Saturday, August 9, 2008

Con Report: Anime Expo '08

I understand that it's been way over a month since Anime Expo, but since this blog wasn't up yet and I've been busy, now is the time. So anyways, here's my AX adventure.

The story begins on Wednesday, July 2nd. I was sleeping when my phone rang. It was my aunt. She asked if I wanted to come over to go to Anime Expo. I was thinking, "Hells yeahhhh." I quickly called my mother and told her I'm going to California today. She naturally thought I was crazy as all lovable mothers. I responded, "Of course." So I get first-class tickets to California because they were the same price as regular ones. I quickly packed up, and got out of the house an hour later. Hours and hours later, I'm finally in California and stayed at my cousin's place.

I didn't sleep at all.

The next day, my cousin and I arrived to Anime Expo with his friends. It was 100 degrees outside, and parking was $20. Since I didn't pre-register, I had to go my separate ways in order to get my 4 day pass. Surprisingly, the was no line. I just walked into the building, walked into the register room, and entered my credit card on one of the tens of computers. The passes were instantly printed in the booth corresponding to each table of computers. I walked out of the place in less than 10 minutes. What is more surprising is that it took less time for me to get my pass than for my cousin, who already pre-registered online.

Some girls near the exit of the register room.

The first panel I went to was the Shokotan panel. As was expected, she was humorous and charming. Shokotan said her dream boyfriend would be Vegeta from DBZ and that she does not get asked out a lot. I find that awkward, considering how immensely popular she is to otaku culture. Then again, her audience are otakus. She also explain to us some of words from her "language" she made up for her blog. Watching her impersonating Bruce Lee was fun, and her unscheduled karaoke of the the Gurren-Lagann theme was fun.

Sorairo Days...

After that, I went to the autograph session. About an hour later, I finally got to get her CD signed and shook her hand. My day was already over at around 3 because my ride wanted to go home. I wanted to visit other panels such as the Aniplex and J-Pop panel . I also wanted to see Paprika on the big screen. I didn't want to go the AMV contest though, not because I wasn't interested in seeing the fan work but because I had a feeling it would be really crowded.

On Friday (day 2), it was still hot as hell again. The highlight of this day was the Jyukai concert. I didn't have to wait in line at all. Around 30 minutes before the concert, I just walked up to the guys giving tickets and walked across the street towards the Nokia Theater. The workers said that cameras were not allowed, but they actually didn't care. This was great because I didn't have a place to put it. After watching a lot of previews of just-licensed shows and some currently playing in Japan, Yoko Ishida performed. It was fun, but there was definitely lack of planning. After more previews Jyukai performed. They were great, and the singer had a beautiful voice. I did not like the camera work done though. It was just too loose, and it felt like they didn't know what they were doing. Thankfully, their performance outshone the production work. After the concert I waited in line for the Jyukai autograph for an hour. There was also a Yoko Ishida autograph session, but after standing for ten minutes, a volunteer told us that she was not coming. The group dispersed and the Jyukai line was extended further than it was initially.

I then attend the Bandai panel and the ANN panel. One particularly interesting announcement ANN made was the launch of the ANN video player. The video player would be used to show anime commercials. What's even better is the potential to use this video player as a way for anime fans to watch streams legally with commercials. Digital distribution and online streaming has become a major part of the way we watch media, and it'll be nice to see is ANN and the anime companies join to allow legal streaming. I also wanted to attend the Anime Genesis + Anime Diet panel and Geneon Premiers panel, but I had to sadly leave.

Shokotan's concert was the highlight of Saturday (day 3). Once again, I didn't have to wait in line to get a ticket. Since I only had about 3 hours of sleep, I was dozing off before the concert started. I was also too tired to walk towards the front of the stage to take pictures. Her show was planned tremendously better than Yoko Ishida + Jyukai's concert. There were planned light shows, music videos to keep us entertain during intervals, and of costumes. She cosplayed as Haruhi, Rei, and Sailor Moon and sang popular songs from the anime the anime characters were in. She also played some of her original work from Big Bang, but the best part of the concert was her performance of Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann songs. The last performance, besides the encore, was the new song for the Gurren-Lagann movie. She seem really nervous, but I like the new song.

Other interesting things include character designer Akemi Takada's panel and the Mega64 Panel of Doom. It was interesting to hear Takada's opinions on character designing and her experiences working with Mamoru Oshii for the Patlabor movie. The Mega64 panel was probably the funnest panel at AX. They just talked and showed some videos they made and answered many questions from the audience. They just seem like some very cool guys doing what they love. I also stayed for the Kadokawa panel, but had to leave early...again.


Sunday (day 4) was a short day. This was the day that I finally went through the dealer's room and artist alley. Besides buying a lot of stuff, I also got a signed poster of Gurren-Lagann by Kyle Hebert (Kamina) and Yuri Lowenthal (Simon).

Yuri Lowenthal (left) and Kyle Hebert (right)

I would also like to add that my cousin's friend (sorry, I forgot your name) cosplayed as Ichimaru from Bleach and slept through a lot of the day.

My fondest memory of that day was my cousin's other friend cosplayed a schoolgirl with a really short skirt. Guys were putting their hands behind her back to take pictures, and one guy even told her that she was "the girlfriend he never had". Funny how the girl was 14 years old. My cousin's friend (cosplaying as Ichimaru) and I busted out laughing each time a guy would put his arm behind the poor girl's back.

I had heard previously that the lines were incredibly long, but I guess I can assume that they have fixed the problem this year. Besides the heat outside, my con experience had been overall good. It wasn't as overwhelming as I had expected, but I'll will be a lot more prepared next year. I also forgot to mention this is also my first anime con attendance. Attending the largest anime convention in the world...what a way to start. I wish I took some pictures of the exterior as well as some shots at the Shokotan concert. The following pictures will be pictures of stuff I bought as well as pictures of cosplayers.

Some pictures of the stuff I bought:

Spent way too much money...

I got Shokotan and Jyukai's autographs.

A Yotsuba&! picture book, Cowboy Bebop artbook, and Yoko fanbook

3 of the 4 EVAs I got

Wish I knew the artist...forgot to ask.

Forgot to ask artist again...

I bought the following three stuff for fellow podcaster Ryan.

I also bought a Bleach poster for a cousin.

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