Sunday, 9 December 2012

#ESPspotlight Review Part THREE: HYPER JAPAN 2012 Christmas - Sunday Funday! CHOCOLATE, COSPLAY & WA-POP!

Sunday Funday was upon us before you could ask "Who hid the sake?" A legitimate question as I had been on the hunt for the themed cocktails by a supremely talented Sommalier I recalled reading about some weeks before and unfortunately never found...

After a third watch of Samurai Sword Masters KAMUI (seriously, they were that amazing), with no sign of those elusive liquid highlights, I opted for alternative enticement: Chocolate Fusion Fun with Chocolatier, William Curley.

Filmed for the audience so that we got a close up on the big screen,
William Curley talked us through the history of our Nation's favourite guilty pleasure...
I will not for a moment pretend that I knew what the 'Fusion' part was all about; I just knew there was to be sample mixing, chocolates and spices were about to be involved and there was absolutely nowhere else in the world I was destined to be for the next 40+ minutes....

Curley's crash course in the history of chocolate and cocoa pods took you back to the fun days of Food Technology at school, made infinitely better by the educational samples given at different stages of processing. That's right, Educational. I know I learned something with each offering... They served to show you the contrast in potency between what you start with and the finished coating glazed over unheard of combinations like the rich, sweet and confusingly spicy Apricot and Wasabi Ganash; thank you very much...

That 'Ganash'. Curley explained the French term loosely translates to 'Fool'; which pleased me greatly since I had never heard the term prior to that moment. Something else I never experienced? Seeing liquefied tomatoes added to chocolate! For the intricacy involved in creating and balancing two flavours within the chocolate. Deciding only to work with natural products since opening his Patisserie in 2004, the Chocolatier said: "I think spices are fabulous in chocolates if used in the right way..."

Curley teaches regular classes at both boutiques with the Mrs...
Don't think all the illogical combinations turn out as deliciously as the ganash though; when asked about his biggest error during the audience Q&A, Curley confessed "Seaweed, every single time, comes out tasting of fish...Fish and chocolate don't work!" When I caught up with him for a chat at the end of the demonstration, I wanted to know the opposite. With recipes popular enough to sustain patisserie boutiques in Richmond and Belgravia; were there any combinations left he hadn't tried yet?

"I was always desperate to get fresh wasabi, but this year in the UK, you can actually get that for the first time. I love fresh yuzu or sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit) and again, they're only available freshly in Japan, or that part of the world. SO I suppose a lot of the citrus fruits...I would love to be more readily available here, that would be my dream."

The Kawaii Style Street Fashion Show, organised by and including Model and Actress Pixie Late, was next. 13 Lolita models of various styles walked the runway, before assembling at the designated 'photo wall' for press and a 'Meet & Greet' with fans.

I had NO idea there were so many variations of the 'Lolita' style...

Fuelled with latent wasabi fire and ready for mischief, I dragged my friend J Lindor and his trusty camera around with me for the third day of his birthday weekend. After putting him to work on the first two; it was finally time to get involved with an activity or few of the non-shopping variety. With many handmade accessory stands, the calibre and quality of the collections was at it's highest yet...

flowerie88 was one of my two favourite handmade jewellery stalls at the entire event

KamCreates was the other...What was my photog friend J Lindor insinuating by suggesting I get this ring...?!

With the 'Fun' part of the day firmly in mind, I gave the crafts area a whirl...

Become your own Manga character...

Tried out a new 'do' for size with the help of celebrity wig stylists, Hair by Mistresses...

What do YOU think? I was going for Kawaii Cute, but J said it was a little more Nicki Minaj than Pixie Late... :o/

...I even let my inner 'Gamer' loose for a little while!

POW! So that means I win, right...?! My first gaming lesson - there were buttons. I pressed them. Repeatedly.
For reasons still unbeknownst to me, I was led (quickly) away from the gaming community within earshot after a series of questions like: "Is there an actual Dragon in Dragonball Z?" "Is it based on some form of fantasy football FOR Dragons?" "Is that what a fantasy football league actually IS - one made up of computer game characters?" "Are any of them FROM Final Fantasy?" (All valid questions, I think we can agree...?)

Well anyway, taking our seats by the main stage for more Cosparade results; hosts Brandon and Kat got the group competition stages underway next, kicking off with winners from some of the previous day's uncalled categories. Once again, it helped to have a gaming / manga / anime fanatic with me, to explain the accuracies of costumes that favoured characters straight from the gaming screens I had just been banned from by my own friend. I of course recognised none.

Kyle Whittington and his 'Kuma from Afrosamurai' costume won the last Solo heat of 2012. He will go on to represent the UK at the European Cosplay Gathering in 2013.

Thankfully, past winners-turned-Judges Nomes, Mathoz and special effects artist Adelaide Filippe all knew significantly more than I on the subject which, to be fair wouldn't be hard; rendering them a tad more qualified to consider the victorious entrants in the European Cosplay Gathering preliminary...

Classically trained TOMOCA includes all acoustic instruments
to support her musical style...
'Wa-Pop' by TOMOCA kept the audience entertained while all in attendance awaited the Judges' decision. The second fusion of the day - this time modern pop with traditional Japanese instruments instead of chocolate with spices; the sub-genre was a good cultural burst for the youth in attendance, delivered by one of their peers. Sound issues aside, it was a very nice, powerful performance from the former 'Miss Ni Hao', as we were informed during her interview by main stage compère, Stuart Adams.

Originally trained as a Classical singer, TOMOCA described her music as a "mixture of Harmony, Peace and Unity." Featuring all acoustic instruments (Shime-daiko drum, Koto strings and Acoustic guitar), the special London performance was arranged by her guitarist.

Sacrificing my prime photo position to personally lead the lost lamb and her Manager to her fan 'meet and greet'; I made it back to the standing room only sidelines just in time to catch Kyle Whittington named UK Solo Representative for his 'Kuma from Afrosamurai' costume - complete with hidden camera - at the European Cosplay Gathering in 2013. Now I'm not going to pretend to know who, or what 'Afrosamurai' is, but I can honestly tell you, that hidden camera was one of the most ingenious things I saw all weekend! Kyle will join my personal favourites from the Group category - Lord of the Rings cosplayers Lettie Shiels and Claudia Maow at the Gathering.

And so it was time for Stuart Adams to close the show when I took my opportunity to speak with him on how he thought the whole event had gone:

Main stage Stuart Adams did a wonderful job of keeping things flowing smoothly
"I thought it was great! It was my first time at Hyper Japan...Obviously being the Emcee, I was a bit nervous to start with...But all the guests have been absolutely brilliant; even the big stars.

That's one thing I was really worried about, I thought they might be a bit Prima Donna-ish, but they were ALL great, really, really helpful.

I didn't really get the opportunity to get up and see stuff, which was a bit of a shame; I think if I'd have been a little bit more comfortable with what I was doing here, I might have done, but I was always worried that something was going to end really I spent most of the time sitting here, eating Jelly Babies! But it was great fun. I really hope they get me to do it next time!"

And your personal highlight?

"My highlight was definitely KAMUI! The troupe leader? He was great! Again, because he's a star, I expected him to be really flash, but he was a REAL Samurai, really mild-mannered and polite. I mean I loved the sword scenes anyway, but knowing in advance that they were the ones who did Kill Bill and that Hotei was going to be there...It's a long while since I've been studying, living in Japan, working...I know very little about Japanese stuff, but I KNOW Hotei! I've got some of his tracks on my iPod, he's THAT legendary, so that was amazing. And I'm really pleased that he spoke English as well as he did, because I was sure that if I had to interpret for him, that I would get it all wrong!

There were loads of great things, but for me, they were it!"

Couldn't have agreed more. There was just enough time left to lap the stalls once more and talk to some fascinating exhibitors that you should expect to see right here in 2013; before the doors to this mysterious and whimsical land closed for the last time this year, on A Very Kawaii Christmas.

Arigato Hyper Japan!

Catch up with the first two instalments in this #ESPspotlight Review Trilogy:

Part ONE: 'Friday HighDay!'
Part TWO: 'Super Saturday!'

View photos from the event (updated regularly, please credit EricaSharlette for ES Promotions Ltd and / or J Lindor for Rawline Ent when sharing / reposting):

Video performances from throughout the weekend are available to view via the ESP YouTube Channel - don't forget to Subscribe!

With Special Thanks to Yukiko Takahashi for press arrangements and J Lindor for photography.

ES ;o)