Tuesday, 4 December 2012

#ESPspotlight Review Part TWO: HYPER JAPAN 2012 Christmas Saturday - KAWAII FASHION, FOOD and NINJAMAN JAPAN!

Day Two was all about the performances for Yours Truly, as I set out to catch as many of the highlights and fringe events as possible. Teen Idol Beckii was busy lighting up the main stage for the 'Hyper Japan LIVE!' segment, as I arrived in the dark cold on Saturday morning. Performing dance set that wouldn't have been complete without her signature 'Danjo' routine, you can tell that this confident young lady has flourished in the 9 months since we last spoke!

Beckii and I first crossed paths right here,
ahead of Hyper Japan in February...

Naomi Suzuki followed next and I got my first taste of live Japanese Pop! Energetic and full of bounce; Naomi was lovely to speak with in person and happy to meet and greet her audience. I must admit though; as soon as I learned that she was in Bridget Jones' Diary, I couldn't stop picturing the jail scene and mentally trying to place her among the women 'performing' in Bridget's underwear...'Papa Don't Preach'...wasn't it?!

Naomi Suzuki was so 'Hyper' she brought her own Cheerleaders!

Last in the segment was Akari Mochizuki - or 'Mochi', as she is affectionately known. So tiny and seemingly meek in her beautiful design by makers Kimono De Go; the huge voice that introduced the audience to a blend of traditional Japanese Folk music, 70s Disco and J-Pop, left everyone entranced.

Akari Mochizuki modelled beautifully bejewelled works by
Kimono De Go

After a leg-stretching break it was almost lunchtime and wouldn't you know it, there just so happened to be an introduction to 'Japas' aka Japanese Tapas, by the lovely Atsuko Ikeda. After demonstrating the quick preparation process for bitesize square meatballs and Japanese curry pasties with delish samples, she had some very kind personal words to say about my diligence and efforts which she somehow managed to notice whilst cooking on stage!

I found nothing as tasty as the Japas by the lovely Atsuko Ikeda
throughout the rest of the day...

The anime talk with Production I.G President, CEO and Kill Bill Vol. 1 Producer, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and renowned anime critic Ryusuke Hikawa gave an interesting insight into the works of the Japan Media Arts Festival; as well as that of the Production I.G project catalogue. Moderated by acclaimed manga author Helen McCarthy, the panel's talk covered important topics such as 2013's Exhibition of Award Winning Works in Tokyo; the sense of community inspired by the 7 years of research by the Director and production team on the Brisbane Award-winning film 'Letter to Momo'; and how it inspired the writers to create all future projects with that same sense of 'village connection' for youth embedded in the storyline

Helen McCarthy kept the detail just the right side of intricate
for those less familiar with Anime history and current events...

Ending with a 6-and-a-half minute world première too exclusive to name; McCarthy ensured the level of detail stayed neutral, so that the discussion was highly informative and educational for non anime experts like Yours Truly!

Back to the Fashion and it was time for my favourite panel of the weekend -

'Marble Collection Presents:
Tokyo Street Fashion'...

Headed by the collection's Executive Creative Director, Junya Yamada and General Producer, Masayuki Fukuyama; the Singapore event held earlier last month saw the alternative fashion styles of Shibuya, Harajuku and Akihabara combine, to create a unique new culture that posed the question: 'What is 'KAWAII' for You?'

Joined by UK Lolitas Pixie Late, Scarlett and Kairi Mori; in addition to the audience Q&A, this panel were the only one I saw take questions from each other - a refreshing exchange, particularly when Yamada San described Kawaii culture as having "its own world language"; then asking each young lady for a definition of her own.

UK Lolitas and Kawaii Stars Kairi Mori, Pixie Late and Scarlett
flew the British Flag for the Street Fashion Panel...
Not to be outdone, our UK fashionistas posed their own well-thought-out questions...

When Pixie Late asked the Director and Producer whether they thought there was any British influence on Japanese Lolita fashion, as the Kitty and Bulldog exhibition currently showing at the Victoria & Albert Museum would suggest; Yamada San stated that "Lolita fashion has a strong European culture, that started here, not (in) Japan".

(l-r) Masayuki Fukuyama, Junya Yamada, (Interpreter)
Pixie Late, Scarlett and Kairi Mori
Fukuyama San took Hyper Japan Kawaii Star Scarlett's questions, answering in the affirmative as to whether or not there was room in Japanese culture for a fashion-based Idol group. To be fair; I thought that already existed throughout the British charts, until I understood that this kind wouldn't involve music for anything more than backing tracks while walking a runway (which I would wholeheartedly prefer..).

After confirming their desire to bring the next Marble Collection to London - hopefully in 2013, it was time to end the session so that the Cosparade could begin. It was like nothing I have ever seen before...

You didn't need to be a fan of the paranormal to
appreciate this brilliant costume!
Judges consisted of past Cosplay event winners and some experts in the field. It had all the elements of Hollywood blockbuster; shock, awe, excitement, impromptu (read awkward) romance and of course, some obligatory "Awww!" moments. The runway shows were emotional and that was just the first one! My personal favourites had to be the girl that literally re-enacted the signature horror scene from supernatural movie 'The Ring', by crawling through a TV screen on stage...

Fully confident until the last moment, little Miss Mimi
needed a BIT of help at the end of the runway...
And little 5-year old Mimi (great name)! I have no idea who, or what she was supposed to be, but if beyond adorable was a costume, then she certainly took the crown

Walking the runway all by herself and handling it like a pro; she couldn't stay to collect her category's award when she later won, as it was past her bedtime! The creativity displayed in almost all the costumes paraded were weird, wacky and innovative to the point of genius in several cases!

Some technical issues delayed the start of the World Cosplay Summit and subsequent European Cosplay Gathering. Judged by past ECG winners Lex and Laura; the heat was unfortunately in the wrong kitchen as a highly strung member of the sound engineering team became unravelled to the point of disrupting the show for spectators within earshot of the mixing desk. A sea of faces in the vicinity shared the same awkwardly sympathetic expression toward the colleague on the receiving end of her outburst and it was just a shame that focus was taken away from the show that the rest of the team were clearly working so hard to pull off; in addition to the costumes that so many entrants clearly put so much time and effort into creating for the event...

The Robotic Innovation talk by ITK was absolutely riveting. Their kinect (touch-free)-controlled 'Handroid', is a 5-finger device created with the intention of advancing medical science. I'm not going to pretend I understood all the 'science speak' - Japanese would be easier; but I can tell you that the demonstration of how it actually works left me feeling like I had stepped into an episode of Channel 5's 'The Gadget Show', which I love and highly suspect I saw the 'Handroid' featured on earlier this year(?), therefore I was a happy bunny.

"I want a go...!" As hard as I tried, I never did get
a go on the 'Handroid'! Next time...

The 'Shinsuke-San', or Mechanical Walking Stick, to you and I, was also a showstopper

With height control at the touch of a button for ease of movement and environmental changes such as walking up and down stairs, sitting and standing; it has apparently revitalised the quality of living for Japan's elderly and infirm at retail-friendly cost. Retailing from £166-£205 - is it worth it? You decide...

The awards for the earlier Cosparades took place after another break, made somewhat lacklustre in excitement purely because the majority of winners left the event before the announcement. With the exception of little Miss Mimi, that seemed quite unfair on the other participants and had me wondering why you would even bother entering at all, if you weren't going to stick around for the outcome?!

Ninjaman Japan from afar...neither the group nor their
management felt like providing a simple press picture

The last performance on the Main Stage of Super Saturday woke everyone up. 

NINJAMAN JAPAN are a 5-piece, Visual Kei band who can only be described as a manga cartoon brought to life...Think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (complete with Bulk and Skull) meets...One Direction. With a Rock Twist.

Choreographed fight scenes, elaborate costumes and more make up on individual members than I've sported in the combination of all my Earthly days; their performance was definitely and electrifying highpoint.

It's just a shame that despite agreeing three different slots throughout the weekend, the group and management refused to grant me one single press picture. Another dampner on the spectacular weekend; the lofty refusal from a group trying to break the UK came as quite a shock after the easygoing, gracious attitude of the legendary (and vastly more experienced) Hotei on Day One.

Stage shows over, there was just enough time for another wander round and I knew exactly where to head...When rare opportunities to indulge oneself arise, I consider them a personal insult to myself not to answer the call. So for all those who often tell me I work too hard - here is picture evidence, that every once in awhile, 'The ES in the P' does, in fact, take a load off...

YAY ME. That full body massage chair will forever hold a special place in my heart...

Ready for Day Three?!
ES ;o)