From July 13th to 16th, the annual Japan Expo, the largest ACG exhibition in Europe, was held in Paris, France. During the period, two of the top three players in the domestic game circle – Mihayou and Tencent both participated in this exhibition with their own games.
Originally, this was nothing new. After all, it is a common practice in the industry for game manufacturers to participate in exhibitions to promote their games. But if you look at the introduction of the Japan Expo held in Paris, you will find that this exhibition mainly promotes Japanese pop culture. Over the past 20 years, the Paris Japan Expo has become the most important animation exhibition in Europe.
From Wikipedia’s introduction, the Paris Japan Expo, founded in 1999, is actually an exhibition with the theme of Japanese popular culture such as Japanese manga, Japanese anime, cosplay, and games. Therefore, the exhibitors of the Japan Expo are basically ACG companies related to Japanese culture, European and Japanese merchants whose main selling point is Japanese products, local Japanese ACG cultural associations in Europe, and fan creators.
Regarding the nature of the exhibition, it is impossible for exhibitors to be ignorant of the exhibitors. Under such circumstances, the participation of Mihayou and Tencent, the two largest companies in the Chinese game industry, will inevitably make people imagine.
Taking Mihayou as an example, its product “Yuan Shen” incorporates a large number of Chinese cultural elements, innovates traditional culture in a popular way, and successfully opens up the global market. Last month, MiHoYo won the “Top 30 National Cultural Enterprises” again for “carrying forward the excellent Chinese culture”.
In GameLook’s view, Chinese game manufacturers went to Paris to participate in the Japan Expo, revealing a lot of helplessness behind them, but judging from the results, it was good. Judging from the actual situation of the previous exhibition, Mihayou Tencent “successfully kicked the pavilion” and stole the limelight at the Japan Expo.
Booths of Chinese game manufacturers burst into flames at Japan Expo
According to the preliminary statistics of GameLook, there are more than 900 merchants, enterprises and organizations participating in this year’s Paris Japan Expo. Among them, Chinese manufacturers currently only see Mihayou and Tencent. Although there are very few Chinese companies participating in the exhibition, and they are in the same exhibition hall as Nintendo, the booths of the two major Chinese game manufacturers are extremely popular.
Take Tencent as an example. Since it is aimed at European users, Tencent participated in the exhibition under the name of the two-dimensional game “Goddess of Victory: NIKKE”, which has exploded in overseas markets. The entire booth was completely centered around “NIKKE”, and many eye-catching beautiful girl characters and cosplayers attracted the attention of many people.
But as we all know, “NIKKE” is a pure Korean two-dimensional game, not a game from a Japanese company. The boss of the Korean developer Shift Up of “NIKKE” is Kim Hyung-tae, a master painter, and Tencent is the global agent of this game.
NIKKE booth at the Japan Expo
Thanks to the high popularity of “NIKKE”, the Tencent booth attracted a large number of European players to check in. On Twitter, there are no longer a small number of people posting and sharing photos, and many of them even took care of cosplaying before coming here. In addition, some people posted the T-shirts, badges and other peripherals that they received at the scene.
It is worth mentioning that at this exhibition, Tencent also arranged a stage performance with the theme song “SATELLITES” commemorating the half-anniversary of “NIKKE”, and the performers were basically French locals. This performance not only attracted many players to watch, but also attracted widespread attention on community platforms such as YouTube.
As for MiHoYo, its booth can be described as crazy.
At this exhibition, MiHoYo brought three games: “Honkai 3”, “Yuanshin” and “Honkai: Interstellar Railway”. Among them, “Original God” and “Honkai: Star Railway” have a very high influence all over the world, even in faraway France.
Judging from the live photos posted by foreigners on Twitter, Mihayou’s booth was surrounded by European players. Especially at the “Original God” booth, players who wanted to go in and check in directly formed a long queue, which was very eye-catching. On Twitter, a foreigner recorded this scene, and it is not difficult to feel the liveliness of the scene.
Mihayou booth at the Japan Expo
There was a long queue at the Mihayou booth
What’s interesting is that among the players who visited the Mihayou booth, many COS have become characters in “Yuan Shen”. Due to the large number of people, you can not only see the cosplayers related to “Yuanshin” in the Mihayou booth, but also in other places in the exhibition hall, with a full sense of presence. It can be said that Mihayou’s popularity performance at the Japan Expo is not inferior to the popularity of domestic exhibitions.
Behind the explosion of the Japan Expo is the helplessness of others
It is really strange that the games of Chinese game manufacturers exploded at the exhibition that originally promoted Japanese culture. But considering that for a long time in the past, many game IPs in Japan, such as “Super Mario”, “Sonic”, and “Final Fantasy”, have also flourished in the global market outside Japan, not to mention Japanese animation, similar to “Dragon Ball”, “Naruto”, and “Saint Seiya” are also works that are familiar to animation fans from all over the world.
Objectively speaking, in the past few decades, Japan has been relatively mature in ACG and even the entire cultural industry, and has long played the role of the leader of Asian pop culture. It can be said that the Japan Expo in Paris is a good way to get a glimpse of the influence of Japanese culture abroad.
Paris Japan Expo was held for the first time in 1999. The Japanese culture of each other has not fully penetrated into Europe. At that time, the number of exhibitors in the first Japan Expo was only 3,200. This scale can only be regarded as a small exhibition. But in the following time, thanks to the increasingly popular Japanese ACG culture in the world, the number of exhibitors at the Japan Expo in Paris also began to soar exponentially, and the number of participants increased from 3,200 to 8,000 in the second year alone.
At present, the latest public data of the exhibition stays in 2018 before the epidemic. At that time, the number of exhibitors has exceeded 240,000, which is 50% more than the 150,000 people of ChinaJoy today. After more than 20 years of development, Japan Expo has become the largest ACG cultural exhibition in Europe.
Since the Japanese Expo is so eye-catching in Europe, many European cities are scrambling to apply to open branch venues, hoping to use the Japanese ACG culture to attract young Europeans and increase local tourism revenue. At present, the Japan Expo has formed a layout with Paris, France as the core, and Marseille, Belgium, and Orleans as the sub-venues.
On the whole, the process of the Japan Expo growing in Europe is actually a reflection of the continuous development of Japanese culture and the continuous expansion of its influence. In contrast, China and South Korea, which are also popular in game and animation culture, are far behind in this respect. South Korea may be better. After all, apart from games, it can also occupy a place in the global market by virtue of the “Korean Wave” in the idol entertainment industry.
But for China, if you put aside Chinese games, the cultural influence of the Chinese pop culture industry overseas, especially in the European and American markets, is much smaller. The influence of Chinese film and television works that have improved in recent years is mainly limited to Southeast Asia and other places. However, the game industry, which is the most powerful and financially powerful in China’s cultural industry, does not currently have enough comprehensive influence to support itself in opening independent Chinese expos overseas like Japan.
This is the same in Korea. Taking this Japan Expo as an example, Koreans, who do not have much contact with the Japanese, are driven by the drive to expand the European market. South Korea’s two top web comic apps “Webtoon” and “Picocoma” participated in the Japan Expo. In the final analysis, it was because they could not open the door to the European young user market on their own, so they could only temporarily stay at the Japan Expo.
Where should China’s backward cultural industry go?
It must be admitted that the influence of the cultural industry actually reflects the comprehensive national strength of each country and the competitiveness of the cultural industry.
Objectively speaking, European and American pop culture, which developed earlier and has strong market and economic strength, is in the first-tier position in the global market, while Japan and South Korea are in the second-tier.
Although China has a long history and culture, it has been in the downstream of cultural transmission in terms of popular culture for a long time, with more passive reception and less active creation. However, with the development of China’s Internet industry in the past two decades, all branches of China’s cultural industry have begun to upgrade vigorously, and the game industry is the most prominent.
After entering the era of mobile games, not only the Chinese game market has become the largest game market in the world, but the game products consumed by Chinese players have been dominated by domestic games, and many Chinese games have successfully gone overseas. Not only have they gained high popularity overseas, they have also made a lot of money. Foreigners have started to grow up playing Chinese games. A typical example is that in recent years, domestic games created with the background of world culture have become more and more popular with players around the world, including “Yuan Shen”, “Awakening of Nations” and “AFK”.
From the perspective of cultural outreach, neighboring Japan is undoubtedly a successful example of China’s cultural industry. Whether it is animation, comics, games, or peripheral products, they have all achieved great success in the world. Therefore, when Westerners mention Asian culture, they can easily think of Japanese cultural symbols such as samurai, ninjas, Mario, and comics. Due to cultural similarities, Chinese culture will inevitably compete with the Japanese cultural industry when it goes overseas.
It is worth noting that in the chess and card exhibition area of the Japan Expo in Paris, a mahjong (mahjong) booth was specially set up. This national quintessence, which originally originated in China, unexpectedly appeared at the exposition themed on Japanese culture.
It is true that after mahjong was introduced to Japan from China, the branch of Japanese mahjong was indeed derived. But for Europeans, when they see mahjong in the future, foreigners who don’t know it may misunderstand that mahjong comes from Japan instead of China.
China, Japan, and South Korea coexist in the Confucian cultural circle. In the case of sharing a cultural circle, competition with each other is essentially a competition for different discourse rights of the same culture. For Chinese companies, it is indeed necessary to make full use of Chinese traditional culture in their own works. This is the essential difference between Chinese cultural products and other countries, and Chinese game products are undoubtedly the best carrier of Chinese culture.
Of course, the success of Chinese cultural products in the global market cannot be achieved overnight. Not only does the manufacturer need to work hard to study the content, but also the whole society needs to provide a looser creative soil. In recent years, the society’s changes in the game industry and the increase in the number of version numbers issued are good signals.
When will there be a China Expo in foreign countries, and no longer let Chinese companies depend on others? Every Chinese company strives to create cultural boutiques, and I believe this day will surely come.
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