My days at Anime Expo ’11
July 12, 2011 1 Comment
Upon arriving at AX, there’s an incredibly long line for pre-registered members. Of course, it just so happens to be on a hot summer day, so that makes waiting in line for badges extra painful. There’s not much to do in line other than look at the various kinds of cosplays around you. Every once in awhile, I’d see someone dressed so heavily in costume, it makes me wonder how hard they are sweating under all those layers. Xeriko was kind enough to wait in line with me while I got my badge, and to beat his boredom he’d count nartuards dressed in the same cosplay almost every Naruto fanatic has dressed in for the past ten years.
Finally, we’re inside but alas, it’s only slightly cooler inside the building. Of course, the best way to kill time is to take pictures of cosplayers. But… so many of cosplayers looked so uninteresting. Most of the ones I encountered were ones who either A) Didn’t bother to add effort into making their costumes (and I do mean as bad as writing Gundam in marked on a cardboard box and wearing it), or B) the same costumes I’ve seen time and time again from series way past their due date. I can’t remember how many times I’ve crossed a Lelouch, Anya, Link, Mario, Kingdom Hearts Character, Hetalia character, I could go on. I was lucky enough to catch sight of a couple of new cosplays such as one Mayuri from Steins;Gate, or a Menma from Ano Hana. It makes me wonder if some of the people at the convention even bother taking a look at the new shows (other than Madoka).
Anyhow, expo doors open. Time to check shit out. The first thing that catches my eye (just like last year), is the funimation booth. Their booth is like a skyscraper compared to the others. It’s neatly designed, and of course, they’re giving away tons of great free stuff. I snagged quite a lot of postcards and posters from their booth, just enough so I have something to give the other guys at AAP. At one corner, is an employee dressed so uniquely in a pilot outfit, promoting the new Last Exile. See, that’s classy. Scattered around the convention hall, are booths selling anime figurines, posters, accessories, mangas, and the like. At the far end of the expo hall is the less populated corner, where people sell their fanwork of anime series. Their artwork designs are quite excellent, but also rather pricey. Crunchyroll also had a booth, but much less awesome than they were last year. Their booth is a simple stage where they talk to other cosplayers about their costumes or some small game designer promoting their game. Last year, they were giving away posters, shirts, a lot of neat things. I guess they are on a tighter budget now. Shame. One of the booths that struck me odd was a booth selling plushies of various STDs and sex cells. Yes, you read that right. Plushies of Gonorrhea, Sperm, Egg cells, Syphilis. How did this booth even get a spot at AX? And what’s even more surprising is that people were actually buying them. Yeah, that’d make a good present for a family member. Anyhow, I’ve walked around the expo hall a couple times, just to look for anything that catches my interest. It’s insane how pricey K-on figures can be. Only three inches tall and priced at like ten bucks. I’d have to be hardcore fan of K-on to even bother taking a look.
Miyuki Sawashiro Panel
Moving on, I could only spend so much time at the convention hall before I have to get in line for the panels. Being at Anime Expo is kinda like being at an amusement park. It can be extremely fun, but you have to choose your rides carefully, or in this case, panels. You simply won’t have the time to go to them all, despite how interesting they all look. The waiting in lines and time to get the panels started will take up a good portion of your day. The first panel I went to was the Miyuki Sawashiro panel, VA of Celty, Maria of Arakawa, Beelzebub, and so on. The line stretches from one end of a hall to the other, circling around the building. Getting there early in line is pretty essential as it can mean the difference between a bad seat and a great seat. Once in, the crowd begins chanting her name, and out steps… Danny Choo? Danny comes in to introduce Sawashiro, and because her English is pretty limited, he steps in to act as a translator like a good sport. When Sawashiro does speak English, it doesn’t sound as Engrish as you might expect, but actually sounds pretty fluent and sweet. Nevertheless, she answered most of the question in japanese. I also did not know Mr. Choo sounds very British. For whatever reason, some of the people in the audience have a tendency to ask the worst questions. One person in the audience asked who Sawashiro’s favorite monster was in Persona 3, a small role she had in the game. Another asked if she changed anything voice-wise between one version of Super Street Fighter she had a role in and another version. Sorry, but how could she answer such complicated questions at the top of her head? Even Danny Choo was giving them odd looks. I mean, come on people, you get this once in a lifetime chance to ask a famous seiyuu to ask questions about her career, but you ask things like…. ‘What’s your favorite color?’. Despite the pretty awful questions, the panel was pretty enjoyable. I could tell Sawashiro and Choo were having a good time upstage, and just overall glad to be there.
I was a little ticked at how they set up the autographing session, as I did not get the chance to get Sawashiro’s autograph. At the door, they scan your badge and at the end of panel, they randomly choose a small bunch of people who can receive an autograph ticket. For everyone else, they’ll have to purchase the full first season of Arakawa: Under the Bridge for a pricey $60. Well, fuck that. Too much for a single autograph and I’m not about to be fucked over again. Apparently the people who I sat next to, also had this problem with the Kalafina panel. They noted that there were boos from the audience once the AX staff revealed this new autographing system.
Production I.G. panel
Got up early in the morning to go the Production I.G. panel. As expected, there was a low turnout in both attendees and panelist. Of course, I didn’t expect much for the audience. No one’s gonna wake up early in the morning to go to a panel for a studio with shows that don’t get that much recognition, especially from the people at AX. The only person at the panel was Maki Terashima-Furuta, Vice President of Production I.G. USA. I feel a little sorry for her. For the only one at I.G. USA to come out to the panel, and be even more disappointed by the low crowd turnout, hell, I give props to her for doing the panel anyway. Throughout the panel, they showed previews of the new summer shows like Usagi Drop, and Blood-C, both which looked really good at the time. There was a short Q&A session afterwards. One of the questions asked is if there would be more Ghost in the Shell, to which Maki replied that she was not at liberty to tell. Suspicious, no?
Last Exile Fam: The Silver Wing Wold Premier
Later in the day, I got myself in a huuuuuuge line for the new Last Exile showing. I was pretty excited to be among the first people (in the world) to see the new Last Exile. The staff was being extremely uptight about it, however. No cameras, no photography of any kind. If someone was caught, they’d be arrested and banned from Anime Expo. Geez. Not only that, they would stop the screening for everyone. So everyone is gonna be a good little boy and girl and follow the rules. I didn’t manage to get a very good seat, as the closest I could get to the screen was a seat at the far left of the room. No matter, really. Better than being part of the sad sap of souls, trapped in the back of the screening room. Since the first episode is subbed, I had the hardest time trying to look over these two fat hungry hungry hippos, both taking up two seats, trying my best to look at the subtitles. Nevertheless, the episode was very exciting to see. The artwork and animation in the new Last Exile is beautifully done. I recommend everyone check it out this coming October. Although the new Last Exile is a new story with new characters, I recommend seeing the first Last Exile beforehand, as the new one does contain returning characters. The full episode of the new Last Exile was pretty damn good, though I can’t say for sure if it’ll surpass the first one. It feels somewhat goofy and less serious than the previous story. Only time will tell how it will turn out, I suppose.
High School of the Dead Screening
Stopped by a couple minutes and left afterwards. I didn’t like that show very much.
I started day 3 with a clean start. Despite missing a few panels I desperately wanted to go to, but ultimately was defeated by my own fatigue, I wasn’t gonna let it get me down. I walked around the convention hall around some more. Taking pictures of cosplayers or booths that caught my interest. Then I blanked out. Next thing I knew I had bought an Edward Elric figure. I’m not sure why or how. But I did. Something in the back of my mind told me I had to get it, or I would regret it for the rest of my life. I’m not sure if I made the right decision here, but the deed is done, and there’s no going back.
Unexpectedly, I came across a booth that held autograph signings for different voice actors. One of them was Steve freakin’ Blum. Hell yes. Got in line a full hour before he was to show up, a decision I would later thank myself for, as the line immediately began to build up right behind me after I got in line. Finally, the man of the hour arrives and everyone screams in jubilation. Steve walks in the expo hall with a glowing light surrounding him and sits upon his throne, where he shall sign his name upon his various works. While I was in line, Vic Mignogna pops by to say hell to Steve, then darts off to his own autograph session. A little while later, you could hear a loud roar for Vic, as the many people who were waiting in line for him, were thrown into ecstasy upon his arrival. Suddenly, everyone in line became super awesome and in a way to counter the Vic fanboys and fangirls, we all started chanting ‘STEVE! STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!’. It was beautiful. When it comes to my turn in line, I’m a nervous wreck. I stuttered out asking him for an autograph for a Durarara DVD, and started telling him how much of an awesome voice actor he is. I just said the most over generic statements to one of my favorite voice actors, but I didn’t care. I just shook Steve fuckin’ Blum’s hand. I asked for a final request from him where I could get a picture with him, sadly my camera’s batteries failed on me at the last minute. A little pissed, but being the nice guy Steve Blum is, he said he’d stick around later in the expo if I still wanted a picture with him. What a nice guy.
I brought Xeriko along for this panel, despite him not having seen the series. I thought it might be a fun little experience to see the voice actors and actresses of Durarara. While we’re in line, the line snaked back and forth, and while one part of the line moved one way, the people in line were so pumped for the panel that they fist bumped the people who were passing them by. Now that’s respect. Once inside, there’s a whole wave of fangirls screaming at a louder pitch than being right next to a jet’s engine. It’s the most piercing sound you could ever hear upon. I swear I almost went deaf a couple times throughout the panel and I bet Xer did too. Once the panel started, they brought out some of the voice actors from the show, some of the ones I recognize. Darrel Guilbeau (voice of Mikado), Bryce Papenbrook (voice of Kida), Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Shinra), Steve fuckin’ Blum (voice of Kyohei), Brian Beacock (voice of Walker), Mela Lee (voice of Erika), Patrick Seitz (voice of Simon) and Crispin Freeman (voice of Shizuo). Johnny Yong Bosch couldn’t be there because he was too busy being a power ranger and fighting evildoers. The whole panel was just a joy to watch. Every one of the voice actors acted so silly and were just having a great time being there. They showed some bloopers from the show and favorited clips as voted by the fans. Thankfully, someone recorded the whole thing and uploaded it to youtube here.
Later that day, Xer and I checked out a few episode from Black Lagoon. Pretty neat show, by the way. And afterwards, I snuck into the expo one last time that day to get a couple more autographs from the voice actors who stuck around.
This day can be counted as a cooldown day. The day where there’s barely any panels and everyone takes this day to collect themselves and get any last figurines they want to buy or get any last few photos of cosplayers who were still roaming the expo hall. I managed to snag a couple of posters from the Bandai booth, a few postcards to add on to my collection. I brought Xer to see the screening of ‘The girl who leapt through time’ about a quarter into the movie. I enjoyed the movie the first time I saw it, but seeing it with a whole bunch of other people is whole new experience. The jokes just seem funnier and the drama seems much more shocking.
Later we decided to check out the Karaoke room. Bad mistake. No one, and I repeat, no one at AX knows how to sing. Think of every anime song you like, and they will butcher it with their off-key voices and- ok I’ll stop being mean. Right away we left to check out a room where a couple of guys are doing improv on stage called Culture Clash. Some of their skits were pretty neat and funny, but most of them come from anime references. Apparently, they were strong haters of Vic Mignogna as they relentlessly joked on what a douchebag he is. Not sure what the hate is about, but alright…. I’ll stay a little longer. Now clearly, a couple of the people who were doing improv aren’t heavy on anime and you could tell they were trying to do their own thing. It gets kinda awkward. Lastly, we went to a screening of Black Blood Brothers and that show ……is kinda weird. I can’t say it’s really up my ally, but the people who attended it seemed to really enjoy it. Afterwards, we parted ways and I was on my way home.
Anime Expo was pretty damn fun. Like last year, I don’t feel completely fulfilled. I keep regretting not bringing along a video camera or a laptop,
or not cosplaying. There’s so much to do there, but so little time to do it all. I’ll be sure to come around again for AX next year and hope to do so much more.