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Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

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An event for the best of Shonen Jump

Editor's Note: If you're in Japan and a manga fan, Christmas comes early each year, as Jump Festa, Shueisha's celebration of all things Shonen JUMP, takes place shortly before the big day, promoting manga, anime, video games, merchandise, and rabid fandom.

Traveling blogger and friend of the site Lindo Korchi was on hand to pay a visit to this year's event, Jump Festa 2016. He saw the sights, took in the crowds, take in the crowds, and snapped some rad photos, and we at Japanator are happy to publish this little chronicle of his time there. Tune in tomorrow for the best of Jump Festa 2016's cosplay, and check out Lindo's website (www.lindokorchi.com) and Twitter feed (@lindokorchi) for more of his work.

And if you've got your own awesome Japan-related experiences to share, why not try Japanator's Community Blogs, or pitch us your story. We're always on the lookout!

Long Lines and Good Times: A Visit to Jump Festa 2016

As my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am, I'm abruptly taken away from the dream I was in; attending one of the biggest anime expositions in Japan: Jump Festa.

“Today's the first day of Jump Festa! I need to grab the train to Chiba now or I'll be late!” I exclaimed. And so, my journey began. But before I continue, I'll briefly go over what Jump Festa is.

Since 1999, Shueisha, the creators of the famous Jump magazines, sponsored the event Jump Festa to focus solely on anime, manga, games, merchandise, and alike. In addition, many manga artists also attend the event and have panels along with Q&A sessions.

It's difficult to find data revealing the number of attendees for each year of Jump Festa, however, the latest one reported by Mantan-web revealed attendance figures of 145,000 for 2014 – 11,000 more than in 2013 and a bigger attendance size than AnimeJapan. Assuming the trend continued this year, this year's event could have up to 167,000 fans through the doors. Jump Festa having an admission price of just $0.00 (yes, free), definitely adds to those rapid growth prospects. Now that the introduction is out of the way, we can now move on to Jump Festa 2016.

As I sprint out the kitchen with a piece of toast in my mouth (I'm in Japan; I had to!), I catch the JR Yamanote Line at Ueno Station to Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Keiyo Line to Kaihin-Makuhari Station. After a two-hour journey (which includes the delays I had on the train), I finally arrive at Makuhari Messe, the venue where Jump Festa has been held for over a decade.

“You've got to be kidding me.” I thought as I looked at the excessive lines (yes, that's plural!) leading to the entrance. A little over an hour later, and somehow being able to guide myself towards the front, I was finally in – but then, there were more lines, and it didn't look like an exhibition hall at all. That's when I realized I actually entered the Jump Festa sale zone, where they sell original goods and limited edition items.

The area was huge and attendees were separated by groups. Each group was set for a specific anime or manga series, which included the limited edition goods. However, those groups also had lines. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a glimpse of them due to the overwhelming amount of people. Interestingly enough, none of the items were on display, instead, attendees were given a piece of paper which noted what was offered (photos of the items weren't on the page; some booths in the exhibition hall displayed photos towards the front or back of the line, though). I attempted to tell staff that I simply wanted to see what they offered, and snap a few photos, but they weren't keen on such. Plus, how would I be able to shoot photos? Unless they were going to bring me to where they actually had the inventory. That wasn't going to happen.

Nonetheless, I ventured to find the exhibition hall. Thankfully, I saw Naruto Uzumaki & Sakura Haruno roaming the convention; they were kind enough to lead me to the exhibit hall, where we parted off with a “Dattebayo!”

Due to the overwhelming volume of people who lined up for special events, panels, and screenings, I wasn't able to attend any of them. However, it wasn't a problem. My favorite part about any convention is the exhibit hall, I believe it's the heart of it all and either makes or breaks the experience. Most of my time was spent in the exhibit hall, booths, and cosplay corners.

Attending an anime convention that's 100% Japanese, 0% English is quite the challenge. But it's the challenge that makes the overall experience an adventure. Jump Festa held an atmosphere that no other convention in America, at least, the ones I've been to, have been able to achieve. As you walk pass the Jump gallery and witness the artworks of recognizable manga artists, such as Tite Kubo, Kazue Kato, and Shun Saek, it becomes surreal.

As you look around, you hear the Japanese language flowing in every direction, every piece of content written in hiragana and kanji; you realize that the amazing cosplay you've always thought were semi-fake on Facebook are actually legit as you witness great cosplayers roam the halls. At some point, it finally hits you that you're at the heart of all the original stories, artworks, manga and anime that has captivated you from an early age – that's a special experience and not one that can easily be replicated.

Wandering around, I found myself in a new area and was thrilled. “Is that Kakashi-sensei? No way, is that Super Saiyan 4 Goku?! I must've entered the anime zone!” I thought, in excitement. To be frank, it was the dedicated cosplay area. While it's true that I've been to quite a few conventions and am used to cosplay, I'm not exactly accustomed to seeing a lot of high-quality ones, nonetheless gathered in one area. The cosplayers did not only resemble the characters but captured their personality as well. For those who didn't exactly resemble said character, it was just as good because the detail put into their cosplay was clearly shown.

The highlight my time there - and my personal favorite cosplay -moment was witnessing a senior in a wheelchair. I noticed that he had some sort of outfit and questioned if he was cosplaying. As I approached him, it was clear that he was cosplaying Akainu of One Piece. It was a special thing to see. Even though he's a senior and must use a wheelchair to get around, he didn't allow his circumstances to limit him from having fun, enjoying life, and preparing his cosplay outfit as the days led to Jump Festa.

“Sumimasen. Shashin desu ka?” (Excuse me. May I take a photo?) I asked. The young man who was helping the senior looked surprised, as if no one had asked to take a photo. The senior smiled and nodded his head. As he slowly got up from his wheelchair, he adjusted his cosplay jacket and looked straight into the camera, full of character. After the shot, he was all smiles. He definitely has my respect; it's my favorite shot of the entire event because there's a story behind it.

As I walked away, it became clear that it wasn't always about taking photos of the “best cosplayers”, but creating memories of the event and showing all the cosplayers who participated that they're appreciated, just as the senior. It can make all the difference. Just a few of those "unrecognized" cosplayers are in the gallery below.

One of the main focus points for Jump Festa was the 20th anniversary of Yu-Gi-Oh! along with the movie, Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions. But it wasn't just a promotion, it was actually fun. Booths were set up for attendees to have their photo taken and be placed on a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with either Yugi or Kaiba (free of charge).

Some areas were dedicated to one-on-one dueling while others pit two teams of five against each other using huge cards as props (similar to the giant chess set). Attendees were also able to get their picture taken, sign their names, and have it displayed in the theatrical version of the movie's ending credits. Large showcases of cards were up for display, along with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card cosplay.

Another cool setup was the special play area for attendees, which included a mini trampoline, a slide, and small ball pool. Many of the booths interacted with the attendees and provided activities, such as Bandai Namco, Square Enix, and PlayStation that let attendees play demo versions of upcoming games, including One Piece: Burning Blood, Dragon Quest Builders, and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Toho animation held an informative booth, explaining the artwork and how they process the animation. Bandai also held a small musical performance. And, of course, a dedicated area was made for all things Street Fighter.


However, I must admit, I was surprised by the lack of non-Japanese fans at Jump Festa. The majority were Japanese, with hardly any westerners in sight. Given that Jump Festa is also a free event, I was baffled. Perhaps it's because Jump Festa isn't really promoted overseas, or at least not to the English-speaking audience. Last year when I was in Japan around the same time, I didn't even hear about Jump Festa. I only discovered it because I was actively searching for anime conventions in Japan for the winter season.

I appreciated the fact that throughout the event, the same atmosphere, energy, and hype was still felt, all the way to its final hours. As the event came to a close, I smiled, filled with joy, and looked through the photos I took to recapture the moments. As I took the JR back to Ueno Station, I saw dozens of people on the train with Jump bags. Even though we all didn't know each other, it was our common interest in Jump that brought us together to have a great experience, and that was special.

Despite the long lines and lack of English, Jump Festa was an incredible event. They really delivered; the exhibition hall and cosplay area was definitely the heart of the event and were great. The atmosphere, energy, appreciation, and the vibe of being in the home country of Japanese pop culture is a unique experience that cannot be experienced elsewhere. If you ever have the chance to make it to Jump Festa, I'd definitely recommend it. If not, see if you can make it to AnimeJapan, which is held annually in March at Tokyo Big Sight. I'm sure it'll be great as well.

What are your thoughts on Jump Festa? Did you attend this year's show, or would you like to see it come to your country? Let us know in the comments, along with your own thoughts on Shonen Jump. For my part, even after the event I found myself learning new things: A number of cosplayers there fans of Tokyo Ghoul, and now I've just got to check out what they were jazzed up enough to dress up for!

P.S.:

Finally, if there are any Japanator readers in the Tokyo area who's interested in some Jump Festa merchandise, let us know, as well. I came upon quite a bit of swag that I'd love to give away, including manga, stickers, cards, buttons, and other promotional items. Here's a photo of it all:

 


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #bleach #cosplay #event #feature #japan #Japanator #naruto #shonen Jump #Video games

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