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As with any event there were things to like and things to dislike about Hyper Japan

The venue for the event may not have been the most central in London, but was still relatively easy to get to on the tube.  On the plus side it was a good size with a large open floor area that the organisers made very good use of.  Unlike other large events there was little of the bottlenecking between stalls and the general layout was well thought out and effective, with a decent amount of space left around the food area for people to eat in.  The venue also benefited from numerous skylights which provided a large amount of natural light and the organisation of the queuing both in and outside of the venue was done well as far as we saw.  The main downside was that the building wasn't the most modern or fit-for-purpose venue that could have been chosen, and on the Friday the heavy rain did expose some leaks in the roof which we doubt impressed the exhibitors much.  However, the venue did its job and the non-central location didn't seem to stop anyone from getting there, although it wasn't the easiest to find from the tube station.
 

  The event's biggest strength was the companies it managed to attract, with some real coups being made particularly in the anime and food sides of things.  The best thing was that most of the things you could buy at the event you'd be hard pressed to get elsewhere.  A couple of companies - such as sake wholesaler Hasegawa Saketen - usually only sell to trade, so being able to buy from them directly was a unique opportunity.  Good Smile Company had a range of Black Rock Shooter merchandise for sale that was not only competitively priced but only just released in Japan, although it was frustrating that you couldn't buy the figures in their display stand,

despite many having prices on them.  SquareEnix were also priced pretty well, which was good as many of the items they had are quite easy to come by in the UK, and there was an excellent selection of Japanese ingredients and kitchenware available throughout the hall.  In fact the organisers my have done a great job setting the companies in, but it was occasionally the companies themselves that missed an opportunity.  House Foods were doing questionnaires and giving away free pens and samples of their range of curries, but weren't selling the actual curry packets on the stall - a glaring miss that probably lost them a few thousand pounds if the popularity of the curry was anything to go by.  Soy sauce manufacturer Kikkoman sponsored the sushi events on the main stage but nowhere could you get bottles of their soy sauce in the event, whilst Toei weren't selling anything despite producing major anime series like One Piece and Dragon Ball ZGood Smile Company only bought the Black Rock Shooter figure from their massively popular Nenderoid and Figma ranges, a disappointment when you consider that figures are their main business and they only had two designs on sale.  Also disappointing was Hobby Japan, a leading retailer in Japan but one that only brought a handful of figures and not those of series that are really that popular here.

 A couple of stalls were guilty of overpricing too, with the much vaunted Evangelion Store (which, disappointingly, was actually a couple of shelves in the JP Books stall) really taking the biscuit with t-shirts costing 69 and jigsaw puzzles for 50.  If they sold anything in the weekend we'd be surprised.  JP Books was also quite pricy, whilst the gothic lolita clothing stall Baby, The Stars Shine Bright had dresses costing hundreds of pounds.  Asahi were selling beer for 4 a pint, and some of the goods at the JAL Shopping Europe were a bit steep.  By the end of the Saturday some of the shops started reducing prices though, so at least they were recognising that they'd misjudged it.  Even Asahi started giving away promotional bottle openers and lanyards with their beer.  Many of these issues are something that the companies will learn from this event, and if they return in future we're sure they'd be a bit more clued up.  Elsewhere many of the stalls pitched their pricing well, with great value sushi starter sets on the Yutaka stall, well priced sake on the Hasegawa Saketen stall and numerous bargain foods from the many food stalls.
 

The stage events were excellent too, with the sushi workshops and Milky Holmes Show particular highlights.  The Milky Holmes Show was Hyper Japan's headline event and despite a lukewarm reception for Bushiroad's head honcho Takaaki Kidani the main event went down a storm.  Lead voice actresses from the series Mikoi Sasaki, Sora Tokui, Suzuko Mimori and Izumi Kitta belted out the shows theme whilst dressed as the Milky Holmes characters they voice before the audience were treated to a short clip from the series and then a Q&A session.  The actresses were asked questions about London, the show and the anime and voice actors that inspire them,

and kept upbeat despite the occasionally overbearing MC who repeated the questions VERY LOUDLY, sometimes drowning out the interpreters or the actresses themselves when they started replying.  All in all though the event went well and the closing song performance was a suitably bombastic end to what was a very Japanese take on a panel discussion.  From the point of view of anime the Milky Holmes Show was the part of the Hyper Japan event where East truly met West, bringing something distinctly Japanese and giving UK anime viewers the chance to interact with it in the same way as the Japanese.  It was the highlight of an enjoyable and intriguing event that had a uniquely relaxed atmosphere and really showcased some great aspects of modern Japan.

Hyper Japan pretty much succeeded in what it set out to do - bringing the best of modern Japan to the UK.  It was well run and organised on the day, with an excellent layout and a strong range of companies and stalls to interest everyone.  It was kind of refreshing to go to an event which included anime to a decent degree, but wasn't dedicated to it or swamped by it and the balance between fashion, food and entertainment was pitched just about right.  What made Hyper Japan unique and occasionally frustrating is that with so many Japanese companies and retailers involved it sometimes felt more like a Japanese event than an English one.  This made it more interesting than the usual anime conventions and Expos as - in a similar way to last year's Tokyo Day - it felt like Japan had come to us, rather than an expression of our fandom.  However, the frustration came from the fact that it often seemed that to the Japanese the UK is an unknown quantity, so they took a gamble on what they thought we'd like and then gave out a load of questionnaires to try and fathom us out.  Sometimes they got it a bit wrong, and others they got it right, our main hope is that the event runs again so that the companies who came this time can take advantage of some of their findings next time.  In the end there are things that could have been done better, but Hyper Japan was still an ambitious and bold event that actually lived up to the hype and managed to deliver a uniquely Japanese experience in the UK.  We really hope it returns.


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