For those who follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that I had went through with the
crazy idea of going for Otomate Party 2017 since June this year. Well, the wait for me was finally over, as the event took place early this September! So if you want to read about what happened during the event itself, please go to my twitter. (Or you can buy the DVD when it is released!)
This post will be more of a introduction to “what should I do if I want to go for future Otomate Party sessions?”. I felt that it was difficult for me to search for such information in a consolidated place, so hopefully my experience will be helpful for you – if you are considering this idea.
- Getting the tickets
Aka the most crucial and difficult step. You may already know that Otomate will upload a special website for Otomate Party every year. This includes the schedule for their ticketing system. If you look, you can see that they have different stages. Basically majority of these stages are reserved for members such as Hakuouki VISA card members, Otomate Premium members, Otomate Club members etc. or there is a special raffle held in B’sLOG/Otomate Channel. It is only within less than a month of the event date, that they hold a general raffle/sales.
In any case, as someone living overseas – there is very little chance of you getting a ticket in one of those early stages. Moreover, if you have RL commitments, you wouldn’t want to wait till less than one month to go, before you start trying your luck – and if you do get it, to then scramble to purchase flight tickets and settle your accommodation. Of course, I am writing all of this with the pretext that your primary purpose of even travelling to Japan = Otomate Party.
One way to get about this, is of course if you happen to know someone from Japan (who can get those tickets in those early stages) – and that person wants to attend and so you tag along. This is because you are allowed to get tickets for 1 – 2 people at a time. So 2 is the maximum number.
Also, the earlier you get your ticket, the more likely you are to get a better seat. There are 3 seat categories: S, A, B. The event is usually held at Tokyo International Forum (TIF), Hall A. You can easily grab the seating plan from the TIF website. From what I read, category S is the first floor, category A is the front of the second floor, and category B is the back of the second floor.
I went for all 3 Otomate Party 2017 sessions, and got 1 A and 2 S tickets. To be honest, I think that since it was my first time, I didn’t mind getting a feel of the different seating locations? On the second floor, you can still catch what is going on as there is a big screen. That being said, you may not catch some of the smaller movement happening on the stage, since the screen will only reflect one camera’s viewpoint at a time. However, if you know from past events, there will always be a seiyuu who will go to the second floor during the variety corner so… 😉 On the first floor, it is a similar experience if you are seated near the back. My best experience was when I sat about ~10 rows from the front. You’re not too close such that you’re straining your neck, but close enough to catch everything on stage.
Of course, at the end of the day, you cannot choose your exact seat. So you can only hope to confirm your ticket asap and pray that you get a good seat.
So after ranting so much, let me share the route I took to get my tickets – as someone living overseas, and as someone who didn’t know anyone else in Japan going for the event.
I opted for the (expensive) Otomate Party JTB travel plan. This package was on sale 3 months in advance to the event. It guarantees you a S ticket for your chosen session, one night’s accommodation, the event pamphlet and a few limited goodies. (The limited goodies I received were a lunch tote bag, and 12 bromide sheets.) You also have the choice of adding on tickets for the other two sessions! Though take note that the maximum number of S tickets you can get is only 2. They do write that the additional tickets are not 100% guaranteed, depending on the demand. The total price will also differ, depending on the tier you pick for your night’s accommodation. Naturally, the tier with more expensive hotels will rack up the overall price. (I went to check the location of the different hotels, and chose the tier which had hotels conveniently located near TIF.)
The one issue is, besides having to know Japanese, is that JTB Japan will ask for all of your Japan details such as Japan address etc. when you opt for this plan. One reason is because, they will mail you the tickets and documents to your address. I tried to email JTB Japan, asking if they could make an exception for me. But it felt as though the person replying me did not understand my issue…
surely my Japanese wasn’t that bad welp. I also went ahead to contact the JTB office in my own country. I thought that perhaps since they’re under the same umbrella, the staff here could help me to liaise. But guess what? I was told that they don’t. Okay then…
I was doing all of this emailing/calling back-and-forth with the JTB package deadline closing in. So once I was told “no”, I did not really want to argue any further since time was running out for me. I saw that JTB Hong Kong and JTB Taiwan offered the same package to their locals. So I went ahead to email them in
my really poor Mandarin. They both were willing to help me, though both had varying solutions. JTB Hong Kong wanted me to collect the tickets and documents from them in person, 10 working days prior to the event. JTB Taiwan asked JTB Japan office if they could mail me the stuff, and so all I needed to do was pay the extra postal fee. (Why didn’t JTB Japan just provide me this solution? Don’t ask me…)
Of course, I went for the option with less hassle. I must really commend the staff from JTB Taiwan because holy, she was so fast in all the replies. You just need to fill in the application form, as well as the credit card form. I could request for the additional tickets, and was also able to ask for extension of my hotel’s stay. Important note: The owner of the credit card MUST be one of the people attending the event. That’s Otomate’s prerequisite. Also, my name was printed on my ticket and I needed to prove my identity (eg. show my passport) with the staff on the day itself. So that means you will not be able to switch with or buy off tickets from other people.
Alright, so that was how I was able to get my Otomate Party tickets…!! When filling up the form, I kind of showed my priority when filling in which seat categories I’d like for which session. And I noticed that it somehow reflected in how I got the best seat for the session I prioritised the most – and so on. Not sure if it was a coincidence or not but, just a point I’d like to share.
After I sat down to calculate everything once the trip was over, I feel that JTB side eats up 30-40% of the total price. The price for confirming your tickets for all 3 sessions at an early stage… Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if majority of this went to JTB Taiwan since that was the branch which helped me out – not JTB Japan, which also happened to screw up my hotel accommodation……
By the way, I also did happen to inquire at another local travel agency (specialising in Japan). The staff told me that they could apply on my behalf with a 12% charge, and I would get the necessary documents from their office in Japan. I did not end up exploring that option, but it’s definitely something to consider.
2. Before the event
You’re supposed to receive the necessary documents in your mailbox about 1 week prior to the event. This includes a general overview document, your tickets, the hotel accommodation slip (and map to the hotel), and an exchange coupon for your limited goods.
Please do make sure to double-check all the documents. I cannot stress this enough. I failed to see that my hotel accommodation slip only covered me for one night, and not my extension. This was what later caused me so much hassle when I was in Japan, despite being there for the purpose of enjoying myself. So if you see something amiss, do contact the office immediately!
Besides your usual trip preparations, you may also want to consider preparing your fan letters and/or gifts for the cast! Also, this is for your information, but I had bought glow sticks in advance because it’s cheap over here. But I realised much later that there is liquid inside. So I called the airline and basically it was too troublesome as they would ask you for documentation of the ingredients etc. So you can either take the risk of packing it in your checked-in luggage, or just buy it in Japan.
3. On the event day
I covered a few points on twitter already, but let me just reiterate myself. If you want your event goods, be prepared to queue. If it weren’t for the lucky coincidence that I knew people on my TL were also going, I wouldn’t have been able to get my event goods. Otomate divides the queues into different timings, depending on whether it is open to the public or only to ticket-holders for that certain session. The queue for Otomate event goods, and B’sLOG goods are separate. Also, there is a separate queue if you just want to purchase the event pamphlet. All of these can have different start locations. So be sure to always check what you are queuing up for!
Once the queue starts moving, the staff will updating the stock of the goods – be it shouting what is out of stock/low in stock, updating the panel, or updating the official twitter. So be sure to pay attention if you don’t want to waste your time queuing up – especially for popular titles. The staff does divide the stock for individual sessions (if not everything would be gone on the first day). But you know the Japanese……they will start queuing very early.
Speaking of queuing up – I did not need to do so for very long (thanks to Emong and Gladys ;w;). But if you do so, please bring stuff to make your life easier. For example, water, fan, something to sit on, something to kill time with etc. Also if you are alone, you may want to consider critical issues like buying food, and even going to the washroom…… I don’t have that experience. But hopefully the fellow event-goers in the queue will help you out if you need to leave for a bit?
You can see some flower stands before entering. But you can only see the rest of them once you pass the staff’s entry check. You are free to take photos of them. I advise taking photos before the event. Because after the event, everyone is leaving and it is really crowded! The flower stands will be different over the course of each session, since the cast will also differ. (By the way, the Hanaichi flower stands were all signed off by their “servants” lol.)
Also, you can give your gifts to the cast after the entry check. There will be a table and you can label your gifts, if you haven’t already done so. As mentioned, when you enter, besides your ticket, you need to show proof of your identity. There will also be a quick bag check. Speaking of bags, yes, you can bring your itabags! That being said, do take note that you will be carrying this weight throughout.
Doors open 1 hour before the event commences. There will be PVs playing throughout. Be sure to enter 10-15 minutes before the event, since it may take you some time to travel to your seat (depending on where you are), and you wouldn’t wanna be late. I also did not have time to leave my seat at all for the next 2.5 hours. Whenever there is an interval, there will be PVs playing and as you know, this will be when Otomate announces their new titles. So yes, visit the washroom before the event. And this is pretty standard, but no photo/video-taking during the event itself.
(This is for your information, but I was seated next to the Taiwan/Hong Kong/China people in 2 of the sessions. So yes, I guess they sit those who purchased the JTB package together. For the last session, I was seated next to Japanese – who probably also purchase the JTB package.)
On the day with a noon and evening session, you will literally be around the venue location the whole day. That is why I had a heavy breakfast before the noon session, and later a heavy lunch/dinner before the evening session. By the end of it all, I was tired and just wanted to rest. I don’t think I could wander around looking for food at 9pm~.
Oh, and once you are at TIF – you will notice how all the event-goers will be exchanging their merchandises. Of course, this is one of the best opportunities for them. If you haven’t already witnessed the sight of multiple itabags, or plastic folders filled with merchandises – you will at this event, except that now – it’s so many people at the same time and same place.
Lastly, ENJOY YOURSELF. Really, the atmosphere you feel in person is different from watching on video. I felt really excited and time just went by so quickly.
That’s all I have to share. Please feel free to add anything else! I will also try to answer any related questions, if possible.