Welp, I’m home. And it’s like, TL;DR let’s-just-hit-mark-all-as-read.
I actually had internet for some parts of my stay at the JW Marriott, so I wrote stuff for those days. Most of the online work I had to do was done via the phone, and it’s really hard to TL;DR on the phone. But it’s really easy to go through my tweets on the phone. Imagine that.
I think there are two sides to this year’s AX. The bottom line was, regardless of which sides, I had a ton of fun this year. While things never worked out perfectly, I’m mostly okay with the downsides this year. After all, I can’t really blame these things on anyone else but myself.
- Losing my Fractale BDs. I bought Yamakan’s infamous house-selling bet at AX because at the con you get a nendo petit to go with it. It’s a great deal despite the at-con markup. Somehow I think I misplaced it, probably at the Yuki Kajiura concert…although I distinctly remember bringing it back to the hotel. Anyway it went MIA on Day 4 when I was packing to go home, so maybe it was all just false alarm and Nessa traveled with one of my roommate’s luggage instead. Personally? I don’t actually care about the nendo itself; I cared more about the $60 that I might have wasted.
- Messing up on the autographed goods. I simply didn’t spend enough time thinking about what I should get signed. Bringing Rakkyo box to get autographed by Kondo and Aoki is the 100% correct move. Getting Kajiura’s scratch on the same box? 100% correct. Getting the rest of the FJ girls? 75% correct. What I should’ve brought was, say, Mai-Hime OST2. That is one rocking set. The other blunder was not bringing my Nadesico Blu-ray box for Sato, but that wasn’t a big deal in retrospect because I got him to doodle some goofy stuff instead.
- I spent way too much time doing autograph sessions. It wasn’t the most effective use of my time and I wish I could’ve gone to at least a couple panels from SDS or Alex L., at least for the academic ones. I was happy that I got to at least one Vocaloid panel and the way they split things up this year is a smart way to make sure someone can always at least go to one of their programs. But anyway, scheduling is always a pain and even a “slow” year like this year is no exception. The way press being handled doesn’t help either, with all the guests panels squished into day 1.
As for the “two sides” comment, one track can be best summarized by Akira’s hilarious experience with Bamboo, Tami & The Mangagamers crew. Read that and I can probably corroborate with half the stuff he detailed in there.
The other side is really just the press-y, public side of things. This year I got more press-y than ever, and I’m actually happy to say that I enjoyed talking to everyone who I had to sign up with to talk to. I wish I had more time to talk to the Viki folks because that’s well within my roundhouse, power wheel, areas of expertise, whatever. They do a lot more than that too but it’s all so exciting.
The press panels stuff is, well, straightforward but I think it’s not a very good way to get press to come, ironically. For one, Friday is just way too packed; I wish I can spend all day at the Westin (about a 5-min car ride away) and skip most of the programming at the con, picking questions at people like Sato, FictionJunction, whatever. But no. I wish I can clone myself. Thursday was okay but it also goes to say that this year’s guests are not all that big of a draw outside of FictionJunction. Basically, if you stack guests this way, the press will have a hard time making to those panels and it would be pretty sparse.
And I guess that’s not an entirely correct estimate that there’s little draw for the guests. I think they were definitely the biggest draw during the Charity Auction. Despite my meager effort to stay away from the high rollers, I ended up spending a few good hours there and even bought something! And man am I happy with my single purchase. Enough to offset the fact that I wish they would keep donating to the 3/11 relief organizations.
The Kajiura goods tend to get a minimum selling price of $200, and I saw as high as $800 or so. AX=HIGH ROLLAZ
The full color shikishi-sized drawing of Chihaya from character designer Hamada went for $2000; what’s sad is Morio Asaka’s copic single-color sketch of young Taichi flipping them cards went only for $850–not so much because it’s cheap ($850 is an okay price as far as these things go, even if it is on the low end), but it’s one of the best drawing at a con charity auction that I’ve seen, from an art perspective. It’s full of life and motion and it is very expressive and evocative. It just doesn’t feel like people appreciate that stuff. And that’s not to mention he’s the director of the freaking thing. Ah well.
GoFA donated a couple Range Murata sketches and a poster from Shangrila with a sketch on it, among other things. That poster went for $1400. Kei Toume’s single-print mats went between $125 to $300. Well, the rest is business as usual I suppose, but Range Murata sells @ AX.
There were also some items that went under the radar. The all-cast autographed Chihayafuru poster went for about $300, which is okay; but the script book went for only about $175. That one is a little more “authentic” (you can tell it’s been through some use, as opposed to mine which is spanking new) and has also the full cast autograph. The auctioneer just did not specifically mention it (as it wasn’t described as so). Well, I know how Kayanon signs her stuff now lol.
LiSA donated a few articles of clothing–two of the skirts she wore during various concerts, and a hairpin. Well, I know at least who won one of them. The two skirts were interesting in that the second skirt went for $100 less than the first one; there were only two creepy otaku with money at the room at the time. The third creepy otaku didn’t get the memo on how the Charity Auction changed to Hall G instead of where it was last year, and the fourth one had to work on Monday. I suppose I could’ve dialed in to kimo-ota #5 and bid in proxy, but it all happened so fast.
Ryo Horikawa also donated a couple things; sunglasses and a hat. I think the sunglasses would be a cool thing (“Hey I have Vegeta’s sunglasses”) and both went for a healthy sum, of sorts.
Well, I did other things than to gawk at people rolling their high dices. I did go to a few panels–Madhouse, Sato, Aoki/Kondo. I didn’t make it to Lisa’s or FJ’s, oddly enough. In retrospect I probably should have gone to Koyama’s panel instead of Madhouse, and hit up Production IG’s panel so I can rag on Sato about the end to Mouretsu Pirates. I mean, I did watch it, it was fun and satisfying, but also very different. In fact I kind of wish if it had more of a twist like the last episode of Nadesico. It’s unusual but the way it ended seems a little flat.
I didn’t get around to ask the Rinne no Lagarange question. It’s times like this I wish I didn’t ditch those day-1 press panels that I couldn’t really go anyway.
For some reason I went to a Cardfight Vanguard panel. I think there was an anime-oriented panel where Aimi and Izumi Kitta attended, but I didn’t go. I barely saw them at all at the con. Too bad. The Vanguard panel I went to was for the two illustrators, Midori Foo and Yosuke Adachi, fielded questions and I learned about how the game works, kinda. Seems like an easy-to-play, easy-to-spend-all-your-money-and-collect sort of thing. Also, Dr. K is not Dr. O?
Mangagamer’s panel was a lot of fun but short. Tamiyasu was friendly and interesting but you can read about that over at Akira’s. The giveaways are slim but the usual stuff was there. Also, Boob Wars what.
One thing that was contrary to expectation was how some of these creator-type panels packed out. Madhouse’s Sunday AM panel had a pretty good-sized room and it packed out about 75%. Fate/Zero dudes’ panels later that day had standing room only (although it was in an even smaller room). Mirai no Neiro had a good turnout, at least for the producers panel that I attended, maybe a fifth of Petree (which is huge-large). I’m sure FJ, LiSA and the others had good turn-out too, but I don’t think we would need to worry about Steve Blum.
Speaking of which, the Fate/Zero directors panel was a lot of fun. Lots of the boys heckling and there was a good joke on Fate/stay night and what not. Well, Kondo is there and there is only so much anyone could say; they did say they are looking into it I guess. I actually asked Aoki about Hourou Musuko OP. He said to match the music, they took out the people so the OP is not as happy as it would be when presented with a human-filled school. The last cut in the OP when the two flower pedals fly into the room symbolizes the two main characters.
The X-Games wasn’t a big impact overall to AX. Or rather, the impact is subtle. Lots of things get changed around as a result. No Nokia Theater means FictionJunction concert is kind of not as good as it could’ve been, or Lisa and Animetal USA for that matter. Walking to and from the JW Marriott required navigating this strange path across two underground parking facilities in which you emerge from the south hall parking deck. That path is anything but straight. It’s probably a major pain in the ass to deal with behind the scenes, but I think the impact on attendees are pretty minimal.
The attendees generally meshed well. Lots of guys who go to the X-games are just sight-seeing types anyway, so they pose well with the cosplayers in that people took photos and such. There were also a lot of kids, and if you are costumed enough to walk around outside, you are probably OK. There’s some obligatory ESPN article on this, and I wonder if any of the footage made it to ESPN proper LOL.
The vocaloid stuff was pretty cool. They ran three panels and some more, I think; packed out the third part. The first and third panel they did some kind of hologram show, but I didn’t get to see it. I was only at the producers panel. And the producers all seem kind of amusing. Especially Ago-anikiP. DeadballP is pretty pro. Dixie Flatline’s story was pretty touching, if ironic. Kyousuke and odP make an interesting combo. But actually the first dude whose name I forget (he sits on the right) had a nice speech.
After the panel the producers stuck around and signed autographs and chatted with whoever’s sticking around. DeadballP had a bunch of CDs that he sold, and I took one. Walked away with a couple autographs!
Loot. There’s lots to be had. The flip side of spending too much time at the autograph lines is that now I have a bunch of autographs. And while I didn’t get the “grand prize” of autographs (which is hands down Koyama’s calligraphic show), I pretty much got one from all the guests I wanted except Aimi and Kuribayashi. And in those cases I wasn’t too concerned. Getting a sketch from both Asaka and Hamada was really awesome, and hopefully Madhouse will continue to send people this way to promote their shows. I just need to figure out what possessed me to get a sketch of Tomoyo Daidouji and Shinobu Wakamiya. I suppose I could have one-upped myself and gotten the fat version of Shinobu.
Yeah. Click for bigger version? Aoki was putting a little SD Saber on all his board sketches, and Kondo does this strange Shiki face on his. You can’t really see it well in this picture. Madhouse producer Tsunoki actually did something similar with Kaiji but later on did this dog face instead. I also bought some stuff, mainly the useless trinkets NISA tries to unload on you, but Anohana and Occult Academy are worth it. Anime no Chikara yooooo.
Oh yeah, the food trucks! This year it was pretty awesome as I got time to hit the trucks basically every day that they’re out. Day one was some Japanese curry place which is excellent quality and value, and is my favorite of the weekend. I mean, I ordered a full curry thing and it came with fries. The curry was packed separately. The meat option I had was kara-age and it tasted just like the street-style Taiwanese snack stuff. It was so good. I also had a croquette on top of that. Day two was the takoyaki cart, which delivers on taste and variety even if it’s super gooey. The wait was a little long. Day three was this Italian truck which took like 30+ minutes for our food but my grilled cheese with ham and tomatoes came out really well. Day four was “Slap yo mama” and while the shrimp po-boy was good on flavor and it smelled damn good, I liked the hush puppies more. I think NYC still has LA beat in terms of that kind of thing. And only if Kogi had shorter lines…
And for the first time, we had five guys that went to In-n-out.
Shoutouts to all the west coast (and other) homeboys in no order: MG peoples, the marketing peeps I talked to, @momotato, @1moy, @cowboybibimbap, @kransomwastaken, @sdsamshel, @gendomike, @monsieurlamoe, @calaggie, @akirascuro, @alexleavitt, @tentontim, kent, @zzeroparticle (Godly music man who organize chaos dinner party deserves super extra prop), @s_words (AX press dept hayooooo), @jdcseiken (and group), @_eternal, @trackingrice (doing God’s work), @kevo31415, kylaran, @shinmaru, @icystorm, marina, other #sccsav folks that I don’t remember off hand, Anthony/Shinji, @amoirsp, @toastcrust, all the Ps (and Kyosuke), @MangaCast, Felipe, James, and everyone else I forget because I most definitely did.
PS. Is AX2012 the Heaven. Or Hell. Con?