(Warning: Huge image dump below.)
In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve disappeared to this past week, I caught a cold and was buried with work immediately after I got back from Anime Expo 2012. Now that things have settled down, it’s time for a little show and tell :)
To make things easy, I’ve divided the post into several sections:
Anime Expo 2012 (or Anime Expo 21) was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center again this year from June 29 to July 2.
This was my first time attending Anime Expo (AX) since this is the first year that I haven’t had school or used up all my vacation on any big trips. I had heard the line-ups here were terrible, and I got to experience it first hand when I went to get my pass. You can see about half of the line in the video below. It took over 2 hours for me to finally get to the end.
As expected on Day 0, the convention center was largely empty. It looked like they were just finishing up with some of the banners in the South Lobby.
Danny Choo had also prepared a few surprises: 3 itasha decked out with Mirai Suenaga art and Culture Japan advertisements.
That day I also made it just in time for the opening ceremonies and the introduction of all of the guests. Other than getting to see everyone in person, there really wasn’t anything exciting about it. There was some round red thing they had (I forgot what it was called) where Yuki Kajiura filled in one of the eyes with a marker to mark the start of the event.
Moving along to the actual event, the very first thing I did on the first day was line up for Tatsuo Sato’s panel. In case you weren’t aware, Tatsuo Sato was the director of my all-time favourite series: Martian Successor Nadesico. His more recent works as director include Bodacious Space Pirates and Rinne no Lagrange. While the panel had a large emphasis on Bodacious Space Pirates, there were naturally a lot of Nadesico questions during the Q&A. Of course, someone had to ask about Nadesico 2 and if it will ever come out. Tatsuo’s answer: it would be difficult :(
I went to a few other panels during the event, including the FictionJunction, Funimation, and Anime News Network panels. For the most part, panels were either all announcements or Q&A’s. Some of the fan panels like Build your Own Tachikoma sounded awesome, but unfortunately, I didn’t have time for them.
When I wasn’t waiting in line to get into places, I was either in the exhibit hall or the South Lobby. As you can see from the picture above, the lobby is a huge gathering area and where most of the cosplayers were posing. All of the people at the bottom were waiting to get into the exhibit hall.
Besides cosplayers, there were also entertainers that danced and played music, like this guy.
Unfortunately, other than Danny Choo’s cars, I only spotted one other itasha. It was cool, but I was hoping to find more.
The first performance I went to was the FictionJunction concert. When I heard at their panel that they were extending the concert by an hour, I was pretty happy. When the start time for the concert passed and they were only just letting people into the concert hall, I got a little skeptical. The concert started nearly an hour late, but it did last longer than it was scheduled to, which was nice. There was no recording allowed so I have nothing to show you, but there wasn’t much to see other than the pretty lights anyways. The FictionJunction crew sounded amazing, but all they really did was wiggle around on stage. Keiko was a bit more interesting to watch than the other girls because she was the biggest wiggler.
The best part of their concert was after they performed their last song “Open Your Heart” and went off stage. Everyone in the audience started chanting the Japanese transliteration of “encore”, and after a few minutes they came back and performed “The World” from .hack//SIGN. My other favourite part of the concert was when they performed “Mezame” from Mai Hime, followed by “Stone Cold” from Sacred Seven (two of my favourites from FictionJunction).
The LiSA concert was a bit more open, with there only being restrictions on flash photography. That proved to be a blessing for me because I was surrounded by guys who were at least 6 feet tall. Not only did they block my view of the stage, but also of the two large screens beside it; I might as well have been blindfolded. The only way I could actually see LiSA was by holding my camera up as high as I could and watching the LCD screen. DSLRs aren’t designed for extended video recording though, so it kept overheating and I really only saw half of the concert.
I did manage to record a few minutes of my favourite part of the concert before my camera shut down again. It was between two songs and LiSA was teaching everyone how to swing a wand, just too cute to miss.
One other small performance that I went to was that by Ayami and Minami Kuribayashi before and after the screening of the first two episodes of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. For whatever reason, all of the staff knew it as “Total Eclipse” so no one knew what I was talking about when I was asking around for where the “Muv-Luv” screening was. I’ve been a fan of Minami Kuribayashi ever since I first heard her music in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, so it was great that I actually got to see her sing at Anime Expo too. The speakers were on full blast so it was deafening, but well worth it. Unfortunately, there was no recording allowed at this performance.
The exhibit hall was always jam-packed whenever I went. There were a lot of bad smells, shoving, and getting my feet stepped on, but hey, who doesn’t get a little inconsiderate when they’re surrounded by anime goodies?
There were booths for every American-based store I could think of and tons that I had never heard of.
Some of the larger vendors had banners hanging from the ceiling. My favourite was Aniplex’s Kyubey banner.
Funimation also had a dance pole complete with music and Panty and Stocking cosplayers. What a way to get people to sign up for stuff…
I liked the cardboard cut-outs at the Elsword booth. I’m not sure what exactly you do in their game other than beat up other people, but their character designs look nice.
An anime convention wouldn’t be complete without spotting a Hello Kitty.
I always hear about Kinokuniya in Singapore, but I had no idea that they had stores in the U.S. as well. Their booth had a whole bunch of promotional ad posters for various anime covering up what was behind the cash register. I REALLY wanted to buy this Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate poster, but the lady at the front said none of the posters were for sale T.T
There was also this nice Accel World poster featuring Kuroyukihime. If I had the chance, I would’ve just nabbed those two and a few others, then run off into the crowd.
Other things I spotted included this Nyanpire plush and a bunch of those magical cat ears that move when your mood changes.
Bushiroad was the only non-bookstore that I visited more than once per day. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, they’re the company that produces Cardfight Vanguard as well as Weiß Schwarz, the cards you see in some of my Megami Magazine posts. They had some wonderful artwork up on display, but they were also giving away free promo cards. Not only that, but they had ENGLISH versions of Weiß Schwarz which were apparently just released on June 30. I’ve always liked what I saw in Megami Magazine, so I decided to buy some.
The Bandai booth had a human-sized Gundam up on display. It’s not as cool as the life-size Gundam in Japan, but still awesome in its own right.
The NIS America booth had a Prinny and a girl in a Prinny hoodie running around. That beats dance poles, cards, and Gundams any day. Naturally, I got a picture with the Prinny :)
There was also a booth selling a ton of Portal merchandise. I wanted to get a companion cube plush, but spending $20 on a fuzzy cube that fits in the palm of your hand just seemed ridiculous.
When I arrived at Anime Expo, there were two people’s autographs that I wanted to get: Tatsuo Sato and LiSA. My brother was with me so I made him line up with me for both so we could get two autographs. I treated him to a nice dinner at Roy’s for waiting in line with me.
Both of us had won the Tatsuo Sato raffle for guaranteed autographs during his panel so the wait for him was pretty fast.
On the other hand, it was a two hour wait to get LiSA’s autograph.
It was all worth it as I got my copy of the Nadesico movie signed by Tatsuo Sato, and I got Little Braver and Letters to U signed by LiSA. My Little Braver autograph actually has a partial fingerprint on it from when LiSA handed it back to me and touched it while the ink was still wet.
Day 4 of Anime Expo was both a happy and sad day, but mostly sad. I was happy because I knew that the exhibit hall would have some deals as exhibitors tried to get rid of their stock. On the other hand, I was sad because the event was ending. What made it worse was when I started to think about all of the things I had missed. First off, I remember spotting a really good Louise Valliere cosplayer in her bustier outfit on the first day. I was on the second level and she was on the first, but instead of running up to her to ask to take a picture, I was actually headed somewhere (I can’t remember where now) and went in the opposite direction. I never saw that cosplayer again.
Another thing I spotted on the first day was a 100+ page Tinkle chronicle artbook at Kinokuniya for ~$70. They had a huge stack of them so I figured I would keep an eye on their stock and hopefully get it on discount day. Well, they had already sold out when I went back to check on them on the morning of the second day. Now I really wish I had just bought it on the first day.
The last major thing that I regret also happened on the first day, but I didn’t find out about it until the last. While I was making my rounds in the exhibit hall for the first time, I came across a booth that was selling old anime posters from the 80’s and 90’s. A couple of guys were flipping through their catalog at the time so I decided to wait for them to finish. Five minutes later, they had only looked through a few pages so I decided to move on. I didn’t get a chance to look through the catalog until the last day and I immediately started cursing myself when I flipped to the “N” section. They had a handful of Nadesico posters from before the movie was even released. If I had known about them on the first day, I would’ve bought all of them and lined up as many times as I needed to get Tatsuo Sato to sign each one. Unfortunately, his autograph session was 2 days earlier, and he was probably long gone by then.
After the exhibit hall closed, I spent a few hours taking pictures of cosplayers before heading off to see the closing ceremonies. It was rather boring except for the part where Danny Choo started throwing packs of cards into the crowd. I thought he was nuts. Those things were like missiles and one almost hit me. Another guy did get hit and I hear his forehead was bleeding pretty badly. The majority of the guests had already left, but they did get someone to fill in the second eye of that red round thingy from the opening ceremonies, and that ended the event.
Given the nature of my blog, some of you are probably more interested in seeing what I bought. For those of you expecting to see tons of figures, don’t. I can get them far cheaper online and I don’t have to worry about stuffing them in my luggage.
Call me weird, but I like to keep all of the advertising pamphlets and brochures that are handed to me when I travel somewhere, and Anime Expo had a lot of that. If you don’t see your company above and you were handing out leaflets, then you didn’t try hard enough.
The items I was looking for at Anime Expo were artbooks. Unlike figures, shipping books to Canada sometimes increases the price by 50%, and close to 100% if I buy from the U.S. The books I got were a Mamotte Shugogetten artbook from an unknown store for $22, Nyantype Magazine
volume July 2012 issue (yes, they stopped going by volume number) from Kinokuniya for $17, a Seitokai no Ichizon book for $26, an Atelier Rorona/Totori/Meruru artbook for $76, and the second and third season Zero no Tsukaima artbooks from Akadot for $25 (discounted). I saved over $200 compared to buying these online.
Other loots include the Katanagatari premium sets and a ton of freebies that NIS America gave me for spending $80, a Totori nendo (I missed the preorder), Madoka volume 3 limited edition box set, a LiSA album, and three Weiß Schwarz decks. I bought a second Madoka deck because there was a 1 in 5 chance of getting a signed card. I didn’t get one.
The Elsword booth was giving away free posters so I picked one up. I actually only wanted an elastic band because I didn’t have one for the poster below, but this looked nice so I kept it.
The Aniplex booth was giving away free Madoka posters to everyone that bought a Madoka disc. I just happened to get their last poster when I bought the volume 3 box set. This image was originally featured as a pin-up poster in Megami Magazine volume 140, and now I have the full-sized version.
This was one of the Nadesico posters from that place I mentioned above. From what I can tell, it was originally from the May 1997 issue of Newtype Magazine. The poster was actually in mint condition when I bought it, but then the lady that rolled it up ended up crumpling the sides because she didn’t know how to roll posters. I was screaming in agony inside.
The other Nadesico poster I bought was a promo poster from 1998 for the Sega Saturn game, The Blank of 3 Years. I really liked this one because it has one of the few images of Ruri with her old hairstyle, but wearing her captain’s uniform. The game takes place between the end of the TV series and the start of the movie, which explains the mix. Thankfully the lady didn’t crumple this poster as bad as the first.
Now for what everyone has been waiting for: people dressed up as anime/game/manga characters! I can’t say I’m very experienced with cosplay photography so some pictures don’t look too great. For the most part, whenever I saw a group of people taking pictures, I just joined in. Like they say: monkey see, monkey do. There are too many pictures to sort so they’re just in the order that I took them. If I know a character/series, then I identified it in the caption.
Now before you start browsing, here’s a fun little exercise: how many crossplayers (cross-dressing cosplayers) can you spot?