Report by Chris Gereke, Mary Franklin and Richard Chasemore
Star Wars Celebration Japan presents the best of the Star Wars Saga at the Makuhari-Messe Convention Center in Chiba, Japan. For three days, July 19-21, meet your fellow fans from Japan, Asia, and around the world to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga in Japan. Enjoy live entertainment, memorable exhibits, great Star Wars shopping, and days of events you’ll find no where else but here…
That’s how the official Celebration Japan site teased the weekend, but how did it really shape up? Was it a storming success like Celebration Europe? Did it pour down with rain like Celebration 2? Was there a huge surprise appearance by George Lucas like Celebration 3, or would the magic of Star Wars reign supreme as it did at the first Celebration back in 1999? Chris Gereke, Mary Franklin and Richard Chasemore were in attendance – here’s what they had to say about the show…
Chris Gereke, North American Reporter
“Star Wars Celebration Japan in Makuhari-Messe in Chiba. Celebration Japan standouts were the Clone Wars panels with Dave Filoni, Matt Wood and Takeuchi.”
Chris – “The 501st had a cool Silver Trooper guarding George Lucas in carbonite lol. Someone’s head will roll. Alongside the Rebel Legion modeling groups were set up with some amazing character and ship models as well as collector groups.”
Chris – “The Clone Wars footage was amazing. Three different clips were shown. Obi-Wan, Cody, Anakin, Rex and the clones battling countless battle and super battle droids as well as spider droids on the world of Christophsis. Anakin and Rex make a very dramatic and unconventional flanking move to turn the tide of the battle against the droids. Several clones lost heads or limbs and became cannon fodder.
The next clip was a fun clip with Anakin and the new character Asoka. Anakin’s padawan (who rivals Padme and Leia with her wit and character) attacking a Separatist outpost atop of a mountain. “Race you to the top!” The massive AT-TE actually ascending the mountain, the battle droids are zany almost a stooge quality or a Gomer Pyle shtick. I loved how the battlefield is turned on its side as ‘sky guy’ and ‘snips’ race to the top. I think fans will love Ahsoka, she is a very cool character.
The third clip was Kenobi and Asajj in a fierce lightsaber duel with Kenobi’s famous quips that ended with Kenobi at the business end of Asajj’s lightsabers. Clone Wars looks amazing…on all levels. “
Chris – “The Fetts, Vader, Chewie, Skywalker, John Knoll and Dave Filoni panels were great. Steve Sansweet mc’d most of them. The English to Japanese translation took a little patience and the Celebration Japan fans went wild for Mark Hamill.”
Mary Franklin, Events Manager, Lucasfilm
“Producing a Celebration in Japan was a unique challenge, because it was the first of the Celebrations in which most of the staff and crew did not speak English, and I do not speak Japanese. Even though we did not share a common language, we shared a common goal: putting on a great experience for Star Wars fans. We carried on together for the best possible outcome.”
Chris – “The front middle of the Celebration Japan floor was the family recreation area where families could do crafts or Lego and buy toys from the coin vending machine. Beside that was the Jedi training stage where padawans could test their Jedi skills against Darth Vader and two of his Stormtroopers. The stage was lined by the Family Mart vendors where you could purchase food. Especially cool were the Pepsi Bear Kubricks that came with Pepsi.”
Chris – “From left to right as you looked onto the Celebration Japan convention floor was laid out with the Artist Alley. On the left was artist Matt Busch, Spencer Brinkerhoff III, Randy Martinez, Jake, Ralph McQuarrie, Tsuneo Sanda, Nagano, Lawrence Noble, Mal Tween and Hendrickson.”
Richard Chasemore, Artist, Incredible Cross-Sections
“Me drawing with a speeder helmet on!”
Chris – “There was a VIP party with the celebs with food, exclusives such as a Sanda print or Ewok hair. The con was adorned with Clone Wars posters and the Sanda Celebration Japan promo posters.”
Chris – “Official Pix did an extraordinary job with the autographs and VIP actors and guests. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Amy Allen, Jake Lloyd, Orli Shoshan, Tim Rose, Ray Park, Dave Prowse, Daniel Logan, Temeura Morrison, Mike Edmonds and Matt Wood.”
Chris – “The Celebration Japan store had some cool Star Wars exclusives that should be available on starwarsshop.com soon.”
“The Bounty Hunter shirts, bottle caps, Kubrick shadow guard, marc ecko stormtrooper and fett hoodies. Clone Wars tickets, CJ towels, dolls, McQuarrie print, bear ewok and kubricks.”
Chris – “The Dewback Project was an amazing fan favorite. Goro the designer created an amazing likeness to the Dewback from A New Hope, maybe even better. You could ride or have a photo oportunity with the Dewback and or Yumi. And don’t forget the cute Celebration Japan Slave Leia.”
Mary – “There was no doubt in my mind that Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon in Japan, but my biggest concern in planning the programming was getting the mix of entertainment and exhibits just right for the audience. Based on what I have seen from Japan over the years – the different Star Wars collectibles, different Star Wars animation and costumes – the Japanese fans consistently add their own refreshing and unique spin on the Saga. As we anticipated the majority of the audience would be Japanese, I really wanted the show to appeal to them. It was important it be a real Star Wars Celebration, but I believed it also specifically needed to be a Japanese Celebration of Star Wars.”
Chris – “In a separate Clone Wars panel with Dave Filoni, Takuechi and Matt Wood they premiered the General Grievous episode from the TV series.
The Clone Wars TV opening had a retro World War II newsreel opening and radio era voice instead of an opening crawl. This episode contained Kit Fisto and his clones, which look amazingly cool. They descend on a planet to apprehend Rune Haako. The episode had a cool dark suspenseful feel and a new Mon Cal Jedi Knight Nahdar Vebb who was Kit Fisto’s padawan. They descend into a lair only to discover Grievous’ pet Roggwart, named Gor. Very cool.”
Chris – “The exhibitor area had Disney Star Tours, the post office where you could purchase customized stamps, model areas, Wii, Lego, Hasbro, Sanyko and photo oportunities with Vader, Artoo and Threepio.
Larger than life pachinko and arcade type games were giving Vader postcards with signatures. Watches, JAL Vader and Stormtrooper samurai armor. Kotobuyika, Clone Wars figures, book sellers where Steve Sansweet signed his Vault and Star Wars Poster books which are a must for a Star Wars fan. And make room on the shelf for the Star Wars Encyclopedia.”
Richard – “Lawrence Noble giving a prize of a bust he did of Luke! Amazing work and the Japanese girl that won it went mad when she found out!”
Chris – “Star Warriors was a documentary about the 501st and the Rose Bowl Parade starring Lucasfilms Steve Sansweet and Mary Franklin, George Lucas and the different personalities of the 501st.”
Mary – “The local fans from the 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, and Star Wars collecting and building clubs were a tremendous resource. Not only were they readily willing to share their talents and time and ideas before the show, they took an active part in the show with fan tables, presentations, costumes, and entertainment. They were instrumental in a successful show that was “by the fans; for the fans.” Japanese guests, like The Clone Wars episodic director Atsushi Takeuchi, showcased national talent at the show as well.”
Chris – “Behind and beside the Artists Alley were the Belgian Props with the Millennium Falcon, Snow Speeder, speeder bike and Jabba. Behind that was the Digital stage with Rex, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka guarding the entrance. Beside the digital stage was the Vader Helmet project which was amazing.”
Mary – “For the three days of the show I watched the fans have a great time, and take in every aspect of the programming and entertainment. I hope they felt it was a show created just for them, even while it celebrated the worldwide fandom of the Star Wars Saga.”
This article was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 21st July 2008.
Celebration Japan Report: Copyright 2012 Jedi News. No part of this interview can be reproduced without prior written consent from Jedi News.