Wonder Festival Summer 2011 Event Report

Up before 5 am this morning to prepare for the day’s festivities, I got everything assembled and was out the door by around 6:40 – plenty early, it turned out (note to self: get one of those battery > cell adapters before Comiket. Also a set of highlighter markers). I picked up some sunscreen to use while standing in line, and hopped on the 7:30 train bound for Tokyo.

This was my first time attending an event at Makuhari Messe, so before I left last night I researched the route. Turns out it’s nearly identical to the route to the Big Sight, so this morning’s trip was routine until the Messe stop. When you exit the Kaihin Makuhari station there’s a maze of overpasses and sidewalks that take you to the event halls, and the Wonder Festival staff had routed the queue around the entire complex to manage the flow of the line, so I got the full tour of the place before making it inside.

The line was hot but moved pretty quickly, and once inside there was AC (though not as cool as it would have been at a normal summer WF due to the electricity saving measures currently in place). WF occupied all eight halls of the exhibition center, with halls 1-3 used for industry booths and 4-8 for smaller industry displays, hobby shops, and individual garage kit dealers. I opted to fork off and head for hall 8 first, home of the cordoned off and ID-checked “adults only” section of the fair.

From there I worked my way back through the hall toward the industry booths, roaming the aisles and taking shots of anything that caught my fancy. The galleries that follow document one man’s take on the massive, wondrous world of a festival that no single person could take in on their own; I invite you to add this trip to others you’ve seen and humbly hope it helps inform your complete impression of the event.

Main Gallery

Industry Gallery

Adult Gallery

My purchases at the event consisted of the A Plus Manyuu Chibusa garage kit I wrote about yesterday, a 2ch sticker that reads “CV: Wakamoto” and is now proudly adorning my laptop, and one of the most wretched event hall bentos I’ve had the misfortune of eating. I didn’t know french fries could taste like both cardboard and papier-mache paste at the same time… A word to the wise, stay away from the chicken potato combo at Messe at all costs.

Highlights of the event for me included seeing bajillions of Madokas, both figures (it was by far the most prominent series on display) and in cosplay form. There was an astonishing amount of amazing cosplay of all kinds, and my one regret is that I didn’t have more time to devote to it before the outdoor promenade closed at four. A goal for next time.

Other strong showings were made by Touhou, Panty & Stocking, several Nitroplus properties (mostly Super Sonico, but also some Saya, Demonbane, and Muramasa), and Love Plus. Perennial favorites Evangelion and Fate/stay night were also well represented, and while only a few of them made it in time for the con, the Anohana figures that were there were met enthusiastically by fans.

By the time I made it to the industry section most of the event-only goods were sold out, so fans had settled into large clumps around the various stages set up by companies around the cavernous space. The Goodsmile/Max Factory collective dominated the room in size and presence, but personally the thing that blew me away the most were the life-size dinosaurs on display at Griffon. Staring face to face with a 1:1-scale T-Rex isn’t something you forget easily, and it made me feel like a kid again while wandering through the booth (screw boobs – dinosaurs are fucking awesome!).

On the topic of boobs, though, there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months especially from Native and Orchid Seed. There are a lot of great things in store, and seeing the actual physical mock-ups always fills me with a creative rush (maybe I’m mistaking it for something else, but hey, it feels like creativity). Catching up on everything that’s been going on in the figure world over the past couple of years is a heady deluge of a task, but today made it definitely seem worth the trek.

Shingo out.

For more on what Wonder Festival is, see yesterday’s preview post! For HD’s history with the event, see the archives at heiseidemocracy.com.

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