Sunday April 30, I attended the first ever Official Hakuoki Festival + Café in Torrance, California!
This was Idea Factory International, Inc.’s first ever otome-centered event in the United States. It celebrated their new release, “Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds“, (I received my special edition copy a few days ago!) which is their latest English translated otome here in America. I first started playing their otome games when I discovered “Amnesia: Memories” a few years back and I absolutely fell in love with their art style, stories, and quality of the game in general. It was so much more refined than the usual otome apps I was accustomed to playing, and such a wonderfully immersive experience. The voice acting was fantastic – something I really appreciated because before discovering Idea Factory, I was playing otome apps where there weren’t even any sound effects, just simple music playing in the background. Imagine my astonishment when the characters actually had voices! Okay, I’m done praising Idea Factory International (for now). Let’s recap the festival + café!
An interesting fact that you guys would be surprised to know is that they actually had to sell tickets at three different times. There were two ticket options available: general admission, which gave access to the festival area; and a special VIP ticket option that gave all the same access as the general, in addition to a Hakuoki themed lunch in another room. Obviously my goal was to get the VIP lunch tickets.
Getting tickets to the festival on Eventbrite was kind of like the Hunger Games – except no bloodshed (thankfully). They had a misfire of sorts the first time the tickets went on sale because so many people (including myself) encountered problems in their attempt to purchase them. In my situation, the second the ticketing page went live I clicked purchase but by the time it came to submitting it, an error message would appear. By the time I could go back and re-do my order, all the tickets were sold out. This happened within the span of two to three minutes. Minutes! The second time tickets went on sale, again, I was ready (on the dot) and managed to quickly snag two VIP tickets! There was one more ticket sale after that and, again, they sold out within a few minutes. It was amazing.
At the day of the festival, my friend and I arrived about an hour early. Good thing we did, too, because we had a little bit of trouble finding the exact building where the festival was going to be held. After getting directions from someone, we finally discovered the long line that was for the Hakuoki festival. Around 10am they let us in, we picked up our wristbands, then proceeded into the outdoors section of the festival where there were several trees, and further in the distance, a stage.
We were introduced to the people who were basically the reason why we even have translated Hakuoki games in America to begin with, and it was so wonderful seeing some of the people behind it all. They expressed how astonished and grateful they were that their festival tickets not only sold out, but did so twice! They gave us these brochures with the schedule for the day and a letter on the back from the producer of Hakuoki himself, Tunekiyo Fujisawa, expressing his gratitude and welcoming us to the festival.
It took them a few moments to collect themselves and take their stations inside the hall, but once we were allowed to enter we were greeted with an auditorium filled with six different stations. According to our brochures, if we completed the activity at each booth, we would collect two character pins from each one. My friend and I have the same favorite, Hajime Saito, so of course we made a beeline to that station first. It was simple: vote for your favorite Hakuoki guy by placing a sticker in his column and receive Saito and Harada’s chibi pin!
We were determined to go through each station as fast as we could to collect all the pins, and we managed to get most of them before our lunch time. Here are a collection of photos for each booth.
There was also a ring toss game booth, but I didn’t get a photo of it. I was too busy trying to win, I guess. Haha For every ring you get around the bottle you would win a raffle ticket. At the end of the event they would announce the winners of the raffle, the prizes being cute little macarons designed as the characters. Here’s one close-up.
Lunch was across the hall in another room. It was buffet style and each food was inspired by each characters’ favorite food. Their placemats, coasters, and napkins were all Hakuoki themed as well and the moment we saw them we sort of just stared at it wondering, “How am I going to eat without ruining these?” Thankfully, the staff were already one step ahead of us and said, “Don’t worry, we have extra to give you guys.” Again, Idea Factory, you guys rock.
The people we sat with were pretty cool. Most of us shared the same favorite character: Saito. Haha! Before getting our food, they held a short raffle where they told us each seat had a number on the bottom. We pulled out our number and the staff called out a random one; whoever had that number won a character pin of their choice from the merchandise booth! I didn’t win, but I still got a Saito pin afterwards because we went shopping once the crowd died down. 😉
Then Idea Factory International surprised me yet again! Their merchandise were really good quality and affordable! Here’s a list of what they had for sale:
- Body pillow (group) – $25
- Sticker sets (2 types) – $7 each
- Large character pins (matte finish) – $6 each
- Posters (2 types) – $15 each
- Sake set – $35
At Anime Expo last year, I spent waaaaay too much money at Voltage Inc.’s (another otome company) booth, buying body pillows, scroll posters, key chains, gacha balls, etc. But at Idea Factory International’s Hakuoki event, I only spent a fraction of that amount for better quality merchandise. (Granted, they have more English games out but quantity does not equal quality.) Not to mention all the free stuff they gave us – we felt so spoiled. Haha But very much appreciated!
The last activity booth we had to do to complete them all was the photo booth, but the line was ridiculous! The guy they hired to do the booth arrived late (the moment we were about to enter the hall at the beginning of the festival was when he had just arrived). It felt like the line would only move a couple steps every fifteen minutes. To help kill time, I wandered around taking photos while my friend stayed in line. They announced that they would be cutting the cake outside but not many of us wanted to leave the lines we were in. (We really wanted those free pins, haha!) I checked it out and took some photos.
At the last hour and a half, the staff announced who the raffle winners were, handed out the macaron prizes, and then allowed us one more hour until they started cleaning up. My friend and I were finally able to get our photo taken at the photo booth line and then we took some last minute photos with the husbando cardboard standees before they had to start packing them away.
Overall, I believe it was a very successful festival and we had an amazing time (besides standing in that ridiculously long line for the photo booth). I did mention in my survey answers that next time they should try to bring actual models for the photo booth instead of just having the characters as border decorations. That would be so cool! The venue could have been a bit larger as well because it felt a bit cramped a few hours into the event.
Thank you for an amazing time, Idea Factory International! I look forward to your other English otome games and any future otome events you guys have planned. 😉