Anime Expo 2017: Wrap

I don’t think I caught something, but I might have, at Anime Expo 2017. The lack of sleep was definitely the contributing factor. I feel OK enough to work but some part(s) of my body is not operating at optimal conditions, I guess.

Just to put it into the history books, AX this year was pretty epic mainly because of AWM. Outside of these Cool Japan-sponsored music festivals, AX was its usual self. It’s huge and it’s got a ton of programming, but it’s also got a ton of people and pretty disappointing line management practices which means if you want to see 10 things in 3 days, you might get to see 3-6 of those things. I wanted to see maybe 8 things, I got to see like, 4? And I have a Premiere badge.

AX 2017 is also the very first con that I doubled into another anime con, which is the concurring Bushiroad Festival (Vanguard & Buddyfight Fest) that was taking place at the Long Beach convention center (along with a NJPW event, FWIW). I’ve never been to Long Beach so this was as good of a time to do so as any. The two-day event overlapped with AX, so I missed out on what I would have wanted to see on Sunday, which is largely the Violet Evergarden world premiere.

Anyways. I landed just after midnight on the 30th, which meant I slept not a whole lot as I went early to pick up my concert tickets, not knowing what the ticket pickup situation would be. Things sounded “good” on Thursday though and I got mine without any notable hiccups. Rest of the day was spent busy taking care of couriering, the offkai, some random callbook things, the live, and the offkai. That was more or less 2:30 am on the first of July.

Outside of AWM, most of the AWM guests did not do much. Some signed autographs on Saturday, like Angela, Minorin, WUG, and Konomin. I struck out against all four, despite camping at 3am. That also screwed me up because I was supposed to do a press thing, and due to aforementioned camping I was definitely feeling pretty terrible for most of Saturday. So yeah, Saturday AM autograph line? People rampantly cut and looped it by cutting ahead, so there it goes my episode of major AX screw. I got helped out when a friend was able to get an Avex booth autograph ticket from the dealer’s room to help out. I have premiere but due to the autograph line madness I didn’t get my 2nd ticket until well past 10am, rendering my chances to zero of getting anything in limited quantities from the exhibition hall.

Long story short, there were a lot of WUG chances on Saturday, with the finale of having them run into me in the elevator? Anyways, they were around a lot in the JW and lots of people saw them.

AX for me ended basically on Saturday night after AWM JSL. I wrote up those two shows separately. Sunday was fun watching Bang Dream, and Rummy Labyrinth, at Long Beach. There was also a stage show where the two Vanguard actresses plus Aina Aiba, and three of the English voice actors, did various things. It’s definitely pretty rare to see that sort of a collaboration. There was this telephone game they played, where they’re suppose to see a line from Vanguard, and pass the line down. It started out in English, turned into something incomprehensible, then something like Korean (where Aimin was sitting). Clearly they failed.

Bang Dream first live in USA was good. I felt this was much better and more enjoyable than watching them at Anisama last year. The crowd was very excited and while the crowd was not very large, it drew more than I expected. I think a lot of AX goers went. There were call books, which was good, and 1.5′ UOs, which was probably not the best ideas but whatever.

Sunday afternoon/evening after Bushifest I went on “fat tour” and had a blast. I also went to the wrong afterparty it seems, but it was well as my aging body probably can’t handle the crazy happenings.

On Monday I went to see Hocchan at the Miss Monochrome software panel, call Showmaker, which will be on Steam and get EN/JP distribution simultaneously. It was fun to see her again and field some wild folks’ questions. I also caught Asian Kung-fu Generations on their second show at the Novo. AKG is real good, smooth and expert-ish. It’s what you’d expect of a top tier Japanese rock band, and I mean both in the good and bad. I know only a couple songs they played ahead of time so this was mostly a learning experience. I think they play to their fans mostly, so it works well in that way. It reminded me the one time I went to see Spitz and was falling asleep half way, as I was doing the same at this show, all my fault, too.

I think I went to Lumica’s booth after their big pow-wow and rolled some Million Live before heading into the Hocchan panel line, hm. I love me some Million Live! Especially when Million Live Theater Days went live the night before AX (Day -1) and it interrupted my packing…

I ended Monday playing WS cards at a Friend’s room. It was pretty chill. I guess Bushifest accomplished its job of getting more people I know into Weiss.

Tuesday was more or less just whatever that’s left to do. I briefly checked out the charity auction and there were some nice items. Nothing sold for a whole lot, sketches went for a couple grands, tops. The AWM guests didn’t leave much of a mark so most of the things were from animators and producers, and most notably the Neptunia artist person had some sketches. I swung by the Entertainment hall for the first time and tried the Showmaker VR (Vive) and finding out that Shadowverse had a booth and was giving away cards for people who did their Take Two demos?? Too bad they ran out of cards by then.

I got to do sidequests and visit the Grove Sunday afternoon, which is a touristy shopping area in LA. Why? I guess because there’s not much going on other than trying to recreate WUG selfies. Anyways, I got back before checkout and we were able to do a final dinner at Fogo, and double final dinner at Yard House (which makes only the second time I’ve visited it this year). It was pretty chill, again.

So, what about AX? I think if I simplified and kept it focused on the things I wanted to do, AX would be great. The problem is a lot of the things I want to do are rather time intensive and difficult, not to mention not always guaranteed. Like, if I knew something wasn’t going to work out ahead of time, I wouldn’t even have tried. This makes AX still the worst anime convention, by metrics of “getting what is being advertised,” in the US and Canada. However there are enough things that are not unobtainable, so to speak, and of quality, to save AX every time. It’s worth going to, at least once. I hate how AX still can’t get its act together to prevent the mass cutting and line problems at Autographing. I hate how the con center is still huge and pain in the rear to get from one side to the other. I rather dislike how it communicated the way ticket pickup was done, although that didn’t harm anything really at the end.

This AX reflects how my new orientation on fandom doesn’t quite hash with the way the con is run. I have fewer autograph items than ever this year, no sketches, and really no time to do anything on Saturday due to aforementioned time sinks. I couldn’t even make it to the one press thing I wanted to do, but that’s more a scheduling problem and aforementioned autograph problem complicating my life. It feels more and more like AX is just a giant distraction from the “really good” stuff, such as all the fan activities surrounding AWM, and AWM itself.

To that degree, AWM was great, thanks AX for making it possible. Thanks Cool Japan folks for making it possible. Thank you for sending IDOLM@STER and WUG to the lives. Thank you for Angela, again, who deserves to have a proper show at AX after the dumb screw by AX 2 years ago. Thank you for coming again Minorin, for similar bad treatment 10 years ago.

But everyone knows why AX is worth going to. AWM knows why AX is worth producing shows at. It’s because of all the attendees! We can’t have a party with all the party people at the party, so a big thank you to those who came, and those who helped out. I want to think that the afterparty we produced was also a first of its kind in America, but I have no way to know. Either way, it was nice things worked out in the end. I guess in this case that can be said of this whole AX experience.

PS. Food-wise, I finally got to hit up some name places, like Lunesia and Ham Ji Park. Swung by Homibing. It was all very delicious and reasonably priced. Big thanks for locals who can drive us around! Lunesia is especially noteworthy as part of the dim sum grail wars fighting over the peak picky Chinese population in SoCal, one of the more fusion-y entrants who provide the usual core values but enough of a twist to remain noteworthy. A more AX-related find is how the Fogo down the street has happy hours on weekdays, from 5-6:30, at the bar. Four dollar apps and four dollar beers are pretty okay for DTLA, especially when their apps are rather good!

PPS. Best AX pic comes from Matsuzaki Rei’s phone.

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