Anime Expo 2011 July 5, 2011Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: 2011, Anime Expo, convention, Danny Choo, Los Angeles
Anime Expo was such a big experience for me, before, during, and after the convention; “Before”, because of the massive preparations I had to make for the trip, “During”, obviously from experiencing the con firsthand, and “After” from the affect that the con had on me. I will tell my story from start to end of my whole experience of Anime Expo 2011.
I’ve done a separate photo coverage post on Figure.fm for Anime Expo 2011. Please check it out.
Now, every story has its precursors, and my Anime Expo 2011 story starts way before Day 1. Early in the year, my most favorite guest of Anime Expo was announced, Danny Choo who is a blogger about everything Japan and is also director of his own show titled Culture Japan. I made a decision to try and make plans to go to Anime Expo mainly to meet Danny who is an inspiration to me and to many others, because of his success story about how he became from a regular person (like us normal people) to one who is becoming a increasingly known person for his work in spreading Japanese pop culture throughout the world. I’ll explain more about Danny Choo later on.
About a month before Anime Expo, I was able to reserve my hotel room at the Millennium Biltmore. I thought there were almost no more rooms but I got lucky (I guess). That was one of my main concerns that I had to deal with, but with it out of the way, I could focus on some smaller things.
First off was creating my cosplay for AX. As a fan of Danny Choo, I was excited at the announcement of his new first male mascot character, Seiun Eiji, who has a very simple look (partially based on Danny himself), perfect for a beginner cosplayer such as myself. I was originally not planning to cosplay for AX, because I knew that it was going to be warm and I didn’t want to wear my ninja cosplay in such weather, and also I was planning to volunteer for the con too so I thought that cosplaying would get in the way. In the beginning process of putting the Seiun Eiji cosplay together, I already had black dress pants, black dress shoes, and beanie hat, but I realized that I needed to buy and/or create many elements of the cosplay that I was missing. Slowly but steadily, I was able to go to various stores to get the cosplay together; Burlington Coat Factory for the white dress shirt, blue tie, and watch, Target for headphones, Walgreens for some reading glasses (I don’t wear real glasses), and Michael’s Arts and Crafts store for some iron-on transfers to make the orange stripes and Danny Choo “D” logo for the shirt. Only about a couple of days before I left for LA did I have the cosplay complete. The iron-ons were my main concern about the cosplay itself, because they weren’t staying on too well, peeling off at the edges and ends, but was holding enough for the con. Overall I was impressed that I was able to put together my first custom cosplay.
As a blogger, I believe in networking on and offline, as it helps in meeting new people to build relationships, ultimately to discuss and work together for a joint cause. Since going to FanimeCon in San Jose, I’ve been attempting to network by creating business cards that have my intro along with my websites on it to advertise myself as a casual blogger, YouTuber, and photographer. While I know that I’m not the best at what I do, meeting new people allows me to gain readers and support who can help me along, because a blogger is almost nothing without readers. I’ll explain about the future for me as a casual blogger/YouTuber/photographer a bit later in this post. Anyways I luckily had some business card paper around, but I had to end up buying new ink for my printer. I had another problem during printing where the front side was aligned with the perforated parts of the business card paper but the back side was not, making me waste business card paper. I remedied that problem by making the back side upside down from the front of the card.
Planning what to pack is part of every long trip, but since I haven’t had one in a while, it took me a while to get everything I needed to bring into perspective. Besides clothes, toiletries, chargers, etc., I also planned to bring my Mirai Suenaga Figma for Danny to autograph. I also got a Virgin Mobile Mifi 2200 so that I would have mobile Wifi with me on the road. I initially had problems setting it up, but after a call to Virgin Mobile, they helped me set it up easily.
In terms of computers and cameras, I brought my digital camera, video camera, tripod, portable HD, iPod Touch and Nano, and laptop with me. The reason why I brought two iPods with me is that my iPod Touch’s audio output is being compromised by what I believe is a bent headphone jack. I still have both left and right side channels of sound, but the sound becomes distorted randomly when the headphone plug is jiggled around, most of the time messing with sound quality. I had to send in to repair before the trip, but apparently they couldn’t find any problems with it. I know it isn’t my headphones, as I tried it with various new ones that had the same problem. I don’t know what to do since my main repair place couldn’t find it themselves, but I’ll still get some second opinion for it, I don’t want to just give up on it.
As you can see during the month before Anime Expo, I was doing a lot in preparations for the convention. I wanted to make sure that I had everything ready for when I had to leave; I wanted my trip to LA for AX to be as great as possible.
I decided to post my updates that I posted during my time at AX here. More detailed Day summaries after this segment.
— Day 0 of AX was a bit rough. I had to stand in line for two hours to pick up my badge, ended up not volunteering as planned because I didn’t know that I had to volunteer for the number of days that my badge was for (I wanted to volunteer for 2 out of the 4 days that my badge gives but they don’t give partial refunds of reg fees), and had to walk around in uncomfortable heat. Even so, all this won’t discourage me from enjoying Day 1 of AX because there is so much I plan to see and do. If you happen to be at AX, I’ll be dressed as Seiun Eiji from Mirai Millennium (a series based from Danny Choo). Just google “Seiun Eiji” if you don’t know the character’s visual. Anyways, good night and I’ll be back here and briefly report on my experiences of my first day of AX.
— Day 1 of AX complete. All of Day 1 I was in cosplay as Seiun Eiji. Most of the time I was waiting in line for some event or panel. I got to meet blogger Danny Choo, who is a inspiration to me. Overall the day was filled with seeing special guests, but I didn’t feel as satisfied as I thought I would. I hope Day 2’s concerts will make things better.
— Day 2 of AX was a BIG FAIL, partially on my part, partially on the con. I think I failed BIG TIME as a blogger.When I couldn’t bring my camera to the Kalafina concert, I assumed it would be the same condition for the Miku concert. Apparently not the case as it seems cameras were going through. Now I have missed a big chance to bring photo coverage of the first Miku Hatsune U.S. Concert. I’m sorry readers…
I did enjoy both the Kalafina and Hatsune Miku concerts. Though I may not be a big fan of Vocaloid music, I still felt that if I had a chance to see a real concert of hers, then I should so that I can share my experiences of the concert with others who couldn’t go. Unfortunately no photos from me during that time.
— Day 3 made up for some of the problems I had on the previous days. The Culture Japan/Fakku meetup was fantastic! I got to meet a few new comrades and get to meet Danny and get autographs, photos, video, and I even gave him a small hand drawn fanart of Kanata without her glasses with a message to Danny on the back. I also asked him a couple of questions about various stuff such if Culture Japan will be on DVD and about if he will have any plans to visit Northern California.
I went to the Maon Kurosaki concert and it was awesome! I loved every song she sang. I even changed my mind about her song Magic World, which I had taken off my iPod before, but it will return along with much more Kurosaki music. I also went to the Masquerade to bring closure to my AX experience as I wasn’t planning to stay too long on Day 4. I left after Danny Choo’s mid show.
— Day 4 After checking out of the hotel, I headed back to AX just to go to the exhibit halls for the last time. Bought some gifts for friends, and tried to find anymore free stuff but almost all gone. I left AX/LA at about 3pm and returned back in the Bay Area by around 11pm. The drive back was hot and long.
Full Day Summaries
Day 0 – June 30th
I left San Francisco at about 7am and after a several hour drive arrived in Los Angeles at about 2:30pm. After checking in to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, I got to the Los Angeles Convention Center where Anime Expo takes place just past 5pm. I got into the extremely long pre-register badge pick up line at 5:30pm and two hours later got it, rushed into the LACC to the volunteer office before the 8pm close out time just to find out that I couldn’t volunteer, because I wanted to volunteer for just two out of the four days. The volunteering times must coincide with the number of days your badge says, meaning that I either had to volunteer all four days, or not volunteer at all. I didn’t know that prior to deciding on how much I was planning to volunteer. I had to give up my plan to volunteer then because I wouldn’t have the time. Later on I realized that volunteering would be impossible for me, because time is very limited in a con like this, and I need all the time in the world.
Day 1 – July 1st
I arrived late to AX, approximately 10:30am but I was still able to make it to see some of the opening ceremony. After that I went to see the Kalafina panel at noon and took a peek at the NIS America panel, to kill some time for the lines at the exhibit halls to shorten. My plan worked as at about 2pm there were no lines for the exhibit halls. I stayed in there for a few hours, walking through every aisle taking photos of interesting eye catching stuff. Free stuff was also present and got myself an AX lanyard, some Hi-Chew pens and stuff, Crunchyroll.com T-shirt, niconico.com bottle, and a few other minor stuff. I didn’t really buy anything on my first day as I wanted to save my money for any future things I wanted to buy. The main event of Day 1 for me was the 8pm Danny Choo panel. I didn’t get as early in line as I would have liked to be, I got in line at about 7:15pm, as there was already a good amount of people ahead of me. When the line started moving past 8pm, I started recording using my video camera, all the way into the panel room. I was able to get a couple of rows away from the front, but on the right side of the middle row. I recorded Danny’s panel and loved it, I even got a picture with him. I saw YouTube videos of Danny’s panel from last year’s AX and this year it was similar. Danny’s panel is a mix of an introduction of who he is, a motivational/inspirational talk, about Danny’s and his company, Mirai inc.’s, future plans, along with some fun mixed in such as giveaways and group photos. It was great being a part of the panel and I got to even take a picture with him as well, but that wasn’t the only time during the con. I returned back to the hotel to prepare for Day 2 of AX before midnight.
Day 2 – July 2nd
I arrived late to AX on Saturday, getting there before noon. I hung around the exhibit halls before lining up at about past 2pm for the 3pm panel of Maon Kurosaki. As with many panels that I attended at AX so far, it was late and so it also ended late, at about 4:20pm. I had a Kalafina concert at 5pm so I had to leave while stuff was still going on within the Kurosaki panel, such as the raffle for a Kurosaki autograph. I don’t know i got chosen in that raffle as many people are choosing that raffle, but I had to leave to get to the concert all the way at Club Nokia. When I arrived, I found out that I couldn’t enter the venue at all with my digital camera due to their strict policy. This is where my day gets bad. I had no idea what to do at this point in time with my camera. With only about 30 minutes to the start of the concert, I couldn’t return to my hotel because was too far away. I was considering hiding my camera somewhere and getting it back later, but I didn’t want to take the risk of it being found and stolen. I heard about bag check from some person and decided that would be the best thing to do, so that meant that I had to rush back to the LACC, wait in line, pay $10, and run back before the concert started. I got into the Kalafina concert just as it was starting. The Kalafina concert was great, I got shivers from some of their music, because of their voices and emotion they put into their songs. After the concert I went back to bag check to pick up a few things from my bag, but I did not get my camera because I had tickets to the Hatsune Miku concert and I thought that Nokia Theatre’s policy would be the same like Club Nokia. For the two hours before the concert I just wandered around, witnessing missed photo opportunities. About an hour before the Miku concert I arrived at the Nokia Theatre to find so many people in line ready to enter when the doors open. I couldn’t even find the end of the line or any real line for that matter until the doors opened. When I got to security check, I noticed that cameras were allowed to go through but not allowed to be used during the concert. When I got in and sat down, I realized that I missed a whole bunch of photo ops before and around the concert. It was a BIG FAIL on my part because I didn’t find out about whether or not cameras were allowed. I missed my only opportunity to bring photo coverage of the crowds outside of the concert before the doors opened. Anyways the Hatsune Miku concert was nice to watch. I enjoyed to opening act by the DANCEROID pair, because I’ve seen Kozue on YouTube and it was great seeing her live dancing in perfect sync with Ikura. The projection effects of Miku and of the other Vocaloids on stage was done well. It took a bit for my eyes to adjust to see her as an entity that moves with similarity of that of a normal human. I cross-eyed myself a coupe of times to purposely blur my vision to see if her movements were similar to that of a human dancing on stage, and it was pretty spot on. I enjoyed some of the music, but I’m not really such a big Miku/Vocaloid fan, I mainly decided to go to the Miku concert because I thought it was a good opportunity to see a 3D Miku and be a part of the first ever Vocaloid US concert. The only visual problem with the Vocaloid concert was noticeable when Miku (or any other of the vocaloids) moved to the extreme left or right of the projection screen which caused her to fade. I was sitting on the left area of the seats, so if Miku went all the way to the right, she would fade like a ghost. Swinging around to the left side where I was, she became super bright and clear, and you can even see the two lights from the projectors that bring Miku to the stage, though those projector lights can be seen all the time. Day 2 was the worst day of my experience at Anime Expo all because of the rushing I had to do with the camera problem. Even then, I’ll just learn from my mistakes from Day 2 and try again better next time. I’ll be prepared so that I won’t miss my chances at photo taking.
Day 3 – July 3rd
I vowed to make amends from the previous day with the Culture Japan x FAKKU meet and greet. I was really looking forward to meeting Danny Choo and more comrades of the DC community. I arrived just as things were getting underway at just past 11am. After a quick talk by Danny and Jacob, lines formed to come up to see and talk to Danny and Jacob. I decided to wait a bit before going into line, as we had 4 hours and there wasn’t that many people. I took my time meeting new people, giving out business cards that gave a quick intro about who I am and what I do, and chatted the time away. It was great meeting everyone that I did, as it’s fun networking with people with similar interests. About a couple of hours into the meet and greet, I got in line and eventually got up to the front to have Danny autograph my Figma Mirai Suenaga. Later on I was able to give Danny my pencil artwork of Kanata without her glasses, drawn from looking at one of her original pictures (not traced) along with a note to Danny on the back to thank him for be an inspiration to myself and many others. I even got to ask him a couple of questions and got his responses recorded. Overall I was able to do everything I wanted to accomplish, thank you Danny for taking your time to answer my questions.
After the DC/FAKKU meetup, I had a couple of event I was going to attend, the Maon Kurosaki concert at Club Nokia at 5pm and the Masquerade at Nokia Theatre at 8pm. The situation was very similar to yesterday’s so I did things right this time. An hour before the Kurosaki concert I left my backpack at bag check along with my camera because I knew that Club Nokia doesn’t allow anyone through with a camera. The Kurosaki concert was awesome! I loved every song that she sang and it even made me change my mind about liking her single Magic World which I had taken off my iPod before because I didn’t like it so much, but it will be returning soon. I was pretty close to the stage so, she is quite cute looking up close. When I went to her panel on Day 2, I learned that she used to be a hikikomori, and that’s why in her music videos she is shown to be a glasses wearing person in a dark room watching the outside. I hope to see a concert of her’s again if I do get the chance. After the Kurosaki concert, I first stopped by Nokia Theatre to ask the security about whether they at least let people through with cameras (and of course I said I wasn’t going to do flash photography). I learned that the conditions were the same as the Miku concert so I returned back to bag check just to pick up my camera and during my time before the concert, took pictures of as many interesting things as I could. Less than 30 minutes before the start of the Masquerade, I already took my seat which was right in the middle, but pretty far back from the stage. The masquerade was an OK show to watch. It’s like a talent show of sorts but with cosplay and themes from various animes/series. I didn’t enjoy the Fanime one too much, but this one was slightly better. The hosts were funny and some of the acts were pretty good. I stuck around because I wanted to catch the mid show that Danny Choo said he was a part of. Danny’s part in the mid show was to help introduce and translate for Toshiyuki Morikawa, a seiyuu for various big series such as Naruto, Bleach, etc. I loved the part where Danny imitates a Harry Potter accent, as he did it really well. He really did sound like Harry Potter in my opinion. I left shortly after that for the shuttle buses that took me back to my hotel before midnight. The masquerade was a way to bring closure to my AX experience as I wasn’t planning to stick around too long on Day 4.
Day 4 – July 4th
After checking out of the hotel, I got to AX at about 1:30pm to quickly do some last minute shopping at the exhibit hall, but mostly did rounds to try and get more free stuff if there was. I bought a couple of things, one was a gift for a friend, and I also bought a ocarina because I wanted to try one out since I saw one at Fanime but I didn’t get last time. There was no more free stuff…. I left LA at about 3pm and arrived back in San Francisco at about 11pm. I encountered traffic during my drive back home, that’s why it took longer than expected. The fog and cold is so welcoming when coming from such a hot city such as Los Angeles.
My overall experience of Anime Expo 2011 is slightly more positive than negative. I did encounter many problems that I did not foresee or think about when making plans, such as dealing with extremely long lines, heat from the weather, time constraints, staff issues, and camera allowance. At the same time I had some great experiences as well, mostly from getting to see/meet guests in person, meeting new comrades, and experiencing something new. Despite all the problems I had with AX, it doesn’t mean that I’ll deter me from trying to go again. I think the overall message of that Anime Expo 2011 is telling me is to keep moving forward and don’t regret the past, and as Danny Choo has said before “Identify and live your passion. The rest will always follow.” I’ll make sure to follow my passion to pursue a future that I’ll love to live in.