So we’ve signed off on another fantastic weekend at Hyper Japan. The UK’s premier event celebrating Japanese culture, it’s a must for anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime, manga, gaming, and of course Takoyaki. Thanks to the European Cosplay Championships taking place, there were some incredible outfits on display (look out for those in our next CMV!), as well as some amazing stalls and food outlets to explore. Check out our highlights below:
5: The Sound of Music
JPop fans were treated to some great performances over the weekend, as a whole range of performers made their way to Earls Court. With bands like Baby Metal making real inroads with Western audiences, there’s more of a buzz than ever around the JPop scene, and Hyper Japan audiences were loving it. From the techno-influenced digital performances of Yuzuki Yukari and Ishiguro Chihiro, to the laid-back, ethereal balladry of Mayuko, the full range of Japanese music was on display.
Speaking to us at Hyper Japan, Tom Smith of JPU records explains that, when it comes to Japanese metal, there’s a whole range of new music to be discovered. “I noticed that a lot of these [Japanese] bands sound like bands that were big here maybe five or so years ago, and they’re reinventing that sound. I won’t say improving on it, but changing it and putting their own stamp on it, and I think for metal fans, it’s very interesting to see that being done. I’m hoping that more people will begin to access it now than ever before.”
You can check out our full interview with Tom here.
4: Let’s Wrestle
Wrestling is a pretty big deal in Japan, and some of the sport’s biggest names put on a fantastic show for Hyper Japan’s visitors this weekend. Rather than the traditional Sumo wrestling you might have expected, it was the adrenaline-pumping bouts of Dragon Gate on display, as stars including The Lion Kid and Uhaa Nation gave fans a taste of the ringside experience.
Crowded around the ring set up at the back of the exhibition centre, wrestling addicts and newbies alike got to see all the Standing Moonsaults and Elbow Drops they could wish for. It was a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the wrestlers in action, and to see just how athletically demanding the sport can be.
We spoke to professional wrestler Uhaa Nation about living in Japan, his worst injuries, and why he loves wrestling so much. Check out the full interview below.
3: Do You Want To Play A Game?
Of course the most popular attractions at Hyper Japan 2014 were the stalls set up by Japanese gaming giants Bandai Namco and Nintendo. Lucky gamers were given the chance to get a first play on huge upcoming releases including Naruto Shippuden Ninja Storm Revolution, Tales of Xillia 2 and One Piece: Unlimited World Red. The biggest hitter was, of course, Super Smash Bros, where plucky gamers could fight it out on a giant screen raised above the arena. It went down a storm – needless to say, it’s going to be one of the best Wii U games of 2014. Hyrule Warriors was also available, and with so many characters already revealed for the game, it was a great opportunity to finally put them through their paces.
For gamers at the more traditional end of the spectrum, there were also some retro arcade games available. What they lacked in the visual wizardry department, they made up for in the sheer nostalgic joy they inspired. They were certainly a great distraction from rumbling stomachs caused by the enormous food queues!
2: Gotta Buy Them All!
One of the great things about Hyper Japan is the way it brings so many specialist retailers and creatives into one room. From all over the country, and in fact, all over the world, stallholders came to share their enthusiasm for all things Japanese. Whether it was the traditional bansais and kimonos, or the robotic arms and harajuku fashions of modern Japan, there were plenty of ways to find your wallet suddenly emptying.
For foodies, there were some (incredibly) popular hot food stands selling dumplings, takoyaki and every kind of noodle, as well as smaller outlets selling delicious Japanese ice creams and cakes. Kawaii fashion was of course a big hitter, bringing the vibrant streets of Harajuku to West London in fabulous style. Pastel Doll, with their brilliant range of hair pieces, spoke to us about their design process, and how they got into the industry.
Manga and anime proved to be incredibly popular, as you might expect. Hyper Japan was a great chance for UK Otakus to pick up books, dvds and memorabilia from their favourite series, as well as checking out the new artists working in and around the industry. We spoke to the boys from the Lonely Artist Cast about their artwork, what inspires them, and their creative process. Check out our full interview here.
1: Cosplay or Not Cosplay
With the European Cosplay Gathering taking place on Sunday, there was no shortage of incredible cosplayers on display. Everyone from Totoro to Raiden to the entire Dragon Ball Z crew were hitting the aisles, strutting their stuff and swinging their assorted weaponry in preparation for the final competition.
As well as interviewing some of the star cosplayers of the European Cosplay competition, we also pulled together a collection of our favourite outfits for our latest Cosplay Music Video. You can see the full CMV below.
So that’s it. Hyper Japan was an incredible weekend all around, and we had a fantastic time exploring everything it had to offer. Check out our interviews with some of the amazing people that made it possible, and stay tuned for more of our convention exploits over the next few months!