Japan Expo 2010: When Hell meets Heaven. Impressions, Loot and more

It certainly has been a very long while I didn’t make any blog post, hasn’t it?
I feel a bit guilty about that considering all the crap I had to take care of, for like a full year, but I guess this event should be at least covered.

Content: description of my little adventure during 3 days at Japan Expo (France, Paris, Parc des Expositions), conference with Tamura Yukari and Mishima Akio about Magical Girl Nanoha The Movie 1st, loot and many more.

Anyway, as the title and picture  suggest, this article will be about Japan Expo, the most attended convention regarding Anime, Manga etc you can get outside of Japan, set in France (I may be wrong, but AX is still barely around 100000 visitors while JE is most likely breaking the 120000 mark this year… but that being said, AX definitely has more space and guests).

Checking the site of the convention (English Link here), it sure doesn’t look too shabby: lots of guests (notably Hojo and Kojima), many activities shown on the schedule, etc.
You would think there are lots of things to do and… indeed, there were.

I don’t think I shall be able to describe everything, but if you have even a slight idea of what a convention looks like, it certainly was on the mark during the JE.
However, while there are good things, you should also expect a lot of “not-so-pleasant” things as well… but I will cover that progressively later.

Okay, let’s first start with what I’ve done and my impressions on this chaotic rush:

Summary and Impressions

Friday 2nd July 2010
(my 1st day, second day of the JE)

I will first start that, originally, I wasn’t supposed to be at this year JE. Whilst I already attended it once last year (only the last day though), I wasn’t exactly interested in this convention that much (I don’t have any nostalgia surge with City Hunter, nor I am an avid fanboy of Kojima’s games, so).
However, because of a certain incident I shall explain later, I decided to attend it, like 1 week before the event, earning me a guaranteed lot of troubles…

However, thanks to my senpai, MLA-kun, I managed to travel on the second day (Friday 2nd July) for quite a low fee (10€ for the fuel, despite we are on the road for 3 hours is quite nice). Arriving there around 2:00PM, I was however struck immediately by the terrible heat wave… blessing the fact I at least brought with me some bottle with frozen water (which had plenty time to melt, but still remain fresh).

From there, I finally met with some people whom I’ve encountered last year at the JE 2009: notably Mereck and Mic2070; as well as other people such like Suna and Spear (both will be my life savers)  Soon enough, I’m checking all the stuff around, notably the Kawasoft and Touhou.net booths. For one, I certainly didn’t expect so many fans of touhou lurking around, and it seems members of touhou.net didn’t expect that either as they told me that Thursday was beyond busy, with a lot of stuff sold (same for Kawasoft, as they sold more than half of their stock of Katawa Shoujo and True Rememberance in french).

My first regret when I got myself there was that I was terrible at being thorough with my preparations and I failed to bring a camera… but fortunately, it seems it wouldn’t have been of much use, for my main objective. That said, I unfortnately won’t be able to post pictures of the event. Please check the facebook page though, it should give you an idea.

Considering my late coming, the fact I had to settle things etc, I didn’t have the chance to roam around a lot, though I did scout a bit, preparing potential booth raiding for Saturday and Sunday.
Still, with Mereck and Mic help, I’ve found some interesting booths, such like Cospa, but also a booth specializing in importing various books from Japan. And I may have finally found an interesting loot item…
CLANNAD Another Story Art Book, which has gorgeous arts by GotoP. However, as much as my luck was going good there, it was a bit more complicated afterwards. The shop actually uses the original price on the books/magazines and convert the price from yen to euro and… the measly 1800 yens became a whooping 35,30€ (~$44), due to their scary rate, leading to 100 yens = 2€. I wasn’t exactly pleased by this drastic price tag, but I felt that kind of opportunity wasn’t really common, factoring how it may be a headache to consider shipping fee (generally, the few copies of this one are sold for 20-25€ on the net, and due to its weight, you often have to add 10€ for the shipping).
Considering it is the first time I’ve found it, that there was only a single copy and it was basically in mint condition, I didn’t think twice and bought it.

Later on, I tasted once again the atrocious advent of leaving the convention place… the transports were crowded, plain and simple.
But well, at least I was having fun talking with Suna and other people regarding the current state of the anime fandom/industry and some touhou discussions (I’m a complete newb regarding this, having played like few times Mountain of Faith in Easy/Normal, and barely knowing few characters, so I got some points explained etc).

It took us 2 hours, but Suna’s place wasn’t exactly close to the Parc des Expositions. That said, it was a very calm area, and we could buy some tasty pizzas, before going to his house.
There, I could see his brother’s giant collection of figures (which would make desy jealous about the fact he seems to have all major Fate’s figures), and quite a lot of Touhou goods in each sibling room.
After a life rejuvenating shower, I was shown the so called interview with ZUN and his legendary beer.
Finally, we went to sleep around midnight, except few frigging delinquents were howling like morons around 1:00 AM.

Saturday 3rd July 2010

We somehow managed to wake up around 6:30 AM, but we weren’t exactly very fresh. Nevertheless, it was necessary in order to attend my main target today…Tamura Yukari‘s autograph!
After a thorough battle plan being executed almost flawlessly, we arrived at the Parc des expositions around 8:30, but much to my horror, there were toncrap of people already gathered there… that’s the saturday for you, they say huh…
Anyway, Suna had to wait for Emilio and other people, while his brother and I were rushing like mad men in the queue in order to seize any chance… and there got my luck.
Half way on the run, the right strap of my backpack literally snapped, with no way whatsoever to repair it. Therefore, I was forced to carry my backpack unnaturally, which quickly drained my strength a lot (since I didn’t stay to the same place for both nights, I had to carry all of my stuff, so clothes, etc)… something like  20 kg (bottles sure add up quickly…).
To make things worse, the weather was awful and it was then raining extremely hard… it was the only moment I was thankful I wasn’t that ahead of everyone, since the portion of the queue where I was stopped in an empty building (moreover, since I had my hard drive in my bag, it wasn’t exactly a safe spot). People who were outside of that building were stuck for a full hour under the rain.

Around 10:10, we finally got inside, and it was a mad dash towards the signing coupon booth. As we made our way there, I was a bit rash and thought the queue for Yukarin was the third one… which was absolutely overcrowded. By chance we were discussing with someone else and accidently, we realized we weren’t on the correct queue (which made sense to me: I was wondering how come there were THAT many people). I then checked the board to be sure and it was indeed a mistake, so we quickly changed the queue, fortunately much faster (like 3 times shorter).
Something like 10 minutes later, I finally grabbed by Coupon for Yukarin’s autograph, as well as Iwadare Noriyuki‘s!
With our prize now in our pocket, Suna’s bro and I were leading a girl who was interested by Suno’s bro plushies (he had momiji and yuyuko plushies on him) to the touhou booth, explaining as well what was Touhou about etc.
I then realize that it was already past 11:00, right when Iwadare’s signing session was already ongoing.
After dropping my bag to Mereck’s care, I dashed to the complete opposite, reaching the signing desk location (with so many people, going back and forth takes at least 10 minutes…).

Much to my surprise, around 11:30, there was barely 3-4 persons in the queue, so I didn’t wait too long for that. I was a tad embarassed that I didn’t have any official support… granted, I never played Grandia, and unfortunately, the official JE booths only sold Grandia OST… absolutely no Phoenix Wright ones (I would have killed for the Gyakuten Saiban Tokubetsu Houtei…).
In any case, contrary to what the staff told me before (all of them told me I needed an official product, as I noticed there was a shiny “goods”‘ sticker on Iwadare’s autograph coupon, unlike Yukarin’s), I didn’t need anything and I was given a shikishi where Iwadare and his group could sign their autograph.
I could exchange few words in Japanese with him and he was really nice. I was glad I could convey how I liked his work on Gyakuten Saiban 3 and the orchestra version, without any need of a translator.

Hence, Iwadare’s merry group Autographes, get-o! (respectively, from Left to Right: Wo-Lya (bass), Fukuda Yasufumi (guitar), Iwadare Noriyuki (keyboard and composer), Roze Horiguchi (Drums) and Shion (Vocal).

After roaming around, I had however noticed Ki-oon booth (a french manga editor), and remembered that the signing session with Mochizuki Jun (Pandora Hearts author) was ongoing between 11 and 12:00. However, the incredible queue length didn’t exactly encourage me, but an attendant told me that she will be present on sunday as well, though he suggested me to wait really early, as the first ones were camping there ever since 9:30.
At least, I could have the opportunity to have a look at their Pandora Hearts space, with some very nice exposition of some fine illustrations but also top nocht costumes of Alice, Oz, Gilbert, Break and Sharon.

Afterwards, I went back to the Kawasoft booth, fetching my sandwich and then going to the screening of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st. However, I got the nasty surprise that they changed at the last minute (or perhaps my fault?) that the movie was starting on 12:15 instead of 12:45.

In any case, I watched the said movie, with very little left about the original series in my memories (it has been ages I didn’t watch Nanoha series, let alone the first season).
Here is my opinion on Animesuki. That said, aside of the schedule change, the real issue was the screening itself.
There was a major problem with the DVD that aniplex has brought with them: at specific portions of the movie, not only it stops playing but we have a very high pitched sound with a screen similar to a “no longer airing channel” crap. The JE staff didn’t tell us anything and they plainly tried to run again the DVD, fast forwarding it. Of course, they got problems yet again.
Fortunately, the aniplex staff quickly intervenes and first apologized to us (the person in charge told us in english), and figured out the issue 10 minutes later: it seems the DVD has undesired portions between each chapters, so they had to play each chapter, and once they are over, they have to skip to the next chapter.
Of course, even if they were fast, it definitely was disrupting, as we had like 7 momentum break, but nothing too major.

After the movie screening, all of our group decided to camp the Signing desk.
I wasn’t expecting a lot of people, but in fact it was a tad worse than my expectations: we were only like 20 people waiting, and it didn’t take too long before we could get our autograph.
While waiting, Orphi explained to me what happened to him: in fact the information about the autograph system was poorly handled, and Japanese fans (yes, a sizable group was present and they did the travel mostly for Yukarin as well) were totally screwed up: only 3-4 of them could get an autograph coupon. Because of this, Orphi was asked by a japanese girl if he could sell his coupon. Orphi was a tad embarassed, considering the fact this person went all the way from Japan to get an autograph. At first he wanted to give it for free, but she pushed him 2 bills of 50€. Still not feeling too good with it, he tried to at least give back one of the bills, but to no avail.
That pretty much shows how they were screwed and desperate as result. It certainly didn’t help JE staff called their coupons system as “first arrived, first served”, as if as long as you are present early at the signing desk, you could have it.
This also explains why the coupons for Yukarin’s autograph were out of stock only at 11:00AM. Generally, coupons for most japanese guests are usually out of stock around 10:15 – 10:30 (due to the rush and privileges the premium tickets holders have… such like entering in the convention an hour earlier and queue cut possibilities…. in fact, for Hojo, the first arrived first served tickets were all given even before the gates are open for commoners, leaving the later a terrible 3 hour worth of queue for a drawing lot, so chance to wait for nothing), but lasting that long is really abnormal so to speak.

Anyway, around 4:05, Yukarin finally shows up, with a fancy dress. Of course, and sadly enough, we were forbidden to take any picture or video of her (hence why I said my regrets about the camera were quickly ignored by this point).
Progressively, I got extremely nervous considering what was going to happen (mind you, I don’t think any of us was that calm with Yukarin basically a mere few meters away from us).

As it was my turn, I managed to pull out my request in Japanese (and goodness I decided to do that, you shall understand later…): in a nutshell, I asked her if she couldn’t do Bernkastel’s nipaa.
Unfortunately, it seems she jumped on the nipaa word, and did Rika’s… well it is all good anyway, because a live experience first hand really was something else. That and shaking her hands were a unique experience.
Speaking of which, I didn’t see that coming, when she leaned forwards to shake my hand, and her “merci” along with her previously “bonjour” are killing moe with her normal voice (I would have killed for a recording of that T_T)

That said, thanks to the translator, he spelled the prononciation of my name wrong, and thus Yukarin wrote “トワヌ ” instead of “トアン”. I knew I had to do it myself, but not like I will complain considering the opportunity I got.

Of course, with our little group, we were sharing our respective experience while waiting for the upcoming conference. We were all a bit disappointed we couldn’t have her autograph on a personalised/official support, but the shikishi we were given was nice regardless. It is just a shame some couldn’t have their items being signed (Mereck had Mai’s poster from the Memorial Box, a lot of people were carrying a Nanoha Figure, etc).
Obviously, we were also trying to understand why we couldn’t make any picture or video recording, while almost all of the other guests could have been.
Damnit, I should have brought a VOICE recorder, that could have been something allowed (or hidden *grins*) and keeping that would have been nice.

Anyway, faster than we thought, 5:30PM was approaching and we seized the seats as fast as we could after the FMA conference, though we were outsmarted by the japanese fans group, having established their positions on the first row in the middle, ever since the FMA conference.
Well, at least the second row was fine and I was camping there, still with the autograph in hand. While we were waiting, we were again reminded that we cannot take any picture or video recording, even for people from press, so they asked everyone to put their camera back to their bags.
While we were waiting for the guests to arrive, we were given a nendoroid Nanoha key chain. A nice treat though obviously we were expecting a Fate key chain as well, but too bad. Well, that keychain was cute anyway.

The aniplex staff, the producer (Mishima Akio) and Tamura Yukari finally arrived around 5:37PM, and of course, everyone was just there for Yukarin, hoping we can have some discussions / answers with her.
However, things aren’t that simple and the conference wasn’t exactly led in a very original way so to speak. Anyway, from what I can remember, here are the questions and answers given. Please remember that there wasn’t any footage or anything of that sort, so I’m trying to pull out my memory. Also, since I didn’t take notes, it is obvious they didn’t exactly say what I’ve typed, but the message conveyed was what I believe to be that way. If any french  comrade remembered of anything else, please notify it to me, thanks.

Questions prepared by the Translator

Q: What do you think about Paris and the Japan Expo?
A (Mishima): Oh I was impressed by the buildings, they were quite beautiful. Also I wasn’t expecting so many french fans around. Thank you again for those who have watched the movie!
Q: What about you, Madam Tamu… errr Miss Tamura?
A (Yukarin): Paris is indeed a very pretty city. And the fans were all kind, smiling brightly. It was the first time I’m attending the Japan Expo and it is quite lively.

Q: I see that the theme of the movie was drastically different from your usual Magical Girl shows, with girls using weapons and the like. What can you tell us about the message and theme of this movie?
A (Mishima): There isn’t any real antagonist of this show. Every character has their own point of view and circumstances that go in conflict with each other. In the end, I believe the message conveyed was specifically portraying how trying to loose the differences between people will bring to peace and that friendship is also another theme that is brought on the first plan.

Q: What were the issues you have encountered during the making of the movies?
A (Mishima): there wasn’t really any real problem per se, however the battle scenes were quite difficult. As you probably have seen, there were a lot of these and keeping them fast paced required a lot of efforts from our team.

Q: Miss Tamura, what do you like about your character, Nanoha?
A (Yukarin): She is very cute and kind. But above all else, she is a girl that doesn’t give up no matter what.

Questions asked by Fans:

Q: When will the DVD and Blu-ray be released in Japan?
A (Mishima): I don’t have the answer. As you know, the movie is such a hit that it is still screening in Japan, despite it has been available on 23rd January. We will release the DVD and Blu-ray as soon as we can.

Q: Can we expect any other movies after this one?
A (Mishima): I cannot promise anything. After all this movie took us a long of time and efforts. In fact, it took us a whole year and half to make it. It was quite exhaustive to be honest, our team couldn’t afford having vacation, so no summer or even christmas holiday for us to finish it.
However, please know that we have received the message from you and the fans from Japan, so who knows!

Q: As you may know, the nanoha franchise wasn’t exactly well known in Europe and it seems it doesn’t go that well in US, as Strikers isn’t announced yet. Therefore, I was wondering if you could release your DVD/Blu-ray, but free zone and with english subs. That way, occidental fans may be able to get the movie and enjoy it.
A (Mishima): It depends of how the series is faring in US and Europe. As such, the response of the fan may do the trick, such like emails. By all means, I encourage you to watch the movie if you can!

Q: Miss Tamura, who is your favorite character aside of Nanoha and what was your favorite scene of the movie?
A (Yukarin): From the movie? It was Precia. As for my favorite scene, it was… well when she died *laughs* (some intervention with the producer). To be more accurate, during her last moments, she didn’t have any regrets and carried out her actions to the end.

Q: Some sort of offtopic, but please bear with me. First, thanks for screening the movie in France. As I’m quite happy that we got the presence of Tamura Yukari, I wonder if you can bring Nana Mizuki next time.
A (Mishima): We will discuss it with our staff in Japan.

Q: What is your opinion regarding the evolution of the Magical Girl as of now? What I mean is that the theme used was mostly about dreams of the said young girls, and now it is mostly focused on magical battles and so forth.
A (Mishima): I don’t believe we have such kind of genre. In fact, sometimes in our current animation, we have sometimes elements such like young girls and magic being reunited, but that doesn’t make it a genre.

Q: Miss Tamura, I was wondering how were you able to change your voice that much. For instance, you can have a very soft voice such like Nanoha, but turn very gloomy and deep, such like Mai from Kanon or Rika from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. So, How do you do that, and can we have a little demonstration?
A (Yukarin): [Missing Part, unsure if it was the translator failure or not, it seems she can’t explain herself].
*nanoha voice*: “I’m glad I went to France”
That is the high pitched voice, now…
*Bernkastel voice”: ‘”I’m glad I went to france”.
*Huge cheer from the public*

Sort of unrelated, but a belgian fan asked through the mic if she could have an autograph, as she was kind of late (can’t remember exactly), begging because she went from “far away”… I must say, I don’t care even though I’m from the same country (perhaps because I don’t feel having roots there, being asian, heh), but this was extremely bitter: it isn’t like it was hard to get a coupon, but some people really had to make efforts for them, and thinking about the japanese fans being unable to receive theirs after coming from -JAPAN-, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted about that and feel pity for them. Well, it wasn’t possible in the end, though at least that person could have a handshake.  That being said, this kind of attempt wasn’t exactly the most reasonable, especially if we consider people having much more reason than being “late” *facepalm*

As you can notice, the prepared questions weren’t exactly that interesting, down to tivial points. Well, everything could have been all nice and dandy, but there were some details that didn’t tick well with this.
First, the conference only lasted 45 minutes. While they have shown up at 5:37PM, the translator dude stopped it around 6:22, which certainly didn’t please anyone in the room, as the conference was scheduled for a full hour.
But what was actually an issue was the fact the translator was really -bad- (だめだ この男…).

For starter, that man simply didn’t watch the movie, which obviously DID impair the questions and the translation of the guests’ answers. While he admitted beforehand that he didn’t watch the movie, he “assured” us he had notes… allow me to be quite skeptical regarding the usefulness of his notes considering his ignorance (stuttering, not really able to understand some questions from the public etc). Of course, he doesn’t have to watch the said movie, but if he doesn’t make some research, that’s asking even more problems.
For example, when he asked who was Yukarin’s favorite character, she did reply clearly, then left him some room to translate the first sentence. However, when he said “the character I liked the most was…” he was stuck, and had to seek in his notes and… flately say “Precia Testarossa”. I mean, it was quite silly considering everyone understood that much and he just couldn’t follow Yukarin who has said the name like not even 10 seconds ago.

But the real issue, beyond his ignorance regarding the franchise in general was his very poor translation skills. The problem lies in many portions:
1) he had dangerously shortened the answers of the guests. Certainly, I don’t think you can convey all detail in a translation going live like this, but it is hard to take seriously a translator who just fail to give the points, by skipping each 2 lines or so. For example, at some point, Mishima was talking like 1-2 full minutes, and the translator pulled us… a maximum of 10 lines… what gives?

2) he does mention non existent bullcrap. For example, when he asked what Yukarin liked in Nanoha, she mentioned what I’ve typed above: cuteness and that she never gives up. However, Mr “translator” translated it as “Miss Tamura said that she liked Nanoha so much that she did her best so she won’t fail”… basically he totally missed the fact it was about Nanoha, and completely made up a point from this basis.
Another FAIL moment was the question regarding Yukarin’s favorite moment. First, he didn’t even bother translating when she mentions Precia’s death, but also the fact that… he mentioned that “[…]Because she (Precia) had regrets”, despite Yukarin specifically said “[…]後悔しない“, explicitely saying that precia did NOT regret anything (further confirmed as I discussed with a Japanese fan, confirming the ないpart) . Furthermore, if our translator-kun had properly done his homework, he would have realized that Precia never regretted anything at the moment of her death. Perhaps you might think Precia had regrets because she realized the promise she did with Alicia about a little sister, but considering how the context and how she said it, it wasn’t exactly a regret, but more like an afterthought.
I personally think she didn’t express any grief whatsoever, and plainly stated that point as if it was a conclusion she couldn’t help due to the timing (something like “I didn’t change at all, I always notice things when it is too late”). Granted, it might sound like some regrets, but since it is all about Alicia, and not directly a comment about Fate, you can tell that she “may” have regrets about not fulfilling her promise to Alicia, instead of regretting not considering Fate as her daughter, and thus Alicia’s sister. The fact she realized it only due to Alicia’s promise, instead of her own contemplation regarding Fate’s childhood and her treatment is enough to figure that she did not have any regret towards Fate especially.

I understand that the “no regret” part looks a bit weird, but I made sure the presence of the negative form with japanese fans. That and the fact Yukarin never mentioned Fate in her answer.
Perhaps, Yukarin was actually mentioning that Precia didn’t regret anything in her attempt to revive her beloved daughter, that is.

3) He rarely talked loud enough in the mic when he asked a question in Japanese to any guest, so the japanese audience couldn’t really understand the questions all the time, which is worse when we engaged the questions from the public.

4) His prowess wasn’t brilliant when he translated our questions to the guests. Actually because of this, not only the answers may have been simplified / wrong, but there wasn’t any guarantee that the question the guests got in Japanese was the correct one (the most evident proof of that was Mishima’s answer to the Magical Girl Evolution question)

5) Prononciation wasn’t all that good (he was the one who screwed my name for the autograph by the way), leaving a lot left to be desired. This had an impact on how the guests could understand the questions… for example, the “voice change” question took him -three- minutes, with the producer forced to help him in few instances so Yukarin could understand… meanwhile, I told one of the japanese fans with a very crude Japanese (something like “田村 ゆかりさんの声は全然ちがう事ができる…どうやって? たとえば…なのはと梨花”), resulting to an instant understanding of the situation within less than 30 seconds, despite I’m not proficient at all in Japanese, as you can notice.
Another example is that, in both French and Japanase, this guy pronunced “Magical girl” in such way that it would be in english “magi-Call girl”. It was so stupid, especially he could simply say “魔法少女” to them if needed.

As you can see, there were so many fails (no, the “Madam Tamu…” wasn’t a joke, he went ahead in French, and corrected himself), that it was quite a bitter show for us.
If you add the fact that it was mostly Mishima answering to the questions, it basically turned things into a bore fest for details people would hardly want to know (though most interesting questions were asked by the public, thankfully).
Suffice to say, it is better than nothing, and once the conFAILrence was done, Mereck and I started to yell “Yukarin! Yukarin! Yukarin!”, catching everyone offguard, including her japanese fans. This lead to a general call from the audience for her… I hope it pleased her at least, despite she didn’t exactly receive the proper treatment she should have (in comparison to other guests etc).

Anyway, the day was practically over, since we were quite disappointed by that conference, ranting (especially me) about how the organization and content were nothing to write home about.
Afterwards, we all got back to the Kawasoft and Touhou booths, settling everything back to the crates etc. Nothing really fancy and we were joined by the french SOS dan booth “clerk”, Kohaque, for a dinner… except that there wasn’t any proper restaurant open around, for odd reasons.
After that, the simple Pizza plan at Spear’s house was adopted (not healthy for me after eating the same kind of stuff the day before, but well, why not once for a while).  It took however something like 30-45 minutes for us to decide about the pizzas.
After a long while, the feast could finally begin, with a light hearted mood. It seems that things went very smoothly for Kawasoft and Touhou.net, but not quite much for the french SOS dan.

Around midnight, people were going to sleep, however since I’ve brought my hard drive in case, why not showing how things are done on my side for an umineko patch to Mic and Spear.
After the whole explanation, we then engaged into a very lengthy discussion about the current situation of the plot of Umineko, and the possible culprits.
Before we know it, it was already 3:00, and we decided it would be better to sleep now, considering the long and last day showing up.

Sunday 4th July 2010

As I slowly arise from the sofa in a zombie mode, I couldn’t really say that I was at the top… 4 hours of sleep was a bad idea with that exhausting event. Anyway, most of the merry group awakened, and slowly get their turn to the bathroom.
Mereck and most of the crew grabbed the stuff to the booths, while I was staying a little bit at Spear’s place. Afterwards, I follow Kardhafi and Chaton, heading to the Parc des expositions.
There was still a noticeable crowd around, but not as much as I feared.  At least, thanks to the merry french community, they made me enter in the JE 1 hour before its actual opening time (How? 秘密だよ~).

That was just perfect, since it allowed me to scout properly the possible urgent price-cut of some booths… though it was all for naught, since nothing extraordinary caught my eye.

Then, I remembered that I should wait at Ki-oon booth for Mochizuki’s autograph. Except that I didn’t expect so many fangirls 1 hour prior the beginning of the session. Roughly twenty persons were already present, and within merely 20 minutes, we were the double, then triple of that around 10:45. While the queue was moving in a slow but consistent rate once the session started, an attendant was checking everyone’s… identity. Right, that is something I didn’t expect at all: they did take your identity card, checking if you didn’t have any autograph from Mochizuki during the JE… I was surprised that they basically limited the number of autograph for a complete “once” for the whole convention. Leaving the queue even a single moment (even for going to restroom) wasn’t a good idea, since they announced that anyone would lose their autograph anytime they leave the queue after receiving the ex libris… perhaps it was a way to prevent people to swap place with someone else, which would be an abuse regarding the ex libris (which was limited to 500 copies)
Understandable, but this is a sort of strict conditions we got there. Anyway, I wanted to get a second autograph for a friend, but it was no good due to this, but also the fact the number of people trying to get an autograph is really huge. It took me 20 minute to reach Mochizuki, but the queue was obviously more than 30 minute worth of waiting for anyone joining it at 11:00.
Once inside of the booth, I was wamrly greeted by Mochizuki and  two assistants, the later two were speaking with a nearly perfect french, surprisingly.
That said, while she was signing a bit, I tried to cheer her up in japanese, hoping she won’t lose spirit in the future, and she really was surprised and thanked me, adding an arm and a “がんばります!” to the autograph. Too bad I was a bit distracted and forgot to ask her which character she liked the most (although I was under the impression it is either Alice or Break, but heh). That said, she was really friendly and enthusiastic, despite signing autographs and drawing sketch (and for some lucky fans, complete drawing) for 4 days probably took a toll on her. Anyway, another autograph get-o~

Anyway, after this little event, I didn’t exactly do anything special, aside of scouting any potential price cut, but unfortunately, it seems the rush will only occur very late, just before the closure of the JE.

Around 1:00 – 2:00, I was following Nyo and Smankh for some “window shopping”, but we arrived at the Nico Nico Douga booth, where Yumiko was dancing.
I’m not really following that closely the recent trend on niconico, so I had no idea who Yumiko was. That said, her energy, cosplay and dance skills are nothing short of excellent. That was the only other time I regretted that I didn’t bring a camera or something, because that was really a very good show she has put there (she did dance on the same track I’ve linked at the Japan Expo).
EDIT: Found 3 videos on youtube:

Shortly after that, the french SOS dan arrived for their own little showndown: the first kumikyoku, then a hare hare yukai dance.

Soon enough, it was already 3:00 PM, and Iwadare’s concert was held at the JE live house area.
Arriving a bit lately, I still didn’t miss anything much: Iwadare first started with Godot’s theme, then with the court them (PW3), and finishing the Phoenix Wright part with Pursuit (of course, the Trial and Tribulations ones).
Afterwards, his group performed Lunar ~ Silver Star Harmony Opening, then the inserted song.
Finally, he did Grandia’s opening, its battle theme, and another track I couldn’t figure (since I’m no grandia player, I had no idea what track this one was). In any case, for the whole concert, it was quite pumping, and Iwadare had a great aura, even dancing while performing.
The public liked their performance (and dear lord, he was right when he said Shion was cute), and they demanded another one though yelling “encore une” isn’t really as effective as “もう一回” I guess… well nevertheless, as Iwadare was almost leaving, he performed a beautiful piano score… I really have no idea what was this one, but I’d love to find this out.

As I got back to the Kawasoft/Touhou booth, there wasn’t really anything to do left, aside of lurking again for possible loot, or discussing with other people around.
Around 5-6PM, I was making a very last shopping sortie with Spear and Mic. At some random booth, I however discovered something troubling… in a 5€ crate full of OST, I found Shana 1st season OST…
I was first tempted to conclude it was a HK bootleg, but after a much closer look, it doesn’t look to be the case, consdering:
-The presence of the geneon symbol
-no washed out or photocopy colors syndrome
-the whole aspect of the jewel case was normal
-Most of the track titles were in french, which was one of the fundamental trait of Shana OST.

Considering the price for a mint OST, I didn’t hesitated. While Spear and Mic were checking for more goods, I noticed something weird at the left side of the booth. For some reason, I managed to see some art books of Naruto and random things. I would generally stop looking at them, but as I saw the surprising price tag of 10€ ($12.6), I noticed a very… “deja vu” effect of the character design of a character shown on the art book below that tag. under closer inspection, I felt “bingo”…: “hey spear… isn’t it Nanao Naru’s design ?!?!?”… which was THIS one.

Spear was wondering why I was reacting like that and confirmed my thought, and immediately figured out the “issue” with the price tag. The booth clerk confirmed it is for 10€ and we quickly asked if we can have a look at it: no matter how we were glaring at each page, it was a genuine copy of it (and there was a tiny old price tag of 40€ on it). The clerk told us that it is the demo and they have more of them: indeed, there were 6 other copies of that art book in their stock that was visible for us, and we rushed on it: Spear and I took 2, while Mic took the last 3. Of course, we were wondering how come they have so many art books that is barely 4 month old for that price… especially with so many stock… Spear remembered that a certain shop went brancrupt and they had to sell all of their stocks.
What I’ve discovered was just the tip of the iceberg, for we found much more than only Nanao’s most recent art book…

Basically, it was a literal gold rush for us:
Noizi Itou’s Harui-ism art book
Girls Girls Girls art book (1),
Pandora Hearts Official Animation Guide (1)
Lament of the Lamb, Kei Tome (1)
Art collection of Gundam A (4)
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Visual Complete Guide (1)
Vocaloid Hatsune Miku Graphics (5)
Range Murata: fa documenta – 001+ 002 collection catalogue First Limited (6)
And many more (from what I can remember: Requiem for Phantom, Rozen Maiden, Gundam Seed, etc etc).

Aside of Higurashi, Vocaloid (both 15€) and Murata (50€), all of the other art books were for 10€. It was beyond a steal, and it didn’t take much brain power for us to just buy anything we wanted, or even few extra like the Nanao’s artbook to make some profit along the way.

Mic was pretty much stocking up Haruhi and Gundam Artbooks, while Spear jumped on the Kei tome, Girls girls girls and Pandora, along with a single copy of phantom, while I claimed that Higurashi art book (I still can’t believe it is my first one of higu… ). I also grabbed one of the Haruhi book, and all of us took 1 Miku art book.

I basically spent 60€ ($75), and immediately sold one of the Nanao’s book for 20€, effectively spending 40€ ($50) on 4 gorgeous artbook… considering their original prices and the possible shipping fee attributed to them (especially due to their weight), you can say that we all were to originally spent at least 200€ ($250). It was dirt cheap and it was seriously the best find we could have discovered during the last 2 hours of the convention.
What’s scary is that no one would ever find out about these gems if I didn’t pay attention to that Nanao’s artbook…
Of course, the guys at that booth knew about it and when the business was still afloat, most of these artbooks were to be sold for 40€ each, it is just that it seems they couldn’t help and sell at that insane price, considering they were forced to liquidate all of their stocks, even though 20-30€ could do the trick… it is a real wonder how come no one had noticed such gems before my discovery.
In a way, I sort of bought these 4 artbooks for the price of 1, or even less…

Anyway, back to our “base”, people were obviously dumbfounded by our find, calling us frigging lucky jew bastards… I won’t blame them, obviously.
Since it was about time for the booths to close, I was hoping the cospa one to reduce some prices (since they weirdly increased a lot of merchandise by 5€… I mean, blackrock shooter T shirts were at 25, while SOS dan one was still at 20… in fact, the price board on the external wall of the booth had all T shirts at 20€, but they has put some sort of new price over a lot of them >_>).
Unfortunately, they didn’t do any real last rush price cut at all. It was a bit too bad they were keeping Shina Dark Figures, Christina and Galette at respectively 55 and 60€ (their original price tag was 75 and 80).
That said, I indulged myself and bought 2 cospa straps: Shana, and one from Sora no Otoshimono (Ikaros and Nymph).
5€ each.

After talking a bit with everyone for the last time, I take my leave with Nyo and Smankh but although I thought it would have time by leaving at 7:30PM (effectively having less people around), both of them didn’t look that optimist. And true to this, I was dumbfounded to see the bloody transport area overcrowded still. After the frigging long time and going deeper to the airport station, hoping for a direct line, I was doomed to be late for my Thalys.
Thanks to Nyo and Smankh, I didn’t fall to depression thanks for these lazy bums at the Call center for not working at 7:00PM so I could exchange my printed ticket with another one through phone… duh. With this sad note, I was forced to buy for 62€ another thalys ticket for 10:01 PM, which really made me go home late (around midnight, completely hungry and exhausted as I didn’t eat anything and I was carrying my backpack and loot bag with both hands… at least I guess I did some exercice…)

Anyway, as you can see, I got some good stuff but also got my bad luck plaguing me as per usual basis…
Aside of the events, I think it is time to add further points that would make some aspects of this JE not so commendable but heh:


The bad:
To be blunt, the organization of the JE was a frigging mess. It is their 11th festival, they are professionals, yet they still fail at keeping a proper pace in term of queue management etc.
If it was only an issue exclusively to that point, it wouldn’t be that annoying, but it certrainly is when further factors are included… such like the nasty weather on saturday.
I mean, even disabled persons cannot enter before 10:00 AM in the convention if they don’t have a premium ticket… thus even if they were on a different queue area, they most likely were stuck under the rain until the doors open… I mean, are they silly enough to let people be soaked to bone, especially a lot of them were lightly clothed?

The said convention wasn’t that smooth either once inside: without any proper number of information point (only 1 for the whole convention… hahaha wow), no distribution of maps (rather, they just let piles of them at random places) or schedule, people were left on their own in a very wild way… at least there were a certain amount of maps and shcedule pinned on some pillars, but certainly not as handy has having a sufficient number of maps/schedule around.

The ugly:
Communication was probably the biggest failure of this year.
As you read above, I wasn’t supposed to be at the JE, but I’ve learned 1 week prior it that… Yukarin was coming to the JE for the promotion of the Nanoha movie screening.
Except that I’ve learned from external websites, having the official japanese movie site and Yukarin’s website as the sources… and that was announced much earlier than them, like on 23rd June.
Yet, they didn’t announce her on their JE site at all. Worse, they actually made a HIDDEN news about aniplex presence, in the screenings category of contents, without even seeing it shown on the main page, only on the 30th June, so barely 3 days before the said event… that and the absence of the movie screening and Yukarin’s signing session on the schedule table until… friday morning…wth.
That and the fact that Yukarin wasn’t shown as part of the guests, and even shortly described as the voice actress for… Fate Testarossa in the aniplex screening news…
In case the news is taken out in the future:

In french:

Cette année, Japan Expo vous propose également de nombreuses projections du producteur et diffuseur Aniplex.

Outre la présentation de la saison 2 de Black Butler en association avec Kana Home Vidéo, Aniplex sera à Japan Expo pour un événement Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood, en diffusant le dernier épisode de la série en présence des doubleurs français et de l’éditeur Dybex.

Seront également projetés en avant-première mondiale : 2 films live.

  • Enfin, Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA – The Movie first. La première version longue d’un Anime qui a renouvelé le genre des magical girls en mêlant habilement scènes d’action impressionnantes, quêtes magiques et galerie de personnages attachants.
    La projection sera suivie d’une séance de dédicace de Yukari TAMURA, doubleuse d’une des deux héroïnes, Fate Testarossa, également en conférence de presse le même jour à 17h30 ! À ne manquer sous aucun prétexte !

In English (translated by myself, since they didn’t even bother to do that for the English page):

This year, Japan Expo proposes many screenings from the producer and editor Aniplex.

Aside of the screening of the second season of Black Butler, with the partnership of Kana Home Video, Aniplex will be present at Japan Expo for a Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood event, screening the last episode of the series, with the présence of the french voice actors and the editor, Dybex.

There will be 2 world premiere live movies.

  • Finally, Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA – The Movie first. The first long version of an Anime which has renewed the Magical Girl genre, skillfully blending impressive action sequences, magical quests and a lot of likable characters.
    The screening will be followed with a signing session with Yukari TAMURA, voice actress of one of the two heroines, Fate Testarossa, present as well for a press conference the very same day at 5:30PM! Do not miss this opportunity!

Frankly, it is really as if Yukarin was a total random and second hand guest. I dunno, it isn’t like she is that famous for the french community, but I think it is at least “decent” to introduce a guest: all other guests were properly announce, even some “newcomers” like Aso Natsuko.

The lack of communication probably became a strong impact on weak presense of fans (as we weren’t exactly a lot to begin with), but even Japanese fans were affected by such amateurish way to handle the events. I mean: I know Hojo, Morning Musume and Kojima are the big super stars, but there are a lot more than just these 3.
By extension, if you have read my article in details, you will notice that they often contradict themselves: well, the whole requirement of having an official item for Iwadare’s autograph was bullcrap… Good thing I’ve checked it up in case… but before that, some staff members had no idea what was the shiny “goods” sticket on my autograph coupon etc.

Not really related to the JE staff, but the food and drinks were really a rip-off… what, 9€ for 6 mere takoyaki balls? 8€ for a mere cheese – ham sandwich?
It isn’t like I was expecting free stuff or anything, but it is such a swindle that even ostentatious extra such like caviar wouldn’t really soften the blow. I wasn’t affected by this, but some visitors were dumb enough to buy food and drinks at those unreasonable prices.

The Good:
At least, the space they prepared and the layout of the convention weren’t so bad. They were enough room for everyone to walk around without feeling like in the french subway.

Other good point regarding the organization of that JE is the fact they weren’t silly in having minimal autograph sessions and at least spread them so people won’t have a dilemna between attending one or another… unless you want more than half of them, which is a bit greedy if you ask me.

Also, they were smart enough to pack various booths together: it was actually a good thing that Kawasoft, Touhou and SOSdan booths were clumped together. Likewise, the various amateur stands were packed together depending of what they offer (you could often see the “doujinshi” together, the “I’m drawing your portrait with a manga style” booths packed together etc).

Anyway, as far as I was lucky to get many great things (3 autographs, mainly Yukarin’s, having a short talk and shaking her hand, so many win artbooks), I wouldn’t have been so blessed without the support of many great people around, all noted above.
That kind of convention is really not a field trip and going there all alone isn’t any good.
And thinking about it, I wonder if I will really attend the Japan Expo of next year… I have no more expectations for a “decent” organization at this point, but unless they bring solid guests, I doubt I will be that good with that, considering the huge expenses without including the loot, and the fact it is better suited for fans that are only good with anime and manga, ignoring all the other stuff such like doujin, VN etc.

And now, the painful bill:
-Initial travel: 10 + 62 (return)… and prolly that extra 62 as refund seems not possible…
-Travel and food expense: 30€
-Entrance Fee: 31€
-Loot: 35€ (clannad book) + 5€ (OST) + 40€ (Artbook Raid) + 10€ (Straps)

Grand total: 223€ (~ $280)… without that train penalty T_T
Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay any hotel or something…

TL,DR mode:

Loot Overview:

Negative portions:
-Ridiculous lack of communication in various aspects of the convention (events, staff, information booth number (1), etc)
-Autograph coupon system being really really confusing due to its name and the lack of *large information* outside of the said signing coupon booth.
-Queue management outside of the convention is really bad
-Yukarin’s treatment… almost as if she was a booth babe, so to speak.
-Conference regarding Nanoha Movie: very bad translator, uninspiring prepared questions, 45 min despite planned for a full hour
-Food and Drinks price
-Lack of “real” and various official goods related to the guests
-My atrocious luck with my Backpack and my return ticket…

Positive portions:
+good layout of the booths, and the venues were large enough
+Art Books raid :3
+ meeting various japanese guests and fans
+meeting great people again. I can’t thank enough everyone who helped me thorough these 3 days. Guys, I love you!

But seriously though, the fine line of this Japan Expo is that: -do not– attend it alone and more importantly: check every day all information sections (not just the news) because it may change your plans drastically. Always be aware that 9 hours is really too short to check everything, so always be really careful about the time you are spending in a queue or anything else.
And unless you are really a whealthy bastard: bring your own food and drink, ortherwise prepare to either cough a good portion of your budget, or starve and dehydrate to death.

12 Responses to “Japan Expo 2010: When Hell meets Heaven. Impressions, Loot and more”

  1. 1 r3 July 6, 2010 at 4:39 am

    Hime-sama deserves better. D:

  2. 2 antu July 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I just wanted to comment your blog site and say that I genuinely enjoyed reading your website post here. It was really informative and I also digg the way you write! Continue the good work and I’ll be back to read far more soon mate

  3. 3 bofo January 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog. We will be in Paris in July 2011 and would like to visit the expo.

    Can you tell me if it will still be enjoyable for us with our minimal French? Are any of the events, films, or presentations given in English?

    Thank you.

  4. 4 klashikari January 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    It depends how good your “minimal French” is.
    That is only one of my observations and unlkely to be accurate or objective, but French people are generally not fluent with any other language, English included.
    Fortunately, there are few information boards in English at the Japan Expo.

    That said, I don’t think I’ve found any panel or conference done in any other language than French, so it might be troublesome for you if you can’t grasp French (as I explained in my blog post, even the conference for Nanoha wasn’t really nicely handled for the sizable japanese fans).

  5. 5 Blake Stlucien August 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm

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    Great stuff, looks like you spent quite some time on this! I apprecicate your hard work, keep it up! Thanks again and have a great day! 🙂

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  1. 1 Japan Expo 2011: Gems digged up from dirt of mediocrity. Impressions, Loot and more « When Anime Past Meets Present Trackback on July 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

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July 2010



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