AnimeJapan 2014: Nippon Nirvana

Written by Jack Neighbour and Fraser Overington

No doubt this weekend would have been marked on the calendars of vast numbers of the initiated, as the first major event of 2014, and as two people who were brimming with excitement and anticipation, we can proudly say, what an experience.

Armed with our presspasses and our SLR, us J-Curianites (us being Jack and Fraser) made our merry way to Tokyo Big Sight with a well considered battle plan and a lot of caffeinated beverage; today was going to be intense. As we walked through the halls and foyers towards the two exceedingly large convention rooms dedicated to the show, we had time to mentally prepare ourselves and take in our surroundings; it’s an impressive place, long glass-lined halls and massive rooms big enough to accommodate even the most ostentatious booth displays. There are also the handy additions of a restaurant floor and even a convenience store for refreshment in between viewings, all well priced, unlike certain venues.

So, we entered. Even as we were being directed to the first hall the impressive level of artwork was immediately evident. A massive display for one of this year’s most anticipated series, Sword Art Online II . Being imbued with the special powers of the press we were allowed into the event almost a full hour before the general public; something that is absolutely essential if you want to get a decent look at more than one booth per hour or shoot something besides the back of someone’s head. The layout of the place was systematic…efficient; most Anime titles could be seen from almost any standpoint, making it relatively easy to head to the relevant section without having to pour over a floor plan like some kind of intrepid explorer.

A truly welcome aspect was the space, oh god the space! Too many times have we been to an event that has been so copiously overbooked that once the hordes are unleashed everyone ends up in single file, marching like sheep through the narrow walkways, if you don’t calculate when to start shifting your bodyweight to turn, you end up having to take the whole route again as if you’re trapped in the most awesome Ikea ever…

This was clearly taken into consideration by the organisers, who had been sparing with the layout, not too cluttered and very easy to navigate, allowing for multi-directional manoeuvres when negotiating your way between displays. Whoever made that decision deserves the Pulitzer Peace Prize for the prevention of a significant amount of cosplay-sword related deaths.

We ran from booth to booth, photographing the displays and grabbing the free merch. Every company had some insightful and tantalising visuals on offer;including character cut-outs, concept art, trailers, projections,products, figures and interactive programs. All designed to get the hype up and whip the public into frenzy. A lot on show at the event were for series due to start in the Spring and Summer, with huge advertisements for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders , Mekaku City Actors , Aldnoah Zero and Haikyuu!! to name but a few.

There were plenty of figures on show as well, all beautifully crafted in stunning detail. Just look at them.

Another aspect we truly loved was the fact that every company had selected their loveliest female employees, gave them each a stack of materials, put them in costumes from series such as Strike the Blood, SAO II and many more, then strategically placed them around the perimeter. A front line of charming, smoking hot PR. None of them minded posing for a photo either. Brilliance.

After the floodgates opened and said hordes had cascaded in, we had a chance to view some cosplayers, most of them setting up shop towards the back of the event where specialised screens had been provided for the small army of photographers, professional and amateur alike. Tirelessly, these guys posed and posed and posed, with some being so popular they caused a rather large queue of avid fans, desperate for a chance to get a snap…or nine.

Yes, some individuals were rather demanding; standing or crouching with their little point-and-click from Amazon/Bic Camera and shouting for their poor subjects to bend,twist and meld themselves into the iconic poses of the characters they were doppelganging.

All that aside though, you could clearly see everyone was having buckets of fun, some of the costumes we witnessed must have taken months to complete; it’s a thoroughly warming idea to think that all that hardwork is not only appreciated but also immortalised as images on various blogs and websites for the rest of the world to see and enjoy for years to come. History was being made here today.

9_IMG_0736The two days of anime madness we were lucky enough to experience really was unbelievable.  The stage events, the people, the venue. Everything was as great as it could be and all timed like clockwork, all that’s really left to say is bring on AnimeJapan 2015!

We wrote this up a couple of days after AnimeJapan took place. “Why the wait?” we hear you ask, “How could you possibly delay the telling of this most enigmatic of events?” The answer is simple;  we were knackered. Two days of Anime bliss is like opening the Ark of the Covenant, your mind needs rehabilitation. We took a quick selfie at the end of day two:

Thanks for reading and see you next time!