domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2011

Denmark: J-popcon Chronicles (I)

No, el blog no se ha pasado al inglés de momento. Tuve la oportunidad de acudir a la J-popcon en Dinamarca, el equivalente al Salón del Manga o al Expomanga, y voy a hacer un resumen de las actividades que organizaron y lo que me pareció el evento. Si queréis leerlo en español, haced click aquí y aquí.

So, since I am an Erasmus student this year in Denmark, I had the opportunity to attend J-popcon, one of the biggest Japanese conventions in Denmark (along with Genki, in Roskilde, celebrated at the end of August). Do Danish love Japanese culture? What do they do in these kind of conventions?

First of all, I must explain that J-popcon has been going on since 2000, and every year is visited by approximately 2000 people (more concretely, this year 2400 people attended it). It is settled since last year in DGI-Byen, a hotel which has auditoriums and pavilions used for events.

Two thousand people is not a lot of people for these kind of conventions. Therefore I expected a small event, a cozy place to spend the weekend with friends and buy the typical imported Japanese things from the shops. But I found something bigger than expected, made for fans and by fans, with many competitions, talks and workshops, and helped by Dutch and German associations in its development, mostly for some of the competitions, like the karaoke one.


I will start with one of the things that has struck me the most. I arrived to the hotel and in the queue almost everybody was dressed up. And they take it seriously. There were all kind of characters, from the well-known Naruto, Bleach or FMA until Disney princesses or Harry Potter, including series, videogames, Star Wars, V for Vendetta and Vocaloid singers. I could specially see a lot of people disguised as Sebastian and Ciel, from Kuroshitsuji, Akatsuki members and Mikus. On the other hand, I think there were not many people dressed up in Gothic, Lolita style or the like.

The cosplay competition was held on Saturday, and I was quite impressed. Apart from very elaborate costumes, the Danish participants offered very good performances, with music, choreographies and special effects. Fortunately, most of the performances were in English, to the delight of all the non-Danish speakers. (Except for the Ranma ½, which, judging the level of laughs of the audience, must have had a very funny dialogue).
All kind of characters were accepted, so we could see classics like Ranma, Chobits or Naruto, and performances from series like Merlin, Avatar, Phineas and Ferb or… Barbie and Ken. Before any of you stops reading, I must say that it was a very funny one. Apart from that we could enjoy ourselves with more performances from Madoka Magika, Katamari, Kuroshitsuji, Vocaloid or Devil May Cry.

I was particularly open-mouthed with one of the Devil May Cry performances, because the devil custom was absolutely amazing and there were some special effects during the battle, and the Granado Espada one, because the dresses the participants wore were very beautiful and also had special effects and choreography. 

Due to the “fantastic” quality of my camera and the fact that I was very far from the stage it has not been possible for me to get good pictures, but you should visit the Gallery on the J-popcon webpage and check for yourselves, it’s worth it.


Another great part of the event. It opened from 6, and followed the concept of the Japanese maid cafés, in which you sit down while a couple of maidos take care of you and sirve you what you have ordered. (By the way, the cakes they had looked delicious). From a certain point at night all the tables were reserved, because at night the karaoke competition was held in that place.


Apart from the Cosplay competition, there was a DDR tournament , and a otaku, yu-gi-oh and AMV one. And the funniest one, the sumo tournament. Wearing inflated sumo costumes the participants had to fight until one of them fell to the floor or was led out of the fight circle. It was very interesting, with both very quick and very long fights (those last ones mostly on the final rounds) and with “dangerous” moments also for the referees and the spectators that were close by. (The fighters almost fell over them)

Talking about cultural differences, another thing that impressed me was the silence of the audience. People barely spoke during the fights. I cannot help comparing it to Spain, where I am sure this kind of tournament would have been quite noisier, with the observers cheering up the fighters.


Talk about studying in Japan
One of the first talks was given by the representants of the Japanese embassy, who were informing to those interested about the different scholarships they can apply to if they want to study in Japan, with an special focus on the MEXT ones, giving pieces of advice about the selection process and the interviews they would have to go through. 
Afterwards they continued with an Origami workshop to teach people how to build some of the most traditional things, like the "tsuru" or the samurai helmet "kabuto".
Other conferences held during the event consisted of: how to buy things from Japan, the cosplay culture in Europe, the manga-café in Helsinki and some workshops with Yamazaki Urita and artists from Nosebleed Studio, manga authors whom I will talk about in the next post.

Merry Christmas!

Y un año más...

¡Feliz Navidad!
Glædelig jul!