Anime Expo 2019: Wrap

I went to AX and had that very special, only-at-AX experience, then I went home. Unusual for this year, I went to AX from Japan, and invariably flew from Tokyo to LA on a plane with JP industry on it. It also meant I had to pack for Japan and LA before I left, meaning I probably omitted a few things in the process that could be useful (like more WUG stuff for repping it).

Also, my body doesn’t really know which jet lag symptom to apply so I just feel generally fatigued now. It did not help I flew back on a redeye from LAX to EWR but at least I had the faux premium economy [booking a premium economy seat on flights that has the hardware but not selling the software] experience, which is something I cannot complain, even as someone who somehow has airline status.

Nor can I really complain about any of my flights this trip, both to LA and just in general between leaving for Fukuoka and coming home. The funny thing was, I wanted to see what flying is like for the JP industry side, but I ended up getting a bump to business so I really was in a strange, strange place that doesn’t give me any stalking options. The business cabin on that UA 787-9 was the older style which proved to be spacious if not very private, but I can’t complain about that. Oddly it probably served the most expensive meal I had all trip until I blew it open at M-Grill.

As usual AX is about eating, so let me get that out of the way first. We went to a Hakata-style yakiniku place one night (Aqours Earthquake night) and it was great, because after the grilling we also had motsunabe. I don’t mind it after eating it twice in Fukuoka. It is my kind of food.

The M-Grill trip was great too because we got a ton of pineapples, plus the meats were great as usual. Again, the MVPs have to be that, the chicken heart, and the ribeye.

I also had the privilege to attend the “dimsum panel” at a Shanghainese place, as well as some home cooking for homesick Chinese expats who were doing the AX thing without going to AX. Giant vat of slow-cooked chicken soup? It felt more China than any con.

Other than the earthquake, which I won’t go into detail here, the other relevant thing was that Yard House lost power that same evening. Great if you just got brews right before, not so much if you haven’t gotten anything. or had to wait until the power comes back to pay. They had to shut the place down and evac because the grills all had to shut down as there was no ventilation.

The rest of AX was kind of usual. I sacrificed a lot of con events to chill. Like Otaquest, FAKKU x Mogra, or the Aobuta movie (which was kind of a CF anyway). It seemed I went out every night. Not a bad thing, I guess.

What’s neat at AX was being able to watch an IM@S nama with other producers. And still, meeting other producers. Like this guy from Japan because he’s working for JList. Or hanging out with the producer I met at Acen.

The rest of the con though? Very AX as usual. In a continuing trend, Anime Expo is increasingly relying purely on industry to bring the content. It used to be that industry and AX will partner, but now it’s fairly naked and open industry shilling by industry rules. I guess there isn’t anything wrong with it per se, but the nature of how these guests attend the con vary a lot without AX standardizing the experience.

For example, big attraction at this con for me are the seiyuu who came to shill things. This meant I missed out Eureka 7 and MHA’s Nazuka Kaori, who I always wanted to see IRL. I also missed out on Kawase Maki, who came here with Cyberconnect2 to shill Zombie Land Saga and Sacred Beasts. And some kind of blockchain art thing, I don’t know. I could have went and rep Saga stuff from the pilgrimage I did just days before! But nope.

The ones I got to see were team Made in Abyss: Tomita Miyu, Ise Mariya, and Izawa Shiori. I also went to the Promised Neverland panel to see the leads there–Morohoshi Sumire, Uchida Maaya, Ise Mariya, and their English dub counterparts along with the producer, director, and line producer? Anyways. It was pretty cool to see Mayayan in the USA, even if she was here just one day.

Oh, of course, missing out on Mamo and Terashi completely was unfortunate. But kind of unavoidable I guess.

It feels like these JP companies go through some great lengths to bring the guests over. How much AX involvement is included I have no idea, but the results were impressive. As usual, AX is as much for the industry as it is for the attendees.

The other weird reality was I missed out on some of the more usual, AX-controlled stuff, like seeing Matsumoto Rica to promote the new Pokemon film, or the usual Trigger lineup (lol Promare). There were other things I wanted to see but can’t, like the Ike concert, the aforementioned Aobuta film, Promare, and Hakubou, the last of the Yamakan’s Tohoku trilogy.

Not having to deal with autograph lines was nice. Like, not caring that Otomo announced more Akira, or whatever new Eva footage was shown, all that stuff that would make a great con event is passed over at AX because AX is such a huge ordeal of multitudes.

I guess I still went to the dealer’s room early every day except Sunday and just wandered around. I didn’t really camp for anything, but I still scalped a Aimi watashikai ticket–likely because of the Aqours counterprogramming.

I was planning to go to Aqours both days but I sold Friday’s ticket to a friend who wouldn’t be going at all otherwise, and stuck with Saturday because it was the only VIP ticket I had. The earthquake made that Friday night live special, but I’m just glad nothing went bad at AX as a result of the big ground shake.

My earthquake experience was less interesting obviously–just riding in the car and looking on Twitter, seeing quake tweets. This is rather Japanese in some ways, but also seeing the initial report online about Earthquakes being about the one from the day before (6.5) and seeing initial reporting of that 7.1 magnitude. It was then 6.9 which was nice, but I am still not sure what magnitude it was.

A friend who was on 18th floor of the Residence Inn got the big shake. Another on the 70th floor of the Intercontinental felt some but it wasn’t bad. And both of them live in Japan, as a matter of calibrating opinions. I guess there’s something to say about LA skyscrapers, especially new ones (the IC was built just a few years ago).

I remember my first AX years, when I would vigorously dash between panel and sign sessions. While this year I didn’t even use 1 shikishi at AX, I still kind of “ironmaned” the thing. Thursday’s bonus Premiere hour was kind of a waste as a result due to the South hall priority queue being majorly screwed up aside, I went early basically all 3 days. I don’t even mind it that much–the impact to dealers was much greater, considering exhibit hall staff couldn’t even get inside by the time doors opened. At any rate it meant I got up early and went to bed late, even if I didn’t have much to show for.

The Thursday morning gaff was the biggest AX screw up all weekend as far as actual impact to attendees. The rest of the time I think things were more palatable. The exhibition room opened 30 minutes earlier each day also, for some reason. People were able to enter the con also much earlier.

The nice weather (partly cloudy and in the 80s all weekend) went a long way to sooth nerves personally. I was able to meet with others outside for once. I still didn’t want to wade through the crowd any more than I had to. I guess this is also why I missed a lot of the con between the few events I was able to attend.

With all that said, AX was fun, even if it remains an ordeal. Premiere badge was worth it, and if I didn’t hang out as much I probably could have done a lot more, especially for dinner. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth about premiere badge value without AWM, but I go to cons on the normal so it’s a lot easier for me to extract value from that. I just wish I could make up my mind on going hard at con stuff versus spending more time with friends (who many are not premiere). Maybe this year’s AX is a blessing in disguise in that I did not have any compulsion about any of the programming in such a way to dictate my decisions.

Well, maybe I can recite my feelings about the contents that I did partake.

I did a lot of time with the Made in Abyss crew. The panel was in a tiny room and all weekend AX had to grapple with room clear issues, so it was mostly luck that we made it in the room. I had a pretty good seat right in front of the voice and staff cast. The producer and the main cast were there, along with 2 handlers each. I also spotted Takadera-san who I said hello to, and he told me to go to Vancouver which LOL, muri.

The three seiyuu were kind of interesting. We know Shiichan and more or less Mariya-san, but Tomita Miyu is still an unknown quality to me. I guess it’s kind of interesting how she was scanning the crowd during the panel and had a funny face while at it. Who knew the week after she went home they announced her solo debut?

There was one very unfortunate question that was asked at the panel which I won’t repeat here besides Shiichan just said no, with a laugh. That was weird. We also got to see a trailer for the next MIA film which was cool. Recording hasn’t started yet for it, so it’s kind of new for the cast too.

There are actually 2 autograph sessions, 60 tickets each. Somehow I failed both but was granted a ticket from a friend who didn’t care and was helping, and the second round I failed due to change in timing right off the bat. Sigh.

I went to the Promised Neverland panel. It was in the main events room, and getting inside it was kind of a pain, complete with the “hey we went in the panel before” mess. Anyway, I got a decent seat and was visible in the group pic they took. I rather enjoyed this panel despite being a more stiff, scripted affair, because I actually enjoyed the anime I guess.

Live Mayayan is pretty much a thing you have to see in person. She is way more charismatic in that format. Moroho comes across to me like a Kidochang crossed with Kayanon. Is it a child acting troupe thing? I don’t know. Definitely someone who turned out to be really cute with more mature makeup. It was the first time I saw Morohoshi Sumire so that was nice.

There were also the English dub actresses along side, and they did matching lines live, which is kind of neat and made the panel actually interesting for everyone there. Unfortunately that doesn’t say much about the content nor was it a high bar to clear.

I took this chance to look for 9001 Million Live jokes. Thanks Cloverworks.

I think the last major AX things I participated was the Aimi watashikai on Saturday, and then the Aqours concert at the same time. I don’t have a lot to say about the former besides I nerved out on the JP so I didn’t speak in a way that is conducive to conversation, LOL. But whatever, I made sure to try say the same thing three different ways, so at least one line got through: SSAで会いましょう!

Aqours Concert, well, there was that aforementioned quake, so Saturday’s show was not going to be as awesome for that reason alone. But I made sure to attend this legendary live for a bunch of girls who do idol dance routines at big venues. This is awesome to be able to furicopy to them and treat these 9 (minus one) actresses slash idols like actual idols. This is both the power of the venue and that Aqours at this point is a fairly well-oiled performance machine. I am pretty satisfied with the performance, even as someone who is extremely casually interested (and mostly for 3D/2.5D reasons). I mean the folks in the pit had a great time and didn’t mind the long camp.

The only minor regret was I went to the live 2 songs in so I didn’t get shaken down and told what color to use, so I didn’t use the right color during “that” song. Oh well. It’s great that Aqours loves AX and AX loves them back I guess.

To wrap up, I guess we should talk about why no AWM this year. It might be timing, it might be the Espys (who blocked off the whole area around MS Theater backstage). It might be bad management, whatever. It’s clear the brand wants to come and I suppose there was no reason why it couldn’t other than venue availability.

That doesn’t really matter, either, for me. In the big picture a premiere badge is worth it, even if I end up divvy up the perks to a lot of non-premiere friends. Well, such is how it goes. AX is going to be the best worst anime con every year.


4 Responses to “Anime Expo 2019: Wrap”

  • Nano

    I love Anime Expo! It’s been a few years I’ve been but I’m sure it’s just as fun as I remembered. I live in the US so I commend you to take the long trip from Tokyo. My favorite part of AX is the Cosplay costumes. Thank you for sharing your experience =)

    • omo

      I too live in the US, so going to AX this year was more on the way of “going home” than going out of my way.

    • Nano

      Oh… my mistake =)

      Do you ever attend ComicCon in San Diego? I’ve always wanted to go to that event too, but it’s so crowded and hotels are expensive in that area.

    • omo

      Nope. It looks big and crazy, and not much content I’m interested in (at least, too casual to fly across country and deal with the crowds for).

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