever show in the country and that they would like to give it their all and enjoy the night. The band is also hoping that there will be more to come for them and their Filipino fans.
And as of April 16 at 11:55 p.m. Philippine Standard Time, the band’s official Facebook page posted:
Ozine FEST 2016
in Manila, Philippines
Thank you OzineFEST!!! XD
FLOW had an amazing time at their first Philippines show!
Sorry for the long wait!!
Philippines, you guys are the best!
See you again!!!
Ozine Fest 2016 was brought to us by Otakuzine Anime Magazine.