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Summer Anime Season 2019 – Review September 29, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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This anime season probably had the most animes I’ve watched from a season. A few of them are popular ones, a couple are short anime series, and others were either straight up strange or underrated. Overall it was a good mix of the good and alright, the serious and the comedy. 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:

Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.

Dr. Stone

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II

Enen no Shouboutai

Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2

Kawaikereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasu ka?

Kimetsu no Yaiba

Sounan Desu ka?

Tejina-senpai

Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator

Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu ka?

Uchi no Ko no Tame naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maou mo Taoseru kamo Shirenai.

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


Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.

This show was a roller coaster of young emotions, revolving around the thoughts of relationships and sex. “The girls in a high school literature club do a little icebreaker to get to know each other: answering the question, “What’s one thing you want to do before you die?” One of the girls blurts out, “Sex.” Little do they know, the whirlwind unleashed by that word pushes each of these girls, with different backgrounds and personalities, onto their own clumsy, funny, painful, and emotional paths toward adulthood.” – MAL.net

Due to each girl’s situation, they are all at varying levels of experience when it comes to this taboo topic. Reading about it, observing others from a distance, and imagining it can only get you so far. Actually experiencing the good and bad, the happy and sad moments of pursuing a relationship and what comes from it is the only way to know for sure how it feels for yourself. I’m not just talking about the sex part, but all the thoughts and emotions that lead up to that moment when you open yourself up to that. Personally I’ve not been at that point, but I can at least understand how the characters from this anime felt. Emotionally so much so that I’ve watched this a few episodes at a time rather than all at once. (Normally I keep up with animes on a weekly basis, but because I started this when a few episodes were already out, I watched it in chunks.) I found out that Mari Okada is responsible for this work’s script, as well as others such as AnoHana, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Nagi no Asukara, and Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms to name a few. Guess that explains why I was so into this show. I’ll look forward to future Mari Okada works in the future now that I’ve realized that I love her style of animes; they really absorb you into the story’s emotional themes.

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Dr. Stone

One of my favorites of the season, Dr. Stone is all about science. After a blinding green light strikes the Earth and petrifies mankind around the world, Senku awakens thousands of years later to find that we’re back in the stone age. As a man of science, he is determined to bring civilization back from stone to modern age in record time, as well as figuring out the cause of the petrification. We’re at the halfway point in the season, and I’ve enjoyed every episode so far. Each one takes a step towards Senku’s goals of using science to bring everyone back. Whenever he reinvents a new technology, it makes you appreciate what we have now and realize how far we have come from the days of old. (The scene of the creation of the light bulb filament and powering it on using a hand crank generator, I had a tear in my eye from that.)

I’ll say that initially I was a bit off-put by some of the looks of the characters in the beginning, namely Taiju and Yuzuriha, but the art and animation grew on me. I’m somewhat glad that those two were put on a supporting role away from Senku, but I’m wondering what’s happening with them in the Tsukasa Empire. I know we’ll find out in due time, but the fact that we’ve seen barely anything of the anti-science side bothers me somewhat.

Overall, I’m definitely looking forward to more Dr. Stone, which I feel is a breath of fresh air in terms of anime shows. It’s not a high school anime, or an isekai, or something magical/supernatural. It’s something new (to me at least).

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Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?

If you can’t tell by the title, this anime series is all about working out; Specifically in a gym and exercising using real proper techniques. I think it best to drop the synopsis here for context:

“Sakura Hibiki is your average high school girl, with a voracious appetite. Noticing her clothes tightening in lieu of her slowly expanding waistline she decides to look into enrolling in the nearby gym. There she runs into a girl from her grade named Souryuuin Akemi. Akemi, who has a muscle fetish tries to get Hibiki to enroll in the gym despite its high ratio of macho men. Thankfully a beautiful trainer, Machio, appears and unknowingly convinces her to enroll and start her quest to a great body.” – MAL.net

It’s a pretty standard story for an anime, and one for why people probably join gyms as well. As basic as it is, I really enjoyed this show even though I don’t workout at all. First thing, they really nailed the exercise/workout information, showing how to exercise in the proper manner and explaining the benefits of doing so. As mentioned, I don’t workout (which sometimes I feel I should with my scrawny arms) so I wouldn’t know if the info from this show was actually accurate, but I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt. If there was any inaccurate info, I’d bet people would have commented about it, but so far I’ve not seen anyone complain. I also like how the show would make fun of itself. For example in the beginning, Machio’s appearance would command attention, especially when he would rip through his clothes with his muscles. As everyone got used to it though, no one would even take note, something that the characters would comment on. Coming off of this example, the fan service was also fairly tame. I got used to the obvious attention shots that was to show the results of a certain exercise.

I always like seeing who is the voice behind the characters, recognizing the popular or veterans of the seiyuu industry. I was surprised when I researched who voiced Hibiki Sakura, Ai Fairouz, a relative newcomer to the seiyuu industry. On her MAL.net page, it only shows this sole role, making me believe that this is her first major work that she has worked on as a Egyptian-Japanese voice actress. (Her official website shows she has worked on several other anime prior to, mostly in minor roles.) What’s impressive is that she doesn’t sound new, having a decent vocal range and emotion. She also performs the opening theme for the show alongside Kaito Ishikawa (Machio) which gave her singing experience as well. I’m looking forward to what future anime voice roles she’ll play as.

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Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II

In this second season of DanMachi, there wasn’t much dungeon exploring but more of Bell picking up girls, as in adding more to his harem so to speak. Story wise this season had two main things going on, the Apollo Familia Battle and the Ishtar/Haruhime arc. As this was a 12 episode season, there wasn’t much time to really develop these stories, as I felt like while more was done to explore the town and the familias, Bell and company didn’t really grow their characters. On a positive note, I did feel that animation wise it was as good as this anime could get. A third season has already been announced, also hinted if you watched the last episode of this season to the very end. I do plan on watching it in hopes that DanMachi gets itself back into its dungeon roots.

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Enen no Shouboutai

Fire Force is one of the hot animes to hit this season, one of the reasons is that this series comes from the same creative mind that created the popular series Soul Eater. With excellent animation and backstory, Fire Force has gained many viewers but it’s not without flaws. My main concern is the portrayal of the women in this series. At first we are introduced to Maki and Iris, who are both part of the SFFC 8. They are shown doing their respective roles within the group, with some mild fan service thrown in, typical of what to expect in the first few episodes of a new series. Later down the line we meet Tamaki and Hibana, both who are also involved in fan service in their own ways; Tamaki being the unfortunate target of a “lucky lecher”, and Hibana who rules over her men in a sadistic manner. Most of the serious spotlight goes to Shinra the self-proclaimed hero as well as to the other male members. Look I’m fine with fanservice, but not when it seems like the only use for a character is strictly for fan service.

Right now we’re 11 episodes in to this 24 episode long season show, the next episode to show after a two week hiatus transition into the Fall Anime Season. This is the second hiatus Fire Force has taken, the first was when the Kyoto Animation Arson Fire took place back in late July. Don’t know if this will hurt Fire Force in terms of viewers (combination of people forgetting about it for new incoming anime), but I do hope that the producers are using this extra time to turn things around in this second half of the season. This show has potential, but has yet to show that it will take advantage of it.

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Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2

Season 2 of Takagi-san felt more or less like season 1 did, at least in the first half of it. I’ll admit that sometimes I did find myself falling asleep during the slow times during the first few episodes, but I always went back to watch the stuff I’d miss from that. Towards the end of this season though, you could feel that Nishikata was starting the develop feelings that would go beyond his meekness. The moment that he finally decided to ask Takagi out to the festival (without a reason to get back at her for her teasing) felt like a win for both sides. This show continues to be a cute little story about young love growing from the small moments in life.

As an extra note, there was a scene that hints that Takagi and Nishikata do get together/married in the future, an older Takagi looking back an a photograph of them as kids. I am aware that they do actually get married and have a kid, all thanks to spoilers that many people have mentioned in comments sections, even if it was obvious that it would be the case. Whether or not we’ll see an anime based on their future life together I don’t know, but the end of this season would be a good segway to that if they wanted to move the story forward.

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Kawaikereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasu ka?

This romcon explores different fetishes as each girl that our MC Keiki knows has a quirk she’s interested in. To name a few there’s the masochist, sadist, fujoshi, lolicon, and exhibitionist. After finding a love letter addressed to him with nothing more than a pair of panties left as a clue as to who it was from, it’s up to Keiki to sniff out the truth from the girls around him who he suspects could be his “Cinderella”.

Despite the synopsis, the fan service scenes that are expected are short and tend to mostly be tame, though as tame as it can be to have a PG-13 rating (on MAL.net anyways). The story isn’t deep, as it seems to focus on a girl or two every episode. And while the girls are fine and all, the same cannot be said about our main protagonist. Keiki wants a normal relationship with a girl, something he won’t get with the girls who he’s surrounded with. He’s not dense, but he’s nothing really special either. I guess the reason why that’s so is that he is suppose to be the all around nice guy, who would be compatible with anyone who is nice in return. It wouldn’t be the same if he had his own fetishes that didn’t mix well with another’s. At the very least, while the girls have their interests, they don’t indulge in it all the time, knowing that time and place means everything for a healthy relationship.

I won’t spoil who the Cinderella is as Keiki figures it out quite brilliantly, but this anime overall, as kinky as it may sound, explores the hidden tastes that loom in peoples’ bodies as well as the amount of respect and trust one must have to willingly tell others about it. I personally though this was an OK series, but there are other romcom series that entertain better.

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Kimetsu no Yaiba

Demon Slayer has finally ended its first season, and boy has it been entertaining. What’s refreshing about this shonen series is that it’s not just some straight up power house protagonist who yells his way though. Tanjirou has built himself up, all from the sole reason to protect his last remaining family member, Nezuko. He may not be the strongest physically, but his will to fight the odds to turn her back into a human is what makes him truly powerful. He uses his head (figuratively and literally) to plan a means of attack, rather than betting on sheer strength as he knows one wrong move may kill him. And even though Nezuko doesn’t fight for any extended period of time, her contributions to the battle has saved Tanjirou in turn. The beautiful moment when Tanjirou and Nezuko attacked together showed the true power of the Kamado family.

As for the other main characters like Zenitsu and Inosuke, initially I found them a bit annoying because they either had really bad fears or egos. After the battle against the spider demon family, they all got injured quite bad and had to go to rehab for recovery. During their healing Zenitsu and Inosuke calmed down, though Zenitsu was still protesting about things he hated when he could. Inosuke was quiet for quite a while, realizing that he wasn’t as strong as he thought he was. After seeing Tanjirou’s improvements though his recovery training, the two finally decided that they didn’t want Tanjirou to one up them, so they joined him on his Total Concentration Breathing – Constant training, eventually mastering it. With this, the three of them should be significantly stronger, though whether or not this would be enough to take on the Twelve Moons Demons, we’ll have to wait and see.

As mentioned in my last seasonal anime review post about Demon Slayer, this show has the ingredients for greatness. I did enjoy watching it, but something about it just doesn’t make me think its a masterpiece either like a lot of other people think. I can’t describe this feeling, maybe it has something to do with the saying “If it’s too good to be true, then it is.” A movie has been announced for the next arc, Infinite Train, and I will continue to watch this show as it will probably have a new season in the future. Maybe as I continue to watch this my feelings about it will change, but only time will tell.

—–

Sounan Desu ka?

A survival tip themed anime with four anime girls stranded on a deserted island, of course when every episode is a beach episode you’ll also expect some fan service as well. Sounan desu ka? (Are you lost?, also a pun on the phrase “Is that so?”) is a short episode anime series that seems to use real world survival advice. Enjoyable as entertainment and educational too, I found this show to be a light hearted take on the deserted island scenario.

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Tejina-senpai

Magical Senpai is a short episode anime series about boy who stumbles on upon a senpai who loves performing magic tricks, but due to her massive stage fright, always messes up in the most comedic ways. After becoming her assistant (unwilling at first) he watches over her as she practices, often being her audience and receiving the brunt of her failures. This series was one that I’d watch just after watching an episode of Sounan desu ka? as they came out nearly at the same time on Crunchyroll. The entertaining part of this show is mainly from when senpai messes up her tricks while being watched, but it turns out that behind her stage fright is a truly skilled magician. If she ever got over it, she would definitely be one to watch out for, like those magicians who perform to talent shows like America’s Got Talent and the like.

 

—–

Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator

When I first heard that Accelerator was getting his own manga series, it made me hopeful that eventually he would get his own anime similar to Railgun. Our wish was granted this year for the “To Aru” series with both Season 3 of Index and Accelerator’s own anime series based off his spin-off manga. I’m also glad to report that Accelerator’s anime was not rushed like Index 3 was.

A quick synopsis: “Taking place after saving Last Order at the price of much of his power, he is faced with a new conflict in the form of a sinister organization called Disciplinary Action which plots to use Last Order for a dangerous mission. Using his Misaka Network powered abilities, it’s up to the world’s most powerful esper and his newfound companion to protect Last Order and defend Academy City in the process.” – MAL.net

Looking past the star of the show, A Certain Scientific Accelerator wasn’t exactly complex or unique, storywise or animation wise. Unlike Index and Railgun, I felt that the art style was more toned down to a more generic look. It’s not to say that it was bad, more like a noticeable downgrade when compared to its other animated counterparts. The story was also pretty bland too; bad guys intruding on another bad guy’s turf, you know it won’t be pretty, but if you know Accelerator it will always go his way. One thing that bugged me was the fact that the Misaka sisters were pretty much helpless in this, being the damsel in distress. Even when she was saved she barely was ever useful, being just dead weight. Does she not remember that she is a Level 3 electromaster with vast fighting experience from numerous bouts with the number one esper? I would have liked to see her in a better light as a way to show that she’s able to use what she learned to protect herself and others fighting alongside Accelerator.

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Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu ka?

If you can’t tell by the title, this anime is all about mothers in a virtual isekai-like video game. Masato finds himself in a video game that’s designed to get a mother and her child to reconciliate. He meets others in similar situations and helps them with their mother problems throughout his adventure, all the while keeping his own mother at an arms length. Unfortunately he keeps getting himself and his party into a bunch of situations that you definitely wouldn’t want your mother to be a part of, usually ones involving fan service.

I found this anime to be a strange one indeed. Of course it’s because of the mothers aspect, especially how jarring it is to the setting of the show. They try and make it work for the story, but at times it feels forced even though this virtual world is designed for the specific purpose of having mothers and children adventure together. This might work better when the child is of younger age, but it’s just wrong when we have high school age kids with their mothers in a video game setting. With the fan service being cringe worthy at best, this was one that no one asked for except for meme making.

—–

Uchi no Ko no Tame naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maou mo Taoseru kamo Shirenai.

This is one of those cute stories about a young child and a parental figure, in this case Latina and Dale. Dale who is a renowned adventurer comes across Latina during one of his beast hunting jobs in a forest. She is alone, dressed in rags, and bears the devils’ symbol of a criminal: a broken horn. Concerned for her wellbeing, Dale decides to ensure Latina’s safety by bringing her to his home, eventually leading to him adopting her.

Just like with other animes with similar premises, this one was all about Latina and her growth. Maybe not much in terms of age, but of mind. She’s bright and pure, who treasures her family and friends. She learns new things fast, and has magical ability due to her demon lineage. She’s also lucky to have Dale who cares for her so much, even though he’s quite young himself. While his job tends to have him leave for sometimes months at a time, his duty is always towards Latina’s care, always thinking about her even when he shouldn’t worry. It would be interesting to see what becomes of them in the future, but I’ve seen some comments with potential spoilers, so I’ll just wait to see for myself if the anime continues.

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MAGWest 2019 September 15, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Events.
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“MAGWest spawned from MAGFest, the Music and Gaming Festival currently on the East Coast. MAGWest [2019, Sept 13-15] is a three day event dedicated to the appreciation of video game music, gaming of all types, and the gaming community. MAGWest is the West’s flavor of video game music, gaming, and non-stop party action! The event runs 24 hours a day, and offers consoles, arcades, tabletop, LAN, live video game cover bands, chiptunes, guest speakers, pool concerts, and so much more!” – via MAGWest Website

MAGWest started in 2017, this marking its third year running. I heard about MAGWest during its first year as it was running at the same time as Crunchyroll Expo, just next door to it at a neighboring hotel. This year’s was the first for me to attend, buying my badge way back in May when there was a sale going on. I have friends and acquaintances running parts of the event, so that’s partly the reason for wanting to finally check it out. Being a fan of video games and music is mainly why I went, and it’s easy to see how both come together. Even though the event was three days long I only went on Day 2 (Saturday Sept 14th), as I got the most out of it in a single day. I took photos to show how the event looks, so if you want to check it out see my album MAGWest 2019.


Day 2 – Saturday, Sept 14th

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Looking at the schedule online, there wasn’t much that interested me in terms of panels and events, so there was no rush getting to the venue. I had a friend tag along and so after stopping by a Costco to grab lunch for the day, we got to MAGWest held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in San Jose, CA at around 11:30am.

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As we entered the hotel, you can quickly tell that the event is very much a small one, reminiscent of the first anime convention I attended back in 2011. We picked up our badges and proceeded to check out everything. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Custom MAGWest video game challenges. Win one, get a prize.

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Saori Kobayashi concert. Never heard of her before, but her music was fantastic. While listening it really got me imagining being in an RPG kind of game.

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Apparently MAGWest didn’t have enough lanyards so this was one of their alternative solutions. There was even a cardboard box asking people to return their lanyard if they don’t plan on returning.

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Overall the event was fun but very small. Because I’m used to much bigger events, I got to see pretty much what the event had to offer in a few hours. I was expecting a bit more people at least, but I guess the combination of it being in a hotel away from convenient amenities and it also being fan run rather than one with sponsors and whatnot explains it. I did enjoy myself playing the games that we did get to play, but most of the ones that were at the events were either retro games, music/rhythm games, or fighting games. The arcade area was quite small but still packed as many games as it could. Just wish that there was more wiggle room. One of the other lively parts of MAGWest was the pool party complete with music and summer heat. The rest of the areas of the event though tended to only have a few people or were just dead. For example, passing by the panel rooms at times there was only a couple of people sitting in.

I didn’t buy anything at MAGWest, but got a few freebies in the form of deck boxes and card covers that I got from the Tabletop main table that they were letting people take, as they said that they got too much from donations. I did however have to pay a pretty penny for parking ($18), and that’s more than I would pay if I was going to the San Jose Convention Center area for a whole four days as I know where to find cheap parking in that area due to going there every year.

MAGWest 2019 was a fun experience but I think it needs more down the road to attract more people. As it seems to establish itself as a “by fans, for fans” event, I think that catering to a more broader audience would help bring in more people. I know that the theme of MAGWest is primarily about video games with an emphasis on its music, but I think when I say “broader” that it needs a better balance of retro games (console/arcade), modern console games, PC gaming, etc. Yes it had all of this but weighted more towards the retro side. And while I did not mention indie and tabletop games, I felt that as they had their own areas that they were covered fine. I was expecting at least a dedicated PC gaming area with modern games, and not just the LAN area being the only area with PC gaming. The LAN area had spaces for 36 computers, but I only saw maybe 8 set up, and at least four of them was brought in by one guy for retro games such as Quake.

Will I return to MAGWest in the future? I’m not sure, but if I do I’d probably come for just a day like I did this year. If MAGWest can also bring in more guests that would be sweet. I was also thinking that because MAGWest is small, if I wanted to run a panel or gaming event that it would be a good way to practice on smaller audiences if I wanted to go that route. As MAGWest is a offspring event from its parent MAGFest, I’m mildly interested in going to it but I know that would take some dedication in order to do so, as it’s all the way on the East coast. I guess that would be a good excuse to visit Washington D.C. as it’s in the area. Either way, MAGFest/MAGWest is on my event radar now, so I’ll look forward to their future endeavors.

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 September 8, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Events.
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Taking place on August 30th through September 1st at the San Jose Convention Center, Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) brings anime fans together for three days of exhibits, screenings, panels, premieres, and guest appearances by some of the biggest personalities in the US and Japan. I went with friends all three days for this third annual event.

CRX made a lot of announcements that interested me in the weeks prior to the con, so my schedule was quite packed when compared to other anime conventions I’ve attended. There were some consecutive days of announcements that made me excited for this year’s CRX. Most of them were premieres for future anime series or showings of anime movies, something I remember I enjoyed from last years CRX.

For all my photos taken from Crunchyroll Expo 2019, please check out my Flickr set Crunchyroll Expo 2019.


Day 1 – Friday, August 30th

I got myself up at around 7am to get ready for Day 1. The plan was to leave at around 9am and arrive in the area at around 10am. I had a friend meet up with me and we left on time. I knew that the con wasn’t really open until around 11am so it gave some leeway time to park and explore the area. We got to San Jose at the expected time and parked at SJSU’s parking lot, the cheapest one I knew about in the area ($8 for all day). It’s about a 10 minute walk away from the con and it passes some restaurants and the like.

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We arrived at the con at about 10:30am, where we could see a large crowd in front of the center. I assumed that they were waiting to enter through security, but wasn’t sure if they were even letting people in yet. I remember from last year that you could also enter through the side entrances so I suggested to try them. On the Hilton side entrance to the convention center, there was no one around besides the people working the security gate. I thought that maybe this was because this was a special entry for staff and the like, but as I approached them to ask it became apparent that it was a normal entrance that no one knew about. We got though no problem, and just after us was some more who followed suit.

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Since most things were still in the process of opening, we decided to check out the Dealers Hall which was accessible (though according to the schedule it wasn’t suppose to open until 11am). This was one of the things that my friend and I was hyped about when first hearing about the “New Crunchy City” theme. I had thought that they were going to do actual multistory booths to simulate a cityscape reminiscent of Tokyo. Maybe that was a little much for me to imagine, but the thought was cool. What they had actually did was put up giant four sided sign that extended from the top of the booths to the ceiling to simulate a tall building-like booth. In the center was an area designed like a street crossing like Shibuya Crossing, complete with the white lines on the floor and itasha cars. This space was shared by the Artist Alley which took up about a third of the room. The Artist Alley wasn’t open at the time so we would return to it later.

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We briefly checked out the Laid-Back Camp area, which was a quiet camp themed room to unwind in. Across from it was the Arcade area which was massively improved from last year. It had its own room with plenty of space and machines, unlike the small corner they used last year. It makes me feel like last year’s arcade was just a afterthought when thinking about how to use that space in the main hall. A couple of rooms next to the camp area was the Junji Ito Gallery which had a line to get in. I suggested to go to it tomorrow as that was when we would have another friend join us. At about 11:30am we split up to do our own thing. I decided to go around a take more pictures of the con before my scheduled events.

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The main events I wanted to attend today were all premieres in the same room, Cinema 1. While I was in line for the first one, I wondered about the room clearing policy, about whether or not they would clear the room after each screening. The staff wasn’t sure about it at first saying that they were basing their rules on what was written, and since apparently this policy wasn’t mentioned they said they weren’t going to clear the room afterwards. Upon entering the room, I was glad that the screen was much larger and in the center unlike last year’s screening room. (For these premieres, I will link their MAL.net page for info about it. I will only give a brief impression about them.) The first was at 1pm of the first episode of an anime series called “Somali and the Forest Spirit“, airing in January 2020 (Winter 2020 anime season). It was alright. I can tell it will be one of those father/daughter relationship shows. I’m definitely interested in the history of the human race’s demise, as I like shows and movies that deal with world catastrophes and the like.

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I stayed in the room after the first screening to wait for the next one at 2pm, so about a half hour wait. This one was called “The Wonderland“, but oddly enough when the title came up in the movie it was actually titled “Birthday Wonderland”. I guess one is the English title and the other is the original title. Why they had to be different I have no idea, as “Birthday Wonderland” makes more sense in terms of what the movie is about, and it’s not as if it’s not in English. This movie starts out slow, but ramps up with fantasy elements that is mostly for laughs. I enjoyed it for what it was, a silly adventure that grows the main character in some way. For all these premieres, I went in them with no expectations or research into what they are beyond their descriptions in the CRX program; in short, I like being surprised. There’s not a lot I hate in terms of anime, but for the genres I don’t have taste for I’ll avoid for the most part (extreme psychological/gore).

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The movie ended at 4pm and I needed a break in between screenings, so I left Cinema 1 for a restroom/food break. I got myself a con food sandwich and returned to Cinema 1 only to find a lot of people lined up in boxes. I guessed that they had changed their mind and start enforcing the room clearing policy. I had found my friend just outside of the line and we tried to figure out where we could wait for the 5pm premiere. After the boxes filled up, everyone was lining up behind box 1. Staff came out later and told us that as the waiting boxes were full there was no overflow line and that we should return later closer to 5pm. We were initially worried that we wouldn’t get in, but to our surprise when we were let in we still got good seats despite not being in the front part of the lines.

The 5pm premiere was for the anime movie BLACKFOX. Crunchyroll had released a trailer and 7min teaser on YouTube which I felt helped to grow interest in this premiere, hence the large amount of people attending. I thought that it had its moments, mainly in its action scenes and fight choreography. However I felt that the animation, especially in the background elements were its weakest parts. I also felt that this movie would of probably worked better as a anime series instead as the movie had obvious breaks in it.

After the movie we called it for the day and went back home to rest for the next.

 

Day 2 – Saturday, August 31st

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For Day 2, we left earlier at around 8:30am as we wanted to give ourselves time to eat breakfast at Peggy Sue’s (and get parking validation) before heading over to the con. We got to CRX just past 10am and went to the Junji Ito Gallery which we waited a few minutes to get in. We were allowed to take photos so here’s a few of what was there. Junji Ito was a very popular guest at CRX this year, and while my two other friends who came with me are fans of his work, I’m just not into his works’ genre. We only stayed in there for about 10 minutes before heading out.

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There was a couple of panels I wanted to check out at around 11am, so we split up and went off to do our own things. The first panel I wanted to check out was “So, You Want to Work for Crunchyroll”. I didn’t think there would be that many people going to it, but to my surprise it was a full house. There was even people sitting on the floor and in the doorway. I couldn’t hear anything from the entrance so I gave up and went up to see the Crunchyroll Industry Panel. Most of this panel was advertising their games and anime and the like. I didn’t stay long in this panel either and decided to wander the con until the next scheduled event that I wanted to see which was a 1pm premiere.

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The first premiere of the day for me was “Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!” Yes it’s a long title and yes it is an Isekai (Other world anime). I was expecting some cutesy slice-of-life anime, and for the most part it probably will be. However what drew my attention was the humor, as this show seems to be a making fun at the Isekai genre, a parody if you will. It will be airing this October so I’ll be watching out for it.

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After the premiere I briefly met up with my friends again and we went to the the Dealers Hall for a lottery drawing for a chance to win prizes. Of course we didn’t win, but I wonder if a lot of people who got the tickets even came back. Crunchyroll was giving the tickets with free drawstring bags like they have given away at their previous events, and with everything else going on at the con I could imagine forgetting to return for the drawing. Since I still had time before the next thing I wanted to go to I headed back to my car to drop off some stuff and eat my leftover from breakfast.

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The final premiere I went to was Ep. 1-2 of “In/Spectre” This premiere was something that I was thinking I would skip if necessary for time as I wasn’t too interested in its premise. It turned out to be a decent show but quite dialogue heavy due to one of the character’s professions. I’ll probably watch this one when it officially begins in the Winter Anime Season.

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Afterwards I met up with my friends and we went out to dinner at the KBBQ/hot pot restaurant Q-Pot. You can tell a few people from con was also here as well, some in partial cosplay or with their badges still on. We had to wait a little over an hour for our table but it’s always worth it. Good food with great company goes a long way for a enjoyable weekend.

Day 3 – Sunday, September 1st

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Originally we were going to take it easy for the last day and come later than we have been for the first two days, but there was some stuff that my friends wanted to check out in the morning. We arrived in San Jose just after 10am and had a quick breakfast bite at the usual place before heading over to the con.

After wandering the Dealers Hall for a bit together, we split off. The first thing I wanted to check out for the day was a premiere at 1pm for Ep. 1 of “Ascendance of a Bookworm“. A while before I expected lines to start forming for this premiere, I checked out the front of Cinema 1. I found out that they had changed their mind again about the room clearing policy for Cinema 1. For the rest of the day they would no longer clear the room after each screening, which meant that I didn’t have to worry so much about being intimidated by large amounts of people grouping up outside the room. Even when Cinema 1 is mostly full there was always some good seats left in the middle as people usually left spaces between themselves and others.

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Since I knew I could come back closer to when the premiere would start, I went over to the Shield Hero panel next door. As I entered I saw MADKID on stage, the performers of both the Opening themes of the anime series. I was able to catch them performing the second OP “FAITH” which was cool. I left shortly after that for the 1pm Cinema 1 premiere.

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I was able to go in right away and get a seat in the middle per usual. As we were waiting for the time to start, I could still hear the Shield Hero panel next door, mainly from people cheering loudly. Close to the end of that panel and start of this premiere, I heard an especially loud cheer which I figured was something along the lines of a second season announcement. This information was confirmed later when I was wandering the Dealers Hall and overheard attendees talking about it. (I also learned later that season 2 and 3 of Shield Hero was announced. I’m thinking though this may mean that each season might be only 12ish episodes long rather than the 25 we got in the first, based on the fact that they were announced at the same time.) The Bookworm premiere was another Isekai type show, about a girl obsessed with books who reincarnates into a world without much books. You can figure out the humor from there, and it will be an anime I’ll watch when it starts in the Fall Anime Season.

I had some time before the next couple viewings I wanted to see at Cinema 1, so I took this time to do some final shopping and finish my breakfast leftovers.

I planned to see the “Sound! Euphonium The Movie – Our Promise: A Brand New Day” which was to start at 4:15pm, but as the room clearing policy was abolished I was afraid that some people would stay in the room after the previous premiering anime series “High School Prodigies Have it Easy Even in Another World” which would start at 3:30pm and end at around 4pm. I originally wasn’t going to see the 3:30pm premiere, but since I had nothing else I planned to do and wanted good seats for the Sound! Euphonium Movie, I decided it was the best course of action. HS Prodigies was the only Isekai premiere at CRX I saw that had blatant fanservice, as well as a unique (but ridiculous in a funny way) premise. The title pretty much sums up what it’s about, and I’ll see more of it when it airs in the Fall Season as well.

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Not as many people coming to watch the Sound! Euphonium Movie as I thought would.

After the HS Prodigies premiere, I was expecting Cinema 1 to be fairly full for the following Sound! Euphonium Movie, however that was not the case. The room wasn’t even half full, unlike every other premiere and/or screening I saw in this room. I wanted to watch the movie as I watched the series, as well as showing my support for the anime studio who worked on it, Kyoto Animation, who was going through bad times due to a recent arson attack about a month and a half ago. Maybe it was because it was close to the end of the con that not many people decided to go to this movie, deciding to do last minute shopping or going to other events going on at the time. Before the movie started there was a group of people who decided to leave, though one of them stayed a bit saying that he wanted to show his support for Kyoto Animation. He did eventually follow suit, but it was probably due to group mentality rather than what he wanted.

This Sound! Euphonium movie takes place during Kumiko’s second year, where she becomes a senpai to the incoming freshman of the Kitauji High School concert band. As usual mostly everything about this movie was fantastic; story, animation, music, etc. It felt like a condensed version of season 1, but with new characters and old characters in different positions. We even had some graduates make a cameo of sorts, which was one the highlights of the movie. I enjoyed this movie not only as an anime film, but also as a work of art by people who might have perished in the KyoAni Fire. Whether that incident will affect future works of Kyoto Animation to the point where we don’t have the subtleties that we see in their works like this one, I’m not sure. But you know, sometimes you miss things once they’re gone, which I hope will not be the case.

As I exited Cinema 1, it was already almost 6pm and the con was already cleaning up. The main areas like the Dealers Hall/Artist Alley was already closed so most people were on the way out. I met up with my friends in the still lively Arcade, and left the con shortly afterwards.

 


Extra thoughts and Conclusion

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Unlike last year where it was their first time at the San Jose Convention Center and I was actively comparing them with FanimeCon, this year I barely even thought about it. I can definitely say that CRX is its own thing now. I’m glad that they ran the con Fri-Sun rather than Sat-Mon, as it gave me a day after to rest up and work on posting stuff from the con before the work week begins for me (Monday is Labor Day). I’m also grateful that this con has good perimeter security, though mainly in presence. There was only one instance I heard of during the con that had me worried for a bit on morning of Day 1, something about restrictions on cameras. I think it got sorted out quickly as I didn’t have any issues with me carrying around my DSLR that day.

Another improvement over last year was the ability to use the CRX app. Last year it was unusable due to it crashing constantly, but this year had no such issues. I was able to use it to plan out my schedule, look up maps, etc.

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Program guide for CRX 2019 as a newspaper.

I definitely enjoyed myself at CRX 2019. I like the effort Crunchyroll did to visually theme the con as a city. The map looking like a big metro station, the Dealers Hall having those building banners, the Artist Alley having low key lighting and plenty of space for artist and attendee alike, etc. There was also a lot of events/premieres that interested me as well, so I didn’t have a lot of down time where I didn’t have much to do. There was also a decent amount of things I bought at this con, mostly just apparel and stuff from series I follow, probably spending about $75 or so, not including food and the like. Of course there are a few things that I hope will improve in the future, like line management for the premieres and autograph ticket options.

Overall I feel that CRX is moving in the right direction, and it definitely has potential to rival similar anime industry cons like Anime Expo. Crunchyroll Expo is quickly becoming one of my favorite anime conventions, namely for its home in Northern California (my home), power to bring Industry level guests and vendors, and lack of crowding. I also think that because CRX happens in the middle of the Summer Anime Season that we are able to connect together as attendees to talk about currently airing animes and stuff, instead of when Anime Expo happens which is just at the start of it. I also personally think that the people at CRX both staff and attendees are more chill and less stressed due to the reasons mentioned. Sometimes when I was in line or just waiting for a premiere to start, I would start a conversation with a neighbor quite easily and it was fun to just casually talk about anime and the like.

I will plan to return to Crunchyroll Expo next year, but either as a attendee or staff, that will remain to be seen. Either way I’m excited for what the new year brings.