I am back. Once again. Free for some more weeks of forms, corrections and school headaches. Time to find back all my cosplay tools and to immerge myself in the wonderful world of cosplay headaches.
And what better way to start holidays than going to the biggest manga/anime convention in Europe? Japan expo, in Paris. The manga event reference in France: a boring manga supermarket for many, a otaku paradise for others. I have gone to that festival several times in the previous years but stayed at home in 2013 since no general cosplay contests were organised in the week-end (and no guests interesting enough to make a 1000 km travel). What changed my mind this year? One word: Kalafina.
As soon as the rumors of that Japanese group coming in France were confirmed, I booked my hotel and my train tickets.
I will talk about the concert and signing session I was lucky to attend to but first things first…
After a 11 or 11 hours train travel, I arrived to Paris. Miracle: for once, no strikes, no train lateness, no train problems. The train even arrived 10 minutes EARLIER than what was previewed. I think I must have cried seeing that impossible joy.
1 hour of tramway later, I was entering the Exposition center, with my trolley, ready to find back that giant convention. This time, I didn’t have to wait one hour under the rain (Japan expo 2009,2010,2011…): all visitors had to walk during 5 minutes only through a empty hall before entering the otaku land.
But of course that would have been too easy. Why should I break my looooong traditions of Japan expo crisis?
After the tempest, the flooding and the endless rains (2009, 2010?), after losing myself in the streets trying to find my hotel under thar rain (2010), after having to evacuate the said hotel because of a false fire emergendy at 3hours in the morning (2009), after the endless trains/tramway strikes, after the endless tramway canceled for no reasons…let’s welcome the trolley from hell crisis!
My trolley broke down just before entering Japan expo. One wheel broke down and of course was unfixable. My big heavy trolley broke down during a week end full of stairs and endless walking.
Positive point: there was a luggage keeper system at the convention doors.
Negative point: walking back to the hotel takes normally 5 minutes. Took me 35minutes. And I will not talk about the new arms muscles I had never felt before thanks to the hundreds of stairs hidden in the subways. Did I say I became the world record holder of the 500 meters with 30 kilos broken throlley sprint?
Back to the point, Japan expo. A giant space where you can discover almost everything about Japan: editors, autors, fanzines, shops, martial arts, Japanese traditions, Japanese music and food, concerts, signing sessions, anime and movies premieres…a ultra heavy program for all visitors. Said programs were available for free on the entry but as every year, I notice the same problem: apart of the official activities organised by the festival corp, it’s very difficult to know what happens and where. No trace of the editors activities on the official site and on the program. You have to download or search online before the convention the informations on every editor site. For example, many people missed the signing session of Kalafina because it was not announced on the convention official site: I was lucky to hear about it on a fans site. Same for the funny activities (karaoke etc etc): impossible to know what happens where and when unless you come prepared.
The convention was also different since the Comic con wasn’t taking place at the same time and place this year. The remaining hall was used to dispatch the amateurs artists zone. It was easier to walk through the convention than the previous years but still it was easy to get lost in it. In 2009 and 2010 I never lost myself on the convention. Better space organisation? Better signalisation? I don’t know why, but I have never stopped getting lost in 2011 and 2012. The feeling was less noticeable this year but still I had problems finding the amateurs artists zone. Still, even if you ended lost, you still could discover great booths, like that One Piece area!
One remarquable thing is that FINALLY the food prices were a bit more reasonnable. From 2009 to 2012, the food prices inside the convention were totally crazy: a cookie for 5 euros, a little water bottle for 8 euros…This year I found a sandwhich+ soda+ dessert for only 6 euros. That’s a big progress.
Other remarquable think: the nearly absence of free huggers. Remember the troups of people (sometimes 50 if not more) yelling like crazy “free hugs” and terrorising all visitors? Only peaceful individual free huggers this year, and way less more than in the past.
There were many expositions, from big artists to the festival making off, live demos (martial arts), initiations (model kit etc), the convention always had something to show. It was the 15th anniversary of the convention but it lacked a big special guest to truly celebrate that convention. Let’s remember the past guests: Clamp, Shinichiro Watanabe, Tsukasa Hojo, Hiro Mashima, Kazue Kato, Jun Mochizuki, Takeshi Obata…This year? The author of Belzeebub and Izumi Matsomoto (plus other authors invited by editors). I was a bit deceived by the lack of a big guest. What about music guests? Kalafina weren’t even guest of honor. Their presence was a good surprise considering the hordes of idols girlsband invited this year (five idols bands no less this year T__T). The music guests were varied: idols, traditional, pop, visual key, rock…everybody could have at least one concert to go to.
Anyways, no matter how bad or good the convention was, I still had the “awwwwwwww” feeling when I entered.
Next post: Kalafina!