Nearing the middle of the summer months, it’s time again for this year’s Hyper Japan Festival, which took place in London over the weekend at the famous o2 venue on the Greenwich peninsula.
Situated in the back of the o2, this year’s Hyper Japan Festival was spread across several areas, including a fairly large venue for their dedicated music stage. A standalone gaming area and a giant inflatable head of the colossal titan from the Attack on Titan series.
The Games area, separate from the patch containing the rest of the stalls and events, was dominated by the Nintendo section positioned front and centre with a few other booths around the outer edges. Inside, Nintendo had brought a wide selection of current and upcoming games to play across 3DS and Wii U, including Chibi-Robo Zip-Lash, Dragonball Z Extreme Butoden, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and Starfox Zero.
With the 30th Anniversary of Mario coming up, along with the release of Super Mario Maker, a portion of the Nintendo booth was dedicated to the history of Mario, across past consoles, as well as an area to take some photos in a Super Mario scene with Piranha Plants and the moustachioed plumber himself. There were also several kiosks available for fans to try out Super Mario Maker before its release later this year and have a go at building some levels for themselves.
Besides Nintendo, Bandai Namco also had several games on show at their booth including Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Sword Art Online: Lost Song and Saint Seiya: Soldier’s Soul. Not too far away, the Heart of Gaming arcade in London had taken over a corner of the gaming area with a few arcade machines to play and some console games like Hatsune Miku Project Diva F on PS3.
In the main area of the festival, many of the regular stalls you’d expect were on show but it felt like it was a bit smaller, or more compact than when Hyper Japan was in Earl’s Court last year. Vendors specializing in Japanese traditional items were there showing some of the more traditional aspects of Japanese culture and seemed to be quite popular with attendees wanting to find out more about those aspects of Japan. As the event has a big focus on Japan, it’s also a good opportunity to learn more about the country, with several prefectures having stalls for people to find out about different areas of Japan and places they might be interested in visiting. NHK also had their regular booth and stage at the event, where they held several different sessions over the weekend, including an interview and meet & greet with singer, Eir Aoi.
Meanwhile, other stalls focused more on modern pop-culture with anime, manga, figures, kawaii/cute accessories and fashion from Japan or influenced by modern Japanese art and culture. As a suprising new addition to the expected booths and stalls at Hyper Japan, this year the work of several Japanese artists on display, in the form of t-shirts and prints on show in the music stage area, and a few doujin artists bringing some of their works to Hyper Japan for UK fans who may not normally be able to travel to Comiket to get their latest releases.
Probably the biggest difference for this year’s event, other than the change in venue, was the inclusion of a dedicated venue for music acts throughout the weekend. A star-studded lineup was on stage over the 3 days including Vamps , Eir Aoi and Dempagumi inc.
Overall, this year’s event was quite interesting to attend as the new venue and additions gave you more things to see and do compared to some events of previous years. Hopefully, next year’s event will be even bigger and better (or at least on par with this one).