Chara Hobby 2008, Animelo Challenge 2008, and the final day in Japan
Well I’ve finally reached the last two days of coverage of my Japan trip. It certainly has been a long time since then but in the end I’ve reached the end. The last two days of the trip proved to be rather quick and action packed and it was certainly a way to end the trip. Anyway this last post of the Japan trip will cover Chara Hobby 2008, Animelo 2008 Challenge concert and a final trip to Akiba. So hit the jump to read on.
One of the good things about this day was there were two events to attend to this day: Chara Hobby 2008 and Animelo Challenge 2008. I for one was hella excited, though my friends on the other hand were not so at the start. I guess it would be because of the events from the past few days and no mood in for another convention. But knowing what the special items that were available from Bandai was enough to get them to come to Chara Hobby. The day started off pretty easy since Chara Hobby doesn’t start till 10 am. We had breakfast at one of the local cafes, in fact it was the same cafe we went to the very first day we got here.
Although I do my research on places I goto, I didn’t have enough information about Chara Hobby itself, or I just couldn’t read the information on the official site. Thankfully when I met Danny Choo before, he pointed me in the right direction. Chara Hobby itself is held at the Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex, whch is east of Tokyo in the Chiba Prefecture. It was quite easy to get there as we had to take a train from Tokyo station to JR Kaihin Makuhari on the JR Keiyo line (the same one we took to get to Tokyo Disneyland).When we got there, we figured it would be easier to follow the crowd, however the crowd went in all kinds of directions and there were no signs indicating which hall Chara Hobby was at. Eventually we found the place by the flock of teenage to middle aged people heading in a particular direction and then we saw a volunteer holding a sign.
Upon approaching the main entrance, I was expecting a line going out the door, but in fact the line wasn’t all that long. Having paid for our tickets and joining the line, there was probably an estimated 2-3 thousand people in front of us. As most lines in Japan, they all snake up one way then back the other way and the line moved rather fast. I wish lines for conventions in Australia would be as efficient as this. Though seeing the media booth, I wished I was able to enter as media and just bypass the crowd. But me being a media photographer? Ha yeah right.
Either way I was armed with my DSLR with the macro lens attached and my handy IXUS in my pocket. Once inside, I broke away from my friends to venture off in taking photos, whilst they went off to grab merchandise like true otakus. Here at Chara Hobby, I decided to take it a bit more easier and not rush things as opposed to Wonderfest a few weeks ago. Not to mention I had a heavier wallet then. Being a figure photographer, it was definitely exciting seeing all the latest items as well as soon to come items. Of course I wasn’t the only one excited, othes around me where just as eager to photograph some of the latest offerings or latest previews. A lot of the time, I had to wait till some people finished as they were taking quite a lot of time.
Oh and just as a note, I originally wasn’t planning to put up the photos I took as I considered it as no point, but I figured some people would still like to see something. Anyway the photos I’m posting here are the ones that turned out the best, the rest not so. The first sections I went to were the Bandai booths and a whole bunch of Miku stuff.
With Macross Frontier still airing at the time, it was certainly a hit amongst many of the Japanese. I was quite excited about seeing the model of the VF-25F as it brought back many memories of building other Macross model kits. Still I could never build them as good as what you see here. The Zaku you see here is one of the event only items sold by Bandai, which s a Perfect Grade Zaku kit. Seriously, if Roobar or I had the money to buy one and had space in our suitcases to fit one in, we would.
You know being a fan of cars and a fan of Hatsune Miku, who’d have thought I would be seeing a Hatsune Miku itasha in my trip to Japan. There were also a few show girls with the car as well and its amusing seeing how many people just scrambled to take photos of the girls. I was actually admiring the car but I just happen to be standing in front of the girls when admiring the car….
Not far from the car was a display case of the Hatsune Miku figma as well as GSC’s version. Probably the most anticipated figure for 2008 and unfortunate for me I missed out on ordering one months ago. Also at Chara Hobby they were doing a pre-release sale of the Hatsune Miku figma to the first thousand customers for each day. Damn. If I knew I would’ve bought one for sure. When I met up with Roobar later that day he also mentioned that Volks did the same with there release of Miku. Though really, you can’t compete against the locals.
At this point I figured I should at least join the line for the Bandai store to acquire myself some event exclusive items. Though when I got to the line, I was quite stumbled at there being two sections. So I walked into one section but soon realised that others were joining the other section. Eventually I figured out that people were lining up to acquire a ticket to allow them to purchase their items. Generally how the system worked was you line up to acquire tickets for the items you wish to purchase. Each ticket has a specific time range on it to indicate when you can come back to purchase your items. That makes sense as it allows you time to explore the convention rather than staying in line the whole time. Even still, the line for getting tickets was quite long, and the impending rain had suddenly fell. I was lucky to be under cover unlike those who had joined the end of the line.
Having finally acquired my ticket I made my way through the crowds again and stumbled upon so very cute items. Nendoroids. I never quite understood Nendoroids, until I bought a whole bunch of them from Wonderfest. Although I don’t see my collection of Nendoroids growing anytime soon since I have 6 Hatsune Miku nendoroids. What more can you ask?
As I ventured further into the convention, things just keep getting better and better. I came across the Volks store and OMFG I stumbled upon the dollfies. If I was with my dollfie friend, she probably wouldn’t have moved from that spot for a long time. Actually I stayed there quite a long time myself just admiring the beauty, as well as taking photos. Of course I only have a few good photos as I was shaking with excitement, lol. It was also nice seeing the Sendo Erika dollfie I bought in the flesh again as it reassured me about buying her. But seeing the Feena and Nemu just made me want to buy them as well. Such is the turmoil that I faced the day when I looking at buying one. But I would definitely get a Nemu one, you can count on that!
Breaking away from the lovely dollfies, it was time to explore more of Chara Hobby, and what kind of convention would it be without figures? And there were plenty of figures about. Though majority of figures were ones that I had seen promo pictures for but its actually better seeing them in the flesh then and there. I know from personal experience that promo pics can be deceiving, and having seen some figures, I’m glad I didn’t order them.
I was most intrigued by the Shiki figure and a few others. A shame most of them didn’t turn out so well. The Klan figure was also a surprise to see but also a pain to photograph as it was on a rotating platform. But definitely plenty of figures to drool over about and a lot of the ones I saw won’t ever become a part of my collection. Mainly because I’ve run out of room, lol. However Chara Hobby isn’t also just about cute figures. The real feature of the show is the model kits and all the mecha.
Although the photos shown here doesn’t do all the mecha that was on display justice, it was like being at the Gundam Expo again, but more awesome. Certainly a large variety of mecha model kits and dioramas that would make any model builder feel like they were in heaven. Shame I don’t have much time these days to build model kits, nor do I have the skills to do excellent paint jobs.
And of course there are the occasional other items that always perks your interest. I was surprised to see a GTR at Chara Hobby and it’s actually the first time me seeing one in the flesh and up close. Though I saw one driving on the streets on Osaka and it looked so awesome, seeing it up close gave me a chance to drool over it more so. Of course seeing the GTR reminded me of my friend who was wondering around elsewhere in the convention as I know he wants to buy one of these so I’m sure he’d be hella excited about seeing this more than myself. The big Po plushy was rather amusing to see since my friends and I saw Kung Fu panda a few weeks before Japan. If I had the guts, I would’ve ran up to it and hug it.
The rest of the convention was amazing in itself. A much more relaxing atmosphere compared to Wonderfest as there is a larger crowd and Wonderfest is more focused on garage kits and figures where Chara Hobby has more variety, but it’s merely a display case for what’s to come. Of course there are still things to buy, but a lot of things are in good quantities so there’s no rushing to lines. I also spent a long time at the COSPA store picking out a shirt for a friend whilst talking to him on the phone. Lets just say it was also a very expensive international phone call.
However our time at Chara Hobby was short lived. The time was getting close to 1:30pm and it was time to leave. It actually saddened me that I had to leave so early as I wanted to do a lot more photos, but compared to Wonderfest, I managed to see everything. I even came across items where photography wasn’t allowed, but I just acted like a foreigner and said I didn’t know, lol. On the way out, I passed a very familiar scene, and that is people packing boxes. Yep, people buying so much that they have to mail it rather than carry it back with them.
We left Chara Hobby and were back on a train for Tokyo. In the meantime I consulted with my friends on their purchases and was quite surprised at some of the items they bought, despite having no money. The things we otaku do for merchandise. Anyway the reason we left Chara Hobby early was so we could make it for the next event of the day, Animelo Challenge 2008. As I mentioned in a previous post, I happen to acquire tickets thanks to the help of the guys from seiyuu3. We went back to the hotel to drop off our items since there were no available coin lockers around and I also dropped off my DSLR. Cameras aren’t allowed at Animelo but I brought my IXUS along anyway.
The train ride to Saitama Super Arena was about an hour north of Tokyo, but time flew by really quickly as I immersed myself in Fate Tiger Colosseum Upper on my PSP. Quite easy for us to get to Saitama Super Arena as we took the Keihin-Tohoku line all the way to Saitama shintoshin station. Getting out of the station there was already a large crowd, all just waiting around to get ready to walk in. It has been a long time since I attended a concert of any sort so it was exciting. I saw the booth for Animelo merchandise and majority of items were sold out except for the usual items. I wanted to buy a shirt but the line for the booth was just long and I couldn’t find the end of it. Not to mention I was worried about my friend getting lost.
I also happen to meet up with ron~ just near the booths for a friendly chat. This would be the last time seeing him as it’s my second last day in Japan and it’s his 3rd last day. Saying our goodbyes, my friend and I went to join the crowd getting inside. My other two friends are lining up elsewhere as their seats are somewhere else. Passing through security, who are checking people for dangerous goods and cameras, finding our section wasn’t all that hard. Walking along the hallway on each side are gifts to the singers from their fan clubs. Now those are hardcore fans.
We found our seats and watched as the entire arena fill up. I was sitting on the right side of the stage so I was able to see the entire arena and was fairly close to the stage and platform area. Just before the concert started, various well known NicoNico clips were shown on the big screen and then the real show started. I won’t go through the entire concert as houkoholic as posted a pretty good summary on seiyuu3. But I’ll give a few small points of my own:
- Yukarin was awesomely cute especially with the melon stick wave.
- yozuca* singing Sakura Saku Mirai Koi Yume (the OP theme from the Da Capo anime) and CooRie singing Sonzai (ED theme to Da Capo anime) brought a tear to my eye. I’ve always wanted to see the two perform live and that is another wish of mine fulfilled.
- Ishida Youko singing Watashi ni Dekiru Koto (Strike Witches OP) was really awesome.
- m.o.v.e really know how to get the crowd riled up.
- Mizuki Nana was just epic.
Although there were no cameras allowed during the concert, some brave people still decided to take the chance. I was tempted to do so but seeing how I’m a foreigner and communications would break down, I decided against it. Well until the break came and everyone started shouting “Encore”.
Yes it’s the only picture I could take but it gives you an idea of where I was sitting. The audience was crying out encore and you know how most people stop after a few minutes, the group of people sitting behind me never stopped, and they were going strong. But the one thing that amazed me and Roobar about the audience was the glow stick unification. Whenever a new song or new performer came on, everyone was in unison in choosing the same colour. This just boggled our minds on how they choose the same colours. Unfortunately for me and my friends, we didn’t have glow sticks as I forgot to buy some before hand. Felt left out only just waving my arms with the crowd, lol.
In the end all performers came back out (with the exception of Karen Girls) to do a group performance of this year’s song Yells ～It’s a beautiful life～. It appeared they had some mic volume issue with some of the singers which is a real shame, hopefully it’ll be fixed for the DVD release, and I’ll definitely be buying the DVD. Although I can’t really compare this kind of concert to others I have been, but this was definitely fun and the most enjoyable night event for the entire Japan trip. If by chance you acquire tickets to Animelo, I do recommend attending. With the concert finishing, my friend and I made our way back to the hotel. My other two comrades were lucky and left a little earlier and missed the big crowds at the train station.
Finally rested up from the eventful day yesterday, it was time to pack up and get ready for us to leave the land of kawaii. I have forgotten how much I carried between Kyoto and Osaka and god damn my bags were heavy. Though most of it was actually my camera gear and laptop. We paid off any bills for the room, e.g room service and car parking (from the car hire) and left our bags at the hotel for us to retun later. Normally I would say we take the train back to Narita airport, but my friend convinced my that we take the airport limousine instead, and I’m glad they did.
So what were we going to do for the next 4-5 hours? Well the only thing we can do, goto Akiba and spend our last bits of yen. Keep in mind I had quite a large amount of yens left to use since there was no point in exchanging it back to Aussie dollars due to fees. The first thing I wanted to look for was the Hatsune Miku figma as I know there would be one in Akiba. And damn was I right. Found it thanks to the help of my friends for only ¥4,000. I bought it really quickly as I noticed another person eyeing on the Miku. Moving onwards we also came across the Tony Taka exhibition. Before they had the Tinkerbell exhibition but it was good to see some Tony artworks in more expensive form.
I also ended up helping my friend buy a doujin game as he ran out of money on a random purchase. I was gonna be a prick and not help, but I needed to burn the yens off as I still had quite a bit. I also helped my other two friends who were still going though the gashaphon binge, but the most amusing thing was as they tried their luck, they both got the one item they didn’t want. Lets just say my money was cursed for them. Still the time came eventually for us to return to the hotel and take the airport limousine to Narita airport.
Sitting in the airport limousine (well it’s actually a coach bus) and as it drove through Tokyo and over the Rainbow Bridge, I began to admire the view of the city and country that I stayed in for a month. I absorbed everything I saw as I knew it would be a long time till I ever see these sights again. We arrived at the airport in about an hour and half and checked in our luggage. Last time I was at this airport, Roobar and I only had enough yen for a small meal at McDonalds. Although I stated I didn’t want to do the same thing, unfortunately 3 of us had enough for McDonalds and I was the only one with enough for something else. Still I went and ate just to not make my friends feel bad.
Passing through security and waiting at the gate until our flight, we wasted away playing Mario Kart and we even bought a Shounen Jump magazine with the last of my yens. Eventually our flight was ready and we boarded the flight. The flight itself wasn’t so bad, until I realised I couldn’t get to sleep. Unlike my friends who can pass out whenever they want, I on the other hand go through phases in what I call “programmer’s mode”. During uni I developed an ability to just stay awake and focused whilst programming for various assignments, and of all times it had to kick in when I wanted to sleep on the plane.
Though sitting there watching various movies it also got me thinking about all the things that I have done on this rather EPIC trip. Many laughs, many tears. Many surprises, many disappointments. Lots of planning and lots of disagreements. But most of all MUCH spending was done. Spending aside I’m also more educated in Japanese culture from it’s history to even today’s social lifestyle. Many goals were also reached and more goals were created. It was very sad that I was leaving Japan, but you know what, I was looking forward to returning to Australia. Its been a while since I got in contact with my family and I even missed the family dog. However I will miss the convenience of Japan and how easily otaku goodies are available. I’ll miss how courteous Japanese people are as well as the city lifestyle. But I know one thing I won’t be missing, and that’s the mass spending sprees.
Look forward to the loot post as that will be the next one, well when I get to it, lol.