Japan Expo 2012
by Rebecca Silverman,
Today I looked at specific creator booths before heading over to check out two cosplay events. Perhaps the most interesting booth belongs to Toshio Maeda, creator of La Blue Girl and father of tentacle hentai. Maeda's booth offers original art, both ready to buy and by request, which he will draw before your eyes for 30€. For purchase are doujinshi, pages from various manga, Urotsukidoji covers, and postcards, which he will sign for you. Maeda is a fairly constant presence at his booth, speaks fluent English, and in general is a delightful person. His prices are very reasonable, particularly when compared with the nearby booth of shoujo great Moto Hagio.
Unlike Maeda, Hagio is rarely present at her booth, and her prices are much steeper. She also offers original art, both pencil, pen and ink, and colored, but most of her merchandise is cat related. She has much more staff hovering, and while her work is beautiful, her booth is much less inviting than that of the tentacle king.
The third creator booth I visited was that of Plum(slightly NSFW), a doujinshi artist specializing in slightly ecchi blonde girls. Plum's French and English were roughly as good as my Japanese and she didn't have a translator, but we managed to establish that she prefers to work traditionally with copic markers, although she does work digitally as well, and that she taps into the moe market. Her prices were quite reasonable and she offered a wide variety of goods for all of your moe needs.
After lunch I spent some time at the free cosplay stage. Two girls cosplaying Zoro and Sanji from One Piece gave the characters a very yaoi flavor, even choosing "Hot Chocolate" as their music. They were followed by a large FFVII group using the Indiana Jones theme and some very well planned choreography. Next Usopp used his nose to save an adorable Chopper from a New World villain, after which an apparently lesbian steampunk version of Ariel and Ursula from The Little Mermaid took the stage with a master and slave act. The last group I saw before I went to the European Cosplay Gathering finals was a large Naruto scene. Unfortunately Sakura got too close to the back of the stage and in a great demonstration of "ninja vanish," she fell right off. The audience and the MC were hysterical in two very different ways.
Before the Kyari Pamyu Pamyu concert that finished the day, I sampled the con sushi. It was very mediocre and ludicrously expensive at 18€ for a bento and a Fanta, but the break did allow me to observe all of the cosplaying families and an impressive number of mother/daughter goth loli duos.
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