Pop culture go…
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that the summer Hyper Japan had an insanely packed schedule. With its gradual rise over the years to become the UK’s biggest Japanese cultural event, visitors were also still capable of being surprised by the guests and the events that the organisers were capable of laying on.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the presence of ASOBISYSTEM at Hyper Japan this year. Best known for developing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the Japanese outfit has also been expanding its musical heritage via the likes of Una, Tempura Kidz and YUN*CHI. For their UK debut, the Asobi team brought a team of models as well as YUN*CHI and Anna Yano (making her UK debut).
YUN*CHI, of course, was making a return trip having debuted at Hyper Japan in 2013. With the release of her debut album Asterix*, the timing was also perfect for UK fans to snap up copies of Yun*chi’s catalogue, including new release ‘Starlight*’. Moshi Moshi Nippon meanwhile did a superb job in arranging for CD signing and photo ops with some of the musical guests.
As a bonus, there was also the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Museum – essentially just a glass booth housing the scary-haired one’s original outfit from the ‘PonPonPon’ video.
There were 3 main stage areas for Hyper Japan with Naomi Suzuki ably handling MC duties for the HYPER KAWAii!! Stage. This was where the fashion shows were held with the Asobi models strutting the catwalk (along with the talents of Germany’s own Himezawa). But it was also perfect for Anna Yano to do a showcase spot, knocking out renditions of ‘Shape My Story’ from Stella Women’s Academy as well as the Magica Wars OP theme.
Another welcome surprise was Nagi Yanagi who was also making her UK debut. From her supercell days, Nagi has been crafting out her own music path with contributions to the anime world on the way. This includes the rock-infused ‘Tokohana’ which served as the end theme to Black Bullet and the wistful melodies of ‘Crossroad’, the tune which formed the backbone of a special anime CM which marked a collaboration between director Makoto Shinkai and Z-Kai.
No stranger to the stage, Yun*Chi brought a confident vocal to the Kz remix of ‘Tenshi no Yubikiri’ (aka the Kare Kano theme tune) and swiftly moved on through the likes of ‘Waon*’, the song that features the combined vocal talents of IroKokoro Project, and also the twinkling delights of new release ‘Starlight*’.
Meanwhile, Mayuco brought her own style of ethereal vocals to Hyper Japan on the back of her album release Vista Bouquet.
Amongst the other treats on offer was the presence of Chihiro Ishiguro, one of the Avex label’s rising stars who is also responsible for providing the voice of Vocaloid Yuzuki Yukari. Chihiro was joined by noted Vocaloid producer Ehamic for a special duet at Hyper Japan. Vocaloids were a bit of theme at Hyper Japan with the addition of the Vocaloid Opera Aoi – a combination of puppetry and Vocaloid voices to provide a modern take on a tale derived from the classic Japanese book Genji Monogatari.
For J-Pop Go, this Hyper Japan was a little special as we had our own dedicated table set up to promote the website and also to sell a range of J-Pop Go merch, – including our new T-Shirts. Proving a popular item, the wonderful Finny Attridge also did some on the spot modeling of the shirts. We were also host to a few table visits by a variety of guests, including Abi Mills and Kelsey Ellison – who was also in performance over the course of the weekend.
Also making a return appearance were visual superstars Siro-A (who were promoting their return to the UK for shows through September to January). J-Pop duo Yanakiku were also on hand for a return bout from their 2013 UK debut. With so many artists performing over the weekend it was often difficult to get to see everyone.
Hyper Japan’s popularity continues to rise, although with the impending closing of the Earls Court complex it’s unclear where the event will move to next. The team behind the scenes seem to have a firm grasp on its expansion however and J-Pop Go looks forward to seeing what Hyper Japan delivers in the future.
J-Pop Go extends its warmest thanks to the HYPER JAPAN team for their help and assistance.
Hyper Japan Christmas Market takes place 14-16th November 2014
Photos by Paul Browne