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Hyper Japan 2011 July 24, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Culture, Food, Games, Japan, Manga.
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Hyper Japan 2011, a set on Flickr.

This weekend I went to the Hyper Japan exhibition at London’s Kensington Olympia.

A celebration of contemporary Japanese culture, it’s the second year the event has run. Having missed it last year, I booked my ticket well in advance this time.

Was it worth it? Yes and no. While I did enjoy bits of it, I have to say, overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. It’s largely another ‘pay high entrance fee to get into a space where you can spend more money’ do. And in contrast to, say, MCM Expo, there weren’t many ‘bargains’ to be had when you were inside. Most of the stuff, from food to figurines remained at a premium.

There was a programme of show events, but much of it was a bit weak. Pop star violinist Kanon Wakashima was fine, if not really to my taste (I think this was one for the Goth Lolis) and the cosplay parade/awards was the usual mix of some good, some awful. There was a decent-ish fashion show and a couple of cooking demonstrations, but nothing really amazing.

Stall-wise, I was excited to see the likes of Hobby Japan, Nintendo, Bandai and Toei animation on the exhibitor list, but only Nintendo – bringing the new Xenoblade, Zelda and Mario demos to play – really had a decent presence. Toei just put up a load of One Piece pictures and Bandai, while full of games, didn’t have much to offer (had they been selling Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 at a special price, I may well have parted with my cash). Square Enix brought some good figures and were one of the few to have a) a good display, and b) reasonable prices (I’m not much of a Square Enix fan though, so nothing to really tempt me).

Konami seemed to have just set out a few tables for Yu-gi-oh card games, but most disappointing was Anime-on-Demand’s presence, which was just a bit cube of banners! I’d gone in hoping to thank them in person for providing such a good service, and willingly handed them cash for an annual pass. Alas, it was not to be.

Of the rest, it wasn’t really anything you couldn’t find in the Japan Centre or Mitsukoshi on an average day and the prices were the same extortionate amounts. A lot of the stuff were things I’d seen just a month before in Japan at half the price. I know, if I hadn’t just been there some of this stuff would’ve been ‘new’ and I might have snapped it up anyway. But I still wouldn’t have enjoyed the inflated prices >_<

Despite the disappointments, there were some high points. There was a wonderful photo-exhibition of post-tsunami rebuilding by a couple of charities and I really enjoyed the Nintendo demos. I also never tire of eating takoyaki and matcha ice cream, even if it wasn’t quite as authentic as I’d hoped.

And yes, I still came away with a few purchases: a SCANDAL CD, a random volume of Urusei Yatsura for a bargain £2.50 and the latest Kimi ni Todoke volume.

I also have to count myself lucky I got in. The whole event was a little bit disorganised and a bit of a free-for-all in places, but things were really bad for anyone who tried to come around midday, when capacity was reached and people – even those with pre-booked tickets – had to be turned away! Not very professional, but then what can you do other than to maybe put timed entry on tickets so everyone doesn’t come at once?

So overall, I wan’t as hyper about Hyper Japan as I thought I would be. Still, any celebration of Japanese stuff is a win for me. The UK would certainly be poorer without such things.

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