Hyper Japan Spring 2012

2 Mar

Last weekend saw one if the most exciting events in the world of cosplay since London’s MCM Expo began England’s first international Cosplay Contest in 2010. Not only has this community been recognised by France’s ECG (European Cosplay Gathering) but also the home of Cosplay, Japan, has asked for the UK to take part in the WCS (World Cosplay Summit). Both events parade the world’s elite and attempts to crown a champion every year. Hyper Japan now hosts the qualifiers for these events after being recognised as the UK’s largest and most successful Japanese Culture event.

This was only the third time Hyper Japan had taken place, so it is still a very young event but nonetheless impressive. The organisers need some praise for the reputation it has received in such a short period of time. This year was my second visit and I feel that there was indeed an overwhelming amount of evidence that the event was growing, but it was evident that there had been some difficulties in maintaining it. After all, it is still a young event and still has much to learn. Admittedly, I  feel it is one that will definitely give other events, such as MCM, a run for their money.

But what makes it so special? Well, maybe the fact that it is specialised? It is focused purely on Japanese Culture so there is clarity, order, and coherence in the displays. The organisers have tried to capture both the extremes of the culture as well as the reality of the country. Amongst the food, games and colourful clothing you will find a wall dedicated to the Japanese Tsunami appeal that follows the decline and progress of Japan after such a horrific event. It is wonderful to see that this has not been entirely forgotten; the display proved most interesting as well as quite emotional. But it is ok to shed a few tears, for I recall a guy handing out free tissues – I cannot, however, recall the relevance behind it.

To fully appreciate the event, one must be very open-minded and quite adventurous, especially where the food is concerned. I think that the food stalls were my favourite part of the whole event. There were many types to try; food that ranged in style, taste and method – there is nothing straightforward about Japanese food (I am sure the chocolate coated banana’s have a special ritual behind them). Hyper Japan also hosts The Sushi Awards in which one can see the traditional/stereotypical food transformed into something quite magnificent and fun. I believe this year’s winner had sculpted his entry to represent a volcano.

The Japanese are indeed very artistic and colourful people; the organisers did their best to capture every aspect. The countless workshops and fashion stalls littered across the hall are quite dull when we consider the performances on stage. There are catwalks and lectures on Japanese fashion – in which there are a number of genres – martial arts demonstrations and musical demonstrations. It is a most enchanting and entertaining show; enlightening even. But two Japanese fashion/cults dominated the event and left visitors dazed with a colour-overdose. Lolita and Cosplay are probably the most well-known parts of Japanese Culture thanks to the international growth. If you attend, do not blink or you may miss something most fantastical and inspiring. It is an event that takes you on a journey straight to the heart of Japanese Culture and an event I wish the best for.

Check out the official website: http://www.hyperjapan.co.uk

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