Anime Expo 2018 – a con in review

Anime Expo kicked off the summer with the biggest Japanime bash of the US. Every year they get illustrious guests from Japan from creators, producers and seiyuu as well as famed musical guests. There was a ton of things going on including Deku’s seiyuu Yamashita Daiki with the My Hero Academia movie as well as seiyuu Yuki Kaji with the premiere of Attack on Titans season 3. For music lovers, there is the 3 days of Anisong with Cinderella Girls live, May’n and the famed composer, Yuki Kajiura. Couldn’t see everything and this is only a glimpse into the weekend…

Day 1: Thursday, July 5

First look of the dealer’s room

I got to be in the Dealer’s Room during prep hours which is a rare opportunity. Got to see how hard everyone works to set up everything before the hall officially opens for attendees. With the anticipation of the crowds outside, I got a few pics of the empty aisles and booths. Instead of going to panels today, I decided to stick to knowing the lay of the land and exploring the dealer’s room. It took me from 10am to 12:30pm to see the entirety of the Industry area.

Actually, everything had a huge line and they got longer during the middle of the day with there being no lines (with stuff sold out) at the end of the day.

Klab’s Uta no Princesama booth had three large touchscreens where fans can play 4 songs. No matter the score, they will receive a postcard.

Viz held their usual stamp rally. It’s something that I look forward to every con. The prize was a Pegasus pin of sorts…as a reward clip. Pegasus and Chibusa were the ones who were giving out the prize as a promotion for Sailor Moon Super S releases.

Kodansha outfitted their booth as a museum of art with a ton of Card Captors Sakura and Sailor Moon pictures on display. Depending on the manga, Kodansha also gave out mini shikishi.

The Sailor Moon fanclub display showcased their new membership card as well as the communication watch. Lots of awesome fanclub-only merch.

At 12:30pm, I started exploring the other side of the exhibit hall and stuck to it until it closed at 6pm. The hall was huge. I was surprised when I found Guilt Pleasure. Creator Jo Chen was not there but Kichiku Neko was present. I spoke with her, mentioning that I saw them at Comiket so many years ago. I bought her newest books, Luminosity a novel which she graciously signed. Also bought a bunch of mini clear files that were from Taiwan and the newest post cards. I spoke about how I was an old fan, followed her since her initial publishing in English, bought her Japanese doujins (during Comiket) and her series is one that I always looked forward to.

I finally got into the Bluefin booth which had a huge line before. Saw the doggie Bearguy but no Gundam 00 Bearguys.

Day 2: Friday, July 6

Seeing the crowds waiting for the Exhibit doors to open daunting. Again, I used the early more access to grab pics of things easily before the halls opened up.

Funimation was holding a bunch of signings at the booth and the only way to attend was to obtain an Eventbrite ticket. It was free and the link was on their site. Tickets were available a week before the convention. Since it was the seiyuu, Yuki Kaji’s only autograph session at the con, tickets were gone shortly after their release. However, an hour before the signing, tickets were made available on Eventbrite once again. With the help of my friends, I was able to snag up a ticket the last minute.

No photos were allowed and there was security blocking the view of anyone who tried to grab a pic of Kaji’s sweet smile and soft wavy hair. Voice actor Bryce Papenbrook was also present at the signing. It was not the first time Bryce voiced one of Kaji’s characters. They are both the voice of Meliodas from The Seven Deadly Sins, also featured at the con. During the signing, I mentioned to Bryce that I really liked his voice for Eren. For Kaji, I told him in Japanese that I was a huge fan of his and mentioned that I really like Wotakoi. I thought that Nifuji’s younger brother was very cute as Kaji was his voice.

Entertainment Hall

Separated from the Exhibit hall and located in a different wing, the Entertainment hall house the TCG tables as well as most of the demos featured at the convention. There were many video game companies there, many more than ever seen at east coast cons. Understandable since many of the companies are in California.

Afterwards, I headed back to the exhibit hall before it was time to change for the concert.

Anisong Concert

Got to the Microsoft Theater and waited a while to get inside. There were metal detectors and bag check. Turns out, my DSLR needed to be checked in. At least it was free. Checked in, got our seats, Really good seats in the Lodge which is not overhead view, but just slightly higher. Throughout the concert, we were seated, but my hands were moving the entire time. *waves penlight*

Day 3: Saturday, July 7

all K all the time

The goal of the day was the K signing. The Viz booth had a limited number of tickets. Thankfully, I was able to get there early. Hung out in the hall before the signing.

The signing was at the Industry autograph area in the artist alley. Originally shikishi were allowed but then they stuck to the poster for the upcoming K movie. It was signed by the planning producer Nakanishi Go, Tsuchiya Shimba-san (seiyuu for Kusuhara Takeru,) Patrick Seitz (voice actor for Munakata) and cosplayer Kaname dressed as Munakata. He was so perfect in the role, very stoic, looking very carefully at his sharpies, putting the tips of his fingers together (in a very Ikari Gendo-like pose.) No photos allowed of his antics but they are forever in my memory.

To Go-san, I said that I was looking forward to the movies. He replied that he was very excited about it as well and spoke about the action scenes and quiet moments, the feel of the movie. To the Tsuchiya-san, I said it was an honor to meet him. I simply said thank you to Patrick Seitz. I mentioned to Kaname that I met him some time ago in Japan, at the Royal Servant butler café (currently defunct.) I couldn’t finish my sentence since I was so nervous. But I meant that I was happy to see him again.

Close to 2pm, I went the Staples Center building where they were holding the photoshoot. The cosplay gatherings have locations, but there isn’t a map on the app for them. No idea how people know where they are. Eventually I found the site. Kaname was part of the gathering. First the kings, Scepter 4, Homra, Hakumai and then group, followed by requests. When requests came on, Kamamoto took charge. Pointing at Fushimi and Misaki, he asked them to “come at him”. Turns out, he is strong enough to heft them over his shoulders.

Then Kaname asked him to pick him up….after playing around with him.

Kaname is awesome. Although we were shooting in the shade, it was still hot. He had his hand towel which he used a lot. I asked for single shots which he gave. (I’m glad my Japanese was understandable.)

Day 4: Sunday, July 8

chatting with Kichiku Neko

I went to see Kichiku Neko at the Guilt Pleasure booth and got to talk to her for a bit. Kichiku Neko met Jo Chen at Yaoi Con. Jo had read some of Kichiku Neko’s writing and wanted to collaborate with her which became In These Words. Kichiku wrote about the police in New York since she used to live in New York. Libre/Beboy Gold saw their collaboration at Yaoi Con (the year Yamane-sensei was there) and wanted to publish them in Japan. I inquired about the creative process. Kichiku Neko does all the writing herself and it is novel first which Ms. Chen turns into chapters. They had to edit out a few chapters and they hope to publish the novels as well in the future. Ms. Chen works on the art alone, with no assistants and she is perfectionist with her own work. We got into a deep discussion about the thin line between abuse and obsessive love in BL stories, mentioning Konohara Narise-sensei’s stories and Ten Count. Kichiku Neko noted that she wants to continue to write stories that are realistic in their emotions despite being serious and BL. We ended up chatting about BL live actions and laughed over how hard it is to find good ones. (She doesn’t really watch them since it’s hard to do BL in real life which is so true. ^_^) Still, I recommended Doushitemo (manga by Kou Yoneda) and Seven Days as it was some of the few decently shot BL live actions.

Lastly, I asked about Kichiku Neko’s pen name. She said that she has a cat who is kinda mean which is where she got her name. I mentioned that I heard something similar from Tateno-sensei. ^_^ I spoke with her until close to 2pm. XD

a con in review

I still don’t feel knowledgeable about AX enough to give a thorough review. However, here are some highlights. People are truly nice. Someone bumped into me and I was worried that they bent my K poster. They must’ve heard me draw breath since they immediately turned and apologized. A friend mentioned that Japanime fans are definitely nicer than most and I would agree. However, there were still some incidents of thieves at the con. People making out with shirts and even a figure at one booth and some attempted stealing at my friend’s booth. That is everywhere sadly.

Public transportation exists but it is sparse. Not enough to truly get around. Ubering is the best unless you have friends. ^^;

I give alot more credit to the vendors now that got to see behind the scenes. I will not be so careless with my clothing at shops and cons and now. All that folding and folding. I don’t touch things unless I’m serious about it, but I’ll be even more self aware now. ^^; Truly, my friend’s booth, All Blue Anime has some of the most extensive shirt collection ever. I know how the booth breaks down, have a better idea about how it is maintained and I give them a lot of props for vendors working so hard.

AExpo is huge and I only saw a small sliver of all the action. Can’t see everything since something awesome is always happening. However, the proximity to Japan promises for amazing guests and there are always a few surprises to look forward to.