Anime Expo 2013

Yes. This is indeed what you think it is.

Let me preface this by saying just how scared I was that I wouldn’t be able to make it this year.  I wasn’t frightened solely from the fact of not being able to go; I was terrified that after registering, figuring out my hotel situation, and purchasing my flight ticket, that work would not approve the time off for those couple of days around the Fourth of July.  Since I’m newly hired and the only person in my department, my leaving depended greatly on how busy we were in the few days leading up to my proposed days.  Thankfully, things worked out and I was able to follow through on my oft-repeated agreement to meet up with people. (More pictures at the very end)Day 0

This year, traveling was a lot less stressful since I now live much closer and I also know what to expect upon arrival in Los Angeles.  Also better from 2012 is that I actually slept well the night prior and took my time that morning getting ready to go.  I flew in a bit late around 5PM and dropped off my stuff at the Luxe before heading over to grab my badge. Another plus was that the Luxe is the closest hotel to the convention center, within a quick 5-10 minute walk, and that I was with a roommate who gave me a deal I just couldn’t pass up.  More on that situation later.

I was a bit surprised at how long the line still was, but it only took 1 1/2 hours of mostly walking the line before I had my badge in hand.  I booked it back to the hotel early to meet my other roommates and chow down on the rest of my airport sandwich from lunch. My decision to leave behind my laptop haunted me when I saw all the new anime that was airing during my peaceful first night in L.A.  I ended up sleeping early, which was actually good considering the crazy time tables of the following days.

Day 1

I kick started my offline meet-ups by catching up with papermario and his friends, including Eater of All, at the L.A. Convention Center (CC) and we stood in yet another line for the opening of the exhibit hall.  Normally I would have just come in later after the doors were already open, but my free room came at the price of time: getting sketches from as many guests of honor as possible.  This necessity ate away most of the first day since the hall didn’t open until noon and the new procedure of autographs required two periods of waiting as opposed to the previous years of first come, first served.

Autographs
The unique difference to this year were the place holder tickets. These little slips of paper meant that you first had to line up in a generic autograph line to get the numbered tickets to the guests of your choice. Theoretically you could then leave to do panels or browse the dealer’s hall before coming back at the guest’s signing time and jump into your corresponding position.  This procedure only really worked smoothly the first day because so many people had no clue about the changes and as such didn’t clog the rush up to the ticket table.  All following days, however, were insane with the lines, especially with popular guests  like Noizi Ito, huke, and Kazuhiko Inoue.  Too many people running for a guest when he or she only had an hour to sign meant any number past 100 was likely to get cut off.  There was almost never a chance to go to a panel or do any hall browsing between the ticket line and the autograph line.

My first day’s successful autographs included Nobuhiro Kikuchi, Mari Okada, and Keigo Sasaki.  Kikuchi and Okada were paired autographs since they shared works.  Ideally I would have asked them to sign different pieces, my preference for each one, but I was only able to bring one item for them both to sign: my Hanasaku Iroha artbook.  Funny observation: most of the attendees in line seemed to be there for Okada.  She was the one they requested photographs with and autographs from.  Quite a few bypassed Kikuchi completely, or skipped asking him for a photo.  Since the two guests shared a table, I felt really bad.  He seemed relieved that I not only wanted his autograph, but that I also wanted him to pose for a picture with me.  Both Okada and Kikuchi were engaging and didn’t seem rushed in their interactions.  I followed up with Keigo Sasaki, hoping to get a sketch.  Unfortunately, he was not taking such requests, so I got to keep his autograph for myself.

Prior to the autographs, I nabbed some bites with twitter and blog folk–Inushinde, draggle, mar, emperorj…am I forgetting anyone?–over at the food trucks.  This mystical place had caught my attention the previous year, but I had never gotten around to trying it out until this year.  The prices are much friendlier than the food and drink in the actual cc, and there’s a good variety of foods for people with different tastes.  Obviously the more popular trucks were those with Japanese-themed dishes, so I made a bee line for the one with the shortest wait time: pulled pork sandwich with blue cheese, onions, and fries on the side. YUM! Unfortunately, I was in a rush to make the autographs, so I inhaled my sandwich much like how my dog swallows her treats.

Kazuhiro Furuhashi Panel
I was able to make one panel for Kazuhiro Furuhashi, an animator and director, who  worked on the original Hunter x HunterRurouni Kenshin, Ranma 1/2, and Mobile Suite Gundam Unicorn.  Promos shown centered on UC and the Q&A mostly regarded that anime, as well as Kenshin.  The plus of going to a guest panel before the scheduled autograph session means you first get a chance at a winning raffle ticket for a premier spot at the front of the autograph line.  Non-winning raffle tickets still get you priority tickets that are second in the line, ahead of the standby tickest of those who did not attend the panel.  I obtained a priority for his signing session on Day 2.

Game Room
After the panel, I met up with Riyoga and his friend John, and we hit up the game room.  I don’t believe I made it there last year, so I was definitely interested in what kind of games would be available.  Most of the arcade games we walked around consisted of various rhythm games, including Taiko no Tatsujin, DJMax Technika, and miscellaneous ones for dance, guitar, piano, and DJ-ing.  Some of the people we saw there were INSANE.  I think some of them were even playing the part of two people all on their lonesome…it’s no wonder they’re all so scary skinny.  I then dragged the guys off to watch the first three episodes each of FMA and FMA:Brotherhood.  I can happily say that I convinced them to pick up Brotherhood on their own much sooner than they would have without the push.  We missed our chance to attend 2DT’s panel, Learning Japanese with Hentaiwhich had a bigger crowd than we had anticipated and whose line ended up getting capped.

Day 2

The second day started out again with the exhibit hall line, this time with a 10AM open.  After obtaining my tickets, I commenced my attack on the dealer’s hall and snatched up the premier edition of the four seasons of Natsume Yuuinchou from NIS.  This glorious and painful purchase also netted me a photo session ticket with Inoue, as well as some freebies from NY and Disgaea.  Yay! I love free stuff!

Autographs
Using my premier ticket from the previous day, I took Kazuhiro’s autograph sans sketch, Inoue’s autograph, and Kise’s autographed sketch.  Inoue’s line was terrifyingly long, and I was #155.  I fully expected to get cut off and even considered giving up, but that man went full bore and signed for almost two hours, likely going well into the 200s.  He took his time with each fan, shaking hands (mine was ice cold from excitement), taking photos, and grinning the entire time.  I have so much respect for his work and now for his interactions with the crowd.  I then sprinted into line for Kise, who, to my delight, was taking sketch requests.  I received a Yuuko (xxxHOLiC) sketch, which I took a picture of with Kise since I would be giving the board over to my roommate.  Kise is another guest who seems to truly care for his fan’s happiness.  The whole session ended with me going back to the NIS booth for photos with Inoue.  There was practically no line, and I was ushered straight to him when I presented my photo session ticket.  Inoue stood there smiling like some suave host, wearing traditional garb and carrying the Nyanko plush he had with him everywhere during the con.  He not only smiled for the camera next to me, he even scooted in as close as possible and had no qualms with putting his face right up next to mine.  I was simply star-struck and probably spewed out nonsense as a thank you.

I took a late lunch again at the food trucks, this time with Riyoga and John, before splitting off to browse the dealer’s room until it closed.  I picked up several small Pokemon gifts for my friend back home, mostly from the Artist Alley.  After the hall, I made my way to the table top area of the game room to meet up with people again as they played  Tanto Cuore.  I still haven’t learned the game, but maybe next year I’ll finally be able to jump in and become Queen of the Maids, fufufu!  I also learned what Ace Attorney was, thanks to normalmar and Shinmaru, and will have to add it to my list of games to play the day I get a DS.  I was able to catch a bit of the third episode viewing of Natsume Yuujinchou in the video room before running off to Ralphs–the closest convenience store in the area–for some sustenance.

Day 3

After all that line waiting from the first two days, I decided to flip off autographs (I’m sorry huke; your line was too long! My Steins;Gate artbook will have to wait for the next opportunity) and browse the dealer hall again, this time with Inushinde.  Alas, no ARIA goods were to be found.  I’m pretty sure if there were, we would have come to blows over who would take the figure home.  For the third time, lunch came from the food trucks, but this round I finally met the elusive and eloquent 2DT, as well as SeHNNG and violaxcore.  These meetings are a huge reason why I continue to go to these gatherings, making connections from names to faces, and reveling in our mutual fanitude.  I only wish I could have spoken with 2DT a bit more and picked that mind of keen observation.

SUNRISE Panel
I ran off to the Sunrise panel, which opened with several promos, including my loved Danshi Koukousei no NichijouValvrave, Tiger & Bunny, and Gundam Unicorn.  The majority of the session centered on Gundam discussion, which included a well put together video titled, “The World of Gundam.”  I’m not very knowledgeable at all about the franchise, with my limited exposure consisting of Endless Waltz and Gundam Age.

Clockwise from top left: Promo for Keigo’s Blue Exorcist, Kazuhiro Furuhashi’s autograph, Mirai no Neiro group autograph (Wogura, Kagome-P, UtataP, Dixie Flatline, Tennen, & buzzG), & Keigo Sasaki’s autograph

Because of the time constraint, I was unable to make my highly anticipated Garden of Words movie premier, my only chance of seeing Makoto Shinkai this convention.  Again, the line to the premier had to be cut off.  Missing that chance is my one regret of the con, since Garden of Words is one of my preferred Shinkai works, and at the top of my list for his artwork.  The one consolation I took out of the moment was I was able to line up early for Inoue’s panel, whose waiting area was expected to be so popular that they set it up outside.

Kazuhiko Inoue Panel
The panel, as expected, was well attended. His popularity meant he could request us fans to call out for him to come up on stage, which we happily did.  Carrying his ever-present Nyanko-sensei, he immediately jumped into Q&A, the line of which extended all the way to the back of Petree Hall.  The first several questions centered on his older work with Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, which I think surprised him quite a bit since after maybe the second or third regarding it he muttered something along the line of it being an older work he couldn’t really remember, which gathered some laughs from the audience.  Another popular role of his was Naruto’s Kakashi, whose voice he demonstrated a couple of times to extended applause.  He also described the cast’s relationship to be one like a family, as they have worked together for such a long time and some members have really grown up over the years.  There was even a section almost dedicated to his work on otome games, and he described in detail and action the method of using a dummy head mic, whispering his love into its ears and circling around it like a crab.  Interspersed throughout the whole panel were several exclamations in Nyanko-sensei’s voice, calling for alcohol and drinks and earning claps, “awwwwwwwws”, and overly enthusiastic female fans whimpering in excitement.  It cracked me up how a couple of times he would mimic the audience’s “aws”. And when the time came to end the session, he obliged a question-turned-request with a short line of song.  If there were any uninterested people along for the ride in the audience because of friends or some other obligation, I’m pretty sure he won them over.

To end my experience at Anime Expo 2013 a day early, I made sure to have dinner with as many people as I could and to eat extravagantly without paying heed to the cost.  Many thanks to Shinmaru, Inushinde, emperorj, normalmar, Icy, R1CK_D0M, and ToastCrust for bringing me along to The Yard House and indulging my scotch-ridden blather.  I followed up briefly at AX’s Lounge 21 with Yumeka and her very sweet friend Jan.  It seems like there never is enough time to meet up with everyone who I intended to greet and engage in some one-on-one discussion with.  As I always end up saying, “I’ll see you at the next con!”

The Goods

Chatter:

  • The Luxe is really nice.  Nice on quality, spacious rooms, quick to supply extra towels and pillows when asked, conveniently within the closest walking distance to the cc, and full of super friendly employees.  10/10 I would stay here again.
  • My room situation was definitely kind of scary to me at first since I just could not believe someone would room me for free just for some sketches.  But scam it was not, and Akage taught me a lot regarding autographs and guests and how to room with strangers.  I think I really lucked out in finding her and in rooming with the other people who also took her up on her proposal.  There were three of us women and two young men in the room.  The other girl didn’t come in until very early morning on Day 3, so I was able to get a bed spot for the first two nights.  I did come prepared with my own pillow and blanket for the last nights.  Another awesome thing Akage did for us was bring a huge pack of oatmeal and a few cartons of vanilla soy milk for our breakfasts, to help us on keeping up and about in the mornings and avoiding the expensive meals in the area.  While I’m not sure whether I’ll go so gung-ho on autographs in the future, I would absolutely room with her again and get her one or two sketches if possible.
  • Now that I know where Ralphs is, I plan on shopping there on future Day 0s for groceries to cut down the food cost over the following days.  Those $2.50 waters and $4 green teas at the cc are ridiculously priced.  And despite loving trying all the food, it would probably be smarter of me to pack my own lunch and just tag along for a smaller snack or drink.

 

22 thoughts on “Anime Expo 2013

  1. I love that Nyanko-sensei is looking up at you in your picture with Kazuhiko Inoue. I’m jealous! Was hoping to get a figure in the mail in time to get it autographed by him, but alas, it was not meant to be. Not sure I would have gotten it, anyway, since those autograph lines did indeed get way crazier after the first day!

    It was a pleasure hanging out with you again! I’ll almost certainly be back in Seattle for Sakura-Con next year, so I’ll see you again then!

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    • Ooooh, what figure did you purchase for Inoue to autograph? I’m pretty sure you would have been the only one up there with a figure since most ppl had boards, books, or DVDs for him to sign.

      I’m definitely registering for Sakura-Con, even for just the weekend. I want to try out the smaller attended panels and see how the lines measure up to AX.

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      • It was Cars, the main villain of the second part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I actually bought the figure before I knew Inoue would be a guest at AX, but I hoped the timing would work out.

        Sakura-Con is waaaaaaaay smaller than AX, so I got into pretty much everything I wanted to attend. Lots of room available even after initial line rush. Only panel I went to that was packed to capacity was Dubs that Time Forgot. But there could have been other panels and such that were filled; my interests don’t totally line up with most congoers lol

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      • I had a feeling you were talking about Cars. Jojo is a series I keep meaning to put on my to-watch list, but it keeps getting pushed aside with all the new anime that I end up watching every season. Eventually!

        Your unique interests for panels and such are why I think I asked you a few times at AX if there was anything later in the days you were interested in. Besides the guest of honor and industry panels, I have a hard time picking others that may be promising despite their often misleading titles. I see the Dubs that Time Forgot has made it’s appearance a few times already, so maybe it’ll be back at Sakura-Con next year and I can try it out. Less crowds or the dealers hall and hallways and guaranteed entry despite lines are definitely a perk for smaller gatherings, and this AX really burned me out on lines.

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  2. Feels like forever since I’ve read something from you. This being me you know I’m gonna ramble on a few things and not really be on subject lol.

    Guess I’ll get the obvious little I’m glad it worked out and you had fun part out of the way first. I’m sure you was rocking every lucky charm and custom you knew of lol

    I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you but that hotel arrangement would terrify me. Being in a room full of people I don’t know is the stuff of nightmares. Sad to say I’m not even sure I could do the anime convention thing. I think I can since it’s so many people but with it being more confined it might overwhelm me.

    I’m glad you wanted to see Kikuchi. That just made me feel bad lol.

    I don’t like pulled pork so that didn’t appeal to me at all. Smart about the store for next year and packing your own lunches.

    And finally in my most random though from reading this I wanted to mention Cytus. I know you didn’t say you liked rhythm games and only commented about the crazy ability of the people playing. (Btw I’m crazy skinny, as you said, and I know now to avoid that place cause it’ll embarrass me badly lol) Anyways back on point. Cytus is an awesome rhythm game I have on my phone. If you have any interest I highly recommend it.

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    • I’ve never heard of Cytus and never play games on my phone, but thanks for the recommendation. I’ll for sure look into it!

      Yes, I feel so lucky for having found such a great person to room with. Even the others in the room admitted to being skeptical at first until they too realized how genuine she was.

      If big cons are too intimidating for you, why not try out a smaller, local one? Even if there aren’t as many guests or variety in panels, it’s just as great to meet with people in person with interests that align with yours. I’m going to make the Seattle-based Sakura-Con another annual must.

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  3. Sounds like you had an awesome time all around!🙂 I hope I can attend AX one day and meet with you. I think attending more anime centric conventions are in order for me in the future.😉

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    • I’m so glad to hear this! I don’t know if I’ll ever get to an East coast convention unless I end up resettling there far in the future or if somehow through work I get sent over there, but I do hope to meet you over here on the West coast if you ever visit, be it AX, Sakura-Con, or even any other one that I may end up trying. It really is so great to see people and run around emptying wallets and hearts on anime ^^

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  4. I’m heading back a day late, so I’ll have a writeup soon as well.

    Aside from that, it was good to see you again this year! Apologies that we basically split completely after Day 1, but it seems you got a lot done on your own regardless.

    Lines were looooooong this year, no doubt. I definitely stood in over 15 lines averaging 2 hours each- will check my numbers when I get home. I missed out on George Wada and Megumi Han this year (cut off for Megumi, didn’t even consider Wada after seeing his line), but everything else I got to.

    Final note, have you seen all of the complaints about staff this year? I personally didn’t have any problems, so I’m wondering if people are just pointing things out for the sake of it.

    See you next year if you come!

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    • I look forward to reading how the rest of your con went after we split ways on Day 1🙂 I did see you run by once sometime on the third day, but was in a line and so couldn’t really wave you down! There was so much line waiting and crowding compared to last year, it seems, and I’m wondering if they’re going to improve upon the waiting next con. I definitely missed out on a lot I wanted to do. Besides the Garden of Words premier, I also had wanted to go to the lounge and cocktail hour afterward with Shinaki, Mari Okada’s panel, George Wada’s Titan panel, huke’s panel and signing, Noizi Ito’s panel, the Vocaloid Mirai no Neiro panel, the Blue Exorcist movie, and the Hanasaku Iroha movie premier.😦 Too much!

      Yes, I noticed on Facebook all the complaints lodged against the AX staff and volunteers. I was a bit surprised since my own experience with them was actually pretty positive. I had no issues and a few times even joked around with them. There were a few times I thought some of the staff were a bit demanding with the lines and wanting to see badges randomly, but I’m always quick to oblige their request and have no further problems. I won’t try to deny others’ issues though since they could be very genuine.

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      • The waiting I would do without a second though, despite its lengthiness at times. What I wish they’d change is the spacing of important panels, as so many panels were put together and I was forced to skip so many. I had already seen Kotonoha no Niwa in Japanese with my favourite seiyuu Hanazawa Kana, so I wasn’t exactly sprinting to watch the English premiere. But hey, I didn’t know they were showing the Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home movie!

        Yeah, I have heard the staff raising voices in certain places, but they were forced to push lines along and somehow keep everything organized, so I’m not surprised. There seem to be some serious personal cases however, and I hope those people are just overexaggerating.

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      • Yes, I was appalled at the way they scheduled the panels, with guests overlapping the way they did. Perhaps they were trying to filter them out since they figured the lines would be atrocious, or maybe entice con-goers to try out some of the personally-run panels and workshops instead. And Hanasaku Iroha‘s movie was definitely a surprise. It wasn’t until afterward, later that day, that I heard they had played it. I was pretty upset since I would for sure have gone to watch it.

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  5. Sounds like you had a good time and really did well with getting autographs and photos with the guests =D I would have loved to have gotten my pic taken with Noizi Ito had they allowed photos at her autograph session.

    You got lucky with your rooming situation too. The very first time I stayed more than a day at AX, which was 2007, I roomed with a bunch of people. The girl who organized it was nice and all, but I’m just not the type to stay in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know. Nothing bad happened or anything, it was just awkward and I felt paranoid leaving the expensive anime goodies I bought alone with strangers. Plus I certainly can’t sleep anywhere but in a bed. So from then on I decided to just room by myself or with one other person I know and trust.

    Anyway, I’m glad I got to hang out with you more this year than last, even though it was brief. Hope to catch you again next year =D I’m planning to have my AX ’13 coverage up next week.

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    • Since I wasn’t able to get as many photos this year all around the con, I’m glad to at least have the guest of honor pictures. They’re proof of my stubborn waits in all those lines! I didn’t even get to see Noizi Ito or Makoto Shinkai. I wonder what Ito’s beef is with photographs, as well as a couple other guests–if they’ve just had too many negative experiences in the past or if they’re just severely shy. Either why, it’s a shame for the fans who honestly mean them well and just want a visual memento of their moments.

      I think having less people in the room also helped. Maybe if it was packed and a bunch of us were on the floor and had to juggle space for luggage and toiletries I might have gotten really uncomfortable and nervous. The spacious room and mutual trust with leaving luggage and other belonging around the room and bathroom helped me ease into the situation quickly. Of course, like you, I’d much rather room with someone I know, but I haven’t yet had luck in finding a good friend to do this with at AX.

      Maybe with each subsequent year, we’ll get to spend more and more time together ^^ I can’t wait to read your experience and see any photos you took!

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  6. Marina, it was great to meet you too! 😄 I’m glad my picture of you and Yumeka came out okay (though the glint on Yumeka’s glasses is a little harsh ;-)).

    I agree about Kazuhiko Inoue – he was professional but warm at the same time. And you’re right – he looked exactly like a suave, middle-aged host!! Your pic with him is wonderful.

    I look forward to seeing you at AX again next year. 🙂

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    • Hey, Jan! So awesome to see you here🙂 I’m used to photos causing a glint on my glasses when I wear them, so no biggie; I’m sure Yumeka doesn’t mind!

      After the experience getting to meet Inoue, I’m much more interested in investigating future guests so I’m better prepared for the next convention. Since this year was my first time trying for autographs and pictures, I didn’t have the objects ahead of time for singing and ended up stressing out running around the hall trying to find something for them to sign. My biggest purchase was all four seasons of Natsume Yuujinchou so I could have Inoue sign one of the Book of Friends season guides that come with each of them, but I don’t regret it since it is one of my favorite all time anime.

      I’m definitely down for meeting you in greater length next year!

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