Tuesday, 17 July 2012 19:54

Anime Expo 2012 Report

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Huh? What? Oh, right. Time for a report. You'll have to excuse the mess…yeah okay, the beer and various other alcoholic drinks scattered about, but I was at least rather mellow this whole convention. Even when they were doing what AX does best and not speaking to each other. At all. I kinda find it amusing that one has to stay a little bit 'happy' just to get through this convention, and that this year, being AX's 21st birthday, they tried to keep us 'happy' with various places to get alcohol, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

This year, like the last few years, Anime Expo took place in the LA convention center, located in downtown LA from June 28th to July 2nd. Going on at the same time and right next door do Anime Expo was the 2012 X Games. Yeah, jocks next to the geeks and the UPS station with all their lockers right next to both. This was not going to end well. At least their life sized Hot Wheels loopdy loop track was surprisingly cool. With X Games though, getting anywhere became a creative exercise since you couldn't just travel to AX Live to get food or alcohol, no you had to go around, through, up, down, and whatnot. Just GETTING to AX from the hotels turned into a test of patience since the crowds and traffic were beyond anything that poor little downtown could even come close to handling. Sort of like a tiny fangirl trying to have her first time with Long Dong Silver, but without the entertainment value that would engender. In all seriousness, there were very few incidents between the X Gamers and Anime Expo goers that I was made privy to, though there were a couple. One of those even involved a fellow photographer who wound up having to break his light stand on the guy when he got jumped. Still, with all that went on, and how screwed up having two major events occur right next to each other made down town, let's hope LA has learned its lesson and not approve of that again. Yeah, here's to hopin', right?

We wound up staying in the Historic Hotel Mayfair, a quaint little hotel right on the border between down town and the 'hood where if you take the wrong direction at night, you're likely to get killed or raped. Or killed then raped. That wasn't the part that was likely to kill you though, it was probably going to be their elevators; rickety old things whose mechanisms were likely older than my parents (and when they were born is probably the last time they had maintenance done on them). The room was blessedly free of the vermin that Mayhem read about, but that was about it. The first night we had to do without hot water, which made showers a little…interesting. Felt like I was back on water hours in the Navy. The bathroom was so small that even I, of all people, had to turn at angles to shower and shit. Finally, the air conditioning unit was pretty much just blowing air, which was already hot as fuckall. That was the only real saving grace of being on the 11th floor: the breeze through the windows was always very nice. I cannot, in all honesty, recommend staying there. It was cheap for downtown LA, was a big enough for three and their stuff, and close enough to the convention center so as not to be insanely inconvenient, but it was nothing special in and of itself…you'd have better comfort at a Motel 6 than this place.

This convention was strange, overall. As is usual, they had some massive fuckups, many of which this year had to do with the media company that had bought their way in, from what I gather. About a week or two before the convention started they had announced guest of honor press conferences rather than the usual one-on-one interviews, a group of which started early on Wednesday, Day 0. This was impossible for most to make since that was the day they'd be arriving and get things taken care of. This was especially disconcerting to me, because Ryo Horikawa, best known for his role as Vegita, was going to be there, and I very much wanted to go see him, but this was impossible. Opening ceremonies and the red carpet was also happening on this day, which took me by surprise, but was also impossible since we were all stuck in the Press registration line. And by 'all,' I mean most of the press core that was there that day at AX. Needless to say, neither of those main events got very much coverage.

I'm not sure I should lump this in with the convention screwups, but I'll put it in this section. Yuki Kajiura returned to AX after about nine years, and was to put on a concert for us. For concerts the rule has been, since about AX 2004, no filming. This year, Animetal USA came and did a concert, and allowed people to video it, which I was unfortunately unable to do being previously engaged. Had I known they were allowing it, I'd have probably handed them a copy of it the following day. Regardless, that raised the question on the Lisa and Yuki Kajiura concerts. Originally for the Yuki Kajiura concert it was stated by Press relations that we would be able to film and to take pictures (without flash, which is acceptable), but if anyone's been following my writings the past few years knows, it's never that simple. For, if you can film, you have to find out WHERE you can film from. There were places set up for this purpose, but getting an answer as to if we could actually use them got us a giant "I dunno" and required us to head down and talk with the floor supervisor personally. Her statement was a lot of misdirection and rather stupid statements about fire code (Yeah, set up your tripod in the aisles, but not in the area set aside for said things…fucking awesome sense there girl), but finally we got her to the point where she basically said she couldn't make the call, and really didn't know who could or who her boss was. Right, so off to Convention Operations. Con Ops pulls up the org chart and we find out her boss was the convention media manager, which makes sense, and so we headed over to the next room where they resided. After a phone call, it was stated that no video would be allowed, but pictures would. Okay, yes, we just wanted to know where we stood, and returned to Press Relations to inform them of something they should have already known about and/or should have been able to find out for us on their own. When we finally get down there, the policy had changed again. Nothing would be allowed from anyone, at all.

Sometimes one gets the feeling they're just not wanted.

So, right. Nothing. At all. The concert was beautiful; almost magical in a way. Yuki Kajiura with her Fiction Junction band was even better than the concert that was put on in 2003, and had the most beautiful renditions of "Mami's Theme" (not the actual name of the song) and "Open Your Heart" that I had ever heard. Hell, for "Open Your Heart" every single person in that place (except for the nonplussed Mayhem, but I'm not sure anything plusses him anymore, heh) got up and waved their hands back and forth…wish I had a lighter. Yuki herself actually sang backup vocals for a few songs, and was smiling and having a great time, which warms the heart to see. I could tell the members of the band: Kaori, Wakana, Keiko, and Yuriko were having a fantastic time too, and that is something a guy like me loves to see when the entertainer and those being entertained are having the time of their lives. Everyone is having fun and happy, and for something like this concert, that is how it should be.

But you know something? No one but those few hundred that were there will ever know about this. In 2003, you couldn't kill someone for her Fiction album for months; due in no small part to the efforts of myself and others in sharing that concert since we were allowed to record it then.

This seems to be a thing with Japanese studios and possibly their signed artists when they come over here. They think they're as big and bad over here as they are over there in Japan. They're not. For example, did you know that Yuki Kajiura had released Fiction 2? Me either. They can have hundreds of people at a concert over here, but only if they come to a place like Anime Expo where those fans are already congregated. Otherwise, even with Anime's popularity, we're pretty spread out even now. Without people able to somehow convey how awesome what they experienced was, this will impact those rights holders and their artists negatively. And that word is passed via video and pictures…because just taking my word for a visual and audio experience is simply not enough for most, and nor should it be with modern technology. Then again, we all know that it's not about, nor has it ever been about, protecting property, but that is another discussion.

On the other hand, if they were going to make a DVD or Blu-Ray of this, I'm led to the final problem with this concert. The sound and light direction was excellent and tended to fit the music very well. The video direction on the other hand…could not have been worse. It was obvious that whoever they got for this was both untalented and had never done this before. There wasn't even a sense to the rhythm of music in this direction, and every single newbie mistake that could be made was made. First, you do not focus on areas where there is nothing going on, and this problem was repeated constantly. Second, when panning in or out to fade out, you do not wait for several seconds while everyone is looking at nothing on the screen before fading to the next scene, and when you fade, see the first problem. Third, learn the use of the fade, cross-fade, and abrupt transition. In music, typically you're going to use the first two. Abrupt transitions are used when there are sharp transitions in music to emphasize the beat or note that was just played, which leads into the fourth problem. Fourth, there was no rhythm. Even if a guy has never heard the music before, an innate feel for the rhythm should have given him cues for when to transition, pan in, pan out, and whom to focus on. Fifth and finally, the cameramen needed to know all of the above too, because the director can't tell every camera what to do all the time; certain rules about how to film an event, especially one with music, need to be known, understood, and practiced. I wasn't going to put in a sixth about guys with cameras on body harnesses and possibly floating cameras on mechanical arms, because those may not have been available…conventions do have limited equipment and budgets after all, but I will note…STRONGLY…that these would have been far more useful than what they had alone, which was just a bunch of stationary cameras on tripods.

The backstage picture taking for the Masquerade was something we had to fight for, and should have never been an issue. There was never any consideration to set up a place for that for the press. Reason given was there was very little interest in it in prior years, which is unequivocal bullshit. Worse, when we finally got that, the entire event was mishandled for everyone, with the justification being given that someone (yes, 'someone') accused one of the photographers last year of asking her to stick her chest out so that it would make her boobs look bigger. Mayhem himself has a lot more to say on it, but I'll say it here and now that he was there last year, and that didn't happen. They were also never left alone with the cosplayers at any point, so staff was always on hand to keep things from getting out of hand, though an accusation such as that is hardly any reason to go and be a dick to the rest of the photographers there. Hell, most girls we talked to about that didn't even see the problem; being told how to pose by photographers was something that happens all the time if you're a cosplayer. It's not like she was asked to strip and fondle herself right then and there; hell the character she was cosplaying probably had big boobs, and was likely something that should have been emphasized, but we'll never know. Point being in this case, was that things that should have never been an afterthought, were, in fact, an afterthought, and unsubstantiated accusations should not be used as an excuse to throttle anything.

Went to the convention gripe session, and admittedly a good lot of what was saying was what Mayhem thought, location based. LACC itself is not quite the best place for this sort of convention, with lack of adjoining hotels and places to get supplies around the area. I will disagree that this was the lion's share of what wrong, in that much of what I saw was communications based. It's a fight we have to have every single year, and every single year, they just cannot improve it. Press relations should know certain things, or have the ability to get that information, and be willing to do so. Rovers and line care takers should know where to go and where the goddamn end of the line is. The whole thing with not allowing Press to go through a certain area on the third floor, due to it being staff related, on the way to the Press Lounge, was so thinly justified as to cause a cricket to fall through and drown. And to the one girl, who complained about it being Pony-con, fuck you. I like my ponies! Though her other statement concerning panel criteria did have merit, in that why a pony panel and not another anime panel since this was an anime convention. Finally, there was the guy complaining about the program guide. In fact, this one is so fucked up, I'll give it its own paragraph.

The basic gist of it was that the program guide had Mirai Suenaga and Max…actually, here is the picture. We have two buxom babes holding on to each other, nothing major. His beef was that basically, what sort of audience are we trying to attract here (obviously, he doesn't watch anime or pay attention to any female cosplayers), that he was a feminist, and could we have a more gender neutral cover perhaps? With a statement like that, it was obvious that the dude is the best friend of every single girl on the planet. That's right; he's been friendzoned by every single girl on the planet. So, shall we use some of the same rhetoric him and his kind love to use? I think we shall. I guess he has a problem with lesbians and/or any possibility of their depiction or even the possibility of a hint of such a depiction, or perhaps depictions of two girls just holding on to each other for whatever reason. That's not very feminist, in fact that's the same behavior as what the right wing moral guardians are accused of. Do you have a problem with two, obviously empowered women (heh), dressing the way they want to holding on to each other if they so wish? Is it not their right to do so, and to appear on an AX cover, if all parties are so inclined and agree (I know, they're drawn characters, go with me on this one)? Why that's very intolerant of you, my friend. I'd even go so far as to say bigoted (I love throwing their names back at them). I'd say whatever sexual hang-ups you had are yours and yours alone and only your interpretation of what was shown; I guess that's all you can see about girls, huh? What, you wanted androgyny? Dude, if you're gay and want a couple of guys on the cover in equally compromising positions, no one there would care. Just say you wanted something like that. Or if you really had a thing for androgyny, that's fine too, no one there would care about that either; bisexuals are more than welcome at AX. However, back to my normal point of view, that was a damn fine cover. Far better than the little magician we've had the past couple years especially in terms of artistic skill. Yeah, the girls are scantily dressed. So what? Yeah, they're holding on to each other. So what? Yeah, it'll be appreciated on those grounds by men not too afraid of their own balls to do so. So what? Yeah, it'll be appreciated by girls who enjoy artistic skill and scantily clad girls holding each other too. So what? Grow a set, dude and admit you like it like that too, and that it's okay to do so. As you are now, you're not going to get anything except used as an emotional tampon by even the nicest of girls for the rest of your life. Your future is some used up hardcore feminist harridan who's ridden the cock carrousel so hard that even God will have trouble figuring out if she's had more in her than your average sex worker at the Bunny Ranch or not. She will choose you when she sees her own sexual irrelevance written on the wall in big ol' black and bloody letters ten feet tall, and will have no one to care for her in her declining years. And oh yeah, you can help raise all the bastards she had with all those more desirable men than you. Don't worry, you might get a hint of pussy now and again. Might, but unlikely…she's certainly not obliged to under current laws, and any attempts to force or even note the issue will land you in jail. Damn shame that it'll be tainted by all the guys she's still cheating on you with if you do. Did I mention you'll likely be financing all that cheating? This is your future, dude. You will never have it any better than this, and quite likely, you're going to get even worse. My point being, they were just a couple of very well drawn good looking girls with all their naughty bits covered; nothing wrong with it at all; I hope to see more of that kind of work. They weren't muff diving on the cover and they weren't passing those things out at a children's hospital to the five year olds in the cancer ward. Grow a set, admit you like what you like and hate what you hate to women and men unapologetically, and be free of the dogma like the rest of us or your future will be as I described or worse. Your moral guardianship outrage does not impress us, and I'm certain it impresses women even less.

I think that takes care of all the bad. Let's get to something good, like pictures!

You'll note that this year we have a new photographer for Anime Expo, the veteran administrator of the Tenchi Muyo Fanfiction Archive, Gensao, whose pics you can find here, though he has contributed to TFA Cosplay on numerous occasions. Along with him, is Mayhem, who this year not only took pics with his camera, but with mine during both the Fashion Show and the Masquerade which you can see in their own folders. You'll also note that there will be a bit of a reshuffling going on with the pictures site, as I sort everything into trees based on event and photographer rather than having everything reside in the same album. The gallery has also been upgraded to Gallery 3, which should take care of many of the loading issues that were being experienced in recent months.

The amount of cosplayers this year was nearly overwhelming. There was no possible way even the three of us could have photographed anything resembling a significant portion, much less a majority. Still, we did our best. In terms of trends, all throughout the convention we found that there were a ton of Panty and Stocking cosplayers, such as these two, due to the release of the dub by Funimation (which was sold out Friday). There were two other really big ones as well, such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, an insanely diabetes inducing expample of you'll see here and Fate/Zero which crossed over nicely with Sabre cosplayers like this one. I didn't actively avoid the ones that were most popular, but I did try to limit my picture taking of them. Hell, this time around I didn't even attend any of the cosplay gatherings, though admittedly that had more to do with the fact all the good places were taken up by X Games, and simply FINDING certain ones was an exercise in RPG quest dynamis much less having one, but I digress. What I did do, was try to get a lot of really good, if really off the wall ones, such as Kiki here from Kiki's Delivery Service. For those that haven't seen it, Anohana is one of those anime that tears your wee little heart out and stomps on it, and it's no small part due to Menma, cosplayed by this young lady so very well here. While not exactly obscure, Rei Ayanami, especially as portrayed by a cosplayer like this woman, is most welcome; I'd love to know who she really is. Red Sonja in a chainmail bikini. Nice. Always had a thing for the Odin Sphere sisters of Velvet and Gwendolyn. I also enjoyed a little personal time with some ponies, though it was hard not to round up all that I saw and hug them senseless. Ran into a scarily accurate Snow Black from Accel World, which I did not expect to see. And if ever there was a series that needed Captain America, it was Madoka. I despaired of finding these Sia and Nerine cosplayers when I caught them out of the corner of my eye earlier that day, but I found them and took many pictures...I'm thinking I need to read up more on weird light photography. Speaking of cosplayers I'd like to know better, these two fit into that category: the brunette being Tsugumi and the pinkette being Inori, both from Guitly Crown. Getting back to the subject of Fate Zero, this has to be the first Sabre Bride I've seen along with Sabre Lily, Gilgamesh, and a male Sabre. Speaking of ponies, they were out in force, so fuck all the haters, ponies are awesome. Especially Luna, whom I want to just huggle 'til she sends me to the sun. There's also me getting on Hime's bad side...don't worry, I got better. And here those two are again, still adorable, and still can't speak english very well, heh. Me and my Olympus are going to have a fight though. I was barely able to save a pic of Kat from Jurassic Cosplay in her Tron cosplay, I am not too thrilled with the others. Especially that last one; it required too much digital editing and it shows. I need a new carry around camera or a goddamn real external flash for this one.

Overall, I'm rather happy with my pictures this year, though I've become painfully aware of the limitations of my Olympus E-PL1. It's better than a point and click, but still...not good enough. Also, from the outside, it must be amusing to watch two bullheaded photographers 'discuss' camera settings and what works for them. This came up because Mayhem uses a Nikon too, and used my camera for the main events to supplement his D5000, so of course he sets it to how it works for him. In a nutshell, he's more inclined to make use the camera's technology (especially features I'm not aware of) and I'm more inclined to take full manual control and make it do my bidding. As noted, I didn't really attend any of the gatherings this year for a variety of reasons, but I did try to get a good mix of what I saw. Mayhem and Gensao seemed to do much the same, so spend some time over at their galleries too; you won't be disappointed. I do recall speaking with one cosplayer who lamented the decline in cosplay in terms of putting together your own costume rather than using store bought or even custom design by others (like all those guys who do that on ebay) and likened it to Halloween rather than a project one could take pride in. Also the general lack of what one could term 'convention respect' in terms of posing for pictures and TAKING pictures especially. There are unwritten rules for these things people; it behooves one to learn them as they are there to make the experience as pleasant and fun as it can be, and will be the subject of my next article.

Main events were rather odd this year in that there was no Anime Expo Idol or Battle of the Bands contest. I suspect this was due to the lack of space, much of which was due to the X Games wanting to take up some of the convention center, and then backing out at the last possible second. I would say that a greater use of the convention center in general should be the order of the day so we don't have to deal with three or four separate command structures that have absolutely no desire to communicate or help each other. I would also be cheaper for Anime Expo in the long run, due to the fact that the use of Nokia Theatre (no matter how convenient or awesome) and Club Nokia cost some serious money all around…and Anime Expo has been bleeding red.

I will say I wish I had attended the Animetal USA concert. We were a little bit busy with another project at the time; that being the Panty and Stocking USA VA press panel, which I'll go over later. Gensao made it there, and had we known, I'd have had him film the thing, since they were allowing that (though we didn't know it at the time). Ah well, perhaps next time; they seemed to be the type to get a kick out of being with the fans and seeing the whole production as we would see it. Truly some really cool guys all around. I also wish I could have attended the Red Carpet and Opening Ceremonies late on Day 0, though Gensao did manage to get a short video from it of Danny Choo doing Gollum from Lord of the Rings. There was also the Ryo Horikawa panel on Day 0 I couldn't hit, due to the whole…well, not even being IN Los Angeles at the time. Seriously, they started those panels at 1000 hours…day 0. Most people are just getting in if they're lucky about that time, and then have to sort their stuff, get their people and themselves registered (which takes a considerable investment in time), and possibly get something to eat and a game plan for the following days together. Putting all those events on Day 0 turns the thing into a five day convention, which is more time than people can usually take off from work.

The first main event I attended was the AMV Contest. Here's a list of the AMV finalists as well as who won:


Magic Eye - By Shin
Enchanted - AimoAio (See Mai Chan)
Fairytale of Lies - By Victoria Galietta (RiderG)
Beaten Down - By Moonlight Soldier
Lum's New Love Song - By "L33TMEATWAD"
Dreamer - By Radical Yue
Friends Forever - By Melissa Paradis (Melichan923) (Winner)
Twelve Swords - By Chosen Exiled


Your Perfect World - By Irriadin
Written in the Spirals - By "Shin"
Naruto Ball Z Shippuden - Heroes Come Back - By Ryan Molina (Random Destination Studios) (Winner, Best of Show)
Riot!!! - By Truffle Pig Studios
The Contract - AimoAio (See Mai Chan)
Ramen:Light - By Chiikaboom (Reversed Studios)
Put Ya' Guns On! - By Irriadin
Shut up and Ride - By Jump Cut Productions


Ballad of the Nice Guy - By MysteriousRyder (Stephanie Huang) (Winner)
Sorry for Being Hercule, Sincerely Mr. Satan - By L33TMEATWAD
The Butler Box Social - By Phil Conrad (Mr. Pilkington)
A Brainless Video - By Drew Brisco (drewaconclusion)
Clubbin' With Lupin - By L33TMEATWAD
Carrots and Corn - By Moonlight Soldier


Another Destination - By Kireblue
Safety Dance - By Shin (Winner)
Evil Island - By Melissa Paradis (Melichan923)
Fullmetal's Back - By Victoria Galieta (RiderG)
The Kingdom of L.F.S. - By Lauren Chicoine (DriftRoot)
Smile - By Issac Fisher (Sephiroth)


Fate Matrix - By Shinand Gunther AMVs
Quatro Stasis - By Perfect Blue
Illusion - By Irriadin
Go and Be Free - By Lark Isenberg (1MoonGoddess7)
Shout! - By Evelyn Sanchez (IsrafelMNG)
Save the World - MilkManDan & MangaNate (Winner)

Damn, actually got links for most of them this time around. The Drama category was probably the best this time around, despite not being Best of Show. My personal choice was the winner this time, with Friends Forever, an Ano Hanna based AMV. Didn't get enough of your heart being ripped out with Clannad Afterstory and Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien? Watch Ano Hanna…it'll make you hurt real bad and this AMV shows you why. Naruto Ball Z Shippuden - Heroes Come Back was pretty much a given for the action category, and not surprising to be best in show. The DBZ/Naruto mashup a few years ago wasn't too bad, but this particular one's editing blew that one completely out of the water. Made the damn thing look actually plausible, and was the one I chose for action category as well. Comedy was somewhat disappointing this year in that it was more humorous than it was laugh out loud funny. The winner, Balad of the Nice Guy, elicited a chuckle, but the choice I made was A Brainless Video set to the tune of "What the Fuck was that?" from The Evil Dead musical. Yes, that's right…an Evil Dead musical. Random Fun was as odd as you might think since what you see could be anything. My choice was Smile, the song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and set to Puella Magi Madoka Magicka. Seriously, it's fucking wrong to see such a happy song in Puella. It violated the cosmic balance or something, and probably ended creation as we know it. I was quite amused. The winner, Safety Dance, set to Nichijou, I'd seen already at Fanime, but given how awesome it was, I actually gave it to the Best of Show, which it did not get, unfortunately. AMTV Pro is a category where you show off your technical skill, and they went full out this time. It was more like viewing pieces of artwork than anything else. For me it was a tossup between Save the World, set to Guilty Crown, (and the winner of the category) and Fate Matrix. I recall Fate Matrix from Fanime, but I don't recall if Save the World was there too. Regardless, I had to choose Fate Matrix as it seemed to tell a more coherent story to me than Save the World, which to me, seemed to rely on the already psychedelic animation of the Guilty Crown series a little too much, and not enough on the artist's own technical skill. All of them are of high quality, so check them out, you won't be disappointed.

Along the way through the events I got roped into the Fashion Show, which I'm very glad Gensao told me of. You can find Mayhem's pictures of it here and Gensao's pictures of it here. Hosted by the amusing Danny Choo and the exceedingly cute Misako Aoki it featured the fashions of dolldelight, Galaxxxy, and Kapi-Bara-San with an opening musical performance by KYOKA (who doesn't seem to have an internet presence that I can detect). I have...a thing…for cute girls, which will get me in trouble one of these days and is likely unhealthy in the short term as well. Regardless watching cute girls in cute dresses and outfits stroll on by showing both off is not something to be missed, and this did not disappoint.

About the only other main event I attended, besides the Yuki Kajiura concert which I discussed previously, was the Masquerade. For those that are wondering, you can find Mayhem's backstage pictures here and Gensao's stage pictures here. I think I had more fun with the walk-ons this year than I did with the actual skits. There weren’t any bad skits per se, but they were kinda forgettable. I mean, Hell, for the walkon we had giant fucking robots…especially that one guy's mech suit…how do you beat that? Well, I take it back, maybe the creepily accurate Bioshock walk-on could do it for you (this one won a few awards, and well deserved ones at that). Ryo Horikawa came out during half time, with all the cosplayers from the Masquerade that could fit on stage and sang some songs for us (the Hamtaro dancing stole the show). Heh, he dated himself with the choice of songs, given most of them were from the '80s when he was a younger man. The man can sing pretty damn well, though I think he needs to work more on timing and maybe a bit more work on key. And don't be afraid to use that voice; when he launches into full voice, you know it, and you wanna cheer. Still, it was a lot of fun, and I bought the Vegita he signed over at his merch booth after the Masquerade was over. Someone also explained to him the "Over 9000!" meme. God help us all. I don't have a list of winners for the event just yet, but I'll update the report when I do.

Oh yeah, we did attend the Charity Auction and those rather hilarious Closing Ceremonies. The Charity Auction was a bit of a yawner. Seriously, unless you're there to buy, it's like watching paint dry, and I nodded off every few seconds during it. The Opening Ceremonies however…heh, heh, heh. Danny Choo you sick bastard! Good job! Well, except for that whole nailing an attendee in the face thing. The story goes like this. The AX Chairman, Takayuki Karahashi, whom you might recognize as the long time translator for Anime Expo, came out and delivered the basic stats on this year's Anime Expo (tickets sold, that sort of thing) and where we were going to be next year (still at LACC). Then Danny Choo decided to start tossing out copies of his card game to people. Ever seen a fish feeding frenzy? It kinda looked like that, and I was laughing and laughing and laughing at what a sick bastard he was to do that right then at closing ceremonies. Mind you, he then wings one right into the crowd and straight into the face of an older gentleman. He didn't appear to be more than a bit stunned, but damn if I didn't get a chuckle out of that look of horror on Danny's face (I can laugh because it didn't seem like anyone was seriously hurt). He took the guy back later to meet all the guests of honor still there at Anime Expo, and hopefully it ends there. I'm guessing Danny will never do that again, or at least, never do softball pitches into the crowd again.

Though we were not able to attend all the press panels, we did attend two of them. The first one was Yuki Kajiura and her Fiction Junction band's panel. I actually have it recorded, and will post it when Youtube isn't being an asshole. I had two questions; basically a general one for the band in that I asked how was it working with each other since Yuki assembled them from solo careers and various other bands. It seems like they were all pretty happy to be working with each other and Yuki, and the way they sang with Yuki, it really reflected that. My second question was simply noting there was a lot of talent, both U.S. and Japanese, in the concert she put on at AX 2003, and I was curious if she'd like to use some of that talent again, perhaps a one off project? She replied that she would try to have them sing in English well. Uhhh…. Yeah, basically when the translation is lost to the THAT extent, it's usually time to just nod your head, thank them for their time, and bow out…which I did. It's obvious she's let her English atrophy a bit since the last time she was here. Like anything else in this world though, if you don't use it, you lose it.

The second panel we attended we arrived late at, which was a collection of the Funimation voice actors and other staff from the Panty and Stocking anime. I was not able to film it, so I'll give the general report on it. It was really more of a shootin' the shit sort of panel; very relaxed where they sat around sharing anecdotes and pretty much just having a conversation with everyone who was there. As before, I had two questions. First one being was if Jamie Marchi had any problems playing Panty, considering the girl is damn near straight out of a Hentai Anime (had to expound on that, since I called it an H anime at first, and they had no idea what I was talking about, heh). She noted she was also a writer on the show, and that no, there were really no problems she could fathom. Also that it's not often you get a character as sexually liberated (I prefer the term 'nymphomaniac' myself) as Panty, and that she both looked forward to and enjoyed it. In fact, they all noted that the series offered them a chance to cut loose and allowed them to say and do things that otherwise they normally wouldn't be able to…like shout motherfuckery at the top of their lungs for several takes. Ah, Gainax, the things you pull. My second question had to do with the Transformers parody. Part of the joke is when the expy's of Megatron and Optimus Prime showed up, they were voiced by Seizō Katō and Gendo Tesho respectively, who were the original VA's back in the G1 series in Japan. Did they get Peter Cullen and Frank Welker in to do the same? I was expecting this answer, but I admit, they did expound a lot more on it than I expected. The answer was, "We would have loved to, but we cannot afford either of them." Again, not surprising. They then explained the logistics involved in things like dubbing outside of Texas or flying people in, and how much overhead expense that cost the company. So usually, they didn't even try it. They did note that they tried to get the voice's as close as possible to what people would be expecting (we'll see about that, heh) and that they even got a voice match for the old G1 announcer (Victor Carolli). I noted that was likely Steve Blum, as he could really pull off a younger Victor Carolli. Wasn't him, they said, since he was L.A. and they were Texas…again that whole distance thing and the logistics behind it. I'm guessing that it's not something they really like dealing with if they can help it, though occasionally they paint themselves in a corner on that one…such as when they adopt an orphan series *cough*Tenchi*cough* and need to please the fans with some vocal continuity. Then Mayhem sent them to The Yard House so they could get themselves much beer. All was well.

Some random anecdotes, let's see…

This year, Anime Expo turned 21. So to celebrate they had a 21 and over 'club' area with alcohol and live music called Lounge 21. So, to supplement our continual intake of alcohol this convention (coolers in the back of one's car are so convenient for this) we found ourselves here. I then found out both Traci Hines and Midnight Shinigami was going to be performing a lot longer than they were originally allotted to perform. So, I rushed back, got my camera, and came back up to film them. Mind you, Gensao was the one who finished filming Midnight Shinigami since Mayhem and I were heading to the Panty and Stocking Panel noted before. This is also what caused us to miss the Animetal Concert. Still, everything's 20/20 in hindsight; had we known we could have planned a lot better. Sunday, we attended the Press get-together, which had an open bar, food, and live music. I admit this set me on edge like you wouldn't believe. You must understand, for YEARS we've been, at best, ignored and at worst badly fucked with. It had gotten to the point of us almost liking the abuse. To have something this nice done for us? I kept looking behind me to see where the knife was coming from (or what would be expected of me for this little extravagance). I got…nothing. I ate some food, talked with some fellow photographers, listened to the live band of cute girls whose name totally escapes me at the moment, and watched others drink. Wasn't going to drink myself, I had Masquerade coming up and a job to do. Still, when presented with this bit of kindness, after so much frustration, I wonder how I must have looked to all present.

The Dealer's Hall is back to being f'n huge, but that wasn't enough for the first day. No, the first day was outright deadly, in that they had everyone packed into that area in front of the dealer's hall harder than sardines. There was no movement, at all. Mayhem and I finally got to high ground and looked down. Had there been a fire or someone had a heart attack…God help them all, because that place was jammed wall to wall with people. The rest of AX's stuff I can tend to forgive. This I cannot because it was potentially life threatening for thousands of attendees. This needs fixed next year. Period. On the other hand, once inside we found a lot of cool stuff, which I wound up spending a lot of money on. Well, not at the 'sew on patches' place in the first aisle, because that guy was a fucking dick. Lots of Blu Ray and games though. Speaking of games, one of the ones I got at the Mangagamer booth called Dear Drops which appears to be something that's likely to get an anime adaptation sooner or later. They had one of the voice actresses there though to sign the limited edition box sets, and she was so cute and diabetes inducing I had to quite literally dig my nails into my leg to keep from taking her home with me on the spot. I wish I was joking about that. Crunchy Roll had a fun little stage just as you walked into the Dealer's Hall where they were having some little improv skits and contests with some well known cosplayers they had tapped for this purpose. Which wasn't nearly as funny as Funimation that had a stripper pole for Panty and Stocking cosplayers to dance around; I shit you not. Among my many purchases, I acquired Katanagatari and Ano Hana from NIS…I will watch them back to back. If you hear a report that I committed suicide in a fit of pure depression, you now know why.

This was a long report, and I suppose I should wrap it up. I think I may have needed to not just be tipsy the whole time, but a little drunk. Maybe hit Excalibur again and order some pints since the size of their meals weren't exactly large enough to feed fully grown men. They had good food, but not enough of it. Hopefully the Yard House will be more accessible than it was this year; that's always a good place for alcohol. Weird convention; I mean just weird. Not all bad, not all good, but not the normal of either, that's for certain. There was some hairy moments, didn't have a problem with convention staff outside of the whole don't walk directly to the Press Lounge thing (really, folks? I'm not going to stick my head in to the goddamn staff rooms) or even the AX personnel (outside of the Main Events floor supervisor who didn't know what was going on with Press or who her own boss was). I do admit, the whole requirement to buy tickets is getting a little out of hand (You can have three press guys, but only two tickets…show me the logic) and the places they put press (yeah, take pictures from the nosebleed section) were fucked up, but as far as we went, we adapted and overcame. I'm wondering if others were as lucky. The Lounge 21 was nice, despite some reports of a couple of unruly drunks, as was the Press Party. The entire situation with the Yuki Kajiura concert and picture taking should have never been an issue for ANYONE, and anyone who got their badge scratched needs to protest that possibly up to a lawsuit. Anime Expo needs to have what is allowed in writing well before the guests arrive and it should be binding on both Anime Expo AND the guest. I'm all for accommodation, but flakery is just fucked. For everyone. The overall entertainment value of the place was quite good; I did have fun. Still, there are points where I'm getting tired of having the same conversation every single year. Truthfully, press isn't all it's cracked up to be, and even with that little party this year, I'm still getting the idea they'd just rather we went away. Not as badly this year as in previous years, but I do get that feeling sometimes. We just didn't get to do everything that we wanted, or everything that needed to be done for ourselves, the guests, the attendees, and even AX itself. Some of it was out of their control, such as when GoH's flake (and there's no consequences for them doing so), but other times not (such as their continuing lack of comms). It really could have been a lot worse, and I did have a lot of fun, but for some reason I feel like we were dodging bullets this year. I'm wondering if that's just my imagination, but I did get that feeling. In any event, I'd give this one a solid B average. Not perfect by any stretch, but nothing like Anime Expo 2007. Extra points are awarded for overall weirdness and for surviving the X Games being right next door with only minor incident. If nothing else, I'll certainly remember this one with a general attitude of, "I'm really not sure what I should think about this one."

Oh yeah, one final thing. Know that Hooters right across from the LACC? Yeah, don't go there. The service sucks. We waited near on ten minutes before the waitress came by to ask us if we wanted something and then fifteen minutes for our fucking beer order before we ditched that place. On the other hand that little Mexican restaurant behind it has excellent food and service. Go there.

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 20:34

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