That one US anime convention that occurs every 4th of July weekend out here in Southern California has now ended. Just like the last 2 previous years, Anime Expo was again held in Los Angeles at the LACC. This would be my 4th actual visit to the event — my 2nd where I stayed all four days.
- [Early Morning]: We get there around 7am, so of course we manage to find a great parking spot right next to the Exhibit Hall. We get in line to pick up our badges and noticed there’s only around 50 already waiting before us — perfect. Things are starting off smoothly so far.
- [Opening Ceremony]: Got our badges and concert tickets for MELL and Nakajima/May’n live shows on Day 2. This is where I noticed how those who came Day 0 to pick up their items received better seats than us. It’s a “first come first serve” kind of deal. And you should come with your friends of course if you all plan to sit together. Anyway, the opening ceremony was located at the Nokia Theater where we actually needed a ticket to enter — they handed them out right there by the door. Show started and Danny Choo came out and did his little “Stormtrooper” dance that made him famous on Youtube. This was followed by some really popular Japanese DJs — m1dy was there so that was really awesome. Other guests that arrived were AKB48, Yuu Asakawa, Rei Hiroe, May’n, MELL (YES!), Nabeshin and many more. I believe Nakajima and Kitamura were a no-show for the ceremony. Konishi either but we were treated to a video he left for us. Check out some clips from the ceremony here.
- [May’n Focus Panel]: The first major focus panel on my schedule was for May’n. This would mark the beginning of the many continuous long lines I was about to experience throughout my AX trip. And how almost none of the focus panels would start on time — forcing me to miss other events I had planned to attend. Finally I got in 20 minutes after the scheduled time; and May’n was introduced. We were told no photos or video would be allowed. But you know you’ll still have someone there recording footage besides press; [video]. Oh one thing I had to absolutely point out. May’n’s focus panel went on for too long. How long you ask? Well the Petree Hall was next reserved for the band Sophia at 1:15PM. May’n’s panel was suppose to end at 1:00PM. But because it started nearly 20 minutes late, one of AX’s GoH Japanese bands Sophia had to wait patiently for it to end… OUTSIDE THE DOOR. I’m looking out the window and I see the whole band waiting in the hallway, as if they weren’t that important to let in right away. Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s how you want to treat your GoH who travel from faraway just to be here with us. Very fair and balanced AX. Anyway at the very end of the panel, each attendee would receive a blue ticket good for having priority in line for the May’n autograph session. A system that would later fail terribly but more on that below.
- [Yuu Asakawa Panel]: Next up was Yuu Asakawa’s focus panel. The Q&A session here was a lot less “fanboyish” than May’n’s and, as a result, we were treated to a real in-depth discussion of her character roles. You can tell she is really passionate about her works in the industry. Even that of Vocaloid Megurine Luka. Apparently she kept in touch with the internet hoopla surrounding Luka when she was first introduced to the world. And when she found out that Luka would be associated with frozen tuna, she was in despair — her reaction was really cute actually. You can catch almost the entire panel here. At the end, I was awarded another ticket for Asakawa’s autograph session.
- [Asakawa Autographs]: Now I make my way towards the Exhibit Hall. However, there was only a mere 30 minutes before it got started. So I had to walk my ass fast before it was too late. I already experienced first hand just how long a line is for a focus panel. I can’t even imagine what it might look like for autographs. When I got there, there was already a good long line forming. I get in however, with ticket in one hand, and my item to be autographed in the other. Now the waiting game begins all over again. And my god, this is probably the most boring part of my AX trip. The waiting in line for autographs. This felt like an eternity almost. But to make things feel less dull, you can always talk and get to know others in line. I did that a few times as well and met a few interesting people. Even some who were part of the anime blogging community. But anyway, the line started moving and I eventually had my Project Diva Master Book signed by the lovely Yuu Asakawa; signed right next to a 3D render model of Megurine Luka. I asked her if she would sign it to the name, “PKJD.” She smiled and said she would no problem. She handed it back to me saying, “Here you go, Mr. P.K.J.D.~” Wow, that may have been the highlight of my year I think, haha! Here’s the signature.
- [Rest of Day]: I like to end my days on a high note. And I thought I couldn’t end it any higher than what just happened at that autograph session. So we end up skipping out on all other events for today and check in to our hotel. (But not before picking up my autographed sketch by Himukai Kyousuke.) But yes, better to eat a good dinner and rest well for Day 2.
- [Eri Kitamura Panel]: Hello Angel Beats spoilers! Some idiot thought it would be funny to spoil something major at the Kitamura Q&A. And boy, did he get it from the crowd. Most of the other questions were made up of mostly, “can you do such and such voice for me?” Right. At least she did Rin’s voice of Kojika! Oh and by the way, this focus panel was hosted by NISA instead of the normal AX staff. So surely NISA wouldn’t bring their notorious record of fail to such an important event like this right? Wrong! No tickets for Kitamura’s autograph session. FFFFFFFF. [Video]. Did I mention they also had a box filled with questions? WTF.
- [Nakajima & May’n Concert]: Ah finally! The major event at AX 2010 was about to begin. This would take place at the Nokia Theater just down the street. With our seats already reserved, this would all go down smoothly and without a hitch. What can I say, the show was really nice. Although we were sitting/standing next to a bunch of deadbeats who just observe the live show like a couple of statues, I’d say this was a great concert overall. To my absolute shock, Yoko Kanno was the surprise guest. She came out and danced to Nakajima’s Seikan Hikou right there on stage. Yes there is video of that somewhere on Youtube. Here it is.
- [Yui Horie Panel]: Well after recovering from the show, we head off to the Petree Hall for another Q&A session with NISA’s next GoH. We sit down, get comfy, and out she came; [Video]. So let’s see how NISA handles this one. Oh what do you know. They want to show us the entire first episode of Toradora — something that is shown at the NISA booth at the Exhibit Hall all day. Well after wasting 24 minutes of our precious time, the Yui Horie Q&A session actually began. But not before they bring out that lovely box filled with the most generic pre-written questions one can ask a seiyuu who had voiced roles in over 60 anime titles. Once again, things end with no tickets for Horie’s autograph session — which happens to take place in about 30 minutes. This is not going to be pretty.
- [Yui Horie Autographs]: The focus panel for Horie took place in the Petree Hall downstairs. The autograph session will be held upstairs in LP3 of same building. The panel ends. A bum rush ensues. I witnessed what can only be described as a children’s riot. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and I swear I thought I saw people trip while making their way up the stairs. I thought for sure I got a good spot in line thanks to a friend. But no, that was not going to be the case. After waiting in line for nearly an hour — I am so not making this up — we were asked to leave because Horie needed to attend some sort of meeting. Later on I find out that around 30 or so received her autograph that day. Please keep in mind that none of this happens at the autograph sessions where attendees are issued a ticket. Well it kinda does, but not to this extreme. Not a very smart move by NISA’s part. But then again, it’s NISA.
- [MELL Concert]: HELLYEAH! The moment has come! The very reason why I wanted to come to AX this year! MELL of I’ve Sound is going to perform live at the Nokia Theater! Reserved seats checked. Glowsticks checked. Friends to enjoy the show with me checked. We are going to live this up like no one else in the building! Her performance was simply amazing. Live band and all. She totally rocked the place to its core, having the perfect song list that set the mood for everyone to enjoy. I love MELL even more now that I’ve had the opportunity to see her live. And what built the hype even more was knowing I get to meet her tomorrow!
- [Rest of Night]: Okay now I am just too tired to carry on with the night after that amazing show I just saw, haha! We decide to head to the hotel, eat, and call it a night. And for the second time, I miss the Vocaloid panel at AX. Can anyone fill me in on what happened at this year’s fan panel?
- [MELL Focus Panel]: Good morning, MELL! Of course I would wake up bright and early just to see you~! Your performance last night rocked! Today was the day I would get to meet MELL. But not before first attending her Q&A panel. This time I sat in the front row of the Petree Hall. Right where I can see her walk to and from the panel stage. Lots of qood questions were asked. You can tell a lot of these guys were true fans. One even asked her about her alias “Orihime.” I wanted to shake that guy’s hand after. The panel ended with everyone saying, “ROCK ON!” Scored the ticket for autographs later.
- [Megumi Nakajima Panel]: Next is Nakajima. Went in and found a seat no problem, but was late because MELL panel took awhile to end. Meanwhile, a friend kept me in touch via text message over what’s happening at the Aksys Games panel — where they obviously discussed Blazblue: Continuum Shift and Deathsmiles. One of the questions there I believe was will they make a BB vs GG game. Aksys Games had to remind them that they only license and distribute the titles, not develop them, hah! While that’s going on, I was still at the Nakajima booth where they did actually ask questions regarding her work as GUMI — which was nice. At the end, I had another autograph ticket to save in my wallet.
- [Kitamura & Horie Autographs]: This was madness. I’m not even sure where to begin. So many people were cutting in front of others, that if you didn’t stand up for yourself, you’d ruin your chance at an autograph. It was that serious. See, I didn’t want to be a jerk to anyone in back of me by letting any friends have cuts in front. But I was seeing a lot of dickmoves like that going on up in front. My friend even fought hard with one guy who tried to cut. In the end my friend managed to get the support of the crowd and that person who cut left and apologized later. You gotta stand up for yourself people! Don’t let these kinds of assholes walk all over you. Because in the end, it’ll pay big. And it sure did here. Scored an autograph from Kitamura, Horie, and one of the producers of Toradora. Originally I wanted Kitamura to sign my Kodomo no Jikan “Anime no Himitsu” visual book, but couldn’t due to 1 item per autograph rule. Besides, it’s nicer to have all 3 sign the same Toradora visual guide book.
- [MELL Autographs]: I was like one of the first 10 people in line because I came extra early for this one. Best thing of all, pictures were allowed! Also they sold her CDs, DVDs, and profile photo right there on the table. I grabbed her photo of course :P I went up to her, asked if she could sign all my stuff, and she did without hesitation. Then out of nowhere, she reached out and grab my hands to thank me. That was so unexpected! My heart stood still for a second I think, haha! MELL thank you so much for making this my absolute memorable AX experience ever.
- [Nakajima & May’n Autographs]: After cooling down some, I headed back in line for the final autograph session of the day. But wait, what line? It was a cluster of folks just spread all over the Exhibit Hall. It wasn’t long before some AX staff member began to take control of the situation. A few of us eventually were assigned a number. I was #7! Yeah 7th in line for Nakajima and May’n autograph session. All I needed to do was wait. And wait. And wait some more. Oh god that took like forever. Finally they come out and everyone goes crazy mad. There were some real hardcore fans in line of course. No pictures unfortunately. When it was my turn, I got to meet the two voice actresses and have them sign the inside poster that came with the Macross Frontier Movie ~Itsuwari no Utahime~ book. It was very quickly done. Waited for a friend to finish getting theirs as well.
- [Rest of Night]: Sitting on an empty stomach, it was time to go out for food and call it a day. This time I would be sacrificing the Manga Gamer panel scheduled for later that night. It was okay though. I was already quite satisfied with how my day ended.
- [Danny Choo Panel]: Here I am early in the morning, ready to do this. I’ve spoken to Danny Choo a few times ages ago, before he became the massive internet celebrity he is today. Nice guy. Wish him all the best. But lets be honest. The real reason I came to this was to see the Black Rock Shooter preview that I heard about through some re-tweets, haha! Once the people were being seated for the panel, he asked a few Dollfie owners to place theirs next to his on the table in front. I was shocked to see how many people owned these Dollfies. Personally I think the EX Cute series from Azone are a lot cuter, but whatever. It’s amusing to see how far Danny Choo had spread his love and influence for the dolls. Nice job! Anyway the panel starts and he goes into this thing about if you had 6 months to live. Are you content with your present lifestyle? Okay now, this was a bit depressing. Did I accidentally step into a seminar for suicide prevention? But enough about that, give me BRS! The trailer is shown, but not before Danny tells us that some news sources misreported the actual time of the preview he was about to present. It wasn’t 10 minutes. It was actually 1 minute. Here it is for those who have yet to see it. Afterwards, I stayed for a good bit to watch this show he hosts in Japan I believe. However, I had to leave early since this was the last day, and I want to do whatever last minute shopping I can get accomplished.
- [Exhibit Hall Hangout]: Every chance I had to enter the Exhibit Hall, I would find myself spending most of the time at the Aksys booth playing Blazblue: Continuum Shift. Call me an addict or whatever, but I absolutely love that game. My main Rachel felt quite strange, as it was reported by many. It’s like I have to re-learn how to play her again. No problems with that. I’m up for the challenge. Because I am not about to let magical loli Platinum outperform my favorite vamp loli! No way, no how. Anyway, we did a lot of shopping over at the Exhibit Hall as well. I did end up getting $20 back for buying the limited edition Blazblue: Continuum Shift TE arcade stick from Madcatz, since my friend went to the Aksys panel the other day. All in all a good time.
- [Rest of Day]: Exhibit Hall was about to close, but we found ourselves hanging out at the Manga Gamer booth since they were giving away a t-shirt, sandwich, coaster, and pepsi for anyone who picked up a copy of the Hatsunejima-Miku CD. I ended up buying one — and the sandwich was delicious! Later they gave away prizes by playing a game of rock, paper, scissors. Unfortunately, I was too busy eating to really concentrate on the game, hah! Afterwards, we thought maybe we should leave early to avoid that nasty 4th of July traffic that’s coming up. So we did. We checked out of our hotel and left for home. So overall, Anime Expo 2010 was fun and it lived up to my every expectation. An outstanding and impressive line of guests this year. Even with all the lines and drama, it was a weekend I won’t soon forget.