As we head into the tail end of 2023, it's time to recount some of the conventions we've experienced along the way. Today we've got a special one, to say the least. Let's take a look at a convention a bit further away (and quite a lot more exotic) than our usual spots.

Turning the clock back a bit into the midst of the Summer season - July specifically, we happened to be in Hong Kong when their major anime/manga/toys/gaming convention was happening. Given the opportunity, we decided to visit ACGHK 2023. (Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong 2023)

ACGHK 2023 is a convention that is hosted once a year in Hong Kong over five days. It resulted from the merger of two former large events known as the Hong Kong Comics Festival/Ani-Com Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Game Fair. The event itself is unique and kind of unlike a lot of other anime conventions most have attended. And trust me, it's not just the location.

One of the nice things about the event is the ease of access. Hong Kong is a very interconnected city when it comes to transit. Getting to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is pretty easy no matter where you are in Hong Kong. The MTR is the metro system in Hong Kong and it is one of the world's most efficient systems. You can easily access the venue by taking the MTR on the East Rail Line and heading to the Exhibition Centre station.

Even though the venue is very close to the station, a bunch of signs and staff were already set up and directing the public on where to go to get to ACGHK. To say there was a line would be an understatement. If you've ever been to a major convention or Comiket, you'll easily understand what I mean.

The line snaked from the overpass and surrounding businesses all the way down to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. I'd say at most Western conventions I've visited, this line would have taken hours to even approach the convention center, let alone being able to enter the event. Combine that with the scorching hot 33°C (91°F)🥵, and we were in for one heck of a wait.

One upside was the time of day in HK made it easy to contact friends back in the US. Ones that were essentially having a watching party for the debut of hololive English -Advent- (I think it was FuwaMoco?). While scrolling through things on my phone and participating in a Discord call, the line moved fairly regularly and at a good pace. It took a little over an hour to make it to the front of the line.

While waiting in line, I overheard some other con-goers talking about how much of a hassle it would be to go inside and buy tickets. As with most events, there was a line for people with tickets and people who needed to buy tickets. Needless to say, I was a bit worried about the line inside for ticket purchases. They also talked about how some of them had pre-bought tickets on the app and were ready to enter right away.

Having heard about the app from these con-goers and having seen some posters all over the city, I thought I'd give it a shot. To my surprise, this might have been the best convention application I have ever used. The account creation process was pretty seamless and purchasing a ticket provided a QR code that could be used immediately. The ticket itself also updated live when it was scanned and was marked as used.

Usually, we don't talk too much about convention or event prices here, but the one-day entry into the event cost $42 HKD (~$5 USD) and had a discount of $5 HKD for the purchase on the app, which made the total ticket price come out to only $37 HKD ($4.75 USD). This is certainly the cheapest convention I've ever visited.

If you've ever been to Hong Kong, one thing you'll notice is that the AC is running at full blast just about everywhere you go. This is especially the case in the Summer, and obviously, the event venue was no different. Based on the clothing, you'll understand why AC is so important here. Getting into the building itself was a great change from the unbearable heat outside.

The convention center here is huge and has booths running through the entire convention floor. As you can probably see, the place was crowded and this was the case throughout the day for the entire time we were there. One thing that really stuck out was the space between booths and how crowded it was even given all the space.

At the very back, far away from the entrance into the convention area, there was a stage setup where the main featured shows/guests were presenting. It was really tight and probably a bit too small given the number of people in the hall. In general, you'd think it would be more difficult to move around, but people were friendly and would easily let you pass.

After wandering for a bit, the points that stuck out were just how large the entire space was and how it touched on a lot of different facets of the fandom. There was probably something there for everybody and it was pretty representative of what you would envision a combination of anime, manga, and gaming show would be.

Ranging from booths that showcased the latest in gacha gaming, including games like Tower of Fantasy, Honkai: Star Rail, NIKKE, and other Chinese games I had never heard of, to booths selling anime and manga merchandise, it really did have that anime convention feeling to it.

One thing to note is that, unlike a lot of Western conventions, there were no panels or the like. There were paid and ticketed events, including cosplay shows and concerts. That in itself wasn't too surprising given the price disparity and the concept of these shows in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has a large number of events that take place at different times throughout the year in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Most of them are trade/exhibition shows that are used to feature products and goods. ACGHK was no different in that regard. Lots of products were sold there, including gaming productions such as enthusiast keyboards, gaming chairs, and even full PCs.

If that wasn't enough, there were also booths selling phones from companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and many others. It certainly was a bit of a shock coming in with a more Western convention mindset. Just think of it as a combination of an anime convention and trade show and you'll have a good general understanding of what ACGHK is like.

Did we mention a part of the event is also inspired by Comiket? Well, that's definitely the case. There was a section of the convention center dedicated to Creative Paradise, which was basically a Comiket-lite. If you're a fan of good art, you might be able to find some content there. They also included a good mix of local artists, Japanese artists, and even cosplayers.

Unlike a lot of conventions in the West, the artists also sold their artbooks and even doujins there. Again, that makes a lot of sense, given this is based on the Comiket model. The artist list was pretty impressive given where the event was being hosted. Unfortunately, even though the convention was open for 5 days, not all artists were there every single day, which was another similarity to Comiket. Some artists were only there for 2-3 days and the booth was run by another artist for the remaining days.

So what are the takeaways from ACGHK 2023, you ask? Well, the convention is very affordable and a great way to spend the day. Whether you're there for the good art, good Vtubers, good gaming, or some good merch, we're sure there'll be something that will tickle your fancies. Unless you're went for a specific artist or event, you likely won't spend more than a day at the event. Given the long line to get in and the weather in July-August, it might be best to strategically plan which day to attend.

Would we visit again given the opportunity?

For sure. If we're in HK again, we'd love to attend again and see the difference year-over-year.