jump to navigation

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 September 7, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 008

I went to Crunchyroll Expo 2018 (CRX), Crunchyroll’s second year running the anime industry-focused convention, which took place on September 1st through 3rd at the San Jose Convention Center.

Unlike last year this time I went on my own, but just like last year I only went for the first two days as there wan’t much on the schedule that interested me enough for me to go back on the 3rd day.

For all my photos taken from Crunchyroll Expo 2018, please check out my Flickr set Crunchyroll Expo 2018.


Day 1 – Saturday, September 1st

I woke up at around 7am, which was normal for me as I’m used to waking up at that time due to getting ready for work on weekdays at that time. I planned to get to the con area by around 10am, so I got my stuff together, and left to drive down just past 9am. Because it was the weekend, I knew where I could get free parking with validation during the two days. There’s a diner I always go to called Peggy Sue’s that’s a block away from the convention center. If you eat there and spend at least $5 you can get your parking validated which can save you $10. For a breakfast that also counts as my lunch for just a little over $7, plus free parking, I think that’s a deal.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 011

Upon arriving at the convention center, you can see that the front was fully decked out in Crunchyroll colors and mascots. You could also see a bunch of security around, as well as lines from the front entrance. This is what I observed in comparison to when I come to this convention center for FanimeCon. I’ll probably be comparing CRX to Fanime every so often in this post, but in general they both are their own events, with their own vibes.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 014

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 017

After taking the first shots of the con from across the street, it was time to get inside. I already had my badge courtesy of CRX mailing theirs out to people who order theirs before a certain date. The only thing standing in my way of going in was a security checkpoint. This was a straight-up airport like security, with a bunch of security guards and metal detectors. It may sound like a lot, but honestly it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t have any bags on me whenever I went through these, just a couple cameras, my phone, badge, and coins. At least I didn’t have to remove my wallet, belt, or shoes, but I’d imagine if you were a cosplayer, getting through would take longer, especially if you had metal in your costume. After the security, you just needed to tap your badge to the Persona5/Cells at Work readers and you were in.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 020

The first thing you would notice in the main lobby was the giant “Welcome to CRX 2018!” sign alongside Crunchyroll Hime and cat. At the center of the lobby were the program guides and daily schedule, as well as Fate/Grand Order lanyards. Just beyond the lobby was an open area for photo ops, as well as the info booth. Going up to the second floor, there was a DJ playing primarily anime music at the balcony overlooking the convention lobby. There was a sign on the table which read “Song Requests”. Naturally I went up and added a song to the list, which was “GravityWall”, which was the first opening song for the anime Re:Creators. To my surprise, not long after I put it on the list did the DJ play it, albeit in a faster manner probably to match his music mix. I was happy none the less that a song from an anime I feel is relatively underrated was played for a large amount of anime fans at an anime convention.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 061

The main attraction on the second floor was the Exhibit Hall/Artist Alley which was all located in the same giant room. I liked that there was carpeting in the Exhibit Hall side, as it was pleasant for everyone walking around. Not just by its look, but also because it softened the impact for our feet as well. Notice I mentioned the Exhibit Hall side; the same was not true for the Artist Alley side which just had the cement floor. Not much of a big deal, but something I noticed none the less. The room was very big as it was a combination of the Dealers Hall and Gaming room of Fanime. Besides the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley, the room also contained the arcade and autograph lines. The autograph line area was fine, but the arcade was really small, with only one way in and out. I feel that they should of used one of the other small rooms on the same floor of the convention center for the arcade instead. There would have been more room, for either people moving about or for more games or both.

The other rooms on the second floor was the Cosplay Repair, Manga Library, Quiet Room, Fulfillment Center (for getting CRX merchandise and/or stuff for being a Crunchyroll premium member), four panel rooms, and the Main Stage. I felt that the Quiet Room was unnecessary especially this year as there wasn’t too many people here this year, as well as there being a lot of space for people to rest on the side in general. (That room was probably a good room for the arcade, size wise maybe.)

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 035

The planned to attend the Opening Ceremonies which was to start at 11:30am. After my brief touring of the con I headed to the Main Stage which was located in the area where Artist Alley is at Fanime. I liked how the stage looked, reminding me of how Anime Expo has their main stage usually set up. The ceremony started pretty much on time, and started with a video about how Crunchyroll aims to bring together people of all kinds, as a kind of advertising for inclusion. After that and a few cringy Crunchyroll shameless adverting later, the ribbon was cut and the con was officially open.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 040

At this point it was about noontime and I decided to walk around to see whatever else there was to do. I went to the Fulfillment Center and got some pins, as well as a DragonBall drawstring bag and additional mystery pin. (The drawstring bags and mystery pins were the same ones that I was helping Crunchyroll give away at Anime Expo this year.) I went back into the Exhibit Hall and did a more through look at whatever drew my interest, but didn’t buy anything. Shortly afterwards, I headed back to my car to take a break.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 099

I saw on the schedule that there was a premiere for the English Dub of an anime movie called Maquia at 5pm. I originally was going to leave early if I felt I was done for the day, but this peaked my interest enough to go watch it. I didn’t know anything about the movie, but I did remember seeing it before I think at Anime Expo being advertised. Before they started the film, the presenters of the movie mentioned something along the lines of “tissues not provided”, basically saying that it was going to be a sad one. On the schedule, it was noted that this film was by Mari Okada, and she has worked on a number of notable shows I recognized such as AnoHana (I have not watched this yet), Nagi no Asukara, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and Toradora!

I’m so glad I decided to watch this movie, which is called Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarou, or by its English name Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. Everything about the movie was great: The visuals, the music, the voice acting, the raw emotion. I could relate to the emotions the characters were experiencing, which made it such a compelling film. I teared up multiple times, but I tried to them back as I was in a room full of other people. Probably if I was watching the movie on my own I’d let the emotions flow through me to truly enjoy those moments from the film the way it was made to. I’m not going to spoil the film for you, so just trust me that you should watch this film if you enjoy a good sad anime movie. I also want to watch this movie in Japanese as well (English Subbed), as the English Dub did really well too (though there may have been some direct translation issues in terms of context). The English Dub will be coming to certain US theaters later this month, and I do plan to watch it with friends that haven’t watched it yet. Luckily it will be showing in my city, so I just have to watch out for the tickets when they start selling it. I may even try to buy the DVD/Blu-Ray of it, and I don’t even buy the physical copies of my favorite anime. That’s how much this movie impressed me.

After the movie ended, we were given a poster of the movie, which I actually have framed. I headed home on a good note, and prepared for the next day ahead.

 

Day 2 – Sunday, September 2nd

Morning of the second day started just like the first, though I didn’t feel the need to rush as much as the first thing I wanted to check out started at 11:45am. I figured that I’d aim to get to San Jose by 10:30am so that I could get breakfast from Peggy Sue’s again for parking validation, and get to the convention by around 11am. Everything went according to plan, and by around 11:20am I started to scout the line for the next event I wanted to check out. We were able to enter the room early enough for me to get a decent seat for the viewing.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 112

This was another anime movie premiere that I briefly heard about that sounded interesting enough for me: Penguin Highway. I only heard about it at the opening ceremony, but at the time I didn’t really pay much attention to it. Probably what got me to check it out was that there wasn’t much else to do besides it at CRX at the time, and a movie about penguins sounded like it was going to be a funny kind of movie. While waiting for the movie to start, I looked into the movie a bit on my phone, though not going further than a synopsis about a young boy figuring out the mystery of the woman who could summon penguins. I can tell that most people in the room didn’t know what to expect; the people behind me were joking around saying that the movie will probably be a funny one or a straight up serious one, either way they’d enjoy it. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I thought of it as a good thing, as I enjoy being surprised when watching a good film.

Penguin Highway was a funny, entertaining flick with some supernatural elements. I’m not going to spoil the movie so I won’t say much, but it was another enjoyable film that added another highlight to my CRX 2018 experience. It was quite a long movie, nearly two hours, but it was a fun ride. The room we were in (which was the big main stage room) was nearly full when I looked around towards the end of the movie, so you can tell that audience retention was there. This is another anime movie I’d like to share with my friends and family, so if I ever get the chance to show it to them I would.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 151

After watching Penguin Highway, I went back to my car to take a lunch break and afterwards returned to wander the con before the last event I wanted to see, which was a showing of the anime film Fireworks at 5:45pm. I already heard of Fireworks, first time was from some con friends who were going to watch it around the time of Anime Expo. I also saw the music video on YouTube which is probably where a lot of people first got a glimpse of it and wanted to see the movie version. I did hear that it wasn’t that great a film, but since this showing was part of CRX I thought to myself “Why not?” The rumors about it not being great were pretty much true. There was a few things that bugged me throughout the movie, but it was still watchable none the less. I wished that Fireworks was not the last thing I’d see/do at CRX because of its mediocrity, but that’s exactly how my CRX 2018 con experience ended. Before I left the area, I took a few photos of the con as the sun set for both the second day and my last anime con of the year.

Crunchyroll Expo 2018 159


When Crunchyroll Expo announced that they would be at the San Jose Convention Center this year, it was something that many of us were interested in. Because of how much the SJCC is known as the home of the FanimeCon (Even one of the hosts of the CRX Opening Ceremony mentioned that it felt like Fanime 2), it would be an interesting experience going to another anime convention there that wasn’t Fanime. Even if we were all familiar with the area, the layout and conduct of everything would be alien. For example, CRX seemed to be limited to just strictly the convention center. I don’t recall seeing the connecting hotels being used like how Fanime uses them for panel rooms and the like. Security has been improving at the SJCC over the year, though they were in full force at CRX with their metal detectors and guards lining the entirely of all entrances into the convention center. That is one thing that I don’t think Fanime will force upon its attendees, similar full security checkpoints, unless more tragic events happen at similar venues that force safety over convenience. I like being able to go in and out with relative ease, especially when cosplay photo ops are quick to miss.

What was surprising was that I thought at first that I’d be feeling Fanime vibes from this con, because of how we’re used to the SJCC being Fanime, but it felt quite different in a good way. I already mentioned how the Exhibit Hall was, and it felt more professional than Fanime’s or other similar cons. The vast open spaces of the con had some seating placed more so for decoration in my opinion, which again looked something more from an exhibition than a fan con. The main stage room impressed me with its look, comparable with Anime Expo’s main stage setup. I guess the biggest kicker in this was that there was a lot less people than Fanime, which at first made it feel dead at times, but at the same time made it easier and overall enjoyable to not deal with massive waves of people blocking walkways and the like.

CRX also had an smartphone app, similar to what Anime Expo has where you could access con info like schedules, maps and the like. I do like the idea of conventions giving us the convenience of having everything we need to know in an app. I downloaded it ion the first day and it worked great…. for maybe a few hours before it crashed and never booted again. I tried to update it and stuff but it would always immediately crash upon loading up. At least there was plenty of paper schedules, but the point is that they should have stress tested it before using it at con. I do believe that CRX is aware of this issue and will fix it in their future events.

Overall I enjoyed my short experience at CRX 2018. It’s a shame that I didn’t take photos of cosplay during this con like I would Fanime, but because of difficulty of going in and out of con at will, as well as my focus of the new venue location, it was partly expected on my behalf. Normally I’d be bummed out that I didn’t take a lot of photos, but these days I’m also trying to balance my own enjoyment of the event as well, which is best experienced when not trying to photograph/record it. I also spent very little at this con, probably the least out of all I’ve ever went to. Not counting the cost of the badge which I bought months ago, I spent no more than $15, none of which was actually spent at con. All of my costs went towards food which was my all day meal, with the perks of also having free daily parking during the weekend. I got a bunch of freebie stuff, like lanyards, pins, and posters so it’s not like I got nothing material from the con. I’d be interested in going to Crunchyroll Expo again, as I do see it learning and improving in the years to come.

Advertisements

Anime Expo 2018 July 15, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Unlike last year, my friends and I planned to go to Anime Expo 2018 pretty early on, around Fall of last year. I don’t remember the exact reasons we decided to plan the trip, but I think it was a combination of me retelling my positive Anime Expo 2017 experience, with the wanting of returning to LA.

We reserved our plane tickets and I bought my AX badge on Black Friday to save money, and what was going to be new and different was that our badges would be mailed to us, something that wasn’t possible before. I think this was in response to how bad lines were last year for people picking up their badges, waiting outside for hours. I got mine in the mail a couple months before the event.

I was hoping to work for Crunchyroll again at AX, and sure enough the E-mail came around asking for people who could. I responded as soon as I got the message, which was right around the time of FanimeCon. Because of my positive experience from last year, and the financial benefits that come with, I felt that this is the way that I can enjoy Anime Expo, both from the inside and out.

For all of my photos from my Anime Expo 2018 trip, please visit my Flickr set Anime Expo 2018.


Day 1 – Thursday, July 5th

Anime Expo 2018 025

I woke up really early, at around 2am to start to get ready for a busy day. Our flight from SFO to LAX was departing at 6:45am, so I planned to get there about two hours before. After picking up my two friends to meet at my place, we took Uber to the airport and went through security without problems. We boarded with others who were obviously also going to AX, and arrived at LAX early. From there we picked up another Uber from LAX to our hotel where we were able to check in quite early, before 10am to my surprise. Check in time was 3pm, but I know that in some cases if the room is ready we can already do so. It was good that we were able to get our room early because I wouldn’t be able to come back until night because my shift for Crunchyroll was from 1:30pm to 6pm, and I would of had to ask my friends to take care of my stuff during the time we didn’t have the room. We ate breakfast at the neighboring Westin Bonaventure hotel before taking the shuttle over to the convention center.

Anime Expo 2018 039

Talking about working for Crunchyroll, everything was going smoothly for that, except for my Exhibitor badge pickup. My Crunchyroll contact was giving them out before I could arrive at the venue, so I quickly contacted him once I landed at LAX, asking for arrangements to pick mine up later. Since I did have my standard 4-Day badge, I could at least use it to go into the convention center before my shift started, to quickly check out what’s going on.

Anime Expo 2018 076

Getting into AX was not as bad as it probably was for standard attendees last year. The security lines were not too bad, only waiting a few minutes to get to the doors where con staff quickly checked bags and had you tap your badge to a reader. Once inside, you can easily tell that the crowds were already quite bad. For example, getting into the Entertainment Hall took maybe 10 minutes to get into, but the line looked more intimidating than I explained. Most of the time it was hard just finding the end of one, because sometimes it continued outside. After checking out what I could, I picked up my badge from my Crunchyroll contact, and shortly after started my shift at the Crunchyroll station near the Entertainment Hall.

Anime Expo 2018 080

My role at the Crunchyroll station was to give out anime themed drawstring bags and a mystery pin to premium Crunchyroll and VRV members. Because my shift started during midday, I pretty much had to hit the ground running. I made a few mistakes during my first day, but I was able to adjust and adapt accordingly. Thanks to my years of customer service experience, the task that was set up for me at the Crunchyroll station was going to be simple in the extreme.

Anime Expo 2018 091

After my shift ended at 6pm, I met up with my friends for dinner and went to a custom burger place called The Counter, a place I didn’t go with them the last time a few years ago when I was busy at AX. Afterwards we stopped by a nearby Target to buy a case of waters for the weekend, and walked back to the hotel to call it the first night.

Day 2 – Friday, July 6th

Anime Expo 2018 129

After a refreshing 6 to 7 hour sleep, it was time to get ready for the second day. For today and tomorrow, I had a 10am-2pm shift back at the Crunchyroll station, so I planned to get back to the convention center by around 9:30am, early but to be on time. The lines for getting into AX were much more longer than yesterday. Even the priority entrance for con staff, guests, and the like was long and in the hot sun. I was able to get in at around 9:30pm as planned, but that didn’t give me a lot of time to explore beforehand. I quickly went over to the Dealers Hall to check out the crowds of people waiting to get inside, as well as do a quick walk inside the hall before the mass of them storm the place. As the Dealers Hall opened about 10 minutes before 10am, I made my way back out towards the west hall for my Crunchyroll work.

Anime Expo 2018 148

After my shift, which during I was able to get a bite of Subway to eat courtesy of my temporary employer, I headed to the JW Marriott for the Liz and the Blue Bird movie premiere that my friends were already at. Because it was to start at 3pm, I knew that the lines would be already long. When I was finally able to get to the line it was pretty massive. I talked with my friend a bit who was in line and initially decided that it was too long for me and that I didn’t want to risk waiting for something that I could potentially get barred from due to room capacity limits. As I walked away, I was at unsure if I really didn’t want to try and watch the movie. The line kept getting longer as I watched from above, and eventually changed my mind and planted myself into the line. I guess my uncertainty came from my experience of trying to watch an anime movie premiere last year at this exact room, only to be turned away when the room maxed out capacity. After a bit of waiting, the line started to enter the room. I started getting antsy the closer I got to the doors. At one point, we stopped moving for a decent amount of time, which worried me because a lot of people had already entered. Luckily the line moved forward and I was able to get in, even getting a seat with my friends who saved me a seat near the mid right area. I was glad that I decided to try again for this premiere, as I had found out only before the start of the movie that Liz and the Blue Bird was based on the Hibike! Euphonium series, specifically it takes place after the events of the second season of the anime and focuses on Nozomi Kasaki and Mizore Yoroizuka. The movie already came out in Japan, but will be in US theaters sometime in the fall. I might rewatch it again with friends as the quality wasn’t as great sound or viewing wise.

Anime Expo 2018 152

Afterwards, my friend and I headed to the Trigger panel which had a line that was outside, but at least covered somewhat from the sun. My main plan was to see the SSSS.Gridman anime premiere made by Trigger, which was to happen right after the panel. I read that the room would not be cleared after the panel so I figured the best bet for having a seat was to sit through the Trigger panel which I didn’t mind seeing. There was still plenty of seats around when we got in, so we got a couple with minimal blockage from people in front. Even though the panel went on for a couple of hours, it was fun seeing the projects that they were working on, and getting sneak previews of them as well.

The SSSS.Gridman premiere was pretty cool. Trigger took the concept from the original Gridman tokusatsu series and created a brand new anime series based on it. The first episode can only be described as a classic scene from a tokusatsu series, a giant robot fighting a giant monster (kaiju). I’m looking forward to watching it when it officially airs in the Fall.

Anime Expo 2018 157

We were going to meet some friends for dinner, so to wait the time out for when they were done with AX, we played some board games. Afterwards we got a Lyft and headed to Koreatown for a KBBQ dinner. However upon arriving at our destination, we saw that a blackout had hit the area. We looked for an alternative place to eat and took another ride over to it. The back up place we went to was called Quarters Korean BBQ, and the wait was about an hour. It was pretty late too, but the area was really busy with people. My friend and I decided to walk around for a bit to kill some time and check out what was in the area. Most of the places was closed because it was late, but we did stop by a 7/11 to grab a drink, as it was still like 90 something degrees out. By the time we got back to the restaurant, the wait time was only about 15 more minutes. During this time I had found out from family that a fire broke out in Goleta, CA, near UCSB where my sister was attending for summer quarter. I looked into it and the situation wasn’t too bad, so I kept it in the back of my mind.

Anime Expo 2018 164

This place was really nice. There was options for which level of KBBQ you wanted, as in how much food you wanted. We went with the most expensive one I saw, about $30 per person, which is about standard for these kinds of places. What was great about this place was that the server also cooked your food for you as well. She was very fast and efficient, cooking not only for our table but for a few others as well. All of the meats were good, especially with the sauces and such.

We got back to our hotel before 1am and I promptly went to bed with a full stomach and another busy day ahead.

Day 3 – Saturday, July 7th

Anime Expo 2018 192

Today started almost like yesterday, but I wanted to get to the convention center even earlier. My friend wanted to get something at the VIZ Media booth, but the lines were pretty long during open hours. I used my Exhibitor powers to go into the Dealers Hall early to get what he wanted to get for him. VIZ wasn’t selling anything when I got to them at just past 9am, so I decided to use the time I had to explore the Dealers Hall more. I realized that during the entire time at AX I’ve spent barely any time in here, which is usually one of the main attractions of anime conventions in general. At the same time, there wasn’t much things I wanted to buy as I was saving money for something even better in the future. By 9:30am I decided to get in line at the VIZ booth, and about 20 minutes later I was able to get what my friend wanted from the booth. I headed back to the Crunchyroll station at the West Hall for my final day of work with them for AX 2018.

Anime Expo 2018 204

The only plan I had for after my shift was dinner with my LA acquaintances at around 6pm, so I decided to use the last few hours that I’d be at AX to check out the Dealers Hall and Entertainment Hall one last time. The reason I say last few hours is because our flight back home on the next day was leaving relatively early, so we wouldn’t be able to go back to AX on the last day of the event. Also I figured that once I left the area for dinner, I was going to head back to the hotel from there afterwards as I figure it was going to be lateish.

Anime Expo 2018 217

While wandering the Dealers Hall, I met up with my friends. During this time, I got a message from my other group I was going to have dinner with. Apparently things happened which caused a couple of them to have to drop out last minute. It was at that point that it was probably best for me to drop out as well. I didn’t know them all that well, and the person who dropped out was the person who invited me in the first place. I felt that it would have been awkward to try and have dinner with them when I barely know them. I just told them that something came up on my end as well and left it at that.

Anime Expo 2018 244

Because that cleared up my schedule for the rest of the night, my friends and I decided to try and check out the Cowboy Bebop 20th Anniversary event which was to start at 8pm at Lounge 21. We had a few hours to kill before that, so we headed back to the tabletop gaming area to play some. After enjoying a couple of games of DC Comics Deck-building Game, we went to check out the line for the Cowboy Bebop event, which we found out was really long and wasn’t moving all that much. Nearby was the Beer Garden so we grabbed a couple drinks from there to pass more time. By 9pm though it became clear that it wasn’t worth waiting anymore for it, and grabbed a Lyft for dinner. We went back to Koreatown for a cheaper KBBQ place. It was still pretty good; not a long wait, cheaper prices, but we had to cook it ourselves. Another quick ride back to our hotel called it for the night, as well as our Anime Expo trip.

Day 4 -Sunday, July 8th

Anime Expo 2018 251

Upon waking and preparing to leave the hotel, we went out to get a quick breakfast back at the Westin. After returning back to our room and checking that everything was packed up and ready to go, we proceeded to check out at around 10am. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 1pm, so our target time to get to the airport was 11am. We took an Uber back to LAX, which took a while due to a detour and heavy traffic getting to our terminal. We got though security and to our gate with time to spare.

Anime Expo 2018 258

I noticed that my plane ticket did not have a seat assigned, just reading “assigned at gate”. I figured that meant exactly that, that I’d have to talk to the people working at the gate for a seat arrangement. While waiting for boarding to start, I heard an announcement from our gate mentioning that because the flight was overbooked that they were offering $600 gift cards for anyone who volunteered. I thought that was a nice offer, but I didn’t think about it too much. As I looked at my ticket though, I decided to go up to the gate to ask about my seat. They told me that I did have a seat and that they would call me closer to the time of boarding for further information. After telling my friends about the situation, I figured that meant that I would probably be one of the last ones to board seeing as I didn’t have an assigned seat yet. I joked around about the offer the airline was mentioning, me saying that if they offered $1,000 that I might take it. For a flight that cost me only $50 each way, it would be worth it to take that kind of offer. Not long later was I called back up and was given my ticket with an assigned seat. Apparently I was sitting in row 15 of the plane, while my friends had seats in the mid 20s rows. Boarding started with priority people and so we went to line up with the others in the other groups. My friends were in group E, but there was only signs for groups A, B, and C. I assumed that meant that group C and above were treated the same. I was looking at my ticket to see what group I was part of, but I couldn’t find it on my ticket. During the last calls for priority boarding, I noticed that my ticket had the word “Sky” on it next to my seat number, as well as the priority line actually being called “Sky Priority”. I wandered up to the front of the line and low and behold I was part of priority boarding. I took my seat which was an aisle one this time as opposed to the window seat I had while coming to LAX, and waited to see my friends pass by, which when they did they had that jokingly jealous grin on their faces.

After a quick and smooth flight back to SFO, I called up my family to pick us up. It took them a while to come, but when they did they missed the turnoff for where we were waiting at and tried to cross multiple lanes of traffic to get to the side we were at. I knew that they were going to be in the way, so I tried telling them to go around again, but a security officer saw us and let us board where we were, on the grounds that he didn’t want us blocking traffic again. We left the airport without much to say and arrived home, happy but exhausted.


Overall Thoughts and Conclusion

This trip went very smoothly and was fun with the company I had during it. For me, having friends around during anime conventions tends to drag me down more than lift me up, but during this particular trip, it seemed to convince me otherwise. I think it’s because usually during these kinds of events, I’m absorbed in my own goals for the event. Taking lots of quality photos, seeing guests of honor, and going to panels and premieres, all of that was usually my priority above everything else for me to feel satisfied about the convention. But just like last year, because I was working for Crunchyroll, that became my priority, and because of it meant that I could not do what I used to do in previous years at AX. And while that may sound like a bad thing, that I couldn’t do what I used to do in the past, in retrospect I think it’s for the best. It’s allowed me to focus on enjoying the event itself rather than try and make it enjoyable for others besides myself. My primary objectives at anime conventions has mainly been to share an overall experience to people online, to allow them to see and feel through my thorough day-to-day diary like posts here on my blog Topic “Otaku”, as well as from the pictures I upload onto my Flickr. Of course there are many people like me who attend and report their experiences as well, but my story will always be unique to me. Maybe it’s me getting older and I’m seeing things from a different perspective, new generations rise and trends and interests change. I guess what I want in the future is to become a part of the industry that has had such a big influence on me for so many years, rather than just be another consumer in the crowds of people waiting in line for hours on end. I’ve always been someone who likes to work the back lines, whether that be post production video editing, or playing a support in Overwatch. If that is my path forward, I would not mind following it, even if it is something that pulls me out of my comfort zone of easy retail jobs near home.

FanimeCon 2018 June 10, 2018

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

FanimeCon 2018 073

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.

FanimeCon 2018 006

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.

FanimeCon 2018 010

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.

FanimeCon 2018 013

FanimeCon 2018 015

FanimeCon 2018 051

FanimeCon 2018 085

FanimeCon 2018 102

Opening Ceremonies started a little late and kicked off the FanimeCon weekend by introducing the Guests of Honor, Black and White Ball, and Fanimaid.

FanimeCon 2018 125

FanimeCon 2018 132

FanimeCon 2018 137

FanimeCon 2018 141

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.

FanimeCon 2018 142

FanimeCon 2018 145

FanimeCon 2018 169

FanimeCon 2018 170

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.

FanimeCon 2018 161

FanimeCon 2018 166

FanimeCon 2018 172

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

FanimeCon 2018 188

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.

FanimeCon 2018 241

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.

FanimeCon 2018 216

FanimeCon 2018 223

FanimeCon 2018 310

FanimeCon 2018 315

FanimeCon 2018 432

FanimeCon 2018 449

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.

FanimeCon 2018 461

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.

FanimeCon 2018 470

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

FanimeCon 2018 491

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.

FanimeCon 2018 499

FanimeCon 2018 526

FanimeCon 2018 539

FanimeCon 2018 553

FanimeCon 2018 585

FanimeCon 2018 587

FanimeCon 2018 594

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

 

Day 4 – May 28th

FanimeCon 2018 620

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.

FanimeCon 2018 656

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.

FanimeCon 2018 666

FanimeCon 2018 669

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.

FanimeCon 2018 701

FanimeCon 2018 719

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.

FanimeCon 2018 729

FanimeCon 2018 738

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.