Year in Japan

Nico Nico Chōkaigi (ニコニコ超会議) 2018

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Oh man this one’s tricky.

I guess it’s best to start with some definitions:

Nico Nico – Japanese Youtube (gross oversimplification), one of it’s trademark features is that comments are timestamped and are overlaid on the video when watching (by default, you can thankfully disable this).

Chōkaigi = chō + kaigi = super + meeting/convention/conference = super convention

Altogether, it’s an annual convention held by an extremely popular creator platform in Japan. Wherein all sorts of events/exhibits/activities/performances are held.

Phew. Ok. We good? Good.

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Said convention was being held at Makuhari Messe (幕張メッセ) in Tokyo (東京) Chiba (千葉), and upon hearing about certain participants/events I decided that I was going. (see previous “Chiba” post about the flights and whatnot).

So the event was over two days, and featured an interesting mix of traditional Japanese culture, current pop culture and everything in-between. I could spend all day uploading the photos I took, and make this page load incredibly slowly, but instead I’m going to outline some of the interesting events, add some photos/videos, and then maybe add more photos in other posts later on (I mean I definitely will be adding those posts, just might not make them public!)

And of course, it was absolutely chokka with people

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This was ~1 hour before opening on the first day, and the front of the line is very very far away (it wraps around the building a couple of times)

So of course I’m going to start with the #1 reason why I went there, and no one will be even remotely surprised when I say it’s

1. Vocaloid

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For those not sure what “vocaloid” is, don’t worry you’re in the majority there. Just google it, or if you know who/what Hatsune Miku is…then that. I’m not explaining it again.

We good?

Ok, so there was two days worth of live + DJ sets (30 mins per set) from (delightfully coincidentally) some of my favourite Vocaloid producers, so seeing those folks live (and being able to understand what they were saying to the crowd in between songs OMG) was absolutely tremendous.

Two points: 1) As is the case with these things, I don’t have video of my favourite parts because, well that’s not my go to thought when having fun, though if they publish clips on niconico I’ll link them from here later on AND 2) No, I wasn’t rocking the glow sticks!

As well as the gigs, which were admittedly the highlight for me – I planned the two days around them, there was an album release fair with like 150+ exhibitors over the 2 days and the usual entourage of merchandise floggers and adverts for other events/whatnot. The album fair was pretty neat, I got a couple of CDs, but space being something of a premium at the moment I didn’t go nuts.

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Big ol’ Miku

2. Cosplay

So, not something that I went to the event explicitly for, but I was simply blown away at some of the incredibly professional cosplay on show (favourite being a scarily good “Zero-Two” from “Darling in the Franxx”, though no photos unfortunately). Here’s a few photos

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and one of my favourite moments of the whole weekend

3. Military Hardware?

Yeah…this one was unexpected, the JSDF had an area and were recruiting? I don’t know, I’m probably mistaken on that part, but they brought some toys to show off

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4. Wacky Japanese gameshow-ness

Yeah there was quite a lot of this, mainly because it’s a good attention-grabber

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Yeah that inflatable thing in the background was also part of a “Takeshi’s castle” style assault course.

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I’m not sure I understood what was going on at the time, but I do recall that I every time I walked by this booth, the entire cast were getting increasingly undressed…I think they’re playing pachinko or slots or something?

5. Karaoke / Utattemita (歌ってみた)

Nico Nico mainly gained notoriety as a way for amateur musicians and vocalists to be heard, as such karaoke and utattemita (literally meaning “I tried to sing”) are extremely popular – and had correspondingly large areas at the chokaigi.

6. Cars

Loads of cars, ranging from…well I know nothing about cars, but everything from a taxi cab (that you probably won’t find in London)

to whatever the hell this is

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and everything in between

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7. VR

So VR, AR and all the other *Rs becoming more and more popular, there was plenty of things to immerse yourself into at chokaigi (providing you’re willing to wait your turn in line)

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Wave hello to a virtual idol
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Take part in a virtual boat race
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Have a conversation with a ‘virtual’ youtuber and have it live streamed on youtube( + the monitor in the photo)

8. Open political discourse

phwoar! now we’re talking!

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Ok, joking aside, one of the things that Nico Nico is very proud of (I guess like YouTube) is the whole ‘giving people a voice’, and valuing the individual, as such there were a number of areas set up where people could just grab a mic and ask a panel of folks (no idea who they were, sorry), about thoughts on current events, e.g. North Korea, the Abe Prime Minister scandal etc.

 

And more

I could keep going, but I’m sure this is just as tedious to read as it is to write, so here’s a few more snapshots of the various goings-on

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How about a game of Shogi (think Japanese chess)?
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Gambling! There was a mini-casino set up in one area, and in other areas there were plenty of slot machines and pachinko machines…because I guess that’s a thing?
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Pay a visit to a shrine
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Play some video games

and loads of other things that I didn’t get photos of, like:

  • Techno-buddhist mass
  • A huge market of cat-based textiles, toys etc.
  • Scalextric tournament on a pretty big track
  • Kabuki x Hatsune Miku (wanted to go, but wanted to see live bands more!)
  • Massess and masses of merch

and I’m sure yet more things that I didn’t even know were there.

All in all it was totally worth the slightly mad trip to Tokyo, if only for the live music – the rest was icing on the already amazing cake.

God it was tiring though.

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