HYPER JAPAN proved last year that it was able to be on the cutting edge of anime fandom with the Milky Holmes show, and this year that trend continues with the appearance of singer and fashion star Kanon Wakeshima.  Keeping their fingers on the pulse when choosing the events and guests for HYPER JAPAN is a bit of team effort according to Emily, "We run a regular focus group, where we invite members of the local anime, cosplay and Lolita fashion community to give their opinions on how the show is progressing." she says.  "The feedback given in those meetings is invaluable to how the show develops throughout the year."

   It's not just focus group comments that influences their planning either "We also listen to feedback from our customers (yes we did actually read those little forms we asked you to fill out last time!), as well as working with leading members of various groups to plan special interest activities - such as the kimono fashion show (organized by Kimono de Jack) and Lolita tea party (organized by the UK Lolita community)."  She continues, "For guests, of course timing and popularity is very important.  We’ve been looking to get Kanon Wakeshima for a while, as she has a very wide appeal with anime fans, music lovers and lolitas alike.  Kanon’s profile has been growing in Europe in recent years, so we felt this was the perfect time to invite her to the UK."

Last year there was a true feeling at HYPER JAPAN of being at a Japanese event in England as opposed to an English event about Japan.  The high concentration of Japanese companies and guests was a large part of this, but the event was also the only one of its type in the UK which was being live-streamed to Japan by the Japanese video site Nico Nico Douga.  This year the multi-media aspect is something the event plans to continue. 

"Kanon’s performance, as well as several other events at HYPER JAPAN, will be streamed live via the HYPER JAPAN website." Emily confirms.  "This year, we’ve planned some really good programming so that those who can’t be at the event can still catch what's happening in real time.  And of course our press team will be hard at work during the event itself, posting regular updates via Facebook and Twitter."

For those who are unaware of Kanon Wakeshima, she is a cellist and singer who performs both as a solo artist and as part of a duo called KanonxKanon with the bassist of J-Pop act An-Café.  Wakeshima is famous for her gothic lolita outfits and for performing a number of songs that have been used in anime, including themes for Vampire Knight and

Shiki.  Emily is certainly excited about her performance, "Anyone who’s seen Kanon Wakeshima’s live show will know that it’s a gorgeous mix of classical and modern music." she enthuses.  "Kanon both plays the cello and sings, and her beautiful Lolita-esque ballgowns are a spectacle in themselves!  I’m sure most of us will be looking forward to hearing Still Doll, her signature track used in the anime Vampire Knight."  Her performance will not only be her UK debut but will also be notable for another reason.  "Kanon's performance will be a charity performance"  Emily reveals, "and it's her way of showing her appreciation for all the support that fans, friends and supporters of Japan have shown in the aftermath of the earthquake.  As well as performing two charity concerts, Kanon will also be taking part in a Q&A panel and signing session."

With plenty packed in to the three day event, HYPER JAPAN has the potential to really expand on the groundwork laid last year to become the leading Japanese cultural event in the UK calendar.  The mix of big Japanese guests and companies, varied activities and an impressive food area really set last year's event apart and on paper this year's event looks even bigger and better.  The change of

venue was a good move and the support the event is giving the Tohaku Earthquake Relief Fund is laudable.  We really hope this year's event lives up to its promise and continues to expand and progress, and we're looking forward to finding out this weekend!

HYPER JAPAN takes place in the Olympia Two exhibition hall in the London borough of Kensington from Friday 22nd July to Sunday 24th July.  Check out their website here for tickets and more information.