After two sold out tickets sessions, it was finally time to go to the Hakuoki Festival + Cafe! I, like many other fans, was excited to hear of the event when it was first announced and was able to go since it was in a neighboring city. As the first event of its kind within the United States, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen, but IFI started to release information here and there on what activities and merchandise they were going to have and I was got hyped! By Sunday morning, I was having jitters and woke up really early to get ready and while it had its problems here and there, the event was really lovely overall!
In regards to getting tickets for the event, it was a real brag and frustrating at times since the special lunch tickets were gone in seconds, even when you have two or more people trying to get tickets for you! There were also some people complaining that they had been close to receiving those special edition tickets, but had been glitched out or something happened that cost them those tickets.
None of that happened to me, I just wasn’t able to get them during either round, though I was just lucky enough to be going! However, I think the ticket responses surprised Idea Factory International since they did worked hard to expand the event and were being considerate when talking to people that were complaining about said problems. Thus, as the event started to get closer and closer, IFI started to show the various events that they were going to have at the Festival + Cafe. Then, last Sunday it was finally the day!
I was really surprised to see the line when I got to the Torrance Cultural Arts Center and while it was mostly women, there were men peppered here and there. Idea Factory International began to register people at around 10:40 am and separating the people who were general audience and had the special lunch ticket! The IFI staff sounded very excited as were the people running most of the events, so the fans had a lot of direct contact to thank them or simply talk/ask question in regards to otoge games, as shown here! There were various events to do, but there were some long lines in order to get to them.
There were various events to do within the space and each of them got a person two chibi badges from the guys in Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds. However, the amount of people that were there made the wait very long in certain areas, especially in the Photobooth section since it started late compared to the other ones and it seemed like taking photos took a long time for each group/person, since there were still people waiting in line even after the event had ended. There was also a survey booth where participants were asked how much they were willing to spend on otome games, limited edition versions, and what they thought of the event. Nevertheless, all thee activities were nice, especially for their first event!
On the fan side, it seemed like a lot of people were eager to show their love towards the series and their particular bias! There was lot of people taking pictures and selfies with their choice of men in the Husbando Photobooth, while people were declaring their love on the Love Wall and even drawing cute pictures of their bias! Yet, the real battle was shown during the Best Boy Meter where people could chose their favorite character and in the end Saito Hajime ended up winning! Idea Factory International also had some new merchandise at the event and I couldn’t pass up buying it!
IFI had announced that new Hakouki merchandise was going to be released during the event: stickers, posters, a body pillow, event pins, and a sake set! Things could be bought individually or bought within three sets. While, it took some time for the line to move, it seemed like the most staffed part of the event since there was 2 people working the cash registers and 3 behind them grabbing the items that had been requested. I ended up getting the Complete Hakuoki Festival + Cafe Set, which costs $100, but you got most the merchandise being sold though only with just 1 event pin. All the items looked well made since the stickers came on some thick paper and the sake set looks nice though delicate enough to break at the same time. And as of today, even if you missed the event, you can buy some of the items at the Iffy Store!
Midway through the event, the cafe people were given lunch and while there was an ice cream truck outside — it would have been nice to have gotten actual food and it was a little hard to leave the premise to find a good place to eat, but it was nice to get some nachos after quite awhile! However, it was surprising to see that IFI brought a cake and were giving away macrons towards the end of the event!
And with that the event was over! For their first event in North America, it went really smoothly and it showed well that the staff cared a lot about the event and making people feel welcomed, because I certainly did. However, it was great to see the fans bond together over a series they love and bring their individual assets to show all that, from itabags to cosplayers (there was even a Jaehee!) — it just created a very welcoming and happy atmosphere for everyone! So, here is hoping that IFI does another event in the near future and even thinks about expanding it for other fans to enjoy as well!