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FanimeCon 2018 June 10, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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FanimeCon 2018 took place May 25th – 28th 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. This year’s con was smooth, but for me I have mixed feelings. Partly because of a few minor hickups, but mostly because of the expectations I have on myself for what my goals are at cons, photography wise.

For all of my photos taken at the con, please check out my Flickr set FanimeCon 2018.


Day 1 – May 25th

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 planned to leave SF no later than 9am. My plan for parking today was to try for the convention center’s garage. As I wasn’t sure about how full it was going to be, I asked about the situation there via Facebook, to which I got no direct reply. I ate a quick breakfast of leftovers before leaving for the con.

Upon arriving at the con at around 10am, I found that there was plenty of parking in its garage and got a space relatively close to the doors leading into the main hall. The reason why I choose to park at the con center rather than anywhere else was because it was going to be just as expensive, if not more at the other parking places in the area, mainly because it was a weekday.

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I was able to pick up my badge in record time; from entering the convention center from the garage to having my badge in hand took less than 2 minutes. If I only counted the time from entering the pre-reg badge pickup line to badge pickup, then it took less than half that time. They were using the same system from last year, which is why linecon is dead at FanimeCon.

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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 a little late and kicked off the FanimeCon 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 were some food vendors. We had Hirotoko Co., a Takoyaki stand; JT Express, known for their Sushi Burritos and Spam Musubi; and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop know for their unique bakery bites, which I heard that their closest location to the con closed down for relocation.

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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.

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Most of the day I was either scouting around for photo taking, or taking a break at the anime viewing rooms. It rained a little in the afternoon, which dampened the crowds a bit. I left the con at around 6:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier.

Day 2 – May 26th

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I arrived back at the con area at around 10am. The plan for parking was to park at a garage located at the Peggy Sue’s Diner, as they had free parking with validation during the weekend. However, the garage was blocked by The Color Run, a running event that took place that morning. They were already cleaning up but the road would not open anytime soon. I ended up parking at another garage nearby that I was familiar with, but at a cost of $8 for the day. I ate breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner and afterwards headed to the con.

The weather was perfect today, in comparison to yesterday’s grey and random rain; Not too hot or cold with mostly clear skies. I planned to check out a couple of things today like the Overwatch cosplay gathering, as well as the MusicFest Concert that was at 7pm staring Nano.

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Shooting the Overwatch cosplay gathering was much easier than last year’s ones for a couple reasons: For one it was smaller as the hype was not as big as it was during last year’s first year one, so the group was more manageable. Secondly, the group was being managed by a couple staff photographers which were calling the shots for the gathering, basically making sure that they were not too wide, minimizing background elements, etc. Luckily I was standing right next to them, so I benefited for my photo taking purposes.

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At about 10 minutes before 7pm, I headed to the City National Civic right across the street from the con for the concert, just after dropping off my DSLR camera at my car, due to the usual strict photography policies the venue usually has. As usual most people were seated, but there’s plenty of seats to go around at this auditorium. Seating started at 6:30pm, but some people wait as early as a few hours before then. I suppose if you wanted to get the front rows, that’s the way to go, but there hasn’t been a musical guest at Fanime that made me justify waiting for a ground level seat. Originally there was going to be another musical performer named Yuyoyuppe at MusicFest, but due to unforeseen circumstances he couldn’t make it.

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The Nano concert started on time and last almost a full two hours, with an encore included. It was a really great experience being there; She had a lot of energy and was super grateful for being able to perform in her country of birth for the first time. I have some of her songs on my iPod, so I was looking forward to hearing her live. I was tapping my foot and nodding my head to most of her songs which had a great rocking beat. I also love the lyrics she uses, which are a mix of English and Japanese. They tended to relay the message of always try to strive for your dreams, the same for how she feels how she made it to where she is today. There was one song in particular that I was hoping to hear that I originally heard through an fan made Overwatch anime style opening, but I don’t think it was part of her set list.

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After the concert was over, I headed home once I confirmed that there was nothing left for me to do at the con, arriving back at base at about 10:30pm.

 

Day 3 – May 27th

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Day 3 started almost like yesterday, but without the problem of parking. I was able to park at the garage that allowed for free weekend parking with validation, ate at the busy Peggy Sue’s again, and afterwards headed back to the con for another round of photography. The weather on this day was notably starting to get warmer than comfortable, so to escape the heat it was an in-and-out of the convention center kind of plan, chilling every so often in the anime viewing rooms. Doing so was great because I was able to take a load off and sit down in a cool place watching animes, but it definitely a struggle for my eyes adjusting from pitch black to full sunlight in a matter of a minute.

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By 7:30pm I called it for the day, and went home to rest for the final day of Fanime.

 

Day 4 – May 28th

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When I woke up morning of Day 4, I saw a post from someone on the FanimeCon (Unofficial Fan Group) Facebook page asking for a ride back from the con to SF. I, a willing member, decided to respond to said post saying that I can help them out. No immediate response, so I headed out. The plan for the morning was to fill up on gas at Costco before heading to the con. However I forgot that they were closed due to the Memorial Day holiday, which meant that I had to go to a local station to partially fill up on more expensive gas. I arrived at the San Jose Convention Center about a quarter before 10am, and parked at the neighboring Almaden/Woz Lot.

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Upon arrival to the front of the con, the area was mostly dead with activity, though there was still plenty of photographers around. To bide my time I wandered the convention to see what was going on, and when I was done walking I gravitated back to the anime viewing rooms. Every so often I would come out to check if there was some good cosplays around, but they were few and far between.

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I got a response to the FB post saying that indeed they needed help carpooling back to SF, and if I was willing to wait until 8pm for them. This was a stretch for me as I originally planned to stay until after closing ceremonies which would end at around 4pm. I decided to wait for them since I had no major plans afterwards, thinking that I could just lounge around the convention area until the time.

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The closing ceremony started a little late but got underway, showing photo highlights, as well as having some guests of honor say a few things about their experience of this year’s FanimeCon. It ended with the announcement of next year’s theme for FanimeCon 2019: Silver Celebration, their 25th anniversary.

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Afterwards I thought that I could loiter around the convention center for a while, but as cleanup was underway con security was ushering us attendees out of the premises. I did a little walk around the outside area, but eventually just went back to my car which was sitting in the hot sun all day. With the temperature in the 90s, I moved it to a place with shade and proceeded to wait out the few hour wait time by listening to music and thinking and writing my experience of the con that just ended. A few hours later I picked up my “stranger” passenger and we left for SF. We had a nice conversation throughout the drive and arrived home without issues by 10:30pm.


Afterwords and Overall Thoughts

FanimeCon is my favorite con for a few reasons: For one it is local, so it’s easy to get to without worrying about accommodations. Secondly, the cosplay here is on point every time, comparable to what you see at Japan anime events like Comiket. The third is the community, just as others can say it feels like a family. Most of everyone here is friendly and helpful, but just like a real one it does have it’s flaws. I was actively checking and posting on FanimeCon’s Unofficial FB group, and I am impressed how positive community like we all are there.

Security had a consistent presence all over the venue, and it’s a welcome thing in this day and age. They didn’t get in the way, but maintained the peace by being visible everywhere, even with guard dogs. Luckily I myself didn’t see any major trouble, but apparently things were going down on the night of the third day that involved a dozen of cop cars. These were things I saw through Facebook.

If I haven’t made it obvious, I commuted every day from my home in SF to San Jose. I like driving and it only takes about 50 minutes or so to drive the distance. I encountered no traffic on my route to and from on all days. I also did not notice much of a police/CHP presence like I did last year when I got my speeding ticket. The only thing I have to worry about is the parking situation which I usually have down at this point. One thing I have to remember in the future is that Costco is closed on Memorial Day, so morning of Day 3 is when I should get gas, just a note to myself.

I felt that the quality of my photos have improved from my previous events I’ve shot, for a couple of reasons: Better equipment and better camera settings. However that did not exactly translate into more photos as my approach to approaching cosplayers is still lacking. More and more are cosplayers taken by professional photographers, or are in groups of friends and acquaintances which can make it intimidating to ask. I know the worst that can happen is that they say no, and actually no one I’ve asked to take a photo of has said that to me. I tend to be a person who thinks about what is more convenient for others, and hence if I see a cosplayer that I’d like to take a photo of but looks like they aren’t in the best situation for it, I end up walking away. It’s a negative trait of mine I know, but it’s somewhat natural for a introvert like me.

I’ve been an attendee of FanimeCon since 2011, that’s 8 years straight. When I go to cons I like to think of myself as the eyes and ears for people who aren’t at the event. I want to show a little of everything to convey the event as a whole; that includes the setting (location), people and cosplayers, and spontaneous events. This is similar to the style of a blog I used to check on a regular basis, Danny Choo’s. There was a time where my photo post of FanimeCon 2012 was shared by the man on his blog here, which made me quite happy. I’m starting to think though that I should try something a bit more productive. As I sometimes call my photography “freelance event photography”, I’m thinking of trying and move on up to Staff Photographer for the con. I’ve seen photos that the con puts out and I think that I can match or better their quality with my experience. I rarely do touchups with my photos mainly because I don’t have the skills yet to do it properly, so I rely on my photography skills to get the job done. Setting, lighting, composition are a few things that go through my mind when looking through my viewfinder of my camera, and when it all comes together it’s a great feeling. Being able to up my game by being an official part of the con feels like the right direction for me to go if I want to better myself in general, to be a bit more than a face in the crowd. I know that the drawbacks of doing this may restrict my style of event photography, being able to be everywhere at once. But the truth to the matter is I can never be everywhere. Anyways with the sheer amount of cameras everyone has, it’s nearly impossible to compete in trying to show unique content that others haven’t seen yet. By trying out to become a FanimeCon Staff Photographer, I can meet new people and experience up. This is not something that I’ve decided for certain, but it’s definitely something I’ll be considering in the future.

Overall, FanimeCon 2018 came and went without a notable hitch. As for me, I mentioned that I had mixed feelings about my experience of this year’s con. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t a big hype over a couple recent select anime like what happens with shows like Sword Art Online or Attack on Titan. Yeah there was a lot of My Hero Academia cosplayers, but even then it wasn’t as big as it could have been like with how animes were a few years ago. I feel like currently anime is in a lull of big hit shows. My last personal favorite was Re:Creators, and even that wasn’t well known at all. Energy levels were medium level at best all around the con, with the exception of the Nano concert which was fantastic, a high point for any person who attended it. I’ll still be going to FanimeCon in the future years to come, but in what capacity no one can tell.

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Crunchyroll Expo 2017 September 1, 2017

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

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

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


Day 1 – August 25th

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

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

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Day 2 – August 26th

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

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

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


Overall Thoughts

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

Anime Expo 2017 July 6, 2017

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.