Last weekend the Tokyo Big Site convention center hosted the inaugural Anime Japan animation exposition, which combines the previously separately held Tokyo International Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo.

We were drawn to the show by the promise of being able to see the giant Ingram robot being used in the upcoming live-action Patlabor motion picture with our own eyes, so we headed for Big Site and dove headfirst into the crowd of fans and exhibitors, where aside from giant robots we found amazing cosplayers and anime-themed edibles, not to mention hordes of ravenous anime song idol fans.

Our journey to anime land started with a ride out to Odaiba, an island in Tokyo Bay. After our train passed through the submarine tunnel from the mainland, we got off at Kokusaitenjijo Station, which was decked out with anime decorations in honor of the event, just as we’d heard.



We stepped out of the gates and were almost immediately bombarded by anime merchandise, as the local Lawson convenience store had set up tables outside hawking posters and files featuring animated characters wearing the chain’s distinctive blue and white striped uniforms.


Resisting the temptation to blow all our cash before we even had our tickets, we kept walking until we saw the distinctively-shaped main hall of Big Site.


▼ Between lavender-haired Creamy Mami up front and smirking Nobunaga in the back row, that’s over three decades of anime leads in one group shot.


With so much to see before the event closed, we made a visit to Patlabor’s AV-98 Ingram our first priority. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard to find, as even stretched out on its back, you really can’t miss an eight-meter (26-foot, 3-inch) robot.



As if the mechanized giant wasn’t eye catching enough, its patrol car-style shoulder flashers were throwing out swaths of red light. The Ingram is, after all, owned and piloted by the police, so it has to follow proper motor vehicle protocol.



Also present was the Ingram’s armored support car, bearing the marking of the branch of the police Patlabor focuses on, Special Vehicles Division 2.



Visitors wanting a closer look were led up the scaffolding by male ushers wearing the white jumpsuits of the Ingram’s maintenance crew.


Pamphlets, meanwhile, were handed out by women in hot pants, which are not part of any police uniforms we recall being used in real life or anywhere in the Patlabor franchise.


From above, the Ingram cuts an even more stalwart figure.



Again, as a vehicle ostensibly licensed for use on public roads, the Ingram needs a license plate.


▼ The handle the Ingram grips to maintain stability when the trailer it rides on tilts the robot vertically for deployment


Prop designers had to enlarge and reshape the feet of the real-life model from the anime original, in order to give it enough balance to stand on its own.


Whether a natural result of filming outdoors or purposefully added, there’s plenty of grit and grime on the Ingram’s head.



With our mecha fix taken care of, it was time to take in the other sights of Anime Japan. As we wandered around the convention space, we passed by at least a half dozen stages with anime idols performing popular theme songs, all of which were surrounded by frenzied fans with glow sticks, often amassed in bunches a dozen people deep.


Realizing we couldn’t compete with their enthusiasm, we gave them a wide berth and scoped out the other exhibitor booths, where we found plenty of anime-themed statuary from perennial favorites like One Piece and Ghost in the Shell, as well as newcomer Nobunaga the Fool.




Production and licensing company Aniplex, infamous for their high prices for international releases, almost seemed to be flaunting their wealth with a red carpet booth and formally-attired cutouts.


Of course, one of the best things about events like this is the opportunity to see flesh and blood fans and models dressed up as some of anime’s most iconic figures, and Anime Japan did not disappoint on that front. Holding on to its crown as hottest anime of the last several years, there were no shortage of humans or giants from Attack on Titan

▼ Come on, Scout Corps! You’re supposed to be fighting the Titan, not taking his picture!


▼ That’s more like it.


The most popular series even had dedicated cosplay sections with special backdrops, such as this trippy scene from Puella Magi Madoka Magica.


▼ We’re sure nothing bad will come of Madoka’s partnership with Kyubey.



Despite the series having only started last October, the costume and weapon of Kill la Kill’s Ryuko are instantly recognizable.



For those who just want to dip their toes into the cosplay world, Anime Japan had a collection of outfits from some of anime’s biggest hits that visitors could rent by the hour.


There was even a cosplay parade, where we spotted feline alien Meow and robotic QT from breakout hit Space Dandy.



QT proved to be one of the most generous performers in anime, always willing to take time out of his (her? its?) busy schedule to shake hands with a fan.


There were also a few anime itasha parked around the convention hall, such as this Lamborghini advertising the upcoming anime adaptation of Korean PC game Blade and Soul


Of course, who needs a car when you’ve got multiple sets of wings on your back?



There was also plenty of unique merchandise on offer, including curtains, just in case your bed sheets, pillowcases, and bath towels featuring scantily clad anime babes don’t already make having guests over awkward enough.



Vendors were on hand to help the most hardcore fans with the first half of eating and sleeping anime, with Madoka cakes and Attack on Titan bite-sized mochi rice cakes.



Surprisingly, you can also now get your buzz while still proclaiming your love of anime, as multiple booths were selling anime-themed booze, such as these bottles of sake with labels featuring characters from Space Brothers and The Eccentric Family.



Unfortunately, the spirit we were most intrigued by, yuzu citrus liqueur inspired by transforming mecha saga Macross, didn’t have its batch produced in time for the show, and wasn’t on sale. Sad as we were to go home completely sober, this at least gives us something to look forward to at Anime Japan 2015.


Photos: RocketNews24