Monday, 26 August 2013

#ESPspotlight REVIEW: HYPER JAPAN 2013 - DAY THREE (SUNDAY)


The third and final day of London's biggest J-Culture expo began with the Cosparade on the mainstage for Yours Truly

Not content with the UK heats of the European Cosplay Gathering, and the World Cosplay Summit on 'Super Saturday'; I set up camp and prepared to extend my education into the world of authentic costume-wear. Minus any of the previous day's additional excitement, the only repeats were contestants with too much talent and moxy for just one competition entry.

Lesson complete, it was time to take in the stands across the various zones, and learn more about the many different aspects that make the oriental culture so compelling. With no tutor to talk me through the gaming malarkey this time around; I looked over the basics which seemed to entrance so many, before training my focus on a subject I'm far more qualified to comment on. Determined to thoroughly examine the Eat Japan section on this visit; I stopped by the Sake Experience competition, and even watched (sampled) a quick cocktail making class - a speciality I appreciate highly, no matter the global point of origin.

Figurines from Totally Nippom
Souvenirs - in both edible and replica form, were also in high demand. Brands like Sushi Noms, Tofu Cute and Cyber Candy offered pricey munchies to nibble on, whilst the likes of Something Kawaii, The Sword Stall, and Totally Nippon, provided the connoisseurs with collectibles.

Regular visitors were familiar with the repeat activities like Anime Art classes, tourism information services, and additional stages with separate programmes on offer. Unfortunately, the complete omission of schedules for the smaller second, and martial arts stages in the event information provided, meant that many visitors - including myself - missed almost all there was to see, without physically visiting them first, then locating the programmes tacked up by the side. I overheard more than one visitor comment that they assumed the additional stages were not included this time around - purely because there was no printed information provided.

New additions to this year's activities included a complete Tokyo-style makeover, with hair and makeup by the ladies of Glam Xpress, and kimonos courtesy of HJ veterans, Kimono de go. A new homeware section proved popular; whilst the queue for the karaoke game did not lessen at any point I noticed throughout the event's duration. In fact, it seemed to be one of the long weekend's biggest hits! Games extended beyond the electronic form however; with trading cards and other multi-player activity areas heavily populated. Daisuki.net were an interesting find.

'ESP' - Japanese Style...
A free online site for streaming manga and anime, it came as no surprise that their stand also benefitted from some heavy foot traffic. The Japanese Art Gallery was also a welcome newcomer, with some beautiful works on display. The educational focus was stronger than ever, with exhibitors from language schools teaching basic lettering. I even snagged my very own ESP fan, with the literal transcription written by my own fair hand...

With the exception of the prominently placed AOI Clothing corner, the rest of the fashion and accessory exhibitors seemed to get the raw end of the deal, when it came to location. Their siberia-like placement in comparison to the rest of the zones, only served to reiterate my initial thoughts on Day One - that the layout of the exhibition space was not arranged to get the best use out of any part of the venue. The wasted time spent traversing the unnecessary open expanse, provided more than ample opportunity to fall out of the reverie, remind you that you were in a hall, rented for the occasion (and up your 10k daily step tally); a stark contrast to the 'lost in another world / something new and delightful, everywhere you turned' feel that I'd become so used to on previous visits. In fact, by the time I'd reached the far isle...*ahem* side, I was far too distracted by my distance from the exit (and the question of how long the journey back to civilisation would take), to properly take in this year's new brands, or their displays.

Ok, so I MAY have exaggerated on the distance just a LITTLE but, the gaps between stands were way too large...
Deciding I'd better make my way back while it was still daylight, I returned to the mainstage long enough to watch Eat Tokyo Group Head Chef, Yoshiro Motohashi, crowned the 2013 Sushi Awards winner. Since closing time was nigh, and I had to pass them anyway (honestly)...it seemed thoroughly rude of me not to stop by the beautiful showpieces on display from JAE - the Japanese Auto Extravaganza - just one last time. Sales Director John Fuggles took pity upon my poor (dribbling) soul, enabling my Fast and Furious highlight of the weekend, by volunteering his camera trigger finger while I spent my final, precious moments inside my orange love. Complete with "Vroom, Vroom" noises and pretend racing - all I really had left to say, was Vin Diesel eat your heart out...

Just call me Mrs (Paul) Walker...

Though missing lots of that November 2012 magic; I still wouldn't miss the next one for the world. So until the doors open on 25 July 2014 - Farewell Hyper Japan!

ES ;)

Catch the final day in pictures on the ESP Facebook Page. If you were in attendance, be sure to go ahead and tag yourself and your friends! If you missed coverage of Days One (Friday) and / or Two (Saturday) then you've no excuse not to catch up!

Don't forget, your mainstage for assessing the day, the event as a whole, and my take on it is right underneath this post - the Comment Box is all YOURS...