So, Japan Expo. What is there to say about it? Only that it was amazing! Japan Expo is probably the biggest convention in Europe and I heard that this year it attracted nearly a quarter of a million visitors over the weekend. I’d heard tales of how big the con is but it’s really difficult to comprehend until you are in there.
To anyone who does the UK scene will known that the MCM Comic Convention is the biggest in the country. The Excel center is pretty big and MCM fits snugly in it. Well, at Japan Expo, the cosplay section is the size of the Excel center, or at least half of it. They have two huge halls that are so big that I don’t think I’ve ever seen an indoor space that size. Alongside this they have two large stages, one where the ECG and cosplay stuff happens and another that I didn’t have time to check out.
The variety of stalls was amazing, with stalls dedicated to specific franchises such as a Sailor Moon stall, a Naruto stall and two Square Enix booths. Many of these booths featured con exclusive items which you just don’t get in the UK or showed items that would be available soon. I could quite happily spend money I didn’t have at Japan Expo on things I couldn’t afford. So I’m pretty happy that I didn’t actually take any money with me to the con.
Food-wise there was so much you could try, most of which was Japanese food. As I was hanging around with people who have been in Japan or lived there, I can say that the food was apparently pretty accurate. Me, being me, did not take any money so lived on the free lunches for the ECG contestants and their helpers.
So now let’s talk about the Cosplay, because that’s what we’re all here for. The cosplay was out of this world, I’m used to seeing good cosplay but the cosplay contests (which were held every day) showed some of the best cosplay I have seen in ages. This is unsurprising given what the Japan Expo stage looks like. I think everyone would try their best to get up onto that stage.
I can’t say much more about the cosplay as I was there as a European Cosplay Gathering contestant helper so I was always backstage and helping the ECG contestants with their costumes or running around getting drinks for them. What I did learn from this is that to do ECG you need to have a high stress threshold, incredible costumes and performances, and an unbelievable ability to handle heat in big costumes.
Everyone involved with ECG were so nice and welcoming that, unless you actively went out of your way to ignore people, there is no chance that you wouldn’t come away as ‘part of the family’. I thought that there would be a bit of a separation between contestant and helper, or even between countries, but everyone was just so welcoming and helpful. Even during the contest you couldn’t feel any competitiveness, everyone just wanted to put on a good show. Which it was!
The only problem I found with Japan Expo was the same with most cons, the heat inside the halls and the smell. Weirdly, though, even though it was nearly 40 degrees celsius outside, the con hall was only marginally cooler thanks to some super air conditioning! Something that rarely seems to work at conventions.
If you ever have the chance to go to Japan Expo I would highly recommend it. It probably isn’t the perfect place for comic nerds or those who like to meet celebs but if you like Cosplay, Anime or just conventions in general this will totally be up your street.