As the largest Japanese Pop culture convention in the world outside of Japan, and the home to the ECG (European Cosplay Gathering) finals, Japan Expo is a 4 day convention beginning on a Thursday and ending on a Sunday of early July. Set in the Parc des Expositions Paris nord villepinte, France and spanning across 3 halls and with 2 separate halls for queuing, this is one of the biggest and most well organised conventions I have been to, with an estimate of 250,000+ attendees over the 4 day event.
What’s at the Venue
With the main reason for attending being the ECG finals, this event gave me more than enough things to see and try during my wait for the finals on the Saturday which seems to be the highlight of the event. From gaming, action figures and food, to recreational events, the Expo had it all. Everything was grouped into relative areas and 5 food courts dotted around the hall helped limit crowding, with priority passes having a fast track vs regular day attendees. With food ranging from sandwiches, baguettes, coffee, iced slushies, to more eastern food such as donburi, onigiri, bentos and karages and more there was something to suit everyones tastes.
The level of cosplay seen at the event was absolutely stunning, helped by scenery such as an internal outdoor area with trees, as well as prebuild photoshoot backgrounds and additionally an urban and rural landscape area for shoots. Although they may not be as up to date in terms of what they cosplay, the level at which they are at is really high.
Who was there
The event featured a very high mix of both video games and anime, such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Boku No Hero Academia, Love Live, and more.
Additionally the guests which attended are no laughing matter either, here’s a small selection of guests from their extensive list: Mirei (J music signer), Namewee (creator of the recent viral Tokyo Bon MV), Pikataro (Pineapple Pen and Anime story teller), Token Renga (Music comedy act), Kimitoshi Yamane (worked on Cowboy Bebop as mecha-designer), Hidetaka Tenjin (Illustrator of Macross) and Mari Suzuki (producer of FMA:Brotherhood, and Bungo Stray Dogs) whilst notable cosplay guests included Gladzy Kei, Drefan, and Its raining neon.
The ECG Finals is one of the biggest cosplay competitions in Europe spanning across 15 countries, with the introduction of Sweden in Season 9 of the event where the preliminaries are held. The competition pits the best of each country to represent them in cosplay, with this year UK’s representatives being Katie of Parallel Works Cosplay as the solo representative, and with Dewnor Cosplay and Kyokyo Cosplay as the group representatives.
The whole competition was on a whole other level, taking up an entire hall for themselves with a stage separate from the rest of the show. With most people attending the competition this made seating hard to find unless you are either a Zen+ ECG pass holder (Vip with ECG priority badge) or on a vip list with the ECG group for designated seating. Queuing for the event normally begins an hour to 30 mins before the show but usually fills up with 10 mins once they begin letting badge holders through.
Lasting for an average of 2 hours, the performances of each country was phenomenal with EPIC (the collective organisation of cosplayers, photographers, etc behind ECG) doing an excellent job of supporting the cosplayers, and also recording the event to ensure that the event ran smoothly.
Overall, in my opinion, this event can be called one of the best conventions in Europe and has plenty of stands to cater for everyone. I will hopefully be returning next year.
Photos for ECG can be found here.