Hyper Japan 2013
Yes Hyper Japan was back in London Town on the weekend of July 26th -28th . After a blistering show at Christmas at Earls Court's Brompton Hall ,they sure had a lot of work to match the quality of that show.
This year the show moved just a few hundred yards to Earls Court Two. A bigger venue which is also cleaner looking and brighter.
Now we attended all three days to try and see as much as we could. ,now after we collected our press passes at the door we entered the show floor , it was quite a vast area and even though not all the hall was used it seemed adequate for what was on offer.
Now being Friday the show starts later and ends about eight o'clock. It's also not as busy on the Friday and gives a chance to browse the stalls easier and play some games without having to queue.
Now the first thing that hits you is the Nintendo stand which took up four sections. After the poor showing by Nintendo at the Christmas show compared to previous shows I was glad to see Nintendo's best display at Hyper Japan ever.
The First day of the show was launch day for Pikmin 3
With a huge Mario Kart competition zone for 3DS ,A Animal Crossing village and Wii U and 3DS sections .
Nintendo's vast stand
Of course being the 26th July it was big day for Nintendo as they where releasing two big games that day , The first was the eagerly awaited PIKMIN 3 ( of which my own copy arrived the day before ,so had got a go early) ,the other game was the boxed version of Super Luigi U .
Other Wii U games on show where a new level of the Wonderful 101 to play to the one I tried at MCM the year before. They also had a demo of Zelda The Wind Waker in HD and Wii U Karaoke.
On the 3DS they had of Course Animal Crossing New Leaf , The Denpa men Etrian IV Odyssey of the Titan among others.
With the Competition zone ,the Animal Crossing Village and spot-pass area for owners bringing their own 3DS units to the show, Nintendo's stand was a bright and colourful affair with helpful staff a couple I new from previous shows that recognised me to , I must have one of those faces.
A Animal Crossing Village -How cool
So that was a good start to Hyper Japan and we had only just got through the door.
Other Gaming stands included Namco Bandai who where showing Project X Zone for 3DS and Tales of Xilla for PS3. Which where two RPG games which to be honest are not really something you can get a feel for unless you sit down for two hours and play the game ,in fact you probably could if you wanted to .
But I do like games at shows to be fast paced games ,something to get into quick and get the experience ,so you can move onto the next.
This is where Play Expo succeeded ,they where their promoting their Games show that Takes place in Manchester on October 12th and 13th . Of note this is also where this years WCS Cosplay competition will take place in association with Hyper Japan's Cosplay Team.
Anyway Play Expo had a selection of classic consoles to play ,from Gamecube,Playstation,PC Engine and more. It's quite odd I was looking at buying a PC Engine and they had a Turbo Grafx up and running Ghosts and Goblins , all the games come on small cards named the Hu Cards.
Anyway by now time was approaching for Jrock duo Vaniru to appear on the main stage. We headed to the stage and got in position to get some good shots, we where early and the Japan Media Festival where showing a selection of short animations which we watched a few of while we waited and got a bite to eat .
After a while our compare came on stage to announce the appearance of Vaniru and welcome everybody to Hyper Japan 2013.
Leonil of Vaniru
Vaniru's style has a Gothic theme and as with much of Japanese rock lends it self to Glam rock . The duo performed a number of tracks including their first song Cosmic Night.
Now I must say the vocalist Leoneil has a very strong voice ,Yuto on guitar I was a bit bewildered by , Now I don't know if it was me but as my colleague pointed out that his guitar was not plugged in ,yes I know they have wireless Units nowadays ,but the Guitar solo's did not have that punch associated with a live performance ,Yuto was going through the moves and looked as if he was playing the guitar ,but maybe what we where hearing was a pre-recorded Guitar performance.
Yuto on Guitar
With only one Amp on stage I wonder if they where short a amp and had to modify things. Or maybe it was just the volume of the Guitar was so low compared to the backing music and Leoneil's singing.
It was a enjoyable little show .
After this we perused the stalls , getting some photo's as we went along. There where no martial art events on the Friday so the Martial arts stage was being used for other uses.
From Sushi to sweets
Many where waiting to see SIRO-A the world renowned Psychedelic dance and Light show group perform on stage later in the day.
SIRO-A had there own stand selling DVD's of there shows and promoting themselves. They walked around most of the day in these silver white suits with large tubes on their heads ,and I am talking large ,they made a impact for sure as they posed for photo's .
Now one of the surprises for us was on the second stage ,when we stumbled upon three young girls on stage preparing to sing ,or do something , they looked a bit nervous but the surprise was when these three Gweilo's or Ghost Faces as the Asian community would say burst into song in JAPANESE doing a series of covers from some popular artists and Anime. And they where good , not knowing of them it was a bit of a shock to the system , impressive or what.
Nothing could have prepared us for this trio ,we where amazed
Now these girls are part of a Youtube dubbing group that span's some forty countries ,with participants from all around the globe ,who all do covers of Japanese songs by popular artists.
Now their known as IKP ( Irokokoro Project) , and what's more JPOP star Yun*Chi has collaborated with them to do a song .
It was getting close to SIRO-A 's performance ,so we headed to the main stage ,and there where a lot of people waiting , now their performance is something that needs to be seen from direct on as possible for full effect , and of course seating and admittance to the side of the stage was restricted as to not spoil the effect for viewers or give away secrets. to their art.
We got into a suitable position ,but not fully head on. The show was a clever mix of light and images inter-sped with some well timed ( I mean really well timed) dance routines which combine to give the illusion of seeing a lot more then you really are.
It was a good show a little over forty minutes ,impressive it was ,but could I sit through a two hour performance or not I don't know. I suppose it depends on how much more content they have at hand.
But seeing as Siro-A travel the world putting on these shows I would imagine what we saw was a smattering of what they can achieve.
After this we traveled around the show a bit ,but had to leave shortly after Siro-A .
Saturday at Hyper Japan
I new Saturday was going to be busy ,must admit I did not get there to early as I had been out on the Friday night training ,yes after getting in on Friday night from Hyper Japan ,i was at home forty minutes before I left again to go kill my self running up and down and doing exercise.
Now Saturday was a lot to get in with the Martial arts starting and JPOP star Yun*Chi appearing on stage in conjunction with the Japanese Fashion show .
Not only that but we had the Cosplay Parade and ECG Cosplay competition ,which always draws large crowds.
JPOP star Yun*Chi and the Fashion show was on quite early on Saturday , I took my spot by the stage as the Fashion show started which showcases popular fashion culture from Japan , Yun*Chi would judge the show and announce a winner at the end as well as picking a member of the audience who had turned up in Japanese Fashion to get a prize as well .
As the models came on stage showcasing their outfits posing in the designated spots I was able to capture some really nice photo's .
At the end Yun* Chi would choose a winner to receive a prize , with just a couple guys in the whole fashion show ,it was one of the guys that came out the winner , she said if he went to Japan he would be very popular with the girls.
Yun*Chi then navigated the audience to choose a young girl in a Cosplay outfit to win a prize of a T-Shirt.
Then it was the turn of Yun* Chi to entertain the crowd with a selection of songs from her album. Yun* Chi's style is very upbeat and happy with dance style beats. Her performance of these songs had the crowd pumped for sure ,i was still by the stage getting blasted by the speakers and strobe lighting , but what a place to be for such a great performance .
We really enjoyed Yun* Chi's performance and made it a point to see it again the next day so we could shoot some photo's from a alternate angle .
Now I had some time before the Cosplay to start so I went around to see what was happening on the Martial Arts stage , there was a full program of Martial art clubs to demonstrate their art ,some I new and had seen before at Hyper Japan or Japan Matsuri in London while others I had not.
The styles on show varied from Traditional swordplay with Iaido to Jujitsu ,Kempo and mixed hybrid styles. Now being a martial artist I do find myself critical of some demonstrations , having seen a fair few in my time .
Now the one thing with the clubs demonstrating is that they are solely Martial art clubs for the advancement of martial arts , unlike a performing troupe like Kamui whose demonstrations are showman like .
Now I have seen and was a member of a club years ago that new about putting on a performance to showcase the art in a dynamic way and I have seen some really entertaining demonstrations on a trip to Germany I took some three years ago .
So what I am saying is that to a layman some of the demo's may not look like anything,because unless you understand the concept of the Martial arts ,your not understand the concentration and mental and physical ability needed to perform.
Now one of the first full contact Martial arts in the world is Kyokushinkai Karate , a Japanese style of Karate devised by A Korean man by the name of Mas Oyama (Japanese Name ) Choi Young-Eui (Korean Name) , now Oyama's style had a contender in that of Shorinji Kenpo founder Doshin So aka Michiomi Nakano.
The difference with Shorinji Kempo is it's foundations come more from the Chinise arts due to Doshin So's time spent in Manchuria where he was trained in Martial arts by his Grandfather and later on by his Late Grandfathers friend. It owes a lot of it's foundations to Zen Buddhism..
British Shorinji Kempo Federation in action
In later years it would incorporate Quan Fa ( Chinese forms ) and Hakko Ryu Jiujitsu. Any way one of the arts on show at this years Hyper Japan was Shorinji Kempo .
It was quite en-lighting to see a style which of course borrows from many arts as a whole ,but one that has become one of the more practical arts taught .
Even though like Budo it incorporates weapons like the staff and of course forms ,it's basis is to be able to defend and attack. They had some quite varied ways of sparring using quite varied protective equipment, because like Kyokushinkai ,Kempo is first and foremost a contact art and in practice being hit is part of the conditioning. ,of course in a modern world there are limits practitioners will go to ,hence the padding used in combat.
I was quite surprised to see the robes they wear over their Gi's where very traditional and cumbersome looking and exactly like the ones worn by Sonny Chiba in the Film where he played Doshin So ( The Killing Machine ) , funny really when Chiba himself was a student of Mas Oyama and also portrayed him in a series of films.
Yes I am rambling on ,but seeing the proficiency of the Kempo demo team at Hyper Japan was a real treat which showcased a diverse range of styles within a style .
I did view other styles of martial art at Hyper Japan ,some which where more akin to Karate with a more modern twist as well as Akido and Swordplay.
These Sword Masters where excellent in using their live blades
Another performer on the Martial arts stage was Kei Asunuma ,a champion Gymnast and former member of the Japanese national team. .
She would demonstrate a range of gymnastic moves involving Ball and ribbon and then lead a group of show goers in a series of Radio exercises. Just like what they do in schools and offices in Japan prior to a hard days work.
Well being press and hiding behind my camera I watched and filmed as Kei and her team pulled people from the crowd to get them stretching and jumping. .
It's quite a basic set of routines ,but of course the way Kei and her team perform them you can see how supple they are compared to average Joe performing behind them ,even myself a person trained in the Martial arts could not match Kei's agility .
Actually I would have liked to see a more in depth routine of her ability and maybe in a future show Hyper Japan can coax her back to do more ,maybe on the main stage.
Now Cosplay time was approaching, and getting good position is vital at Hyper Japan as it's one of the busiest parts of the show. By the time the Cosparade was due to begin the main stage area was filled to the gills.
With the Cosparade presenters on stage and Judges introduced and seated it was time for the Cosplayers who had attended to strut their stuff on stage .
There was a vast array of costumes on the Saturday , with various influences becoming more apparent with cos-players as Vocaloid and Final Fantasy characters in abundance .
Also with Nintendo in the building we even had characters from their franchises with Zelda being a firm favourite .
Now it all starts of with the cosparade then the ECG competition gets under way to see who will go to France next year and compete in the ECG finals which take place at Japan Expo ( if where lucky where get there next year to cover the show ) .
Now to me it seemed as if there where not as many people in cosplay this year compared to the Christmas 2012 show and even the one before in February 2012 .
Whether this was due to no WCS competition at this years event ,which this year is being held at Play Expo in Manchester in conjunction with Hyper Japan . Or because it was very warm and the summer holidays had started and many maybe went away that weekend .
Even so the entrants in the parade gave all they had and there was great variation in the costumes , the ECG preliminaries went well with some really clever representations of the characters .
The cosplay event last around ninety minutes and for that time I was stood on the press podium getting as many shots as I could whilst cheering for the many cosplayers strutting their stuff on stage.
After wards I captured some more from the martial arts stage and wandered around browsing the stalls and even getting a few shots of some cosplayers not entered into the parade. Though last year there where many more that where not in the parade walking about.
There where small acts on the second stage ,but it seems whenever I got to them they where always ending ,concentrating on the main stage and Martial arts it seemed I missed a few acts , I caught one young guy singing and playing the guitar ,he was really good ,but I literally arrived at his last song.
I always take into account at events how busy the place gets , by mid afternoon on the Saturday the food and stall areas where quite hectic with long queues . Some where saying how can they have only one ATM ,must admit the queues for that where mighty long at times.
But then you could leave the event get your hand stamped and go to the high street just a couple of minutes away to get money and come back in. So i didn't really see the problem.
And if your going to such a event you prepare before hand don't you?
But one thing to be thankful for was the larger toilets in Earls Court 2 , Brompton Hall was a nightmare when it came to using the Toilets ,especially with thousands in the hall..
Sunday 28th July 2013
Sunday was another hectic day, I wanted to see Yun*Chi again and got there just in time ,placing myself in another position I was able to get alternate shots of her on stage. I thought she may be in a alternative outfit for the Sunday so I could distinguish between the two types of shots and footage I got .
Again she entertained the crowd and my position away from the speakers and lights seemed better and I wasn't blinded and deafened as on Saturday when I was crouched by the stage in front of the audience.
Afterwards a Japanese Folk music group where on stage , referred to as Minyo ( meaning Japanese folk music ) I waited for them to set up and was delighted by the varied range of music they offered.
They consisted of Hibiki Ichikawa on the three string guitar ,known as a Shaminsen , then we had Koji Koshida on Flute ,Tomoya Nose on drums and vocals by Akari Mochizuki. .
There performance was very interesting with solo's and upbeat tempo pieces which got the audience tapping and even a bit of audience participation to round up the session.
It was stark contrast to having YunChi on stage just before. .
Afterwards I ventured of to check out the martial arts area. to see if anybody I had not seen was appearing, always interested in seeing new ways and styles of traditional combat.
Actually managed to find a queue for food that was not so long and grabbed some very nice chicken to fill that rumble in my gut. Nearly bought some Nano blocks , but decided I would not be able to handle the so small pieces ,i have a hard enough time with LEGO . Though they are quite amazing and you could start with some reasonable packs from £5 and £10 at the show.
Nintendo's stand was attracting some vast numbers on Sunday to , I new they had two showcase events on the Southbank and Brick lane the same weekend showing of current Wii U and 3DS releases and wonder if they said to people about Hyper Japan having a alternate showcase at those events ,because there where queues for Wonderful 101 ,Zelda and Wii U karaoke. Pikmin fared better on the queue side as they had more machines running the game ,but people wanted to play what was coming in the future even though Pikmin was only released on the Friday.
Anyway time was approaching for the Sunday Cos-parade ,so I thought ,should look at my watch properly ,as I got positioned , I thought ,hey what's all the tables about . Yes I was a hour early ,anyway it was the Sake Cocktail challenge with judges from the industry of food and drink and three established Cocktail inventors shall we say .
Bartender No'1 (left) Ryu Okada
Ryu Okada in action while Niya and Alex wait
Niya Martin - Bartender No'2 Alex Palumbo - Bartender No'3
It wasn't a to serous affair and all was taken in good fun. Each of the three Sake cocktail makers had to prepare a cocktail with Sake as the main ingredient and create a cocktail without diminishing the taste of the Sake.
The final three cocktails - Ryu (left) Niya ( Center) Alex (right)
The judges would give their opinions but it was the audience who would decide as they would be trying the Cocktails which would be given out to all legal age drinkers and as our host emphasised non violent drinkers , how you know before they start drinking. . Each audience participant was given a set of three coloured cards to vote at the end which they thought best.
I was waiting for the audience to get a bit to happy and have scenes of coloured card flying through the air in some frenzy, but no they where all well behaved , ahh but could have happened .
View this video to find out who won by audience poll
It was quite interesting to see the drink makers under the pressure of the spotlight and cameras having to prepare their drinks and talk about it at the same time .
Of course I stayed put as straight after was the Cosparade for Sunday which though not as many entrants as the previous day was still a good event , Final Fantasy ,Nintendo and Sega franchises seem to dominate in the games department , but from a Anime point it seemed quite varied with many representations of shows I never new of. Though I did spot the ones from Panty Stocking and Garter-belt, Bleach (though that's a game as well) Volcaloid and there was even a couple of original works to.
Cosplay gets under way!
Must admit I was at home looking at the pictures trying to match them to the series .
Time was getting on , I thought I would leave before the big exodus and left about a hour before the show closed ,nothing like missing the big crowds ,especially on the London Underground.
Though I did take in the stalls on my way out to grab some Green Tea and fruit teas from the Japan Centre and visit Third Window films and have a chat ,say hello and ended up buying one film I didn't have of theirs . Review soon of Japanese film 'Confessions of a Dog '' the film they banned in Japan .
Hyper Japan this year was a great show , the entertainment on offer was diverse and catered for everyone In one form or another ,and i'm sure many found themselves amazed by events and things they thought they would not be .
Whether you go to play the latest Nintendo games, eat the food ,Drink the drink or just see the varied stage acts ,Hyper Japan has something for all.
Congratulations to Hyper Japan Team for a wonderful show which attracted a amazing 60'000 plus visitors this time.
Thanks to Hyper Japan and Spreckly partners for the Press passes as always.
We look forward to seeing them next year in July , though we will be at Play Expo for the WCS preliminaries so where see you there.
But Don't go just yet as below is a vast selection of photo's from the event .
*Also look out for our Cosplay special on Cosplay Heroes.co uk