A Japanese cultural exhibition in the UK. Our correspondents Arvin (reporter) and Levin (photographer) report.
About one month after the MCM Expo, we decided to go to Hyper Japan UK to get our convention fix. Being unable to enjoy AFA as we are still in the UK, we had to do something and Hyper Japan was it.
Hyper Japan is a cultural event, which celebrates Japanese Culture.
This of course includes cosplay, anime and japanese games. It was not so much a anime, manga and games event but there was still plenty of cosplay action, including 2 Casual Cosplay Competitions (one for each day) and selection for WCS and European Cosplay Gathering (Singles and Groups).
Hyper Japan was held at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre a relatively large exhibition hall that hosted the volleyball competition for the Olympic Games.
Not having had breakfast, we rushed to the food section where we had a variety of Japanese food which were some of the best Japanese food I have ever had in the UK. These obviously came at a price with Okonomiyaki at 5 GBP, Green Tea with Wagashi sets at 5 GBP and Tonkotsu Ramen at 8 GBP etc.
We chanced upon this stall selling Katsu Don and Unagi Don selling at 3.50 which we thought was a steal. Other features included a Sake tasting booth featuring 20 Sake companies from Japan which had a ticket price of 20 GBP, Sushi making workshop at 20 GBP. However there was a Yakult Stall that was generously giving out free Yakults to any passerby. Being true Singaporeans, we naturally passed by the stall often.
There were many stores selling traditional Japanese stuff such as Kimonos, Tea Cups and other trinkets big or small. Other stores included a goldfish fishing stand and Calligraphy stands.
Hyper Japan also showcased the Visit Japan Booth, a Manufacturing Group, ITK which had a great robotics exhibition and NHK. There were events on the stage showcasing such Japanese Culture, a Samurai Sword Artists KAMUI stage show, Kawaii Style Fashion show, a live show by Visual Kei group Ninjaman and so on. There was also an art gallery, showcasing the evolution of Japanese Art, culminating in Manga/Anime. The visitors were definitely treated to a showcase of Japanese culture.
What is a convention without games?
The big Japanese gaming companies, Konami, SE, Nintendo, Namco Bandai were all there showcasing their games and figurines. Nintendo’s booth was particularly interesting as it featured the newest console, the Wii U. The third party games featured generally did not utilise the second screen which I attributed it to the relative newness of the console. There were also arcade booths, with the usual suspects of DDR and Taiko no Tatsujin however the star was a 10 controller Bomberman game which brought plenty of chaotic fun.
The convention had the usual merchandise of figmas, gunpla, manga and plushies. It was the usual fare from any other convention. The Hyper Japan booth was there again selling interesting books at a good price. We recognised the stall keepers from MCM including the cosplayer.
As it is more of a cultural event, there were noticeably less cosplayers than one would expect. However, it is not totally lacking as there were many competitions to sate one’s cosplay desires.
There were more Japanese around and we had a great opportunity to use our Japanese language skills often, who were generally surprised at our ability as a Singaporean (and the fact that a cosplayer has a press pass). The habit of coscards was definitely more common amongst the Japanese and it was pity that we did not have any on hand to exchange. It was interesting to hear cosplayers from a variety of countries as there were many from Japan, China and of course England, thank goodness we were capable of speaking in those languages! The cosplays ranged from the recent (Magi, SAO, Chuunibyou) to the ancient (Creamy Mami). It was quite interesting to see such a spread of cosplays.
There were 2 days of competition with 2 different competitions.
Saturday had Cosparade (a casual cosplay competition) and the Group competition for ECG and WCS selections. Sunday had Cosparade and a ECG Singles selection. The stage was a raised stage (similar to that of TGX) with a catwalk (a feature no doubt influenced by ECG Finals in Paris). The format of the casual competition was a short pose session which was probably a result of the large number of participants.
We were treated to a dazzling array of competitors, with an interesting performance such as a Sadako coming out from a box and Lolipop Chainsaw. The winner of the singles was this extremely cute Hachikuji Mayoi (Bakemonogatari) who was just a young kid, with an Arararagi coming up on stage to show her the way.
The winner of the Group category was an Edge and Rydia (FFIV). Sunday’s competition had a Gaara (Naruto) winning the child category, Serah (FFXIII-2) the video game category, 3 Idolmaster girls the group category and Inori (Guilty Crown) the individual category.
Square Enix took the opportunity to advertise their FFXIV Rebirth Competition asking the audience to cosplay from FFXIV to stand a chance to travel to SE’s office in Japan.
The WCS and ECG competitions had judges from last year’s competitors who dished out advice for the competitors.
Tokumaru Oguri, the Founder of WCS also came over to judge the competition. The group performance dazzled the crowd with reenactment from the scenes. The representative of WCS was a pair of Eiko and Vivi (FFIX) who wowed the crowd with a magic show.
ECG’s Group competition was won by a Frodo and Witchking pair, reenacting the LotR battle scene, timing the swinging mace with the sound effects well. It was quite a sight to behold. The ECG singles competition had interesting performances such as a sexy showcase by Adekan’s Yoshiwara Anri and a delightfully creep Grell Sutcliffe (Kuroshitsuji) who took out a plush of Sebastian and started combing his hair. The runner up was an Elrond who did a reenactment of the Batle of Dagorlad.
The eventual winner was a Kuma from Afro Samurai with a very impressive costume which had beautiful weathering done on it and expert craftmanship. We managed to exchange a few words with him.
Kyle has been cosplaying for 2 and a half years and has learnt Propmaking from his University Northbrook College, a further education college. He is studying in a 3 year course in propmaking from his course leader Dan Jenkins.
His costume was so well made that in a competition he was upgraded from beginner to expert category in another competition and proceeded to win it. The swords were made from MDF and cut by an electric saw to give it a straight sharpened look. His team has access to a variety of tools from his college which certainly helped in the construction.
The head was made from a spherical balloon, then covered with paper mache, followed by fibreglass. They then proceeded to cover it with fur giving it a very nice spherical look. The most amazing thing about the head is that it has a screen inside the head giving Kyle the ability to see. He managed to mount a compact inside the camera with a barely visible hole above its nose and in its eye and he has the ablity to switch views. It was truly an amazing piece of construction. I wonder if anyone would think of doing that back home =P.
We certainly enjoyed ourselves and sated our Japanese culture desire. We made many friends in the 2 days and definitely leveled up our Japanese language skills. Though not exactly a cosplay event, there was certainly enough to go around.
You can also check out our photo coverage on Facebook!
1. Hyper Japan 2012 Casual Cosplay Competition Album – [Link]
2. Hyper Japan 2012 ECG & WCS Album – [Link]
3. Hyper Japan 2012 On-the-ground Coverage Album – [Link]