For those that might have been a little dissatisfied with the Jpop festival the other week up in San Francisco, the San Mateo Event Center is hosting a Japan Expo on August 22-24, the week before Labor Day.
You can find their website at http://japan-expo.org/ but I'll boil it down for you.
The upgraded badges, what they're calling “Premium Benefit Tickets” are mostly nonsense. You get a swag bag and some extra tickets to drop into the signing lottery draw. In terms of access, you get in an hour early. Yee ha. For the extra price? Skip it. They also didn't have a con-book that I could find, or even a map of the event center. If there's something you want to find, you'd better start hunting on your own ahead of time, because it doesn't look like there's much guidance to be found online. Check the websites of the guests, vendors, and panelists you might want to see, because currently the expo website has nothing to offer the curious.
They've got a solid, high-tier special guest list. The name that will probably get the most attention among the general public is Akira Yamaoka, best known for the music of the Silent Hill series. You can find his personal website at www.akirayamaoka.jp.
Another name or two that might catch some notice- the mangaka guest Izumi Matsumoto. Older-generation manga and anime fans might recognize his name as being the man behind the manga (and resulting anime adaptation of) Kimagure Orange Road.
Speaking of anime, there's Shinji Aramaki as well. He's lauded for having designed the mechs in a number of anime, including Gasaraki, another old school piece, and is also known for his contributions to Appleseed and the new (2013) Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
For those of you with some memorabilia or other pieces that you might try to get signed... good luck. The system the website is currently touting is absolutely dreadful. Fair? Possibly, except that signings are forbidden to exhibitors. So if you're a fan who's involved in a demo, no chance of getting your favorite nicknack signed.
On top of that, you can't just go getting any old thing signed- they want official merchandise only. I can understand the sentiment, but it's utter nonsense. My collection of memorabilia that I might want signed is old and obscure enough that if I didn't buy it in Japan it can't possibly be 100% legit. Why should I care, and why should they? It's ours! There are stories about people who've gotten their arm autographed and then ran off to the tattoo parlor! What difference does an item's supposed authenticity make? None.
There are a variety of demos and panels, some of them legitimately interesting. A panel on Itasha cars is bound to draw skilled artists, art lovers, and motorheads alike to their exhibit vehicles. The game show panel looks cool, but I wonder about the odds of actually getting to play the games. Seat number? Sign up sheet? Doesn't say.
I'm probably going to this, because you my readers deserve an honest assessment of it. But judging from the lack of prep work that's been done three weeks from "go", it's looking like it might turn into a modest debacle.