Japan Expo '14: Some Random Things

This was Japan Expo's second time the 'states. This is a huge expo in France and I overheard some of the workers talking that this is an experiment to see if this is worth doing more of here. From my time at the expo, I would say it is. This isn't just a convention that centers around anime or videogames, but also Japanese culture like music, art, traditional dances, and flower arranging. And yes, there was a Gundam.

Gundam shops for Gundams.

-There were some high profile guests at Japan Expo 2nd Impact. I already talked about Akira Yamaoka, but also there were mecha designer and director Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed, Bubblegum Crisis), Daigo Ikeno (character designer for Capcom), Gen Urobuchi (writer of Phantom of Inferno and Fate/Zero, among others), and Izumi Matsumoto (author of Kimagure Orange Road). There were also other artists and musical guests, along with a couple featured cosplayers with Amie Lynn and Living Ichigo.

-Director Shinji Aramaki was there signing autographs and had a panel. At the panel he showed off trailers for Harlock and Appleseed: Alpha, then opened the most of the time for questions. One fan commented how the Appleseed movies have such a polished look (they do!). Aramaki did not how to respond to why the quality is so great, but the advancements in computer technology really help. Whenever a video is complete he views it and decides what can be improved upon. Aramaki said that the number of people who can draw traditional animation is shrinking, so there is more and will be more CG animation. One advantage of CG animation, is that any differences between drawing styles of animators is negated because all the CG is handled by computer models. Aramaki has thought about doing a CG movie with live-action actors in it. A fan asked if he did another movie based off of a videogame, what would it be. Aramaki responded saying he wants to do a Titanfall movie. That would be cool. I'd like to see some actual story for Titanfall.

Shinji Aramaki arrived with two awesome Harlock cosplayers.

-There were some cosplayers while I was there, but not a ton like other cons, which was a good thing. Japan shouldn't be known solely for spawning cosplay of anime characters. There were two cosplay contests, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I was not there Sunday and was at a panel while Saturday's contest was happening, but I did catch some cosplayers. I think the Gundam won.

Morrigan showed up jus tin time.

A motorcycle with Kill la Kill graphics.

-The dealers hall and artist alley were small, but there were lots of cool things there. There was also an art gallery, including some really amazing chalk art. Sega was there showing off Project Diva.

Some actually incredible chalk art.

Art by famed illustrator Yusuke Nakamura.

-There were two main stages outside. While they were across the grounds from each other, there were times when each stage had a musical act, so you could hear both at the same time. One of the stages also had flower arrangement, traditional dancing. At one of the musical performances I saw, some fans were doing Wotagei, which is that thing where they wave around glow sticks in unison, but it kind of looks like a choreographed cheer routine. I've seen crowds do this in a music video or two before. I could swear that the routine they were doing was the exact same thing. Maybe it was.

There were very colorful costumes at the Okinawan cultural dance.

The Wotagei was going at full force at this singer's performance.

-There were three cars with anime graphics on them. I'm not sure if these were people's normal cars, or some customs done for the show, but the best thing was out in the parking lot; a fan's motorcycle was basically cosplaying as Senketsu, the living uniform from Kill la Kill.

This motorcycle is a character now.

-There was a Godzilla panel I wanted to attend, but it was the same time as the Akira Yamaoka panel.

-The Palo Alto Judo Club performed some martial arts demonstrations with and without weapons. There was a katana cutting demonstration with the San Francisco Japanese Sword Society. Dressed in full armor, tey used some centuries-old swords were used to cut wood and a watermelon on a lady. This was pretty entertaining.

The swords are still very sharp after hundreds of years.

Slicing a watermelon in two on his wife.

Bo staff versus tonfas. Fight!


-There were also Quiz and game shows. At the Quiz Show, when a person would answer a question correctly, they chose a square on the board that turned that square and any opponents' connected squares to their color. Near the end of the show, the girl who was blue took over nearly the entire board. There was also Anime Jeopardy, which was fun, but I was only there for the first 10 minutes because I had to go to the Akira Yamaoka concert.

The Quiz Show was a nice diversion.

I think blue just won.

-The autograph system was a little weird. Some were first come, first serve, which is great and tends to work. That's how it was on Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday your badge was scanned to see if you could get an autograph. It was a lottery system. If you "won," you were given a print out saying you could get in line to meet whoever and get the autograph. I can see how doing the random draw is fair

-Japan Expo 2nd Impact was in the San Mateo, CA fairgrounds. While it's a decent place for fairs, it's a bad place for a convention/expo like this. There are few buildings, and each one is basically a large open space. Panels were held in two of the buildings, but the speaker systems were not that great, so the panelists voices echoed and did not carry enough in the room.

-Needless to say, placement was an issue at the expo. The biggest being that the martial arts demonstrations were directly behind one of the panel stages. I know they had to work with the space they had, but you have the martial artists yelling and fighting at the same time the panel is trying to talk about the cool stuff they do. I realize they had to make the best use of space they could, but this was incredibly bad placement.

-Check out some more photos from Japan Expo 2nd Impact.

Some cosplayers wait for the contest to begin.

Some art from Knights of Sidonia.

I think these were just some random girls performing a song.

Japanese drumming is usually pretty impressive.

The EVA really could have used an EVA race queen next to it.

Evangelion racing.

Ikebana, traditional flower arranging.

- Shawn - 10/26/14