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Crunchyroll Expo 2019 September 8, 2019

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

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

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


Day 1 – Friday, August 30th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Day 2 – Saturday, August 31st

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 3 – Sunday, September 1st

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Extra thoughts and Conclusion

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

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

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Program guide for CRX 2019 as a newspaper.

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

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

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

Spring Anime Season 2019 – Review July 7, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Seasonal Anime Reviews.
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I started with a few that I knew that I wanted to watch, ended up once again having about 9 total from this season. It always seems to be that way for me. There was a few big titles airing this season, but besides those there was a good few smaller ones. 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:

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu

Kimetsu no Yaiba

Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?

One Punch Man 2nd Season

Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san

Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari

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


Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

When I first learned about this anime at the start of the season, I didn’t initially see a reason to watch it. I had assumed that it was similar to last season’s The Quintessential Quintuplets, where the poor MC is tasked with helping a number of girls study. Now to be fair that does describe both animes basic premise, but that’s where the comparison ends. Unlike in the former anime, I feel that our MC Nariyuki Yuiga really helps each of them with their respective bad subject, as he is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to academics. It’s also nice to see that his pupils are actually willing to listen and learn from his tutoring, as it did get somewhat irritating to see Fuutarou’s (From The Quintessential Quintuplets) efforts go to waste so quickly at times. What makes this anime different from the former is that each of the girls are geniuses at the opposite subject they actually want to pursue, mainly for the reasons that they either want to prove the naysayers wrong, follow in a loved one’s passions, or simply want to understand a subject that they are not well versed in.

Each of the main female protagonists as mentioned are great at one particular subject, such as math, literature, sports, etc. While they may excel at their genus subject, they don’t take the easy road for their futures by just doing what their good at. Their reasoning and drive to work on their weak subject is adamant, and lucky enough there’s someone who is good at all subjects who can keep up with their questions gauntlet. Of course, it goes without saying that besides their academic prowess, they have their own personality and charm that Nariyuki is aware of (to some extent). Once again the “waifu” generators are at it again, but this time I’m liking these girls more than the Quintuplets one. I’ve been ranking them in my mind in a couple of ways: Them to Nariyuki and to the viewer. For Nariyuki in this order; Furuhashi, Takemoto, Ogata, Kominami, Kirisu. Originally Takemoto was lower in my opinion, but her pushes in the end pushed her up. My second ranking based on (my) viewer opinion; Furuhashi, Kominami, Kirisu, Ogata, Takemoto. Furuhashi is consistently on top as she is the one most sociable, despite not initially thinking herself as attracted to Nariyuki the way the others are. However she finds herself getting closer to him even while trying to support Takemoto (and Nariyuki) and Ogata, as seen in the final episode of this first season. Someone in real life who is like Furuhashi would be nice to be friends with. Takemoto is the childhood friend of sorts whose liked Nariyuki since middle school. Her playful personality hides her true feelings from him as she’s shy in that regard. As for someone like her in real life, she would be fun to hang around but personally for me it would be a bit hard to deal with. Ogata is the logical math wizard who has trouble understanding reading emotions and the like. She’s not emotionless herself, she just has a hard time justifying emotional reasons. Short, plump, and diligent, Ogata’s slight tsundereness but willing to understand what she doesn’t makes her a rounded character to enjoy, both in anime and real life. Kominami-senpai had the least screen time but she came through strong, with Nariyuki masquerading as her boyfriend to her father to convince him that she’s working hard to eventually take over the family clinic business. As a senpai to all of them, she understands the trials and tribulations of studying a subject that’s hard for a person, as well as dealing with entrance exams for college. Last but not least, Kirisu-sensei. As the eldest person of this group, she doesn’t hold up very well as an adult compared to the others. Before Nariyuki came along to tutor, she was in charge of tutoring Ogata and Furuhashi, but failed to help them after coming to the conclusion that they should just stick to their best subjects for their futures. Her weakpoints, or rather her charm points, have made her a favorite among fans. Under her cold and professional exterior is a maiden who makes mistakes in the most embarrassing ways. I guess she’s a tsundere of sorts as well.

I enjoyed this anime, more than Quintuplets. I wished that I didn’t initially judge it in the beginning based on its synopsis, but it is what it is. Now with many shows sharing very similar stories (I’m looking at you Isekai genre), filtering out what to watch and what to skip is becoming more common for me. I’m glad that a second season has already been announced for Fall 2019, which reminds me that there’s also going to be a second season of Quintuplets as well in the future. Just like with the former, all the heroines are on the Nariyuki board. Once they achieve their academic goal, what will happen after? Kominami-senpai brought it up to Nariyuki, so now he has that to ponder about. He can’t stay the dense MC forever, right?

—–

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu

There are a lot of shy people out there, me included. Some of those people just accept it and turtle themselves away from society, some break that shell and become something new. But in this anime, Bocchi who is shy in the extreme, tries her utmost to befriend as many people as possible in her new school in order to keep a promise that she made to her childhood friend. Originally this show didn’t show much interest to me, but decided to check it out anyways. With Bocchi’s premise being that she had to befriend everyone in her class in order to stay friends with her childhood friend Kai (who is now attending a different school), I had initially felt this to be a bit too mean of a condition to put on someone, especially with Bocchi’s level of shyness. I guess the reason Kai did it was because she knew that as Bocchi’s only friend at the time, she knew that Bocchi didn’t want to lose her, and Kai knew that Bocchi needed to grow and make new friends so that she could have more people to depend on and eventually help her to get over her shyness. I’m glad to see that while Bocchi’s shyness is her weak-point, her willingness to overcome it shined through.

Bocchi’s new friends were unique on their own, all happy to help out poor Bocchi in her times of need. From what I heard, each of the characters names in this series is actually a Japanese pun relating to them. For example, Hitori Bocchi’s name means “loneliness” or “solitude”, and Bocchi’s first new friend Sunao Nako is derived from sunao na ko, which means “honest child.” If you want to read the article about this, check it out here.

This show is great as it shows the slow but steady development of a relatable character. Sure, maybe we’re not on Bocchi level shyness, but we’ve experienced it in one ways or another. Simply by taking the first step into something new can you discover something exciting and helpful to yourself and others. Also, I was grinning at the random DeLorean that was shown among other cars in the credits of the final episode. Kudos to the anime staff for adding that randomly in.

—–

Kimetsu no Yaiba

Demon Slayer is one of the top animes this season, as it’s being headed by Studio ufotable, known for their animation works from the Fate/Stay series among others. Also featuring Kajiura Yuki for the BGM and a decent cast of seiyuus, this show has the ingredients for success. While the main story is following a standard Shōnen formula, the character development of this series is key to making this different from others before it. This season is 26 episodes long, so we’re just under halfway done and so far things are going well for Tanjirou and company. And when I mean well I mean that he hasn’t suffered too much yet from his battles against the night-loving demons. In the story, He and his little sister Nezuko are trying to find a way to turn her back into a human after she was turned into a demon by one. After a couple years of training, Tanjirou joined the Demon Killing Corps in order to protect himself and his sister from them, while following clues that could help him reverse the demon curse. Luckily Nezuko was able to mostly keep her human emotion and thought, but has the power (and weakness) of a demon to help fight alongside her brother. Together they are a powerful duo with a goal in mind.

For some reason when I first saw this show from a trailer, I had thought it was some sort of parody anime. It was a combination of so many well known quality people that made it a “Too good to be true” kind of thing. The unique animation also helped to make it seem like a one off title; the water that flows with Tanjirou’s blade or the (literal) directional arrows that fly from a demon’s hands to attack by pulling the target as if it was being dragged by a mouse cursor. I now know that Demon Slayer is the real deal.

What do I think of the show so far? It’s pretty good, but pretty standard when it comes to its story. The animation is the highlight for me, smooth on all sides. I’m not really invested in the endgame plot for turning Nezuko back into a human yet, but if they can get me interested in the mystery behind the Demons I’ll be all for it.

—–

Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

A slightly ecchi but mostly pure love story about a high school girl named Ao Horie whose father happens to be a bestselling erotic author. Embarrassed throughout her childhood as her origin of her name comes from her father’s erotic work, she aims to get into an elite university and achieve independence from her father once and for all. What makes matters worse is that her classmate Takumi Kijima confesses that he likes her. Internal conflicts arise as she battles two things: Her original goal of studying to get into college, and her teenage mind which can’t think straight when love is in the picture.

On paper this sounds like a show that uses fanservice as its main feature, but I felt that it was just one aspect of it. Ao pushed away at thought of love as it was associated with her embarrassing memories from the past. And while she was exposed to her father’s work, she became desensitized to what she read from them. When she encountered love for herself, she thought nothing of it except from what she knew from her father’s books which were not based in reality. A combination of a young mind going through puberty and having someone confess that they love you is a lot for someone who thought it was something bad. Ao slowly learns to understand how to deal with love on her own, which has produced some interesting scenes, whether real or just all in her head.

An enjoyable short episode series I thought it was.

—–

Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?

This series was purely fan service, from whatever you could see (or imagine) anyways. Basically teacher and student finds themselves in strange (ecchi) situations, where they ask themselves “Why the hell are you here!?” Not much more I can say about it.

—–

One Punch Man 2nd Season

One Punch Man Season 2 was definitely a different experience to the first season, a lot to do with the change of animation studio from Madhouse to J.C.Staff. Besides the downgrade in visual and animation quality, season 2 was more plot based, focusing on the Hero Hunter Garo in his quest to destroy the Hero Association. At the same time, monsters from the proclaimed Monster Association also are rampaging across multiple cities in order to wipe humans from the face of the Earth. While most heroes are busy at work protecting the people, our titular protagonist Saitama (aka One Punch Man) is as bored as ever. He tries a couple of things to combat this: Joining a martial arts tournament masquerading as someone else to learn more about martial arts, and playing video games against the Hero King. In-between these he One Punches some monsters that get in his daily life.

For a lot of people, including myself, did find the changes in season 2 to be a negative thing when compared to season 1. However after finishing this season, I thought it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. For starters, the story in better in this season, giving the spotlight to someone who is less OP or predictable. We’re already aware of Saitama’s power and abilities, and as such small fry are no match for him. The only one who gave him a somewhat extended fight was Boros from season 1, but it still ended when Saitama got serious. Garo as a character is interesting for a couple of reasons. Because he trained under Bang, he is a very capable martial arts fighter, so he’s more technical than just overwhelming power in a single hit. Besides his physical prowess, he also has strong motives for what he’s fighting for, highlighted by flashbacks to his past. The season ended without a big battle like we had in the previous season, but it definitely alludes to the story to continue in a future season, whenever that may be.

—–

Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san

The soothing series of the season, The Helpful Fox Senko-san was a simple series about an adorable foxgirl goddess wanting to serve and pamper a hardworking salaryman. Nakano comes home one day to find (the 800 year-old) Senko-san cooking and cleaning his apartment. She explains that she’s there to pamper and spoil Nakano to his hearts content. As a adult, Nakano initially refuses her help, but slowly grows to accept Senko-san’s warmth, both figuratively and literally.

As sketchy as this may sound, its absolutely a pure anime about having someone at home to take care of you after grueling hours at a unfavorable workplace. Whether that be through having a clean living place, delicious cooking, or just having company to heal a broken mind, heart, or soul.

At first I thought this would be a short series anime, you know shorter than normal episode length. When I saw that these episodes were full length, I was thinking “How will they fill each episode with new content that didn’t feel drawn out?” Something as simple as taking care of someone at home couldn’t be that entertaining? Boy was I proven wrong. Not only did I find episodes going by in an instant, by no means did I feel that things repeated or were boring. Just the sight of a loving kitsune wanting to do things for someone without feeling like they expect anything back, it’d want anyone to have someone like Senko-san. Of course we’d want to do things for her as thanks, but she would always turn down the offer. It reminds me of how a grandmother would treat their grandchildren.

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Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2

The second part of Season 3 of AOT really moved the story along, finally retaking Wall Maria and getting to the basement that many fans have been waiting for. With the info found there, it opens up a new world of possibilities for how the story will continue. I don’t read the manga, but I know that it’s already ending if not already ended.

This season really felt like a big culmination of everything that the story has been building up to. And luckily the hype was definitely met with the same energy with the ending of this season. As a pure AOT anime watcher with no info from the manga, I liked the progression that has happened in the third season. I’ve felt that I’ve grown with the characters, as with many others who having been watching from the beginning way back in 2013. Looking back at it now, there have been many characters that have died since, but their deaths don’t feel like a waste. Every single sacrifice has brought humanity closer to the truth. Where we are now is proof of that.

I know that normally I speak with spoilers freely in my reviews, but I won’t for this one, as it’s best to watch and find out for yourself. Overall I thought Season 3 ended on yet another big cliffhanger on a couple of things. The story of course, but also about the future of AOT itself. Wit Studio who has been animating the series since the beginning has mentioned that they might be done doing AOT. With the announcement of the Final Season coming in 2020, it’s not confirmed who will be animating it. Wit Studio has done an amazing job of bringing the manga to life, and unless a parallel level studio can take over, I think a lot of fans will not like the difference if the animation quality is not as good as its been. A good example of this is One Punch Man which also aired this season. Season 1 of OPM was done by Madhouse while Season 2 was done by J.C.Staff. The difference between the two is very apparent in a bad way. I do hope that Wit Studio will hold on for the final season of AOT as a way to please fans, as well as finish what they started. I think it will cement their reputation in anime history as having done one of the greatest animes in this decade.

One more thing, besides the animation the music in this anime is as always phenomenal. Done by the one and only Sawano Hiroyuki, it’s thanks to him that this show is as epic as it is. Visually the show is great, but pairing it with a equally great soundtrack truly gives this show life and personally that few can match. I’m a big fan of his music, and I don’t think there’s a day where I don’t listen to his work. He has worked on plenty of other shows with memorable songs, and while his music is recognizable due to it having the same kind of style, I can’t get enough of it.

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Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari

As one of the better Isekais around, Shield Hero has proved itself to be a popular choice for its genre. In this second half of season, we finally see Naofumi getting the justice he deserves with the revelation of the King’s and Myne’s schemes. Even with his name cleared, his relationship with the other three heroes are still shaky at best. His efforts to get all of them to work together has not been successful, causing him to try and build himself and his party up to become the greatest fighting force against the waves, seeing that the other heroes won’t get over their egos.

Shield Hero was a nice watch, though I felt that the last episode was rushed. There was a lot going on, with the dialogue also being fairly abundant to give as much info as possible. I think they wanted to get this season to end at a good point to set up for an eventual future season.

FanimeCon 2019 June 2, 2019

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FanimeCon 2019 took place May 24th – 27th 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 2019.


Day 1 – May 24th

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Day 1 started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to due to 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. I had all my stuff ready to go the night before, so after a quick bite to eat and putting everything in my car, I set off.

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Parking in the area has always been a thing of concern for me, since I commute back and forth everyday to the con than staying at a hotel. I had heard that San Jose State University’s parking was either cheap (or free from what I heard on FanimeCon’s Unofficial FB Page). Turns out that information was right as I was able to park without needing to pay, confirmed by some garage staff who I asked. Since SJSU was only a few blocks away from the con, it was definitely a good option to park at than paying $20 for parking at the convention center’s parking garage as I did last year.

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As usual, picking up my pre-reg badge took no time at all. No lines meant that in less than 3 min from entering the line area, I had my badge and con bag in hand and was already ready to go. As it was still fairly early on the first day, I walked around the con to scout the area. The only major area that’s open in the con at this time was the Gaming Hall, the Dealers Hall and Artist Alley don’t open until 2pm. And since not much changes year to year, it’s more so to kill time until Opening Ceremonies that happens at 2pm.

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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 Okamoto Kitchen, Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Soda Pop, and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop. There was also Hirotako Co., a Takoyaki stand who also seemed to operate the neighboring Giant Baby Bottle, where they were selling 1 gallon sized baby bottles filled with organic fruit drinks that you could get unlimited refills for for $30. I saw that they lowered their price later on in the weekend to $25 because sales were probably slow.

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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. I picked up dinner at Okamoto Kitchen as I had a dollar off coupon for them. I didn’t know how much their bentos were until I got to the cashier. For about $15 you get this, which wasn’t too bad but the size is quite small.

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When things started to die down I called it for the day and went back to my car, which to my excitement seemed to duplicate itself, with someone else parking their same model same color car next to mine, complete with stickers and plushies. I left the con just prior to 6:30pm to get home and rest for the next day, knowing that it will be much more busier.

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Day 2 – May 25th

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For Day 2, I had a friend riding with me to Fanime. We arrived 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. Unlike last year where (I thought) the garage was blocked by a running event called The Color Run, it didn’t seem to happen this year so parking there was easy. In case that the running event did take place, I found out that there are multiple entrances/exits to that garage that I could use, but luckily I didn’t need to go to those this time. We ate breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner and afterwards headed to the con.

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On the schedule only a couple of things piqued my interest, which were all cosplay gatherings. Those gatherings were the Azur Lane/Kantai Collection and the All Isekai Series groups. Talking about the cosplay gatherings this year, there was a lot that I didn’t recognize or think would have a lot of people to have a gathering. I was also surprised that series that usually has many cosplayers such as Sword Art Online was not even present as a gathering. It’s not like the series is not active, as we have Alicization that recently aired with its second part happening in the Fall. To be fair SAO cosplayers were very few this year, but maybe that’s because there was no gathering. Or maybe it’s because it’s the other way around. I don’t know, maybe I’m starting to get out of touch with the younger anime community, despite not really feeling old myself.

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Besides the gatherings, there wasn’t much I was planning to go to. Last year I went to MusicFest because they had a musical artist that I recognized, but not this year. I circled the front for shots of cosplayers of all kinds.

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Later in the day though I met up with my friend who was with one of his cosplaying friends. We had dinner together and afterwards accompanied them to a short photo-shoot (Not mine, I didn’t take any shots). After seeing her off, we left for home.

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Day 3 – May 26th

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Today my car was filled up by two more friends coming along for a total of four of us going to Fanime. The weather forecast for today had me worried because it looked like it would rain all day. It didn’t help that the commute to San Jose had on and off strong showers. After a bit of traffic, we arrived at the con area and parked at the usual place next to Peggy Sue’s for breakfast.

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Afterwards we split off to do our own things. I challenged myself today by not going upstairs (to the badged area), as most of the cosplay was either in the lobby or just outside the entrance. Because of the on/off rain, you could tell that there was a little less people around today. At least it wasn’t raining strongly or consistently. At one point I thought that the rain had stopped for good, but we got sprinkles every so often. I still was able to get some decent shots.

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We had already decided on where we were going to dinner, Kura Sushi in Cupertino. Because wait times there are usually very long, we put our names on the list at around 5pm, with a wait time of approximately 2 hours. (Kura Sushi has an app that you can use to put your name on the list, very useful.) At around 6pm we left Fanime for the restaurant, which was about a 15 min drive away. When we got there, we still had to wait about another hour until we were called. Overall it didn’t really feel that long to wait, compared to the wait time of approximately 3 hours that we saw at the restaurant if you put your name on the list at that time. I don’t think you could even get in if you did so as the place closed at 10:30pm. (It was 7:30pm when we were called.)

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The food was good, especially with great company. I think my friends are getting used to how I operate at anime conventions. Usually I feel obliged to show them around, but I guess the combination of them being at Fanime before and knowing that I do my own thing allowed us to enjoy doing what we want to do without having to worry about each other. They are casual anime fans at best, while I’m more into the “Otaku” level anime fan. Allowing us to enjoy the convention at our own paces I think is best for everyone.

Day 4 – May 27th

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The last day I went to Fanime solo. I didn’t know where cheap parking would be on Memorial Day, so I parked where I did last year, at the outdoor parking lot adjacent to the convention center. Surprisingly, the fee was $15 rather than $10 that I paid the same time same place last year.

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Upon arriving at Fanime at 10am, you can tell that the energy has died down. There wasn’t many people around, most of them in the Dealers Hall getting their last minute shopping done, me included. I also figured that people were also getting ready to check out of their hotel rooms by 12pm, so probably afterwards I’d see more people after that.

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Sure enough after noon the crowds started to come back. Oddly enough I felt that the protesters was helping in adding energy to the con goers, even if it was in a negative way (sort of). I was able to take a few decent shots of cosplayers before getting in line for Closing Ceremonies that was to start at 3pm. The theme for next year’s con was announced, which is food. I left for home afterwards at around 4pm. The next time I’ll be here will be for Crunchyroll Expo 2019 in late August/early September.

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Afterwords and Overall Thoughts

With FanimeCon 2019 being my 9th year attending the event, it seemed to come and go like the wind. Everything went more or less according to plan with no major hiccups. As such it was enjoyable to a certain extent, helped by the presence of my friends who came along with me on Day 2 and Day 3.

With that said, I’m starting to feel my age. As mentioned, I didn’t really recognize a lot of cosplay gatherings this year, and I feel that those groups are some sort of indication of what’s currently popular. I really started getting into anime probably around 2010, and with next year being the tenth year foe me attending FanimeCon, I feel that changes for me are necessary to move forward in life. Don’t get me wrong, I love this community and media, but just like a lot of people would say as they get older, things never stay the same. I’m reaching that point in life where I’m asking myself the big questions. I think Uncle Iroh from ATLA asked it best: “Who are you? And what do you want?” While this question is no easily answered, it doesn’t mean I have no idea what I want. At the very least I plan to work more behind the scenes at events like this, like staffing and such. I enjoyed doing work like that when I worked at anime conventions such as Animation on Display and Anime Expo. Besides being compensated, I felt I was also gaining new work experience which is valuable to me to apply to future work. It should also help with networking, which will allow for even more hopeful opportunities.

I’ll be at FanimeCon 2020, but I’m seriously thinking about applying for staff, or at the very least volunteer. Taking photos of the con is still something I’d like to do, but because things seem to stay the same year to year I want to do something different. I take my photos in a event photography style, to tell a story through chronological photos. To share my personal experience online to others who are not able to attend. I was motivated to do this back when Danny Choo was blogging regularly about his life in Japan, and I still do it to this day, at least when it comes to events and trips. I’d like to tell a new story, this time from working the con than just being an attendee.