Anime Expo 2014: Wrap

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was great that I had a blast at AX, but this is probably the worst AX that I’ve attended, and probably the worst AX in a long while. And given AX’s reputation for the screw, that says a lot.

Anime Expo is the kind of con where there are many different parts. It probably isn’t fair to say a particular year’s AX is good or bad, but we do it anyway–we do it for every con, and there shouldn’t be an exception for possibly the biggest Anime Expo ever. It hit over 80k in attendees as far as we know; registration shut down on Saturday because the crowds were approaching Comiket levels. So maybe it’s better to drill down to the problem spots and what AX did do right.

On that note, it’s worth mentioning that the registration system went down for hours on Thursday. Some people waited in line for over 5-6 hours to get their pre-reg badge on Thursday. I waited about 2.5 hours for mine in the media/industry booth. Premiere fans were able to go through the line at a normal rate because of their badges are not printed and they were able to manually take down their names and number. It was horrible if you were anyone else doing a prereg.

These problem are just the beginning. As per AX style every panel ran late, and because Angela’s appearance at the K premiere was at LP1 (the largest panel room), they took another additional 30-40 minutes of setup and rehearsal time. The whole thing started about an hour late, which means it ate into FUNimation’s main panel. The result was not just the cascading delays, but they cut the Angela concert bit down to 2 songs from 3+encore.

Speaking of which, I watched all of Knights of Sidonia on the trip, so I was a little hype on the OP song from the show. Hearing it being played during the rehearsal while waiting outside the panel made the eventual disappointment just that much more disappointing.

What else? The con autograph area moved to the game hall, which means every day it opens up to a mass crowd running towards the back of the hall so they can line up for autograph tickets. (To be fair, they addressed this later on in the weekend to remove the stampede element.) That made lining up for the actual autographs a little more doable but everyone was in a line for an hour+ every morning other than day 1. A winning autograph voucher from panels become God-like, which is good, but even priority ticket guys have to fight to get a high rank on the priority. That got pretty serious when the seiyuu combo Yuuznee and Amisuke both had just one joint autograph session. That session went through 40-ish autograph ticket winners, and about 29 ticket priority people. Given the panel had maybe 500+ attendees, it required AX autographs to hurry the guys up, which is something they didn’t do early on.

Missing out and having the autograph line cut in front of you (thankfully I made the cut by 2 spots) is not the worst thing; having a stampede and hurt people probably is worse, and maybe that is just exactly the thing that shouldn’t happen at a con like this. Stampedes are only really dangerous at big cons, so the biggest anime con probably can host a pretty wild stampede.

Press-wise, I think they’re doing okay–that still ranks this AX as the worst con, press-wise, that I attended this year. I signed up for a bunch of interviews, and got none in the end. Two were scheduled; one turned into a press panel and the other turned into someone else we didn’t sign up for. Poopy. I was suppose to meet up with another editor in the area but he was sick the whole week. There was one press panel I wanted to attend but couldn’t because of timing, that’s par for the course. The other press panel I wanted to attend moved to a different time slot (because 10 minutes past the original time the guests were no shows). All of this is to say that things for press scheduling changes all the time and I understand that, but two of my three changes were same-day and that just suck.

Thankfully I think that’s the bulk of the AX-style failures I experienced. The rest are mostly my own fault. For example, I was waiting for a PR in my hotel room on day 1 in the morning, that caused me to miss the first hours of the dealers room. Turns out, I wouldn’t have had time to visit the dealer’s room in any meaningful capacity until Saturday, which means I missed out on all the sales items–all the Aniplex exclusives, the autograph tickets (there were guaranteed autographs there OMG), how Kill la Kill volume 1 sold out in a few hours, the K premiere shirt, the Aoi Eir photo ops, what have you. Saturday is also a terrible day to browse the exhibit hall because of the crowding was at ‘ket levels. As a result I didn’t even get to drop by a few other venders until Sunday (like Kyoto Animation) or at all (like Vertical).

KA KA

I think that’s kind of an excuse too, if I didn’t spend half my time loitering at Sekai Project’s booth watching Luna drawing? Also I was just hanging out with people I know. I did run around a bit on Thursday to catch Aoi Eir at CR, and said hello to the one CR rep who loves Wake Up Girls (WUG-CHAN SAIKOU!!), plus dropping by the two idol events at CR and Daisuki. There was an idol meetup and the guy (Henry?) tried to do this LL vs. IM@S thing and well.

Love Live was definitely a thing. They set up a couple hacked iOS demo things so you can play expert level songs for stickers. I wanted one badly but can’t afford the 10-minute wait for it.

I have a bunch of pictures here too. And some more nonsense.

There was a Nagiasu cosplayer or two, but we also spotted a Nanami cosplayer. That’s pretty amazing. What’s even more amazing is the Gatchaman Crowds fluff ice promo. Hats off to you, Sentai.

Gatchaman CROWDS the ice cream truck

I was in line for most of Thursday, which is really the only sensible day to pick up some free fluff ice, so I didn’t get it. :( And they did have themed style ice based on the characters. So jelly.

Sign of nice ice

Beansprouts

The IM@S panel that Chuck run is now on Youtube. This is just one version and there’ll be a better one up sooner or later. He’s suppose to upload the slides too. The panel ran for about 52 minutes, about 35 minutes of it is just going through the stuff. The call stuff is nice though, but it’s hard to understand until you do it once. I guess that means if I ever want to do 101-level calls, I should do it raw once and do it guided after towards the end.

What else? I spent a lot of the time with the P-crew. Including dinner at the Yardhouse on day 2 and took some funny pictures of one of us cosplaying.

Uh. Yeah. There’s also day 4 post-con karaoke. It was kinda epic. This shows 2 rooms with 6 people but we upgraded to 2 rooms with 15 people.

So you can bounce back and forth. That’s really a great set up because with that many people you want to be able to double barrel.

The feeling of doing Snohale one moment then Overmaster the next? I forgot which IM@S song I ran into. Seeing @akirascuro doing Danketsu was a riot.

Food-wise, this year it was interesting. One of our roommates rented a car (because he’s staying until Evo) so we got In’n’Out first thing we landed, and because we karaoke all the way till departure time, we had In’n’Out as the last meal in California. Food Truck-wise, we hit up these guys:

It was the weebest list but it actually hid true power levels. There were a couple more pages to that menu, LOL. I ate their pesto-cheese-chicken on bed of fries thing, was actually quite good.

There was also a place that sold Banh Mi which was pretty okay. Not for the price but you know how it goes.

I missed out on the cart that sold fried waffles, heard it was amazing.

Bottega Louie was still pretty good. I’d come again even if there wasn’t any veal, like this time.

Anyway, more notes back on AX.

Yamakan @ AX was basically a WUG promo. Hiro was there, we said hello. He gave us stickers. I did realize that this is Yamakan’s West Coast debut, perhaps years too late. Those who stuck around are true fans, ironic or not. Again, aforementioned Nanamin cosplayer, props. I was also to spot a Yuruyuri cosplayer there which I think I did (Kyouko).

Kill la Kill event was epic. Not only we did the Sushio chant all the freaking time (it was great), Amisuke and Yuzunee cosplayed their characters. Amisuke belly button! Amazing. I think they’re just doing the anime con cosplay thing, which is great! The radio-controlled glowsticks worked pretty well, actually. Once they “lock on” it worked as far as I know flawless. The sticks themselves are kind of lame compared to KBs but it works as advertised, a wimpier version of a first-gen KB. That said, Aoi Eir delivered the goods. I forgot it’s easy to go tard on her songs, especially since I know more than just a couple.

There was an Eir fan who sat behind me, who came from Japan, who also went tard and did calls hard too. That’s the way to do it!

Speaking of going tard, Sushio…did silly things on twitter and Imaishi was like what’s wrong man. Hilarious. Also, he was showing his belly at random intervals during his panel, so I hear. Like the KLK event.

Nakashima really looks like an old timer who worked for a weekly manga pub for a long time. Carved out of stone or something.

The day after the KLK event I looked on twitter and see a tweet of EJ with Amisuke and Yuzu-nee. Doing things right, I might add. Just be careful next time you go to Japan bro.

Eir…I didn’t interact with much. Not even at the autographs due to aforementioned hassles. But she seemed pretty cool. Here’s the team shot at the panel.

Butch looks more well-traveled. I didn’t attend his programs but I ran into him in the halls while he’s walking around with Nitroplus president.

Inafune is a pretty cool dude, and he looks actually like a game developer. Can also draw rockman like a boss. Also I didn’t attend his programs, just saw him in the hallways after his panel.

Mikatan is as you would expect. So in case you didn’t know, Mikatan is now working for Native, which is kind of a GSC front for their classy kin-18 sculpts. The head guy and Mikatan attended Francis’s naughty figure panel. I attended it once and it was kind of boring; this time it was slightly less so only because the Q&A is informative. I mean, I didn’t know much about Native besides they did Japan-only exclusive until recently, and they have kickass boxes. They gave away 3 of their figures at the panel by playing janken. Man, that Oyari one is tops.

Luna Tsukigami… He’s a cool artist-y guy. Nice dude. Loves Miki and it shows. At one point he did a quick sketch Miki and a quick sketch Haruka back to back, and you can tell because the Miki really captures that Miki feeling. Sure the Haruka was very cute too, but that Miki sure was erokawa. I actually gave him a parting gift during the last autograph session, only because I have this clear mini poster of Miki, Iori and Yayoi handy.

That’s partly because I bought a bunch of crap from Animate’s booth, which was right next to Sekai Project’s. They carried some IM@S stuff and I bought those. They carried a WUG poster even and I bought that too. I mean, seriously, how can I not. But I have these useless stuff now. What am I going to do with 3 CG scrolls? Resell it next winter when Derem@s anime is on? Wear it on my neck at the Idol Gathering (yes)?

On that note, I did get lucky with a Luna sketch of Mocho. Mocho! I mean, why not right? If I did it the “correct” way I probably would have asked for a sketch of Makoto with some AKG headset. I don’t know how good Luna is at drawing as far as overall skills, but he can sure do coolcute and passion. Man, I wanted one of these.

The other cool drawing I got was from filling out a survey at KyoAni booth. They gave out little cut-out, hand-painted cells featuring the logo for Free. Real neat if you are an aniota. Wasn’t able to find that one tumblr/twitter person who interned there but oh well.

Oh, I guess I got some autographed boards too. Nobody really drew anything, but Minami-shacho did a Nyan (Space Dandy) on my board. Got Sushio to put his prints on my IM@S volume 5. Got boards from Yuzunee and Amisuke.  And that means I got everything I really wanted out of AX. A weak AX here saves the day for me. Sushio’s style is more along the line of an auteur animator and his Mako was tops. Not sure about his other characters.

I missed out on the Fakku panels, which is too bad, because are they even going legit? They’re suppose to, right? What happened with that?

Project H’s festival, I can assure you, sucked badly. Nothing special but they raffled off a bunch of really great shikishis.

Mirai ni Neiro was pretty okay. I missed out on the first panel sadly, because we decided to take it easy on Sunday morning and catch up on Dealer Room stuff we missed all weekend. 9:30AM is rough. I went to the second panel but just to do calls for the beginning. Miku sings La Bamba this time, which was very cute as usual.

Speaking of calls, Zalas scored me a Blade Bag, and it is actually pretty nice. Just need a MAXII Orange to go with. Thanks man!

What else is there to talk about? I guess the daily sundry stuff? Like how I didn’t set foot in Starbucks once this AX? And how the LACC rid of the Starbucks and now have some other franchise in there? Or how we went to the Yard House too many times? At least we got to sit close to each other. Yum Cha panel best panel. Chilling in Chrlg’s room after midnight was the chillest. A shoutout to room Kevo before terribad hour started.

Have some obligatory loot shot. I bought a $15 cardboard box. I guess after paying for a $150 one this is nothing to lose sleep over with. Suck less next year, Anime Expo.

LOOT

 


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