If there’s a theme to this year’s AX, it’s that things are just going to do and run the way they always have. But people change. Our perceptions, our expectations, and what makes us happy, all can change. Not that is a problem, but the convention exercise is ever the subjective introspection that brings out the best or worst in all of us.
Also, there was a tank.
That lead in could sound serious, and it is, but my time at AX is basically the opposite of that. It was simply too busy to be serious. I didn’t post on the blog over the weekend despite having internet at the hotel, and the hotel being an easy walk from the con, because I was too busy just resting/sleeping when I get back to the room. And despite meeting Hiroko and Jayson who also covered the con, as fellow Jtor/Dtoid people, I still was busy as hell. Like, even when there are few guests that I really grabbed my attention this year, I still spent too much time in autograph lines, more so than I’d like.
Well, it wasn’t really so bad–once you remove Sasaki’s session on Sunday in where I wasted like 2 hours for nothing since he cancelled and the staff didn’t know until 20 minutes into his supposed start time. It took me about 30 minutes to get a sketch from Yuasa (after waiting for half an hour the day before, only to leave before I can get to it). NISA’s paid sessions made getting Okada and Ito’s signs easy. The new ticket system is kind of hit and miss, but it’s mostly a hit, especially for premiere members and other people who can get to the exhibit hall early.
On another personal note, this AX is an exercise of loss. I can’t be this content as a guy who lost about $300 in camera equipment. Along with it was a bunch of photos, including all my opening ceremony snaps. It’s gotten to the point where it’s really easy to look at the bright side: I only lost half a day’s worth of photos, or that for the rest of the weekend I didn’t have to worry about taking pictures so much. Still sucks, but don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll take that as a hint to upgrade that aging NEX-5. What I did do was shoot using someone else’s camera. A test drive of a NEX-7, let’s just say.
The Exhibit Hall MVP had to be GSC. Not only they did brisk business with their usual lineup of toys, they carried three huke doujinshi*, and a whole list of ufotable event goods from their ACE and Machi Asobi events. And of course the Little Witch Academia goods. It was kind of weird to see Machi Asobi pamphlets from a few years ago but that gives you a feel as to how it was. I scored this very odd towel–more like a hoodie, among other things. And it made a nice piece of impromptu rave gear.
Speaking of which, woop RAM RIDER.
Carat/Aya Ikeda had a booth. Starmarie had a booth. Porno Graffiti had a booth (which I fail at finding).
Animate and Tora no Ana both made a showing at the dealer’s room this year, but with limited things. There was a Pony Canyon booth. I don’t know. There are a lot of random little guys in there.
There was a iM@S gathering at the Bamco booth that I missed out on because I was doing a press thing? Oh well.
This is also the first AX that I attended where I opted to not go to Meet the Guests, as opposed to last year where there just wasn’t one. Not sure if I made the right move here, but it was probably the better move than what I did on Sunday morning. $80 is a tough pill to swallow so when a small technical hiccup made it difficult to order the ticket, I decided to not go.
The most remarkable at-con event was probably the Sentai Filmworks stuff. Aniplex has a nice line up of panels, Funimation has a nice line up of industry-fan panels. You can bayoab them. There was the usual candidates like Daisuki and AnimeSols. I spotted Quarkboy but didn’t go up to say hi because we were both in the same line. But none of them topped getting in line for Shinkai autograph while being served free alcohol. That’s just hilarious. Unfortunately that also meant our U21 friends can’t get in, but they’ll get that problem solved in a year or two.
The Charity Auction at AX this year is kind of lame, unless I am missing all the good stuff. I saw a staffer vest with all the autographs sold for only $200. That’s just sad, so sad. The big ticket items were things like the Fate/Zero chalk drawings and such.
The AA is same as usual, although it feels the quality of the artwork has definitely gone up. Much like the crowding in the dealer room and certain hallways in West Hall, the increase in attendees can be felt in a visceral way.
Well, RAM RIDER was his usual glowtastic self. I didn’t see Skirt Disco but eh. I barely saw Starmarie. Carat is fab and actually quite good, and having a “DJ” as the musical inspiration was interesting. I mean, Miku at an idol show? club_horn.wav
Aya Ikeda was like a family friendly, 1001% plastic version of Aya Hirano. Massive props. Also makes me want to watch Precure now.
For me, the MVP guest this year is Kikuchi. You can read his panel report here and it’s dry as chalk, but somehow it feels like being hit by lightning. But he likes Hiromi and that seals the deal for me. Joking aside, the real MVP guest this year is Mari Okada, who delivers basically exactly as you would expect. It was fun hearing about the various silly things she did, it feels like she’s actually just a happy go-lucky sort of person.
The aforementioned Shinkai was as sociably amiable as ever. I think I made an awkward comment about Amazon having a great price, tho he simply asked if I got my now-autographed copy from Amazon, LOL. Considering I already had 3 drinks by then, I could’ve done much worse.
Both huke and Sasaki were pretty bro, who hunkered down and signed a lot of autographs. Sasaki especially did a ton of sketches for hours. Oh well.
Yuasa is boyishly shy. It’s kind of cute, but also he reminds me too much of all my artist bros. It’s sort of amazing that from his derpy drawings such genius can be found within.
Oh, yeah, and there’s Noizi Ito, who feels more like a typical bunkagu shoujo sort of guest. Hopefully she’s used to this kind of dog and pony show by now. I didn’t get to go to her panels but I heard the interpreter botched big time. Actually the same interpreter kind of sucked at Okada’s panel too…
That said, there are still a list of guests that I wish I had time to talk to, like Otsuka from Trigger or the Production IG guys. Maybe I should’ve went to Meet the Guests after all. Plus PORNO PORNO PORNO.
Kazuhiko Inoue is his usual graceful self. Write-up pending. I scored an interview and it should be fun!
As usual a lot of Japanese execs, producers and otherwise “guests” showed up at AX without any fanfare. Well, sasuga AX I guess.
The Vocaloid guests got an autograph session this year. Mirai ni Neiro panel 1 was an incognito vocaloid concert without any of the concert trapping. In retrospect, it made more sense to have the Crypton panel on Day 4 before either vocaloid panels on Day 3… Well, I’m slightly excited about getting the English version of Miku, sounds like Saki Fujita worked really hard!
Barrels. I won something from MG. And I double-dipped on Psychoelectric Girl, I don’t know how but it happened. The Yuu Asakawa photo is from a friend who got it for me at Acen. Man I need to catch up with all the guys who went to Acen.
That $60 wall scroll…is really expensive, but I’m leaning towards the opinion that it’s actually worth the money. The material on the cloth is tops, tho the plastic tube could be better. Compared to the $60 scroll I got from the PA Works event, it’s slightly better in quality (tho also slightly smaller). I’m a little bit tempted to get the OreImo one now :(
Actually, let me just do a shout out now to all the guys I waved at, said hi, shook hands, exchanged names and/or business cards, whatever. Because that was it for AX.
Jougasaki’s weird sushi wraps were probably my favorite. Fried spicy tuna roll is pretty good, although it feels they could’ve fried it more. I got their 3 chiles special and it was nice and spicy; the crab filling played well with it. I also picked up a burger at the Trailer Park truck, their special sauce reminds me of Schnipper’s. Bool’s namesake burrito was rather more … raw? than I expect. Not the ball of Korean-flavored grease that I’m used to from the likes of Korilla. It’s distinctly fresh and crisp, and just happens to have BBQ beef slices in there. The juice got around but it wasn’t juicy from the meat, more from the pickled veggies.
There were food trucks everywhere. Four of them were right outside of South Hall entrance (Food Trucks und Panzer w) and there were 2-3 in the back deck area by West Hall. Including a lobster roll truck on one day, and a few other interesting choices the other days. I forget what. The rest were all across the street in that lot diagonal to the South Hall entrance.
For dinner, well–
Bottega Louie – Thumbs up French-style, American eats. Highly recommend the veal and the portobello fries. I got this seafood pasta thing and it was so-so. The macaroons were really good, although at $2.5 each that makes it kind of a tough sell. Overall I highly recommend place.
Rock N Fish – This was plan B after Porno Graffiti’s show, because Yard House was packed. Got the Hawaiian style ribeye. Was pretty okay, but probably should have gotten the gumbo. The steak at medium rare feels like candy jerky with meaty texture. Pricey and okay but nothing special…and probably about the same as the Yard House for what it’s worth. Nice sweet potatoes fries.
El Rocoto – On the way to the airport, this Gardena eat (right near a Daiso FWIW) is both hearty and delicious. Peruvian stuff doesn’t get a lot better than this, at least on the level one can afford on a weekly basis. I had the equivalent of a paella and it hits the spot. The lomo saltado is probably what you should go to though. The green sauce has a nice kick.
Men-oh – This SoCal ramen chain is solid and as you would expect. Its simple but full-body flavor embodies Tokushima-style in the best of ways, and perhaps makes this a particularly good entry-level ramen. And unlike many other joints where the meat dominated, the pickled sprouts were my favorite add-in. The cheaper but no-less flavorful cuts of pork simply mixes things up in a classy, homely style. The Little Tokyo store is not very spacious but holds enough people.
Some KBBQ place – Nothing really noted, but for AYCE $20/person selection, it’s quite good. In Koreantown. On July 4th. After midnight. Pork Particles. Ayachiiiiiii (BUHIIIII). Also, the weirdest beer glass ever.
Let’s end on this note. There’s this booth at AX every year that sells chibi moe fanart on white t-shirts since forever. I have a Hisui one from my very first AX. This year they’re exploring beer glasses and has one design. I would’ve bought it if there wasn’t a Marisa on it >_> <_<. Yeah yeah I get the ZUN thing.
See you at Otakon?
*By doujinshi they were actually just comiket industry booth-type goods. Illustration books, etc. Volume 2 of Steins;Gate artwork is tops.