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Anime Expo 2017 July 6, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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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.

 

Spring Anime Season 2017 – Review July 4, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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This season had a pretty good mix of animes. 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:

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria

Eromanga-sensei

Hinako Note

Little Witch Academia (TV)

Re:Creators

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭

Sakura Quest

Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?

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


Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria

In this side story spin-off of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Sword Oratoria focuses on Ais Wallenstein and her Familia under the Goddess Loki. The story runs parallel in timeline to Bell Cranel’s one, so we see scenes from the original series when they intertwine.

At first I thought that this was going to be more of a slice-of-life series than the original series was going to be, however now that this season is over, I feel that both series hold their own well. In the original series, Ais was seen as more of a boring character; powerful but lacking much emotion. By having a series about her, it helped to flesh out her character more, by showing her backstory up to the present. I’m hoping that both this spin-off series and the main will mix more in a similar fashion to how the To Aru Majutsu series has with its separate story focuses on Misaka and Accelerator.

Eromanga-sensei

A spiritual successor to Oreimo as it and this series was both created by the same person, Eromanga-sensei is about light novel writer and “protagonist” Izumi Masamune and his little step sister Sagiri who is known by her online alias Eromanga-sensei for her erotic illustrations. A shut-in since her mother died about a year ago, Sagiri is slowly acclimated to coming out of her room by her older brother Masamune, who learns is the author of the book she illustrates for. They create and share a dream of making a successful LN/anime series together.

I was attracted to this series mainly for its closeness with the Oreimo series, as well as for what the name of the series has to offer. Even though Sagiri is only 13, her ability to draw ero-art was top notch. It was later shown that her skill and habits comes from her late mother who seemed to work as a illustrator as well. Her older step brother Masamune, a self proclaimed genius of light novels, started writing when he was very young. With encouragement from fans of his work, his goal was to become a professional for his fans and career.

This anime series was slow but not in a bad way. While not much as changed, we can see that both Sagiri and Masamune are making headway towards their dream. They both have made new friends and are enjoying the road ahead of them. Even if times were bad in the past, things change and the only direction left will be the future. Sure Sagiri may not have left the house, but at least she has left her room right? I also enjoyed the other characters as well, Yamada Elf and her outward personality, and Senju Muramasa with her absolute adoration for Masamune’s LN work and admiration for him.

It was an enjoyable series overall. Some fan service parts were cringe worthy for characters clearly too young, but if you try to put yourself in their position, I guess it makes sense for why it’s normal for them.

Hinako Note

The cutesy anime of the season, Hinako Note is about a country girl who is bad at speaking with others. In order to improve this part of her, she decides to move to Tokyo and joins the drama club in high school. She moves in to a boarding house/used bookstore/cafe that houses a colorful cast of people that becomes her friends. Together they help Hinako overcome her fear of interacting with others by starting a theater troupe.

I guess I started watching this one because well it looks cute. It’s pretty much an anime about friendship and getting over the little hurdles in life. One thing I do need to mention is how the fan service was served in this anime. For one, there wasn’t any during most of the first half of the season, and it definitely wasn’t expected in this kind of show. When it did show itself it was quite blatant, and felt a little forced and unnatural for how innocent it generally projected itself overall. I’m not saying it was outright bad to have it, but rather it should of been done in a soft cutesy way rather than straight up bunny suit / skimpy outfits. Besides that, it was an OK casual anime to watch.

Little Witch Academia (TV)

I binge watched Little Witch Academia (TV) as I didn’t have time to watch it when it started at the beginning of the year. I remember when this series was created from the 2012 Young Animator Training Project, a government program to train young animators on-the-job. Studio Trigger was part of this program and created LWA from it, gaining praise from viewers of the first short movie of this series. A Kickstarter was run to produce a sequel short movie which surpassed its funding goal, and was premiered at Anime Expo back in 2015. I got to see that when I went and it was awesome, showcasing itself in a classic Trigger fashion.

The TV anime version of LWA was announced in a clever way, through one of Trigger’s other series, Space Patrol Luluco. Space Patrol Luluco is chock full of references to Trigger’s other works such as Infernal Cop, Kill La Kill, and LWA. At the very end of the last episode of Space Patrol Luluco, you see Luluco essentially pass the baton to Akko of LWA, a nice touch to give it good luck in its future.

The Little Witch Academia TV anime was a blast to watch. Spanning 25 episodes, it tells the story of a girl named Atsuko Kagari aka Akko who dreams to become a witch like Shiny Chariot, a magic performer who taught her that “A believing heart is your magic”. She enrolls in the same school that Chariot went to, Luna Nova, to study magic to eventually reach her role model. There she befriends all sorts of people, and learns what magic can do, for others and for herself.

The anime was done in two segments; The first half of the season shows Akko struggling but slowly learning the basics of magic. A bunch of random events happen to our overly energetic main character who does whatever she thinks is right. Even if she doesn’t think things through, it seems to work out in the end. The second half starts with the introduction of an antagonist of sorts, and Akko learning about the true purpose of the Shiny Rod. The Shiny Rod is revealed to be the key to break the seal of Grand Triskellion, an magic with tremendous power that can change the world. The Nine Olde Witches sealed it within Arcturus Forest due to dangers that it posed if fell to the wrong hands. And thus, the Shiny Rod (Claiomh Solais) exist as the only key to unlock it, if its wielder is able to revive the Seven Words of Arcturus. I won’t spoil much more than this, but this definitely adds solid context to Akko’s actions and the world around her.

I really enjoyed all that Little Witch Academia had to offer. Action/comedy moments that bewitch your heart. Near the end of the series, upon reviving the final Word, I had goosebumps all throughout that scene, as if the magic within my heart was reacting to it. Trigger knows how to build up to a great ending, and I’m glad that I got myself to finally sit down and watch this fantastic series. The only nitpick worth mentioning was the sometimes cheap animation look. It’s not really a complaint, but rather noticing an art style that has charm. (Probably done for a more comedic look, and budget saving tactics.) I will look forward to Trigger’s next anime for sure. You can count on it!

Re:Creators

My favorite anime of the season, and a while actually. Re:CREATORS is an anime where genres fight against each other knowing that their worlds are a creation by people in the real world. Created by studio TROYCA, and music by Sawano Hiroyuki, the duo who also created Aldnoah.Zero what it was, this series was something I was excited for hearing that these two were working together again. The first synopsis I read for this anime was a bit confusing:

Humans have created many stories. Joy, sadness, anger, deep emotion. Stories shake our emotions, and fascinate us. However, these are only the thoughts of bystanders. But what if the characters in the story have “intentions”? To them, are we god-like existences for bringing their story into the world? Our world is changed. Mete out punishment upon the realm of the gods. In Re:CREATORS, everyone becomes a Creator.

(Source: ANN)

This gave me a vague idea what it was about, but luckily it looks that MAL.net got it much better:

Humans have designed countless worlds—each one born from the unique imagination of its creator. Souta Mizushino is a high school student who aspires to be such a creator by writing and illustrating his own light novel. One day, while watching anime for inspiration, he is briefly transported into a fierce fight scene. When he returns to the real world, he realizes something is amiss: the anime’s headstrong heroine, Celestia Yupitilia, has somehow returned with him.

Before long, other fictional characters appear in the world, carrying the hopes and scars of their home. A princely knight, a magical girl, a ruthless brawler, and many others now crowd the streets of Japan. However, the most mysterious one is a woman in full military regalia, dubbed “Gunpuku no Himegimi,” who knows far more than she should about the creators’ world. Despite this, no one knows her true name or the world she is from.

Meanwhile, Souta and Celestia work together with Meteora Österreich, a calm and composed librarian NPC, to uncover the meaning behind these unnatural events. With powerful forces at play, the once clear line between reality and imagination continues to blur, leading to a fateful meeting between creators and those they created.

This synopsis nails down what it’s about more directly. What’s also awesome about this season is that it runs for 22 episodes, a better way to flush out the story. So far it’s about half way done, and it has been an up and down ride. The first few episodes were wordy in describing the series’s universe, but that’s because this is a relatively new project as the manga looks to only have started a couple of months ago. Whether or not the anime version is following the current manga, is on an original storyline, or is parallel to the manga but ahead of it, I’m not sure.

I’m definitely enjoying most of this anime, but it’s not without things that bug me. First off the main character: Enter Souta, a weak sounding guy who is emotionally scarred after indirectly causing a friend’s death. To me he got on my nerves because he looks like he was going to cry every so often. At this point in the anime it looks like he’s finally soaking up his tears to do his part in being helpful. I hope to see him grow out of his depression to not bring the rest of the cast down.

The second irritation is Magane, a character who talks too much, enjoys causing chaos and killing, and has an ability that I still have a hard time trying to understand. Here’s her ability description courtesy of MAL.net: “She possesses an ability called “Infinite Deception of Words” that allows her to bend reality through lies and deception; by telling a lie and manipulating somebody into rejecting that claim it creates a “lie of a lie” which by proxy makes the initial claim become real.” Can someone tell me how this works? I’m running this example in my head: Say something is blue, but she says it’s yellow. I reject that it’s yellow, so…. huh? I can’t even run a simulation in my head for this. The anime examples don’t help either. Let’s just say she plays mind games and whatever she wants to become a reality happens.

The scene where Selesia gets a power up in Ep. 10 is one of those moments where everything comes together. The atmosphere of the battle, Sawano music doing its thing, and the transitions, pacing, and emotions. It’s those rare amazing anime moments that stay in my mind, leaving me to constantly think of the show and what to expect in its future.

I really wish that this anime had more exposure. It’s not available on Crunchyroll or Funimation, only Anime Strike (Amazon) as far as I know. There also isn’t much advertising for it that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because it’s a new IP, that it’s not an established series, that advertisers don’t want to take a risk with it. Maybe if it does well enough, and the story demands it, another season can be made with a potential for more viewers.

We’re only halfway done with the series, so I’ll have my full review of Re:CREATORS in a couple months. I’m enjoying it, you should try watching too. If you enjoy anime in general, and like to see swordwomen, magical girls, tough guys wielding personas, floating gunmen, giant mechas, and a crazy psychotic high school girl duke it out for the entertainment of a dark version of Hatsune Miku who uses an endless array of floating swords, then please take a look for yourself.

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records

I wasn’t originally planning to watch this series because it looked like another one of those magical academy type of shows, but after seeing some clips on social media, I decided to give it a try. The difference between this anime and others like it is that that main character isn’t some student, but rather a new teacher named Glenn Radars. He’s quite simply put, a bastard who seems to be a selfish, laid-back, full-of-himself kind of guy. (The English name of this series is Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor.) While that is what he projects on the outside, there is more to him than meets the eye. He was formally part of an elite magic military group, where he was known for his killer instinct. During this time, he lost someone that he cared for that he was trying to protect. After abruptly leaving the military, he became a teacher under orders from Celica Arfonia, his adopted guardian who taught him magic at a young age after losing his family. As a teacher, he learned again what it means to be responsible, and to care for his students, especially because one of them looks like the one he lost in the past.

The show itself was entertaining, especially with Glenn in the driver’s seat. He may not have been a particular powerhouse of magic, but he made up with his intellect, physical strength, and charisma. One of the minor things that detracted my liking of the anime was the pacing. If you look at the anime based on its main conflicts, then you might notice a trend. Every few episodes is like a mini story in itself surrounding Glenn and one of the other main characters. It was almost like every 3 episodes that it was focused on a character; Glenn, Glenn and Rumia, Glenn and Re=L, Glenn and Sistine. While in hindsight this pacing structure is solid, it also made it a little predictable for how the anime was going to proceed story wise once noticed. This may not be a bad thing all things considered, but its just something that I thought I should mention as part of my review.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭

In this second season of Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend .flat, we finally see much more advancement of character development, as well as cute moments from most of our female main characters surrounding Aki Tomoya.

I am glad that things moved forward in a consistent way. There was much more drama surrounding their relationships, and the more or less realistic ending of moving toward new opportunities. Katou Megumi really shined when she showed her emotions. What made her “unique” was her boringness, because whenever she would express her happiness or sadness it had more weight than someone who was emotional all the time. Utaha and Eriri also became bolder in their approach to Tomoya, and also towards their careers. As for Tomoya himself, while he learned valuable lessons from his peers about game and friend development, he doesn’t change all that much, especially the dense protagonist part of him. Overall I enjoyed this second season of an anime, definitely better than the first. If anything more I want see from this series, is the game that Tomoya and Megumi make together, the game that Tomoya wanted to make from the start. That would more or less bring it full circle in my opinion.

Sakura Quest

This anime will be a 25 episode season, and at this point it is half over so I’ll just jot down some of my current impressions of it. Here’s the quick synopsis from MAL.net:

“In the wake of a nationwide movement during the Bubble economy period, a small town in the countryside has revived its “mini-nation” tourism program; hiring five girls as travel ambassadors. The series will follow a year’s time of the five girls as they work in the tourism agency of a small failing town in an effort to reinvigorate it.”

This is a very laid-back and slow series that is interesting enough to watch if you are into slice-of-life. It can get boring sometimes, as I think I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times while watching, but that’s more because I watch anime late at night. I’ll give a full review at the end of the season, but for now it’s just another casual anime to watch.

Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2

Most of everyone’s favorite anime comes back in this Season 2, and boy was it slow. My first and main complaint when watching the first few episodes: The constant backtracking. While watching the beginning of the first few episodes, I just wanted the story to move forward. Can’t do that when a few minutes in we get a “12 hours earlier” scene that seems to last for the rest of the episode. I know that it’s trying to build context towards the ending of this season, but I just wish that it could of done that through linear storytelling rather through throwing us back and forth in the timeline. I’ve been hearing about the lack of animators in the anime industry, so that’s probably why they couldn’t run another 25 episode season so soon. That’s probably also why not much time in story was passed, as they focused on using big story elements to shrink the amount of episodes needed to engage viewers. For the record, I have not read the manga, so I’m not to say whether or not they are following the source material. If the anime version runs parallel to it’s manga counterpart, then probably my complaints are invalid. But either way these are my sole opinions as one who only watches the anime.

Besides my main issues, the season was solid in doing what it needed to do. The revealing of plot altering events were done well, though to me the impact of it was more like a “Huhhh…” than a “Huh?!” I don’t know, I wasn’t thrown aback by it at all. Maybe because the who-is-a-titan thing is starting to become all more common than it was back in season 1.

Season 3 has already been announced for 2018, so we won’t get a wait time as long as we did for the second. I plan to watch it as I’d like a conclusion to this series’s mystery of the titans, but I’m not even sure a third season can end it, unless they bring it back to a 24-25 episode season. We’ll have to wait and see once again.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?

This was another don’t judge a book by it’s cover anime. In WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?, it takes place far in the future where humans have become instinct at the hands of “Beasts” roaming the planet. New races arose and now live on floating islands that are out of reach of all but the most mobile of Beasts. (The following is the rest of the synopsis via MAL.net):

“Only a small group of young girls, the Leprechauns, can wield the ancient weapons needed to fend off invasions from these creatures. Into the girls’ unstable and fleeting lives, where a call to certain death could come at any moment, enters an unlikely character: a young man who lost everything in his final battle five hundred years ago, the last living human awakened from a long, icy slumber.

Unable to fight any longer, Willem becomes the father that the girls never had, caring for and nurturing them even as he struggles to come to terms with his new life, in which he feels the pain of helplessly waiting for his loved ones to return home from battle that his ‘Daughter’ once felt for him so long ago. Together, Willem and the girls gradually come to understand what family means and what is truly worth protecting.”

At first, it looked like it was a slice-of-life type of anime based on the later part of the synopsis and main image that was used on its MAL.net page. Turns out its more of an drama/action/romance genre, and it does so quite well. What I liked about the main character Willem was his attitude. He wasn’t an annoying shy guy, like we’ve seen in other world animes. He’s a smart, strong character with a tragic backstory. He may have been a hero before, but that time has gone and passed. Even then his motivation to protect what he cares about has not dimmed, rather he found new reasons to live through it. Every so often he may show vulnerability from his emotions, as a man out of time who lost everything, but that makes him relatable.

As for the girls, they’re a cute bunch but learning what they really are and what they’re for makes it bittersweet. I wonder how similar a Leprechaun and a human like Willem are, as there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. They both even have some extra power, the flying/self-destruct ability for the Leprechauns and Willem’s super sprint/strength (though for Willem that could be because he was a hero in the past).

It concluded as you would expect when things continually fall apart. I was a little confused for what happened at the end, my question: Who survived? While the final scene hints at a rebirth of sorts, the whole ending makes me feel that at the very least happiness was held on until the very end. It gives us viewers hope that they found what they were looking for. I definitely hope that’s what happened.

FanimeCon 2017 June 2, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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This year’s FanimeCon took place May 26th – 29th at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. FanimeCon is an anime convention “by fans, for fans”. I’ve been attending this anime convention since 2011, and I do intend to attend it annually as long as I’m able to, as it is one of my favorite cons around.

For all of my photos taken at the con, please check out my Flickr set FanimeCon 2017


Day 1 – May 26th

My first day started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to recently with the return of my seasonal retail work. I aimed to get to the con by 10am, and since it takes about an hour to drive down to San Jose I needed to leave the city no later than 9am. Because I also wanted to pick up a breakfast burrito at my local Safeway, that meant that I needed to leave my house earlier than that, at about 8:30am. I ate some of the burrito before starting the drive down, and I got to say it wasn’t as good as it should of been. It was dry with the filling far in between. Alright enough about breakfast, let’s go to the con.

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I got to Fanime at around 10am, and proceeded to first pick up my badge. I was wondering how the lines were going to be this morning based on the pictures and video from Day 0 yesterday of the lines and such. I did hear later that the lines didn’t last long after registration opened, and low and behold upon walking into the convention center, there was no lines to see. The process was quick and efficient; I walked into the pre-reg area where they have multiple tables of laptops setup each with a barcode/QR scanner. You scan your E-mailed QR code to check in and your badge immediately prints out on a card and is given to you by a staff member. You are then pointed toward a table next to the exit where you can pick up a FanimeCon plastic bag with a program and lanyard. All of this took no time at all and it goes to show that issues that were problematic before can be fixed in a fantastic way. Now if only if Anime Expo could have a reg as fast as this…. (I know that it’s much more massive of a con than Fanime, but one can dream.)

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As usual, my next event I was planning to head to was Opening Ceremonies, however that was more than 3 1/2 hours away at 2pm. I decided it was a good time to get acquainted with the whole con area in the meanwhile. Because things don’t change that much layout wise year to year, it didn’t take much to find out and see what was where this year. Most of where I was planning to be was all in close proximity, literally spinning in circles.

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Opening Ceremonies started on time and kicked off the Fanime weekend by introducing the guests of honor, Black and White Ball, and Fanimaid.

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After the ceremony concluded, I checked out the Dealer’s Hall. Besides the usual vendors of anime merchandise, towards the back corner were some food vendors. We had Hirotoko Co., a Takoyaki stand; JT Express, known for their Sushi Burritos and Spam Musubi; Super Cue, a Boba Tea place; and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop know for their unique bakery bites.

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For the rest of the afternoon, I took photos of whatever looked interesting. My criteria and priority for cosplay shots are usually ones that I have not generally shot before, especially unique ones. Meme cosplay are a particular one I definitely go out of my to shoot because they tend to be easier to shoot because people tend to gravitate towards high quality cosplay which makes those cosplayers harder to deal with in my opinion.

I left the con by 8:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier than today.

Day 2 – May 27th

Day 2 started similarly to Day 1, getting up fairly early to plan to get to the con by 10am. Had to stop by a Costco Gas Station on the way to refuel though, cheapest gas you’ll ever find around here.

I planned to check out three scheduled events today: The NieR:Automata cosplay gathering at 3pm, MusicFest at 7pm, and The Best of the Angry Video Game Nerd video screening at 10:00pm. Between the times I was just wandering around and taking pictures.

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I ended up not going to the NieR gathering, partly because it was in an area that tends to get hot and is a bit out of the way, but more so because I got lazy to go. As for MusicFest, I already knew that based on experience, there was no need to line up for it prior to the venue’s opening and just wait it out. Even though the line stretched almost around the entire block, when I got into the City National Civic it wasn’t remotely full at all. I didn’t stay for long though, as all I wanted from coming here was photo ops. I would of stayed for part of the performance at least had they not banned the use of professional grade cameras; they only allowed use of cell phone cameras. I got this one shot of the stage right before an usher told me I couldn’t use it, that’s when I left shortly after.

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I went out to shoot some more as the daylight dimmed. I had a great opportunity during this time to photograph a D.Va cosplayer in the most amazingly built D.Va mech prop, complete with lights all over. I heard from the creator of the suit that he will bring it to BlizzCon and retire it afterwards.

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I went to the AVGN screening after 10pm, but left earlier than planned at around 11:30pm to avoid a second parking charge after midnight. Once I got home I didn’t do much before going to sleep.

Day 3 – May 28th

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I got to the Fanime area quite early on Day 3, parking at a different parking garage than the last two days because I could get free parking by validation if I eat at the local diner Peggy Sue’s and park in the adjacent parking structure. Today I planned to go to the Overwatch cosplay gathering at 12PM (High Noon), which I knew was going to be a big one based on the fact that Overwatch cosplay dominated this year’s cosplayers because of it being the first full year of the game being out.

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The Overwatch gathering was massive, being the biggest cosplay gathering out of all of them this year at FanimeCon. It was hard to get any good shots of the cosplayers without having someone blocking my view with either their head or camera. For the most part I just shot what I could, trying to either focus shots on the interesting/unique or doing piece by piece panoramic photos. The D.Va mech from yesterday didn’t make an appearance, but it was understandable with how crazy the crowds were. Time was also limited for the gathering which made it hard to give all the OW cosplayers a photo op. There was a great Reinhardt Wujing (Chinese Lunar New Year skin) cosplay that didn’t get the limelight it deserved, probably due to time constraints. I was able to move up to the front towards the end of the gathering, so I got some better shots then.

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After sticking around the con for photos and watching some anime in the viewing rooms, I left fairly early at about 7:30pm, as things were wrapping down for the night. This would give me more time to work on some Fanime stuff at home and rest up as well for the final day ahead.

Day 4 – May 29th

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On this last day of the con, a couple of my friends planned to tag along. Not to go to the con but rather enjoy the museums and other sights around the downtown San Jose area. We met up at around 9:30am, stopped by Safeway to grab some food (not me though), and left to try and arrive at Fanime by 11am.

That was the plan, but on the way there I was driving quite fast to get the attention of the CHP (California Highway Patrol). I got myself my first speeding ticket, and I wasn’t even listening to the Eurobeat music I had just recently added to my iPod Touch….

We got to the Fanime area just before 11:30am, and me and friends split from there. I walked around a bit with the recent event in mind. I wasn’t really scared or nervous about it, but I can’t say it didn’t weigh on my mind either. I told myself that this was a learning experience for me and that I’ll get through it one way or another. I just wish that it didn’t happen on the one day I had others with me in the car, how embarrassing.

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Day 4 was more or less quite dead compared to the previous days, but in hindsight that’s how it always is. For the majority of the time I just tried to relax at the anime viewing rooms, while coming out every so often to see what was going on in the cosplay scene. I was planning to stay until Closing Ceremonies at 3pm, so I had a few hours to kill just cycling around the front area of the convention center. At 2:30pm I decided to see if the line was forming for Closing Ceremony and it was. Once 3pm came and past a bit, one of the people in line ahead of me starting complaining about it not starting yet, with the person next to me mentioning how Fanime Closing Ceremonies never start on time, which is somewhat true but never hurt my experience of it. It wasn’t too long until we were finally allowed to enter the room and sit. By 3:20pm the ceremony started, where guests of honor who were still around talked about their experience of this year’s con and were presented with a special shiny poster version of the Fanime front program artwork. Fanime also announced the theme for next year’s con: “Gaming”, as well as the first guest of honor for FanimeCon 2018: Caitlin Glass.

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At 4pm I met up with my friends at my car and we left the convention center to try out a sushi place called Kula Revolving Sushi Bar in nearby Cupertino. The wait was quite long, over an hour for us to get a seat. One of the cool things I have not seen a restaurant do that this place did was how you sign in for a wait time. There’s a tablet near the front door where you put your name and cell phone number. You get a text that sends you a link that tells you in real time approximate waiting time and how many parties are ahead of you. As there’s a mall nearby, you could go walking around there or wait in your car instead of waiting around the front door of the place if you wanted to. We decided just to sit nearby as many others were and we were thinking the wait could be shorter than what was estimated (48 min).

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Kula Sushi is similar to your other sushi boat places, but there’s a few things that made this place unique for me. First was that besides your usual sushi conveyor belt system, there was a second separate belt that was used for bringing separate orders made on a touch screen to specific customers. On the touch screen you could order stuff that also is part of the sushi conveyor belt if you wanted it fresh or if you had a hard time getting them from the regular belt because it was always empty. There was also exclusive menu items on their as well that were not part of the regular like ramen and desserts. The food was really good, though I’m not sure if being hungry from the con made it taste better? Either way, I enjoyed all the food there. Another thing that seems unique to this place was that there is a slot to put your empty plates. The screen would count how many plates, and every 15 would get you a prize from a gachapon machine directly above and behind the screen. We had at least 30 plates, so we got a couple prizes like stickers and a ramen keychain that attached to your phone via headphone jack.

After an enjoyable lunch/dinner, we headed back home. I dropped off my friends at their houses and got home by around 7:30pm.


FanimeCon this year was more or less enjoyable. Most of my plans went as expected. I did feel that this year was a little underwhelming, but that’s probably because there hasn’t been an anime that recently defined the fandom. Just like how in previous years you would find tons of either SAO or AOT cosplay, this year was more or less defined by Overwatch, and it’s not even an anime. Maybe that’s why Fanime decided next year’s theme to be gaming based on the rise in popularity in cosplay from said genre.

During my drive back home on Day 3, I became inspired to strive to better myself in terms of photography. One thing that has stayed the same for the past several years was how I did my photography. It was quite basic, and while I do not think of myself as a cosplay photographer, I’d like to be able to do many forms of photography in a skilled way. I’m never fully satisfied with my photos, and I think that is a good thing. It keeps me from going into a comfort zone, keeps me on my feet, to keep moving forward and want to try new things. Besides improving my skills, my camera equipment also needs tuning up and upgrading. I’m noticing dust on my DSLR’s camera sensor, and I have never done major maintenance on it since I got the camera years ago. Lighting is another issue I need to address, as it can make or break a shot. I’m always at the mercy of natural lighting, and I’ll never depend on the built in flash on my camera as it gives the worst results. That’s why I’m noticing much more people bringing in their light stands and umbrellas at cons like these. Fanime has the benefit of having very nice natural lighting at the major areas near and in the front of the con center, but that’s also a limitation as many people tend to flock there as well, making it hard to take shots, especially if it looks like another pro photographer is set up there. I’m going to probably look into camera flash systems and get myself some reflectors as well. I’ll set myself up to improve my photography for next year’s FanimeCon.