JEDDAH: A dream come true for many anime fans in the Kingdom, on May 19 City Walk in Jeddah opened its last zone, Anime Village, the first of its kind in the Middle East. The zone will be open until the end of June.
Anime Village offers a variety of activities like cinematic shows, musical performances, manga artist meetups, interviews with creators, parades and much more.
The zone has several areas inspired by iconic anime series such as “Attack on Titan,” “Naruto,” “Captain Tsubasa” and “Gundam.”
The biggest attraction is Konoha Village, which features the main set of the popular anime “Naruto,” including life-size figures of the show’s characters and a little museum displaying items and images from famous scenes in the anime.
The second biggest area is the Animaze, where visitors can walk through a maze while reading about famous anime series, including “Hunter x Hunter,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “My Hero Academy,” “Demon Slayer,” “Bleach” and “Jujutsu Kaisen.” Visitors can take pictures with their favorite characters displayed in the maze.
There is also a PAC-Man arcade, Japanese restaurant Kimono, a Hello Kitty store and Japanese anime store Animate, the first to open in the Middle East.
The comic books store belongs to Saudi manga magazine “Manga Arabia.” Besides distributing and promoting local manga magazines, the store offers a photoshoot booth, name cards written in Japanese, festive makeup and a coloring corner for children.
In other areas dedicated to anime and manga series like “Attack On Titan,” “Godzilla,” “Captain Tsubasa,” and “Gundam,” visitors can enjoy virtual reality games and take photos with their favorite characters.
The village kicked off its grand opening with a show by Saudi YouTubers, the “Anime Icons Show,” also known as “Ai Show,” followed by a cosplay parade, a Rasha Rizk concert and a screening of “Jujutsu Kaisen.”
The second day offered a live interview and meet-and-greet with Miyako Cojima, the author of the most famous Japanese horror stories, and her husband Norman England, a director, actor, horror story author and the leading authority on “Godzilla.”
The Japanese singer Eir Aoi held her first concert in the Kingdom and became the first Japanese artist to perform in Saudi Arabia. She shared her experience on Twitter, writing: “There were a lot of anime booths and people who love Japanese anime, and many people cosplaying! Thanks Saudi for giving me the best time.”
At the end of the grand opening, the village invited Cojima and England on the stage again and held a cosplaying parade. Rizk performed on stage for the last time and threw a show with DJ Nariman.
Speaking to Arab News about their experiences in the Kingdom, England said. “We love Saudi! Everyone is so nice.” He also shared a story about the friendliness of the people he encountered at the Red Sea Mall.
Cojima said that she did not expect people in the region to have such an interest in manga and that her short trip to the Kingdom proved her wrong.
“It has been only two days for me here, and the vibe of Saudi culture is very impactful, and I could sense that in the local manga that they have created with Manga Arabia.”