Always dreamt of traveling to Japan but couldn’t face the 14-hour flight? If so, you’ll be glad to know that this weekend your biggest obstacle to experiencing all the cultural wonders of that far eastern isle will be a trip on the G train. Presenting the inaugural “Waku Waku + NYC” Japanese pop culture festival, a cornucopia of “anime, video, games, fine art, fashion, cosplay, food, music and sports” taking place at the Brooklyn Bowl, Verboten and the newly opened Brooklyn Expo Center. “Waku Waku” roughly translates to “excitement in a dream-like state.” With that in mind, we scoured the schedule in search of events likely to precipitate the most dream-worthy excitement, featured below.
Attend a Lolita Fashion Show
Verboten, 54 N 11th St, Brooklyn, Saturday 2:30–3:30pm & Sunday 30, 5:00 – 6:00pm
According to this event’s description, Lolita Fashion is “an expression of the self through clothing that defies convention.” Considering the fact that Japanese culture already tends to defy convention, there’s little wonder this goes as our first pick. New York’s own Baby, the Stars Shine Bright together with punk Lolita fashion line PUTUMAYO will be showing their lines and rest assured, despite the questionable connotations, all participants for this event will be over 18.
Meet SHINKALION: The Giant Transformer Robot Bullet Train
Saturday, 12:15pm to 12:45pm at Brooklyn Expo Main Stage, 72 Noble Street
“In terms of not just train robot morphing but also combination and transformation scenes in general, East Japan Marketing & Communication, Inc.’s SHINKALION is top tier,” reads the press release for this event, which promises the chance to “see SHINKALION on stage LIVE.” We still can’t quite work out whether “LIVE” constitutes an actual “bullet train-themed giant transformer robot” appearance but if it’s anything like the above video, prepare for an event of Michael Bay-worthy proportions.
Watch two Dragon Ball Z Classic films and meet their original screenwriters
Saturday, 11:15am to 1:15pm, and Sunday, 1pm – 2:45pm, at Verboten, 54 N 11th St
If the strained utterance “Kame-hame-haaaa” ever meant anything to you, this may be of interest. Screenwriters Takao Koyama and his son Makoto will be answering questions following screenings of their celebrated Dragon Ball Z films, Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan and The Tree of Might. Here’s your chance to finally meet the men responsible for writing some of film history’s most beloved animated scenes depicting characters “charging up” for over ten minutes of screen time.
Witness Kendama USA and NYC Yo-Yo Club demonstrations
Saturday, 1pm to 1:45pm at Brooklyn Expo Main Stage, 72 Noble Street
There’s not too much by way of explanation needed here. Anyone born pre-internet knows what a yo-yo is and apparently “ball on stick” is actually called Kendama – an official sport that some have taken pro. But come on, how many ways can you really catch a ball on a stick? Watch the above video to find out, or, better yet, go marvel at the fact that the U.S. has its own national team for the damn thing.
Throw something into a giant Hello Kitty time capsule for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics
Saturday, 11am to 4:30pm, and Sunday, 11:30am to 3:45pm, at Transmitter Park, Greenpoint Ave and East River
Much of Japanese youth culture is synonymous with “cuteness,” a phenomenon termed Kawaii. Performance artist Sebastian Masuda – who first opened the concept store 6%DOKIDOKI, credited with sparking this cuteness craze – will be holding a public viewing of his latest interactive work, “Time After Time Capsule.” Picture a nine-foot-tall translucent Hello Kitty you can throw whatever you want into so long as long as it’s deemed “cute.” Together with several other giant Kitties spread out across the world, it will end up at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Watch Zebraman II: Attack on Zebra City
Saturday, 4pm to 6pm Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave
Imagine a world filled with Zebra-like humans, streaked in black and white. Now imagine that world as imagined by a quirky Japanese filmmaker. While you may want to watch the first Zebraman for backstory, judging by the sequel’s synopsis it really may not matter too much: “By 2025, fifteen years after the events of Zebraman, Tokyo has renamed itself Zebra City and has instituted a ‘Zebra Time’ starting at 5:00am/pm for 5 minutes (in which all crime is legal.) The government allows the Zebra Police to attack any and all presumed criminals. One Zebra Time results in the attempted murder of Shinichi Ichikawa, also known as Zebraman. Surviving the attack but having lost his memories, he must team up with television’s fake Zebraman and a young protégé to save a mysterious little girl from Zebra Queen and her Zebra Police, and then the world from Zebra Queen’s ultimate plan to use the strange aliens from 2010 to bring Zebra Time to the whole world.”
Experience BELLA GAIA: “an unprecedented audio-visual experience” combining NASA imagery with live “World Music”
Sunday, 6pm at Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave
Director-composer Kenji Williams’ BELLA GAIA (Beautiful Earth) was apparently “inspired by astronauts who spoke of the life-changing power of seeing the Earth from space.” What this translates to, according to the press statement, is an experience that “simulates the Overview Effect from space flight, by using NASA supercomputer data-visualizations with an iridescent landscape of gossamer melodies and labyrinthine rhythms.” And, while not exactly cosmic in its scope, the Brooklyn Bowl does have a couple orbiting spheres, sure to add to the overall effect.
Tickets prices for “Waku Waku + NYC” range from a $45 one-day pass to a $65 weekend pass and a $15 children one-day and $25 weekend pass and can be purchased here.