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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.

 

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