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Summer Anime Season 2017 – Review October 9, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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This season was sort of a strange one for me, watching wise. Because I was busy with other stuff while these aired, I didn’t get to watch them until most of them were completely done. I’m usually the kind of person who watches week to week rather than binge watching. I noticed that most of the animes I watched this season were romance based. If you want to see a full list of what animes I’ve watched, you can always check out My Anime List. Here is a list of animes that I watched from this season:

Aho Girl

Gamers!

Hajimete no Gal

Netsuzou TRap

New Game!! 

Re:Creators

Sakura Quest (Dropped)

Tsurezure Children

Remember, these reviews assume that you have watched the series, which means SPOILERS will be few but imminent. You have been warned.


Aho Girl

This was the first show I checked out of the Summer Season as it was one of the short episode animes that were easy to digest. The name of the show pretty much explains the main character; a stupid dumb girl named Yoshiko obsessed with bananas and doing what she wants. All of the other people around her have their quirks as well, like an abusive childhood friend, a perverted disciplinary committee member, etc. I found the show to be annoying at times, mainly because of Yoshiko. At times though, while she has showed that while she lacks book smarts, she knows how to enjoy life and tries to spread that to others, whether it’s wanted or not.

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Gamers!

This is a story that revolves around certain students and one hobby. Amano Keita is our lonely protagonist who has a passion for gaming and becomes friends with Uehara Tasuku, who is secretly a fellow gamer and is someone who believes his life is perfect. We also have Karen Tendou, the club president of the video games club and Chiaki Hoshinomori, who constantly bickers with Keita. This is a story filled with a non-stop sequence of comedy scenes and misunderstandings. Our chaotic romantic comedy now begins!

Gamers! was a good anime that kept throwing the misunderstanding ball back and forth, enough to make you pull your hair out. The main character Amano Keita is not quite your typical lonely protagonist. He initially makes himself this way because he thinks of himself as inferior to others around him as a self-proclaimed gamer. As a person though, he is passionate about games that he will converse and argue with anyone who shares his interests. He eventually opens up to the people around him to the point where he cannot be called a loner anymore, and can easily talk to people without being nervous sounding.

The show had a load of references to games that were easily recognized, especially in the opening intro: Horror games like Resident Evil, Shoot Em’ Ups, the Super Smash Bros. Series, FPS (First Person Shooter) games like PUBG (which I’m real surprised to see here as it’s a new and upcoming game that apparently is popular enough in Japan for it to be perfectly shown in anime form), platforming games like Mario, Visual Novels, Rhythm Games, RPGs (Role Playing Games), Classic fighting games like Street Fighter, and MMORPGs set in a fantasy setting. Within the show were some direct usage of game footage as well like from a Persona fighting game. Crane games (UFO catchers) and smart phone mobile gaming was also shown as well. The last episode was almost all about explaining DLCs (Downloadable Content).

In this show, love triangles are overrated; it’s more like a love star as the five of them were constantly in doubt of who liked one another. That’s one of my issues with Gamers!, is that the beginning and end of the anime had game aspects, while the middle was more of just a rom-com style of anime. You could entirely remove the game aspect with another topic and still have the same dynamic and situations. The series was created to cater to games and the culture that goes along with it; to attract said audiences that have been increasing at a steady rate due to the development in technology and ease of obtaining.

The conclusion of this series’s season was no conclusion at all. It was just simply another episode that offered no closure for the characters or plot. The only thing that it did was sort of sort out the love star but besides that, not much progression in terms of their relationships. Sure I did say that the romance is more like the filling in the middle of the sandwich, but it’s still part of the series none the less. And because of its integration with the story and characters, I wish it was more fleshed out and balanced so that it did not feel like a completely separate topic from the title of the show. It was the characters themselves that tied the “games” and “romance” themes, and I do hope that if another season is created, that these could be blended in a way that shows that only Gamers! can do it right.

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Hajimete no Gal

This anime was a mixed bag of sorts. This show is basically about a virgin guy trying to lose his virginity to a gyaru gal he confesses to as part of a prank from his friends, under the misconception that they are sluts. Most of the main male characters were immoral and sometimes downright wrong to the point where he not being a part of the show would have decreased the cringe factor. Besides that point, the show worked to try and show that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case a gyaru/virgin guy.

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Netsuzou TRap

Emotional tug-of-war between two girls who have boyfriends basically explains what happens in Netsuzou TRap. Here’s an actual synopsis from MAL.net:

Yuma and Hotaru have been friends since childhood, so it’s only natural that when Yuma is nervous about her new boyfriend, she asks Hotaru for advice. But when Hotaru starts coming onto Yuma for what feels like more than just ‘practice,’ what does it mean…? With boyfriends in the foreground but a secret, passionate tryst in the background, will Yuma and Hotaru try to forget what happened between them or have they fallen into a trap of true love and betrayal?

Mid Season Thoughts: This anime is one that makes me sort of hate it, in a good way I mean. I find it interesting to see the amount of people who don’t like what’s going on in the anime, from comments I’ve seen from each episode on Crunchyroll. Naturally the anime is trying to evoke mixed to negative emotions. It’s as if people don’t see the capitalized letters of the show’s name “NTR”. If you want to know the full meaning of the genre term, just do a search of it on your own, but in basic terms it’s “designed to provoke jealousy in the audience by proxy by having a character indulge in sexual activity with someone other than the protagonist.” I obviously don’t like what’s going on storywise, but I’m still interested to see how it all ends. Everyone involved just seems to get deeper and deeper predicaments, and it will have a bad end…. probably.

Overall thoughts: Now that I’ve finished the anime, it’s time for me to lay out my thoughts. I suppose things ended in the best way possible: The girl gets the girl, stays friendly with the guy she was going out with (Technically they never officially broke up so ???), and it’s assumed that the abusive boyfriend leaves them alone? Sounds ideal I know, but I’m not sure whether or not this is a true end, or just a conclusion that everyone watching can digest. I was expecting things to spiral all the way down, but it didn’t. On an emotional richter scale I felt it never went beyond a 5.5/6.0 out of 10, so it was relatively mild. I think that’s for the best as it probably didn’t want to scare people away from the NTR genre, rather it gave us a taste of the delicious poison that could potentially have people wanting more.

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New Game!! 

In this second season anime about the game making company Eagle Jump, progression through trials and competition that create drama sums it up. After finishing up Fairies Story 3, a decision is made to create a brand new game. Ideas from employees of the company put theirs’ out, but Aoba’s is chosen. While her concept wins, to the company it may not sell without a notable name behind it so Yagami Ko is directed to be the public character designer, while Aoba is the internal (and true) character designer. With her co-workers and new interns on board for this new series, they work to create a cutesy game called Peco.

I enjoyed the increased drama when compared to the first season. It gave the characters more of a push to work harder at their goals, instead of the show being more like a slice-of-life kind of show that the previous season felt like. I also noticed that the shippings between most of the characters was much more pronounced, but at the same time a bit lighter at the same time. Think of it as more love spread evenly all over.

The ending summed up everything nicely, and with an important moral ending: Keep working hard towards your goals. Don’t stay in your comfort zone too long or you’ll grow complacent. By going beyond your comfort zone, you can learn and achieve more than you would if you stayed safe. Don’t just survive, live. I won’t spoil the ending, so that you can experience that feeling yourself, that moving forward is the way to accomplish things that you may or may not have expected to.

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Re:Creators

This review for Re:CREATORS is for the second half of the season episodes 13-22, as well as an overview for the entire series.

Episode 13, aka the recap episode was done in a way that I’ve never seen before. It summarized the story up to the current episode, but with a few twists from narrator Meteora. I loved how besides just retelling the story, it also threw in some jokes about the creation of the anime, such as the difficulty of animating Altair’s hair or easing qualms about the use of a recap episode, which is usually seen as a cheap way to have filler.

Mid Season Thoughts @ Ep. 15: I’m liking the set-up that’s going on for the final battle. Whether or not we’ll see any kind of major fighting between now and the end, I’m not sure. As they said in the show, “No one knows how the story is going to end”, and I feel this can be interpreted in a couple of ways: The first interpretation is what most people would think; that because the “story” is being created to prevent an end-of-the-world crisis, and with the many uncertainties that lie within that plan, the characters in the show won’t know how it will all unfold when the end happens. Maybe though, there’s another reason why the characters in Re:CREATORS won’t know what will happen until the end. My second interpretation is more out there than feasible, but it would be quite amazing if it was the case. The way the show uses the term “audience” and talking about getting “acceptance” from them, in order for the elements that they are planning to use to lure and trap Altair, feels like they are talking about not only about the people in the world of Re:CREATORS who consume media related to the characters in said universe, but also directly to us viewers as well. After all, the main world that the anime takes place in is parallel to our own, a place where we create stories for our own entertainment and business. Imagine if our feelings and “acceptance” affected the series ending as well. That the creators of the anime were tracking our ratings of the show and incorporating it’s influence as part of the show. I know it’s a far fetched idea as most anime productions are done under a strict schedule, but it would be so meta if it was possible.

The second opening “Sh0ut” is another Sawano Hiroyuki masterpiece. What I love about his style when it comes to him making anime openings is that they are straight up serious songs with attitude. The beats and drops he uses are so addicting to listen to, even if it can get a bit overused at times. Either way, he’s my favorite anime soundtrack composer and I almost always check out an anime that he’s involved in. The opening sequence that goes with “Sh0ut” is simple yet effective, and is amplified by his music. The timing of the transitions, each character’s showcase at an angle where you can’t see their face directly deep in thought preparing for the final battle, Altair’s cute faces (which look so unlike her from what we’ve seen in the show so far), sneak peak of the battles yet to come, along with foreshadowing for additional story elements in between. I’m enjoying it so much that I can’t help but wave my hands to the transitional beats that is the second opening sequence of Re:CREATORS.

Direct after thoughts: I just finished watching the final episode, and else can I say but that this anime was exciting and emotional all the way to the end, in a word fantastic. While this anime was a great watch I will not say that it is flawless, but it definitely was interesting meta wise. As I mentioned in my mid-season thoughts, I had speculated that the “audience” could of referred to us actual viewers as well. Now that I’ve finished watching I can say that this is probably false, but it definitely still could of influenced how the audience was talked about in the anime. Most of what was explained about how they would approve what was shown, I could understand if those theories were used for actual shows marketing.

This next part will be my summarizing of the story episodes 14 through 22. SPOILER ALERT if you don’t know already.

Episodes 14 though 16 was the set up towards the final battle, which was called the “Chamber Elimination Festival”. This was the lull of the series, where scenes dialogue and work by the Creators to prepare for the finale. This part got a little repetitive with the episodes ending with the reinforcement that their plans will bear the fruit that they’ve planted, even with the amount of uncertain factors in play. Luckily when this thought came to my mind, it was the last time this was used.

The final battle started in episode 17 onward, and it was all over the place, in a good way. We didn’t get the usual match ups which was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t want to see more of Alicetaria vs. Selesia, Yuuya vs. Blitz, etc. What I didn’t initially know was that Alicetaria had already planned to change sides to fight against Altair. It wasn’t obvious to me, but there were some hints when I look back, like when she visited Magane and what her Creator hinted she would do in the battle. I suppose that she decided to take a step back and look at things in a more clear perspective. Whether or not she knew that Altair killed Mamika before telling her so I’m not sure. It started with Alicetaria attacking Kanoya who hasn’t been in much of the battles sue to his large mecha. I did find it to be a strange matchup at first, but it was exciting none the less, to see how powerful Alicetaria was against a mecha defending with an energy shield. This was when it was obvious that she was planning to team up with him against Altair when she lead both of them away from Altair to avert her gaze during her clash with Selesia to set up for a combined attack against her.

All of these episodes had something different towards the progress of the battle, with trump cards being played by each side when the timing was right.  The first trump card was the reuniting of Blitz with his daughter. The creator of his story used the crossing of Meteora’s story from the overarching Chamber Elimination Festival series as a way to introduce magic that could bring back his daughter in a convincing manner. By doing so gained Meteora another character who would fight against Altair. In the combined attack with Selesia, Kanoya, and Alicetaria, things were going according to plan; Selesia was able to trap Altair while Kanoya and Alicetaria teamed up to charge at her. This was when Altair played her card, Charon, to stop the attack and to cause ruckus between Selesia and Kanoya. Charon is Selesia’s battle partner in her story who she sees as a mentor and love interest(?). She ends up having a conflict of interest when he explains his stonewall thoughts about how the world of the gods (the real world) should be changed or destroyed for their gain or revenge for how their fictional world turned out to be, as Kanoya and Charon fight each other. As this new fight began suddenly, Alicetaria makes her stand known to Altair, who tells her that indeed she was the one who killed Mamika, a relief of sorts because of how strong minded Alicetaria is. They attack one another, with Alicetaria ending up on the receiving end of her own attack, thanks to Altair’s own powers. This eliminates yet another Creation from the story.

The next trump card in my opinion was the new and improved battle version of Hikayu Hoshikawa. Her first appearance in her new gear was used as a comedy/fan service break, but she showed that she could fight in her own right with her martial arts super powers. She gained her new abilities through acceptance from a spin off fan disc that her Creator made for the battles. She could pack a punch that blasts the ground, even easily kick away a fully charging magic mecha without problem. The complete change from a non-combatant to powerhouse fighter made her an easy target for Altair’s reset-to-origin ability, which reverted her back to a regular high school girl in love.

An unintentional trump card came from spoilers of Sho and Yuuya’s series, where Yuuya revealed that he did not in fact kill the ones close the Sho as he thought Yuuya did, and that the one who gave him his “persona” like partner is the one responsible. Apparently Yuuya played along with this lie because he thought that was Sho’s way to hang out with him. With this fact now public, Sho and Yuuya partner up once again, alongside Blitz and Hikayu against Altair and Charon.

With Charon being Altair’s shield, it became evident that he needed to be removed from battle to get to her. Because he was in his own flying mecha, this only allowed Selesia and a damaged Kanoya to do battle with him in the sky, with the others attempting to fight Altair. They both are unable to singly keep up with Charon, who was a formidable fighter in his world. His motivation for fighting through Selesia’s understanding and acceptance of her Creator and his world, is that he is tired of fighting and just wants it all to end, regardless of how it ends. Selesia ends up having to sacrifice herself to take out Charon as he will not back down, assisted by Kanoya who initially refuses to but does under the honor of being a hero in his own story. With this Altair was now on her own, but with the loss of yet another couple of characters.

Even with the loss of troops on her side, Altair was able to gain sympathy and acceptance from the audience giving her control of the story within the Birdcage (separate dimensional space). In order to get control of the situation, the Creators summon their secret weapon, a new character based on older designs of Altair that shared the same power as her, the Holopsicion (reality bending powers). This new entity named Sirius is able to fight on Altair’s level and is even able to seemingly subdue her by trying to take over her being. However, it seems the opposite took place as Altair gained control over Sirius, changing her appearance to look like a mix of both characters. With most of the characters out of commission to take on Altair, the end loomed near.

Souta who was watching with the audience decides to try and use his secret weapon that he ran by Matsubara. Souta’s plan was slightly hinted earlier, so it wasn’t totally out of left field, but I figure for people who were not expecting it, or that it felt out of place, that the anime tried to justify it by explaining it thus so. Souta created a new character for the story, or rather one based on who was central to the conflict of the story, Shimazaki Setsuna. Yes, Souta created Setsuna so that Altair can meet her Creator. A Creation meeting another Creation who was created by a close friend, who both created Altair. When Setsuna was talking with Altair, I felt that Setsuna wasn’t just talking for herself, but also for Souta as he is partly her creator as well. I could feel the emotions coming from Altair, who only wished to meet her Creator. Because her motives came from Setsuna’s feelings towards the world at her own end, it was sad to hear that Altair’s life was caged to those feelings as well. I felt sorry for Altair at this point, as she simply fought for the injustice that she felt Setsuna was subjected to. Setsuna explained to Altair that while she created her, she is also everyone else’s creation as well. While she may be trying to destroy the world, she is not just a villain but also a protector and inspiration for the weak, like Setsuna. Altair’s Creator accepted her fate, but Altair herself would not take that as the only path for Setsuna to take. When Setsuna was created, she was also formed at her final setting, a train station. An alarm signaled the arrival of a passing train, which she attempts to fall in front of. Altair sprung to action to fight her creator’s destiny, by trying to destroy the train and reaching out to her. Altair says that she can use her power to create a world for Setsuna who can then make stories once again. Upon grabbing her hand they are transported to another world where they will both exist as Creations and Creators. Setsuna remembers Souta, who tears up thinking about Setsuna and what she meant to him, before the screens glitch out towards a “The End” screen.

It seems that the audience mostly approved the story as Altair is now gone, in a better place in everyone’s minds. The Birdcage disappeared and the world was saved from destruction. While losses were made like with Selesia, Meteora assures Matsubara that even if she died in this world, that was only one of the many possible branches her story could have gone. She still exists in the story that he continues to write.

With the world slowly but surely stabilizing its Restorative (logic) Power, the Creations decide to return to their own worlds while they still can. They say their final goodbyes to their Creators before leaving through a magic gate created by Meteora. As the final Creation left, the Creators say their goodbye’s to her. However, it is revealed that as the caster of the Gate of Return, she is unable to go through it herself, hence she decides to stay in the real world, to everyone’s disbelief. She eventually loses her magic power due to the world’s logic, and states that she wants to become a Creator of her own right. The overall moral of the story of Re:CREATORS is that everyone has the ability to create something beautiful. Whether or not it is widely accepted, it does not matter. What does is how you express your passion and despair into a story that captivates and motivates others to read and relate.

There are a few things I want to address that affected my overall rating for this show. The first obvious one is the lack of Magane at the very end. All of the Creations whereabouts except her were shown. I can only assume that she stayed in the real world as she was not present at the Gate of Return. I doubt that she would been able to go using her own power based on the fact that a large amount of power is needed. If she did decide to stay in the real world, she would eventually lose her abilities as well. If spotted she might be arrested for her previous actions before being allowed to live freely in the real world. Knowing how she is, without her power she would just be seen as a sort of creepy character. I don’t know how she would live in a world like ours without her power to make things “interesting” for her. The only hint of what might have happened to her was from the last time she makes an appearance. She is seen at an airport when aiding Souta to summon Setsuna. She probably planned to journey far away, probably to never be seen again.

The second factor that bugs me slightly is the story convenience factor. Playing off of the “impromptu” idea that the Chamber Elimination Festival was based around, the Creators had ideas that they would implement for the Creations to use as firepower against Altair. How it was used was purely up to them, which is what made the ending mostly unpredictable as I like it. However, what I found didn’t seem to flow well with the story was the sudden “flashback” to Setsuna. If I was an audience member, and I’m seeing the moment where Altair takes over Sirius, it would have seemed a bit weird if all of a sudden a flash a light happened and another new character showed up that was emotionally close to the main character Altair. Maybe the premise was suppose to be that Sirius, who was an earlier version of Altair’s concept, at the very least awoke memories within her of her Creator, hence the flashback looking setting. I didn’t have these initial feelings when I first watched this scene as I was in the moment, emotionally invested to see how it would turn out. Now that the high of binge watching this show has faded away, I notice how planned the final battle was; organized but fragmented so that the story ideas could be used whenever was best. Even thorough this negative aspect, the show acknowledged this from the scene where it was shown that some people did not like how the story seemed to be made up along the way.

The third is the lack of explanation for how all this could have been possible. We already know about Setsuna and what caused her to die. What I don’t understand is where Altair came from in terms of her materialization into the real world with powers that are beyond logic. After that it’s easy to say that everything that’s happening is because of Altair and her reality bending Holopsicon. Altair’s abilities comes from the many fan created stories that have spawned on the internet. However if the Creators world is suppose to be a reflection of our own real world, then what can explain how enough “acceptance” can create magic and weapons that can not logically exist in said world. This is what I cannot wrap my head around, and I wish there was something to fill in this gap in the story, so that I can accept it as well.

The visuals and story may be the cake, but for me the music is the frosting, or flavor. As I mentioned earlier, Sawano Hiroyuki’s music is what gives life to this show, and others he’s a part of as well. I don’t think I would of liked this anime as much if he wasn’t doing the music for it. The atmosphere the music gives the battles, as well as the calm times, it’s almost always perfect for the situation. The only kind of Sawano music that I don’t like are for funny scenes which end up sounding either cheesy or just strange, but I can live with those as long as I get everything else he creates. My only complaint is the overusing of some songs for certain scenes in this show, especially “BRAVE THE OCEAN”, which was first played during the first fight between Selesia and Mamika, but more known in episode 10 during Selesia’s Revise temporary power up. It has that “miracle has happened” or “going according to plan” aura that faded with each use.

Overall this anime is my favorite of the year and probably will be a recent favorite for a while. Yes it may be dialogue heavy, and yes it has issues and plotholes, but that’s besides the point. I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching this show from start to end. I may have been in the heat of the moment during my marathon of the second half, but to me that does not change my feelings for this show even after looking at it after cooling off. Re:CREATORS was an exciting show that I had on my mind most of the time before I had a chance to finally sit down to finish it. I just wish I knew people who liked the show as well.

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Sakura Quest

I stopped watching mid-season and never had enough interest to continue it. It’s not that Sakura Quest is a bad anime, but it’s extremely laid back. Compared with the other interesting shows of the season, I ended up dedicating my time to them over this.

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Tsurezure Children

This short episode format anime was a breath of fresh air for the rom-com genre for me, as it wasn’t the usual scenario where the progression is slow and cliché.

Tsurezure Children depicts various scenarios of young love coming to fruition, along with the struggles and joys that it entails.

This description courtesy of MAL.net is what makes this a good watch for people who like romance animes. It has multiple couples with their own circumstances, with similar reactions to how you’d expect it to turn out in real life. (Hard for me to say this as I don’t have experience of my own….) I enjoyed watching how their relationships struggled and grew through like and love for one another. My favorite couple was Sugawara and Takano, a classic couple where Sugawara likes an oblivious Takano, who slowly grows attracted to him due to his kindness. Takano’s love inexperience makes it entertaining watching her deal with her new feelings, to the point where she likes him too.

I do hope for another season of this anime, as it only gave a couple of the couples a conclusion at the end. There were maybe as much as 10 couples/pairings, and with the episodes only being half the duration of a standard episode, there was just not enough time to give justice to them all. I want to see more of the pairings that are working steadily towards the couple status, as well as seeing the progression of the couples that have established themselves already.

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Crunchyroll Expo 2017 September 1, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: , , ,
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I went to Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) this year, Crunchyroll’s first ever anime convention, which took place on August 25th through 27th at the Santa Clara Convention Center. If you don’t know what Crunchyroll is: Crunchyroll is an American distributor, publisher, licensing company and international online community focused on video streaming East Asian media including anime, manga, drama, music, electronic entertainment, and content. – Wikipedia. Originally created as a website to illegally distribute licensed anime titles, it grew over time into an official platform to house anime and manga titles. Its name is now mostly known throughout the industry as one of the legal ways to watch anime and support the anime industry at the same time. I’ve been a premium member of Crunchyroll for a while now, but I will admit that I used to watch anime on illegal sites before, like most people have. For me, Crunchyroll is a cheap and convenient way for me to watch most of what I’m looking to watch in an anime season.

My friends and I went to CRX for the first two days of the event. There wasn’t much that interested us in the third day so we skipped it. CRX also happened to be right after a 6 day road trip my friends and I had, so it was a bit of a transition from that to a con scene.

For all my photos taken from Crunchyroll Expo, please check out my Flickr set Crunchyroll Expo 2017.


Day 1 – August 25th

We arrived at CRX at about 5:30PM after dealing with some 101 traffic. We easily toured the entire con as the convention center is quite small in comparison to other con centers I’ve been to. The Dealers Hall and Artist Alley were pretty good but there wasn’t much else in between that interested us. I at least did find myself buying a Game Boy Advance SP in the Dealers Hall after looking for one for a while to replace the one I have that has a broken inner screen where the liquid crystal display is. I also got a couple free bags and a pin for being a premium member of Crunchyroll.

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Not long after going around the con, we decided to leave at around 7PM to go to a nearby Sushi place called Kula Sushi in Cupertino for dinner. The food here is good but the wait to get in is really long. (We waited about an hour and a half.) I love their secondary belt delivery system, which is used to deliver ordered food from a touch screen directly to your table. It was useful as we were at the end of our revolving belt, meaning that most of the sushi on it was already taken. After a satisfying dinner we headed back home to rest for the next day.

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Day 2 – August 26th

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The second day started almost like the first, but I avoided potential traffic by taking the 280 instead. We arrived at CRX at around 4:30pm and split up shortly after so that I can go around to take photos while my other friends wander the con. At 6PM we meet up to grab some dinner at the food trucks that were posted on the side of the convention. There wasn’t many options, but it was better than nothing. I got myself some Korean chicken “rice bowl” that didn’t have rice due to the truck not having any more rice. Despite that, the chicken was quite good, just wish I had rice, that would of made it more filling. There was some events that each of us wanted to check out at around this time: My friends wanted to go to the screening of Lastman, a french animation about a magical boxer…. apparently.

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While they attended that I decided to go to the ClariS video concert, which was the exact same one I attended at Anime Expo. I got to the AX one in the middle of it, so I didn’t get the full experience. I lined up about 45 minutes before it was to start, and by the time it was go time the line was long enough that I thought that they would have to cap the line for the room. As we entered the concert room we were given a pair of green and pink glow sticks that were branded with the ClariS name. I got a seat near the central aisle towards the back, and as people filed in I noticed the room was bigger than I thought it would hold. Looking towards the stage was a fairly small screen that was showing a pop quiz about ClariS which most people seemed to participate in as it played. While waiting for the concert to start there was an old man next to me who didn’t seem to know who the “performers” were, so I explained as simply as possible to enlighten him about ClariS. Right as the quiz ended, the concert started. It was a great mix of anime songs they did, as well as from their own albums. It was also my first time being in a concert where the audience participated using glow sticks, just like a lot of J-pop concerts do in Japan. It was fun to see myself and others try and figure out the rhythm and type of movement for each song. Usually we took ques from the audience in the video concert, as well as audio ques from the more experienced concert goers who added their own parts for us to follow.

After the concert I waited around for my friends a bit near their screening room. I ended up getting tired of standing around waiting so I decided to go to my car and wait there, which wasn’t too far from the exit of the convention center. As I walked to my car, fireworks were going off over the Great America theme park that was across the street from the convention center. I could see people in the neighboring hotel checking out the light show from my car. At around 10PM my friends finished up and we left for home shortly after.


Overall Thoughts

For the first ever Crunchyroll Expo, I thought it was tame but solid. Sure I was there collectively for only several hours between the three day event, but based on the schedule there wasn’t much to see overall. If I were to rate it out of 10, I would give it a 7. I give this con the benefit of a doubt for a couple of reasons: For one if they had a better venue space I feel they would have had more things to see/do, such as having anime viewing rooms and maybe some dedicated spaces for cosplayers. Most of the rooms they had at the Santa Clara Convention Center was used for panels and events, and anything else left was empty for unknown reasons. As a company who is directly connected with the industry, I expected more exclusive events/guests. I personally didn’t see much that would have interested me at CRX, but I do have my hopes up for the future years to come. With a bigger venue space, and time to create a reputation as a reputable anime convention, I see potential in Crunchyroll Expo to be a competing anime convention in the Northern California area. I don’t see them moving down to Southern California anytime soon, as there already are a number of conventions who have cemented themselves there. Unless they cave to the increased amount of people who would attend an anime convention in SoCal, they will probably stay close to their headquarters in San Francisco. If CRX continues, I’ll probably be there so I hope you look forward to it as well.

Anime Expo 2017 July 6, 2017

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I wasn’t planning to go to Anime Expo again this year, mainly because of financial and convenience reasons. However, an opportunity to give me that option and reason to go arose that I couldn’t resist. On June 1st Crunchyroll was reaching out to people on their volunteer mailing list that I signed up on a while ago to help out at their booth at Anime Expo. When I got the E-mail it didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to make my decision to try for the position. I even reserved a hotel room on Expedia right after sending the E-mail just in case I got chosen, and if I didn’t I could cancel it easily without paying anything up front. We were told that we’d receive a reply by June 12th if we were chosen, and so I waited. June 12th came and I received nothing from the CR correspondence. I told myself that if I didn’t receive any word beyond the 15th then I would cancel my hotel reservation. By this time I pretty much figured that I wasn’t chosen, so it came to my surprise when I received another E-mail from a different CR correspondence on the 15th, letting us know that they were behind in their AX plans, and that they would reach out to us sometime early the following week. A few days later I finally get the message that I was chosen for the CR AX booth crew. After that it was steady planning towards my next Anime Expo.

For all of my photos from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, please visit my Flickr set Anime Expo 2017.


Day 0 – June 30, 2017

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I didn’t really get a good night’s sleep; had trouble falling asleep, as well as feeling a bit nauseous. It might have been from the hot pot I had for dinner the night before, I’m not totally sure. Woke up at around 9AM but didn’t really start getting up until 10AM. My plan for today was to leave at around 12PM to try and make it to my hotel by approximately 7PM. I had to run a few errands before leaving though, so I didn’t leave the city until around 12:30PM-1PM. Throughout my drive, I had a few instances of traffic slowing me down, but none the less it wasn’t really a problem. I got to my hotel just past 8PM, which is about an hour (anticipating LA traffic) away from the convention center. I ate some food I brought along, rested while watching the local news, and began typing this post before heading to bed. I knew I needed to be at the LA convention center early tomorrow (before 9AM) to find parking and pick up my badge from my CR correspondence.

Day 1 – July 1, 2017

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Slept early so I got a good 7ish hours of rest. Woke up at 7AM and was able to get ready to leave my hotel before 8AM. I needed to get to the Anime Expo area to pick up my badge from a CR crew member at the JW Marriot Hotel at 9AM. Traffic was relatively light and I was able to find decent parking at the convention center garage. Since I was a bit early, I decided to check out what was going on in the front of the convention center. There was a massive amount of people in front of the main entrance to the con, as well as a much shorter line at the west entrance. I’m assuming that most of the people who were at the front were picking up badges as that’s where it usually happens. The west line was probably for entrance for people who picked up their badge already.

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I arrived at the JW Marriot lobby just prior to 9AM to give myself the most time to find who was giving us our badges. By 9:15AM I didn’t see anyone who looked like they were from Crunchyroll, so I sent a text to my CR correspondence, as they said they would be around only until 9:30AM. I didn’t get a reply back, but I did notice someone who looked like they were waiting for someone so I followed. Shortly after I saw a gathering group of people with W-9s in hand, something that I had to give to them too. When I received my badge, it wasn’t a regular attendee one, but an exhibitor one to my surprise. Guess it makes sense now, but at that moment it made me feel excited to be an officially working part of Anime Expo, rather than being just another normal attendee. I was told that I was going to help out at the Crunchyroll Foyer, originally thinking that I was going to work at the main booth in the exhibit hall. Coming back to the con entrance showed me the perk of being an exhibitor right away; coming back out to the west entrance I saw very long line of attendees trying to get in. What takes time for people to enter the con is not the sheer amount of people alone, but doing the bag search for each person. Security is tight as ever thanks in part to what happened at an Arizona convention where a gunmen almost got away with bringing real guns to a con with intentions to kill. I saw signs for a priority entrance nearby for Volunteers, Exhibitors, Industry, Press, and Artist Alley, and so I thought that I’d get in that line to get in. However as I was finding my way to what I thought was its end, I noticed that mostly everyone in it had normal badges. I swiftly turned around to try and find if there was a different entry. I saw a another doorway where a few people were entering, and sure enough it was the priority entrance which took no time at all to go through. Once inside I went to the Crunchyroll Foyer to pick up my shirts that I was to wear while working. It wasn’t my shift yet, but I learned that my job was going to be guarding Adam Savage’s costume he made as part of his Tested series. It sounded like an easy cool job so I was looking forward to it.

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Opening Ceremonies was abysmal to watch all because of the hosts. They were heavily reliant on the teleprompter, and because it wasn’t moving along for them, they kept on stalling and yelling at it. While my favorite Guest of Honor Danny Choo was getting stale at MCing Opening Ceremonies, he was far better than those two goons.

Because I had a few hours before my first shift, I made the most of the time I had by browsing the convention and bought some goodies that caught my eye. I also got some pricey lunch at the con so I wouldn’t get hungry during work. While I was eating though I got a text from my CR correspondence asking me to work at the Crunchyroll Booth in the Exhibit Hall instead of the foyer. I was flexible so I agreed, so by 1:45PM I headed back to the Exhibit Hall for my first shift at Crunchyroll which was from 2PM to 6PM.

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I got to the Crunchyroll Booth on time for my shift, and after a short run down on duties, was left to man the floor. You can say that I hit the floor running at this moment, as I was doing a job that I didn’t know much about. This was where my customer service experience came in handy. My main tasks were to assist attendees and watch the products, restocking when needed as well as preventing shrinkage (theft). As I just started, I had to learn fast: What we were selling, what our policies were, etc. I wasn’t hard adjusting to working the booth, and by the time my shift was half over I was more or less comfortable with the job. I was mainly keeping people from sitting on our low perimeter walls (Exhibit Hall security policy), answering questions about Crunchyroll products, and pointing people in the right direction for our free bags at the Crunchyroll Foyer, located in the West Hall of the convention center.

While I was working at the booth, a Re:CREATORS cosplay group came by and I recognized it immediately. Being a fan of the series, I talked with them a bit. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, but they were the only cosplayers from that series that I saw throughout Anime Expo. Wish it had more exposure, but alas it’s probably because it’s under Amazon’s Anime Strike streaming service that most people don’t know about it.

When my shift ended at 6PM, which was the same time that the Exhibit Hall closed, my feet were killing me. We even had pretty soft carpet, but it didn’t really help keep my feet from being sore from walking around constantly. The first day is always the hardest, that’s what I always say when it comes to work. I figured the next days of work would not be as bad.

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After my shift I planned to go to watch The Irregular at magic high school The Movie: The Girl Who Summons the Stars premiere that was to start at 7:30PM. I grabbed some dinner from the convention diner again before heading over to the JW Marriot. I got into the line at 7pm, and several minutes later would start moving towards the viewing room. The line was super long and there were many people ahead of me. As the line moved closer towards the room, to the point of being able to see inside through the door, it looked like it was filling up fast. At some point, the line stopped and the announcement that only single seats were available was made. This didn’t bode well for the rest of us in line, as there was still a decent amount of people waiting to get in. I started to think that the chances of the room filling up entirely before I got in were high, and sure enough the room was capped before long. This information was hard to get though for us away from the door; Because the line was still relatively long, we found out through word of mouth of people leaving the line up ahead. Eventually some staff walked down the line to let people know but it took a while before that. The line then turned into the line for the next event that the room was going to be for, which was the FAKKU: Hentai Worth Watching (18+) panel. It seemed that a majority of people stayed in line for that too, in which if they were, were being ID-ed and given wristbands if they were of age. I don’t go to those kinds of panels, so I figured it was a good time to head back to my hotel to rest my feet for the next day. Happened to turn on the TV in my hotel room and Adult Swim was marathoning the second season of Attack on Titan so I watched a bit before turning in for the night.

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Day 2 – July 2, 2017

I went to sleep a bit late, so I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d like as it took me a while to get up. Got myself over to the convention center much quicker this time, though had to park slightly farther away because the parking garage attached to the center was already full at 9AM. The exhibit hall and entertainment hall were closed and wasn’t going to open until 10AM, which was around the time I started my shift at the Crunchyroll booth. Since it was already 9:30AM, I decided to wait closer to the exhibit hall so that I could get there on time.

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It was really cool getting past the barricades that hold the masses of attendees back as an exhibitor. I’m still not used to it, as when I approached the guard who checked badges, I initially hesitate to move through as if I don’t belong when I actually do. I still had about 20 minutes before my shift so I sat around at the chairs nearby the entrance of the exhibit hall. Several minutes later, the exhibit hall opens up to my surprise. I thought that they were going to open up at 10AM or later. I rushed myself to the Crunchyroll booth and braced for the mass amount of people trying to buy stuff from our booth that they knew would sell out. I was more or less forced into the task of monitoring the line, making a makeshift “End of Line” sign and having to cap the line every so often because it got too long for safety reasons. Luckily this rush died down within the first hour of the hall opening. The rest of my time working went pretty smooth, and it definitely didn’t feel as long as my shift the previous day. I even got some food and water courtesy of the CR booth, so I didn’t have to spend any money today for food at the convention.

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After my shift ended at 2PM, I headed toward the Crunchyroll foyer area located at the west hall of the convention center. That’s where we have been giving away very nice and large bagpacks (bags that carry like backpacks). There was a long line for it, but I wanted to get it so I waited. About 30 minutes later, I almost made it to the front of the line when I was called out my one of the staff members running the bag pickups. He noticed my Crunchyroll exhibitor badge and asked me why I didn’t just come up front at the start. I mentioned that I asked another staff member who was working the free stuff table about me just grabbing a bag because I was CR staff too, but that he shook his head in disagreement. I was allowed into the back where they had all the bags stashed, and grabbed a couple. Like I said I’m just not used to this kind of access.

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With a new bag on my back, I had a place for goodies. I headed back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall to buy my friend some pins. I also took the time to check out the rest of the hall that I didn’t get to see. Afterwards it was back to the exhibit hall, where more shopping for friends ensued, as well as finding some things that interested me that I would get the next day.

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After another shopping spree, I stopped by my car to drop off my loot and headed to the JW Marriot. I originally was interested in checking out the TRIGGER studio panel at the hotel, but I decided to shop during it. The other event that was still going on nearby was the ClariS video concert. It was about half over when I arrived, but the best music was saved for the second half. What makes the ClariS group unique is that they’re singers with hidden identities. Originally consisting of the duo Clara and Alice, they started with humble beginnings of singing covers and posting them on Niconico. They got noticed by a recording studio and thus their careers was born. Because they were in junior high at the time, and school was a priority, they were shielded from a public reveal. A few years later, Alice left the group to concentrate on college, and newcomer Karen took her place. ClariS still sounds the same despite having a different singer on board, but their real identities are still hidden to this day. In the video concert, their faces are covered by a mask, and the editing made sure that any zoom ups or angles were done quickly. It was still nice to see them “in person”, and hear their music that made them who they are today. I can’t believe that they are already college age singers now, as we first heard them when they were in middle school, when the hidden identity aspect made sense. I don’t know if ClariS will ever reveal who they really are to the world, but it was hinted at the end of the video concert that ClariS is interested in having a concert in the US. Whether or not it happens I’d like to go, especially if it is at an event I’m able to go to.

After the concert, there wasn’t anything else that I wanted to stick around for so I headed back to my hotel, stopping by a McDonalds for dinner before doing so. It was my final night in LA, so I prepared to pack up for the next day.

Day 3 – July 3rd, 2017

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Day 3 was my final day for me being at Anime Expo, as I couldn’t really afford to stay longer, especially because of how this was more or less an improvised trip. Woke up a bit earlier to get ready for the day and to pack my car up and check out of my hotel. I arrived at the convention center just before 9AM, and parking was easier to get this time around. My shift started at 10AM again, so I had time to run an important errand before work. I planned to grab a Funko Pop! Vinyl D.Va & MEKA Buddy figure at the Blizzard booth in the Entertainment Hall, but they had limited quantities per day. As my work shift starts when the halls open for business, I used my Exhibitor status to get in before it opened for everyone else. I thought I could buy it earlier than 10AM so that I could get back on time to the Exhibit Hall for my shift, but unfortunately I couldn’t buy it until around 10AM exactly. In the meanwhile, I decided to go back to the Exhibit Hall to explore it before it opened. It was definitely an strange experience being in the Exhibit Hall before it opened. There was still a bunch of people running around, but we were all exhibitors so yeah it felt like we had some time to ourselves before the masses were allowed in. I got myself back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall at around 9:45AM, but they couldn’t sell anything until 10AM. I sent my CR correspondence a text letting them know I was going to be a little late because of that. After I bought the D.Va Pop figure, I ran back to the Crunchyroll booth and got to it a few minutes past 10AM, so I wasn’t too late. Luckily there wasn’t a massive line that I had to manage like the day before.

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It definitely wasn’t as busy as Day 2, and while that was mostly a good thing, it also made time fly by more slowly. When 2PM finally came, I was ready to head out to wander AX for a few more hours before having to leave for home. I did my final shopping spree and grabbed as much freebies before calling it quits at around 6PM. With virtually no traffic on the way back, I got home at around 12:30AM.

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Other things I want to mention….

This was the first time that I didn’t feel pressured at all about taking quality photos. Because my main purpose at Anime Expo this year was working for Crunchyroll, I dedicated myself to that and because of it, overwrote my usual initiative for taking photographs that would showcase the con as a whole. Instead, the photos I took highlight the interesting things I saw during my time at Anime Expo; working and enjoying the convention like I should instead of covering it like a news story. Usually trying to get as many cosplay shots is what I do as part of my photo coverage of anime conventions, but because there is so much competition with amateur and professional photographers alike at this event, I didn’t even try. At least I didn’t feel bad about it at all, as I probably would feel if I came to Anime Expo as a normal attendee. The only qualm related to my camera I had at AX was that I lost my lens cap on my DSLR, probably due to people constantly knocking into because it was back-right side most of the time.

Speaking of taking pictures, most of my pictures was taken with my smaller point-and-shoot rather than with my DSLR. Using the smaller camera was always a better way to take pictures in a pinch, but I’ve almost always used my DSLR as my main because of its better quality, albeit its less convenient size. I’m now considering getting a quality mirrorless camera so that I can have the form factor of a point-and-shoot with the quality of a DSLR.

I heavily relied on the Anime Expo app for looking up the schedule and events and such. Though a bit confusing to browse the schedule in the beginning due to me being used to looking at a grid schedule for cons, it became helpful once I got used to it.

I didn’t mention much about my experience of the LA traffic in my main day by day post above, and I’d like to share it. This wasn’t my first time driving in LA, but it has been a while, though this is the first time I’ve come here totally alone. The first thing I noticed is how much more aggressive drivers are here, especially on the freeway. People tend to be much closer to one another, slow down and stop without much warning, and accelerate and switch lanes in the same fashion. There was always some sort of traffic, but it wasn’t too bad this time around. Because I’m a new driver to the area, I had to study the roads before going on them to know where to go. I didn’t rely on my GPS at all because I was able to remember the exits and streets I needed to go on (and I have a good sense of direction), as well as my GPS having a horrible time locking onto a satellite, especially when in a parking garage. I’m surprised that I didn’t need my GPS, but at the same time hoping to get more use out of it even with its slow calculating ability.

Overall Thoughts

This Anime Expo and trip as a whole was a total success. What I mean by that was that everything I had planned happened and then some. I haven’t been this satisfied with going down to AX since 2012. For me the con was quite chill, despite the problems other people were having with the con. These problems are mainly connected with the fast that Anime Expo is getting overcrowded, as you can see with their line problems. People were reporting hours long wait time just to get into the convention center with a badge, because of the slow security bag checks. I got through just fine because I was exhibitor and thus got in a side way, but for the normal masses I feel their pain. I can imagine those attendees who had things planned out, didn’t include a massive delay due to just getting in. There were some major events that were occurring at the neighboring JW Marriot, and that didn’t require much to get in there so at least there was that. Down the line Anime Expo may have to start imposing a cap on badges because the convention center is always at full capacity during the event. I do hope that I can return as an exhibitor or other type of attendee in the future as it made for a much more accessible experience for me, maybe even as well as a Premiere Badge status in way. There’s nothing I would change from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, and I hope for even better ones in the future.