An EXTRAVAGANT Japan Expo 2023 REPORT
July 2023. The 096k (pronounced O’Clock) Kumamoto Drama Company set off for the biggest manga event in all of Europe: Japan Expo 2023 in Paris!
Japan Expo is a fair dedicated to Japanese pop culture, held in Paris, France. Since its first edition in 1999, the number of attendees has continued to grow, reaching 255,000 visitors this year. The audience has enjoyed areas dedicated to manga and anime, webtoons, cosplay, exhibitions, live events, and various other activities related to Japanese culture.
This year, the event grew large crowds from COAMIX, thanks to the presence of the guest of honor, Tsukasa Hojo-sensei (creator of CITY HUNTER and Cat’s Eye), and the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company, along with the editors of the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®!
The 096k Kumamoto Drama Company is an all-female theater troupe created by COAMIX to bring the live performance of “Keiji’s Kabuki Adventure THE STAGE PLAY – Chapter of Kiyomasa Katō: The Tiger of Kumamoto” on stage, an adaptation of the famous manga created by Tetsuo Hara and Nobuhiko Horie with drawings by Masato Deguchi.
The manga has now sold over 900,000 copies in Japan, and the theatrical performance has become increasingly popular with audiences in Kumamoto, where the show is presented weekly. It seemed like the perfect time to show it to the international audience, and there couldn’t have been a better place than France, where manga is published by piccoma Europe, and the love for manga is among the highest in all of Europe.
SMA editors Enrico and Rose, participated in the festival as representatives and promoters of the Drama Company. They had the opportunity to meet various French publishing houses and promote the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® to a large number of visitors through specially created flyers for the Japan Expo. You can find all the photos and details on the SMA’s Instagram!
As for the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company, the 25 actresses and a large number of staff members performed two types of shows during the four days of the manga and anime festival:
・The theatrical performance “Keiji’s Kabuki Adventure THE STAGE PLAY – Chapter of Kiyomasa Katō: The Tiger of Kumamoto” on the ICHIGO stage (main stage).
・Live performances of traditional Japanese art and anime songs on the SAKURA stage (Japanese cultural performance stage).
◾️The theatrical performance (July 13th and 15th)
For the theatrical performance, the challenge for the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company at Japan Expo was to represent the play “Keiji’s Kabuki Adventure THE STAGE PLAY – Chapter of Kiyomasa Katō: The Tiger of Kumamoto” in just 60 minutes. The show was originally designed for the Japanese audience and had a duration of about 70 minutes. This time, the limited time available for the performance forced the show to be modified and simplified to make it understandable to the French audience… and it was a success that exceeded all expectations!
With the number of spectators increasing from 400 to 1500 in just two days (!!!), the theatrical performance enchanted the French audience with specially created subtitles supervised by an international editorial team, its moving story, and the vibrant energy of the 25 actresses. The stage went beyond the boundaries of the Japanese language and touched the hearts of the new French fans, who showed their support and warmth for the theatrical performance.
Special guests Kumamon (the worldwide famous mascot of Kumamoto) and KUNI-KEN also participated in the two days of the show with their shamisen performances, captivating the international audience. KUNI-KEN Has participated in the Japan Expo countless times before.
A unique feature of the show was the addition of animated backgrounds and effects. These backgrounds were created by the 10 MasterClass members of the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®, who are currently working in Japan at Artists Village Aso 096k, and are working towards their debut in Japan! It was a collaboration between the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company and artists from around the world, working together with the actresses in Takamori.
The backgrounds will continue to be used in future theatrical performances, so they hope their artistic quality will be appreciated as soon as possible on stage!
◾️Live performance and anime song medley (July 14th and 16th)
In addition to the theatrical performance, the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company also had the opportunity to showcase their Japanese arts specialties to their new French fans, including Japanese drum performances, singing, sword fights, and dance. The performances were accompanied by the opening theme songs from the historic years of Tsukasa Hojo-sensei and Tetsuo Hara-sensei: “Get Wild,” “Cat’s Eye,” and “Ai wo Torimodose!!” They enchanted the audience with the exciting voices and performances of the actresses.
Moreover, given the creator’s special connection with the Kumamoto region, a special cover of “WE ARE!” (the opening of ONE PIECE) was sung on stage, providing a perfect conclusion to these special performances that drew nearly 3,000 spectators over the two days!
During the four-day fair, the French audience got to know more and more about the members of the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company. The actresses were stopped by a large number of fans to take pictures together and to receive direct positive feedback. They sincerely hope to see their French fans again in Kumamoto to relive the emotions they shared this year! They also hope for a large number of manga created in France for the upcoming rounds of SMA!
The 096k Kumamoto Drama Company will continue its performances both in Japan and abroad, hoping to reach as many fans as possible worldwide with the beauty of Kumamoto and Takamori Town and the charm of manga by COAMIX and SMA!
MERCI, JAPAN EXPO!
A BIENTOT (See you again soon!）