Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] - Field Report


One thing to be admired about Japan is that, no matter the weather, everyone is always more than happy to celebrate the illustrious otaku culture. It could be minus degree temperatures or scorching hot summers, and everyone will still come out to show off their artwork, or pose for the camera for adoring fans. Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] is an incredibly popular event that always receives an enormous amount of support from everyone across all communities, since it helps to promote Doujin artwork along with the more mainstream products that the big companies want to sell. Wonder Festival started way back in 1984 and since then, it has captivated the hearts of not only the Japanese but the entire world, providing everyone with an event that allows them to simply just be themselves and build a network with like-minded people. Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] is certainly much chillier than other events throughout the year, but the hearts of all the passionate visitors, event staff, cosplayers and dealers bring just the right amount of warmth to keep the venue nice and hot.

Basic Info

Established 1984
Length of event February 18th (One day event)
Location Makuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan
Admission 2,500¥

What to Expect

Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] is one of the events that helps to kick off the new year every year, and gets everyone pumped for what’s to come. The event is jam packed with a ton of soujin related items that visitors can purchase but also take photographs if their intention wasn’t to buy. There are 3 massive halls that you can traverse through, with 2 focusing on the more independent art and the middle focusing primarily on the more major names like Kotobukiya, Bandai and Takara Tomy. There’s, of course, the very popular cosplay area where you’ll find copious amounts to choose from, both for males and females. Wonder Festival 2018[Winter]’s main attraction, however and quite honestly, has always been the figures.

If you’re into figures such as Gunpla, Chibi or the more robust like ones you’ll find at Figma and Good Smile Company, then Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] is the one event you don’t want to sleep on. People from all across the globe venture to the event to get a glimpse at the latest figures on the market, but to also see upcoming figures as well as major announcements. It’s a dream world for anyone who’s really into collecting figurines since you have all different sorts to choose from. It’s a nice combination of East and West as you’ll find figures from the Marvel and DC universe on display, as well as Transformers among other notable blockbuster names.

What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event

Well for starters, if your intention is to buy something (which we assume you will) then money is certainly the must have item to bring. It’s not even for the figurines alone but also the food and other amenities that are readily available at the event, so making sure to have a good amount of yen in your wallet will be of great benefit. We always mention this in every event article we attend but it can’t be stressed enough that taking along some extra bags with you is so important especially if you intend to pick up a great deal of things. The bags at the event aren’t as sturdy and if you plan to pick up the bigger ticket items, then having a nice durable bag wouldn’t hurt. If you’re like me and enjoy taking photographs then having a camera or smartphone will do the trick, since there are so many booths to choose from. Hours can just melt away just by simply taking photos of your favorite cosplayers, or racing to your favorite booth to catch the exclusive figurines on display. It’s an event that can turn any serious adult into a ecstatic child because everywhere you turn there’s something precious to see, new friends to meet, and new experiences to enjoy.

What to do While There / What is Available

Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] can be whatever you want it to be, so long as you enjoy it at the end of the day. The last thing anybody wants to see is a sad face leaving the venue but that’s not the case with this event, since there’s just so much to do. The event kicks off at 10am with the lines already backed up heavily with passionate fans itching to rush through the gates. It’s like Disney World for the otaku community because every cosplayer dresses up like your favorite character, and there’s always something exciting to discover at every corner. As we mentioned earlier, much of the event is catered to figurines and with so much to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, the event staff provide visitors with a book as thick as the Yellow Pages that guide you through the event, and detail just where every booth is in the venue. So if you’re just there for all the indie related activities then the 2 Doujin halls will be your priority, while those who prefer the more notable items from Nitro+, Good Smile Company will find themselves stuck smack dab in the middle.

Last year, we spent a large portion of our time in the indie section but we thought that this time, it would be best to balance things out a bit more and admire every section. We set our sights first on the cosplayers because the earlier you make your way towards the area, the shorter the lines and you’ll get a chance to grab some pretty shots before the horde arrives. For some reason, this year’s cosplay area seemed to have a lot more traffic despite how cold it was, but we weren’t complaining too much. All of the positive reception received from each cosplayer was enough to keep the heart warm. Perhaps the most popular cosplay of this season has to be FGO or Fate/Grand Order, simply because the series has exploded over the course of a few months and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

We found a rare Totoro among the crowd, which was quite pleasing and we couldn’t help but take a few shots of the Studio Ghibli character. That’s the awesome thing about Wonder Festival 2018[Winter]; you never quite know what to expect and just when you think things are making sense, another surprise comes out of nowhere to amaze you. Nestled in between each hall are smaller cosplay areas that are filled to the brim with cameramen (and women!) who stand patiently, waiting for their time to snap their photos. The one incredible thing about Japan and its culture, that perhaps other cultures may never quite understand, is their fascination with lines.

Everywhere you go in Japan, whether it’s to the ramen restaurant up the street or even somewhere as simple as a coffee shop, lineups are always there. Wonder Festival 2018[Winter] is, of course, no different and just the way things are organized is truly a sight to behold. Nobody is pushing to get ahead and in a way, it teaches you the art of patience (which not that many people have nowadays). As a photographer, it also helps to improve your photography skills as you get the opportunity to watch other skilled photographers take photos, and maybe take a few pointers or so. It’s the small things that make up for such a big story and in the end, Wonder Festival Winter 2018 is an event full of wonders.

Final Thoughts

With 2018 just kicking off and a lot more to come down the road, we’re stoked to see what’s in store for the next events. We hope that you find the time in your schedule to make it out to Wonder Festival because it’s sure to provide a lot of excitement, and it really allows you to just be yourself among other otaku. There’s no other event quite like Wonder Festival and so we urge you to stop by at least once to get a feel for the atmosphere, but also just come to experience Japan as a whole! There’s much to see and do here and so make it a goal to travel here to see just what all the hype is about!

For all things otaku be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime!



Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!

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