Houseki no Kuni was personally, for us, an excellent show for fall 2017 and one of our top shows. The animation took what should have been an ordinary story and made it into something extraordinary and memorable. With a wide-variety of characters, there was someone to like for everyone even if you found Phos a bit off. Needless to say, when we heard that there was going to be an exhibit available in Tokyo, and just a few train stations away from us, we jumped at the opportunity to go and see. It promised an area where you could enjoy character art, take pictures with the Lunarians, see what the real-life gems looked like, and the most important, a place where you could watch the series all over again provided you could stand the whole time.
Houseki no Kuni Art Exhibit Info
|PLACE / LOCATION||The exhibit was held on the 8th floor of the Yuurakuchou Marui Department store. All you had to do was take the elevator up, and walk past a café and a few shops, and boom, there it was. Yuurakucho is a train station in the Yamanote and Keihin Touhouku lines. It is one station away from Tokyo station to the south and the department store is visible from the home platform making access very easy. It is also serviced by the Tokyo Metro Line (Subway), if you are travelling that way.|
|Cost of Admission||There were three types of tickets available. The standard entry was 800 yen. (~$7) This included a random Houseki no Kuni postcard, that is handed to you by a staff member, that showed a scene from the anime. There was a 1000 yen (~ $9.25) option that was an online reservation only option which gave you a clear file folder as well with Houseki no Kuni art on it. Finally, there was an 1800 yen (~$16) ticket which gave you all three postcards. The online ones sold out within the first week for the entire run of the exhibit.|
|Hours of Operation||Originally, the exhibit was supposed to run from Friday, January 19th to February 18th, but it was explosively popular so they added on another week extending the exhibition till February 25th which is when we squeezed our trip in. The hours of operations were 11am to 9pm and Sundays/Holidays were 10:30am to 8:30pm.|
First of all, there was a giant poster outside, so you really could not miss that you were at the correct building.
Upon arriving at the 8th floor, there was a small desk where you paid, received your postcard at random, and a massive sign that was the same as the original key visual and said “We have everything here on ‘Houseki no Kuni.’” We’re not sure about EVERYTHING, but they had a very decent amount of material. Sadly, we were not permitted to take photos inside other than at a specific point. However, walking in, there was a wall with each of the gems, scenes where they had appeared, and then original animation cels which were produced en masse for the DVD/Blu-ray releases. So, if you have one like we do, you have some and the rest are coming. After that, there was a really cool wall filled with rough sketches and directions from the animation director to animators on how to make different scenes.
As if there could not be just the gems, there was also a section on Kongou-sensei as well as Ventricosus and the original art for the multiple forms of Ventricosus is vastly different from what we saw. It was really cool to see how the anime evolved from sketches. This all surrounded a beautiful display of art where an artist had hand drawn scenes from the anime. These served as the inspiration for the postcards as they were all found behind glass in the display.
Moving on was a display about the lunarians as well as a projector that only projected onto a gem shaped screen that had to be about the size of a full-grown man’s chest & torso? It sounds a bit odd, but that was about the size of the gem. We were permitted to take photos with the lunarians and were happy that they did not want us to become part of their collection. Next to that was a very early version of Houseki no Kuni. It was nothing more than sketches with the vocal track laid down.This was the part that allowed you to enjoy all 12 episodes provided that you could sit through something that was blue sketches on a white background and nothing more. Still though, it makes you appreciate what Houseki no Kuni ended up becoming.
There was a display on all of the gems that the gems in the series are inspired from. Each had a polished version of the stone, save for obsidian, and then how it appeared naturally. They even had a bottle of liquid labeled Antarcticite.
Finally, they had a section where you could purchase the DVD or Blu-ray as well as take pictures with large cutouts of characters such as Bortz, Phos, Diamond, Cinnabar, Kongou-sensei and more!
There were even those cloud puppies, the final lunarian from the series, on sticks that you were able to take photos with them. Honey-chan wanted to, but was horribly shy when the moment of truth came, so you’ll just have to catch them below.
There are tons of cafes, bars, and restaurants around and in Marui Department store, so there is no way that you could run out of things to do there. Other than the first three DVD’s and Blu-ray’s being for sale there, you could purchase a few clear file folders as well as postcards. The fourth, fifth, and sixth go on sale in March, April, and May respectively. However, they were not cheap! So, if you ever go to an anime event in the future, be sure to bring some cash to splash. Something that was really cool to note was that when we went, there had to be over 30 people present and an overwhelming majority of people there were women. It seems that this anime really has left an impression on Japan and just goes to show you that it’s not necessarily limited to one type of individual.
All in all, this was a really cool experience. While there are events like this after every season of anime, it is very few that actually can get an event, and then, have one in such a prolific place as Yuurakuchou. Going to an anime-related event will always bring you art and of course, things to buy. It was cool however to read thank you messages from the producers, directors, and animators all throughout the series. Houseki no Kuni took over two years to produce and we can only hope that more is on the way.