Japan Expo 2012
by Rebecca Silverman,
On this last day of the convention, I spoke to a few manga retailers. Most were sad when I told them that I couldn't get most of these series in the US, and when I told one man that Fujoshi Rumi, or Otaku Girls in France, had never finished its run in English, he went haring off to find me the last four volumes. At the Soleil booth, two women expressed mild horror at the idea that josei was hard to come by in the states, before turning their considerable sales skills to convincing me to buy the complete series of Ohmi Tomu's Midnight Secretary. (I did. After all, as they said, it was the whole thing...) As I noted earlier, seinen does sell very well here, but shoujo also has a fairly good record. Possibly this indicates that there is less of a "boys' club" attitude about comics in general, although that may be treading dangerous ground. Slightly smutty shoujo by authors such as Mayu Shinjo and Kanan Minami is is abundance, as well as most of the works of a few Ribon authors. While ther are some more shounen titles available in French than in English, most are the same, with the same big names dominating stands as do our own.
The crowds were about the same as on Saturday, and the four day total is estimated at roughly 208,000 attendees. Today the Free Huggers reached epidemic status. They congregated in small mobs, clogging traffic and generally making nuisances of themselves. On the whole, there was not a lot of "con funk," though a few free hugs came with an aroma. Stands were looking pretty bare, with several having large signs indicating what had been sold out. The day's offerings included cooking demonstrations, calligraphy lessons, staff fighting lessons, and more free cosplay on stage. Things were clearly winding down.
Discussions with JX staff about the upcoming US version of the con were generally positive. While there is some concern that some fans might find the cultural aspect boring, it may just be different enough to spark some interest. French fandom is in general more inclusive than American, with an embrasure of the culture as a whole, and I think that that enriches the appreciation of what was once, according to Haruhiko Mikimoto, a stigmatised art form. JX is in some ways a mini trip to an almost Japan, and having it come to our shores will help to broaden the fandom, and maybe even show us some new ways to appreciate something we already love.
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