Monday, 23 July 2007

Japan Expo July 2007

Last Saturday (21st July), I decided to attend the Japan Expo, being held at the Excel Centre near Canary Wharf. (The same place that the LondonExpo was held a couple of months before).

I had been planning to go since finding out about it in the recent Neo magazine, but recent events had conspired to put me off going. Namely work (Those selfish bastards!). Anyway, on Saturday morning, I mustered up as much strength and determination I could, made my morning preparations and left.

One of the cool things about going to the Excel Centre is that I have to take the Docklands Light Railway to get there. This means I get to see the cool sights of traveling along the River Thames, see all the cool penthouse apartments, the moored sailing boats in the harbours, the tall corporate skyscrapers, and the Millennium Dome (which is surprisingly impressive to look at close up, even if it is a complete waste of money!).

Unlike the last time I went in May, the weather was excellent. The sky was clear and the sun was shining, giving me a really good feeling that I was going to enjoy the day!

It was as busy as I expected it would be when I finally got into the hall area. The first thing I noticed as I entered, was there was a couple of videogame booths to the right of the entrance. There was a Naruto beat 'em up on virtually every console there (apparently, Naruto is VERY popular these days!), and a couple of dance/rhythm games. I'm not afraid to tell you, I usually shy away from these kinds of games. Not because I don't think I'd be any good at them, but because when I see other people on them, they look like complete idiots! I guess that says a lot about my personality, doesn't it?

Next up were a few shops selling Japanese merchandising, such as food, t-shirts, keyrings, plushy toys etc. If I had more money than sense, I probably would've bought a whole load of that stuff. As it was, I was happy to just capture them on my mobile phone's camera!

Other shops were selling action figures of various famous Anime, Manga & Videogame characters. the ones that peaked my interest however, were the EXTREMELY cute, hot and perky female dolls. If I had a place of my own, it would probably be full to the brim with these hotties (although, I'd probably get a lot of strange looks from family members if they ever came to visit!).

It was great to get the chance to see some real life Japanese samurai swords up close and personal. Just looking at them made me want to grab one, pull it out of it's sheath and start waving it around like a maniac! It is probably a good thing that you aren't allowed to handle them personally! There were also replica swords of famous VG characters, like "Legend of Zelda" Link's Master Sword or Cloud's Buster Sword from Final Fantasy 7. If I ever get into the cosplay scene, getting one of these would have to be a prerequisite!

There was a lot of other Japanese related stuff at the event, like the board game known as Go (which has inspired a popular manga in Japan), Origami, Gothic Lolita dolls (yeah, I thought so too!), and specially made to measure cosplay costumes.

There was an excellent performance from Taiko Meantime, a troupe of performers that play traditional Japanese tunes using the famous Taiko drums. I had never had the opportunity to see something like this before , so it was a truly exhilarating experience to be able to see anything like this in person! It was very traditional, and yet so in your face and full of impact. I would definitely recommend going to see Taiko Meantime where ever they play during the year!

The cosplay scene is still in its relative infancy in the UK, but is growing. I was lucky enough to be around when the cosplay competition was being held on the main stage. Most of them were not bad, although I kinda thought some of the cosplayers should've put more effort into their poses and actions, to get the crowds really fired up and into it. One honourable mention goes to the guy dressed as Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta. Sweet! ^_^

I had seen the Manga Alley the last time I had gone to the LondonExpo in May, and was amazed by the number of highly skilled artists that were submitting their work for the competition. I vowed to myself that I would "throw my hat into the ring" and submit my own artwork the next time I was there. This time round, I came prepared with a few printouts of my own work (much to the demise of my printer - need more ink!). I was a little sad that I could only submit one piece of work, because I consider a lot of my stuff to be quite good.....¬_¬

Anyway, I'm glad I did it, and even if I don't win anything this time, I'll just up my game and try again next year!

All in all, it was a good event (even though there was heavy rain as I was leaving). This was a big deal for me, because it was to mark my prescience as a committed attendee to these kinds of events. I have every intention of going again next year. You just TRY and stop me!

Just so you all know, I've submitted all the video footage I took while I was at the event (and the one I was at in May too) on (kiss my ass, YouTube!)

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