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Anime Expo 2017 July 6, 2017

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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I wasn’t planning to go to Anime Expo again this year, mainly because of financial and convenience reasons. However, an opportunity to give me that option and reason to go arose that I couldn’t resist. On June 1st Crunchyroll was reaching out to people on their volunteer mailing list that I signed up on a while ago to help out at their booth at Anime Expo. When I got the E-mail it didn’t take me more than 20 minutes to make my decision to try for the position. I even reserved a hotel room on Expedia right after sending the E-mail just in case I got chosen, and if I didn’t I could cancel it easily without paying anything up front. We were told that we’d receive a reply by June 12th if we were chosen, and so I waited. June 12th came and I received nothing from the CR correspondence. I told myself that if I didn’t receive any word beyond the 15th then I would cancel my hotel reservation. By this time I pretty much figured that I wasn’t chosen, so it came to my surprise when I received another E-mail from a different CR correspondence on the 15th, letting us know that they were behind in their AX plans, and that they would reach out to us sometime early the following week. A few days later I finally get the message that I was chosen for the CR AX booth crew. After that it was steady planning towards my next Anime Expo.

For all of my photos from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, please visit my Flickr set Anime Expo 2017.

Day 0 – June 30, 2017

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I didn’t really get a good night’s sleep; had trouble falling asleep, as well as feeling a bit nauseous. It might have been from the hot pot I had for dinner the night before, I’m not totally sure. Woke up at around 9AM but didn’t really start getting up until 10AM. My plan for today was to leave at around 12PM to try and make it to my hotel by approximately 7PM. I had to run a few errands before leaving though, so I didn’t leave the city until around 12:30PM-1PM. Throughout my drive, I had a few instances of traffic slowing me down, but none the less it wasn’t really a problem. I got to my hotel just past 8PM, which is about an hour (anticipating LA traffic) away from the convention center. I ate some food I brought along, rested while watching the local news, and began typing this post before heading to bed. I knew I needed to be at the LA convention center early tomorrow (before 9AM) to find parking and pick up my badge from my CR correspondence.

Day 1 – July 1, 2017

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Slept early so I got a good 7ish hours of rest. Woke up at 7AM and was able to get ready to leave my hotel before 8AM. I needed to get to the Anime Expo area to pick up my badge from a CR crew member at the JW Marriot Hotel at 9AM. Traffic was relatively light and I was able to find decent parking at the convention center garage. Since I was a bit early, I decided to check out what was going on in the front of the convention center. There was a massive amount of people in front of the main entrance to the con, as well as a much shorter line at the west entrance. I’m assuming that most of the people who were at the front were picking up badges as that’s where it usually happens. The west line was probably for entrance for people who picked up their badge already.

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I arrived at the JW Marriot lobby just prior to 9AM to give myself the most time to find who was giving us our badges. By 9:15AM I didn’t see anyone who looked like they were from Crunchyroll, so I sent a text to my CR correspondence, as they said they would be around only until 9:30AM. I didn’t get a reply back, but I did notice someone who looked like they were waiting for someone so I followed. Shortly after I saw a gathering group of people with W-9s in hand, something that I had to give to them too. When I received my badge, it wasn’t a regular attendee one, but an exhibitor one to my surprise. Guess it makes sense now, but at that moment it made me feel excited to be an officially working part of Anime Expo, rather than being just another normal attendee. I was told that I was going to help out at the Crunchyroll Foyer, originally thinking that I was going to work at the main booth in the exhibit hall. Coming back to the con entrance showed me the perk of being an exhibitor right away; coming back out to the west entrance I saw very long line of attendees trying to get in. What takes time for people to enter the con is not the sheer amount of people alone, but doing the bag search for each person. Security is tight as ever thanks in part to what happened at an Arizona convention where a gunmen almost got away with bringing real guns to a con with intentions to kill. I saw signs for a priority entrance nearby for Volunteers, Exhibitors, Industry, Press, and Artist Alley, and so I thought that I’d get in that line to get in. However as I was finding my way to what I thought was its end, I noticed that mostly everyone in it had normal badges. I swiftly turned around to try and find if there was a different entry. I saw a another doorway where a few people were entering, and sure enough it was the priority entrance which took no time at all to go through. Once inside I went to the Crunchyroll Foyer to pick up my shirts that I was to wear while working. It wasn’t my shift yet, but I learned that my job was going to be guarding Adam Savage’s costume he made as part of his Tested series. It sounded like an easy cool job so I was looking forward to it.

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Opening Ceremonies was abysmal to watch all because of the hosts. They were heavily reliant on the teleprompter, and because it wasn’t moving along for them, they kept on stalling and yelling at it. While my favorite Guest of Honor Danny Choo was getting stale at MCing Opening Ceremonies, he was far better than those two goons.

Because I had a few hours before my first shift, I made the most of the time I had by browsing the convention and bought some goodies that caught my eye. I also got some pricey lunch at the con so I wouldn’t get hungry during work. While I was eating though I got a text from my CR correspondence asking me to work at the Crunchyroll Booth in the Exhibit Hall instead of the foyer. I was flexible so I agreed, so by 1:45PM I headed back to the Exhibit Hall for my first shift at Crunchyroll which was from 2PM to 6PM.

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I got to the Crunchyroll Booth on time for my shift, and after a short run down on duties, was left to man the floor. You can say that I hit the floor running at this moment, as I was doing a job that I didn’t know much about. This was where my customer service experience came in handy. My main tasks were to assist attendees and watch the products, restocking when needed as well as preventing shrinkage (theft). As I just started, I had to learn fast: What we were selling, what our policies were, etc. I wasn’t hard adjusting to working the booth, and by the time my shift was half over I was more or less comfortable with the job. I was mainly keeping people from sitting on our low perimeter walls (Exhibit Hall security policy), answering questions about Crunchyroll products, and pointing people in the right direction for our free bags at the Crunchyroll Foyer, located in the West Hall of the convention center.

While I was working at the booth, a Re:CREATORS cosplay group came by and I recognized it immediately. Being a fan of the series, I talked with them a bit. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time, but they were the only cosplayers from that series that I saw throughout Anime Expo. Wish it had more exposure, but alas it’s probably because it’s under Amazon’s Anime Strike streaming service that most people don’t know about it.

When my shift ended at 6PM, which was the same time that the Exhibit Hall closed, my feet were killing me. We even had pretty soft carpet, but it didn’t really help keep my feet from being sore from walking around constantly. The first day is always the hardest, that’s what I always say when it comes to work. I figured the next days of work would not be as bad.

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After my shift I planned to go to watch The Irregular at magic high school The Movie: The Girl Who Summons the Stars premiere that was to start at 7:30PM. I grabbed some dinner from the convention diner again before heading over to the JW Marriot. I got into the line at 7pm, and several minutes later would start moving towards the viewing room. The line was super long and there were many people ahead of me. As the line moved closer towards the room, to the point of being able to see inside through the door, it looked like it was filling up fast. At some point, the line stopped and the announcement that only single seats were available was made. This didn’t bode well for the rest of us in line, as there was still a decent amount of people waiting to get in. I started to think that the chances of the room filling up entirely before I got in were high, and sure enough the room was capped before long. This information was hard to get though for us away from the door; Because the line was still relatively long, we found out through word of mouth of people leaving the line up ahead. Eventually some staff walked down the line to let people know but it took a while before that. The line then turned into the line for the next event that the room was going to be for, which was the FAKKU: Hentai Worth Watching (18+) panel. It seemed that a majority of people stayed in line for that too, in which if they were, were being ID-ed and given wristbands if they were of age. I don’t go to those kinds of panels, so I figured it was a good time to head back to my hotel to rest my feet for the next day. Happened to turn on the TV in my hotel room and Adult Swim was marathoning the second season of Attack on Titan so I watched a bit before turning in for the night.

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Day 2 – July 2, 2017

I went to sleep a bit late, so I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d like as it took me a while to get up. Got myself over to the convention center much quicker this time, though had to park slightly farther away because the parking garage attached to the center was already full at 9AM. The exhibit hall and entertainment hall were closed and wasn’t going to open until 10AM, which was around the time I started my shift at the Crunchyroll booth. Since it was already 9:30AM, I decided to wait closer to the exhibit hall so that I could get there on time.

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It was really cool getting past the barricades that hold the masses of attendees back as an exhibitor. I’m still not used to it, as when I approached the guard who checked badges, I initially hesitate to move through as if I don’t belong when I actually do. I still had about 20 minutes before my shift so I sat around at the chairs nearby the entrance of the exhibit hall. Several minutes later, the exhibit hall opens up to my surprise. I thought that they were going to open up at 10AM or later. I rushed myself to the Crunchyroll booth and braced for the mass amount of people trying to buy stuff from our booth that they knew would sell out. I was more or less forced into the task of monitoring the line, making a makeshift “End of Line” sign and having to cap the line every so often because it got too long for safety reasons. Luckily this rush died down within the first hour of the hall opening. The rest of my time working went pretty smooth, and it definitely didn’t feel as long as my shift the previous day. I even got some food and water courtesy of the CR booth, so I didn’t have to spend any money today for food at the convention.

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After my shift ended at 2PM, I headed toward the Crunchyroll foyer area located at the west hall of the convention center. That’s where we have been giving away very nice and large bagpacks (bags that carry like backpacks). There was a long line for it, but I wanted to get it so I waited. About 30 minutes later, I almost made it to the front of the line when I was called out my one of the staff members running the bag pickups. He noticed my Crunchyroll exhibitor badge and asked me why I didn’t just come up front at the start. I mentioned that I asked another staff member who was working the free stuff table about me just grabbing a bag because I was CR staff too, but that he shook his head in disagreement. I was allowed into the back where they had all the bags stashed, and grabbed a couple. Like I said I’m just not used to this kind of access.

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With a new bag on my back, I had a place for goodies. I headed back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall to buy my friend some pins. I also took the time to check out the rest of the hall that I didn’t get to see. Afterwards it was back to the exhibit hall, where more shopping for friends ensued, as well as finding some things that interested me that I would get the next day.

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After another shopping spree, I stopped by my car to drop off my loot and headed to the JW Marriot. I originally was interested in checking out the TRIGGER studio panel at the hotel, but I decided to shop during it. The other event that was still going on nearby was the ClariS video concert. It was about half over when I arrived, but the best music was saved for the second half. What makes the ClariS group unique is that they’re singers with hidden identities. Originally consisting of the duo Clara and Alice, they started with humble beginnings of singing covers and posting them on Niconico. They got noticed by a recording studio and thus their careers was born. Because they were in junior high at the time, and school was a priority, they were shielded from a public reveal. A few years later, Alice left the group to concentrate on college, and newcomer Karen took her place. ClariS still sounds the same despite having a different singer on board, but their real identities are still hidden to this day. In the video concert, their faces are covered by a mask, and the editing made sure that any zoom ups or angles were done quickly. It was still nice to see them “in person”, and hear their music that made them who they are today. I can’t believe that they are already college age singers now, as we first heard them when they were in middle school, when the hidden identity aspect made sense. I don’t know if ClariS will ever reveal who they really are to the world, but it was hinted at the end of the video concert that ClariS is interested in having a concert in the US. Whether or not it happens I’d like to go, especially if it is at an event I’m able to go to.

After the concert, there wasn’t anything else that I wanted to stick around for so I headed back to my hotel, stopping by a McDonalds for dinner before doing so. It was my final night in LA, so I prepared to pack up for the next day.

Day 3 – July 3rd, 2017

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Day 3 was my final day for me being at Anime Expo, as I couldn’t really afford to stay longer, especially because of how this was more or less an improvised trip. Woke up a bit earlier to get ready for the day and to pack my car up and check out of my hotel. I arrived at the convention center just before 9AM, and parking was easier to get this time around. My shift started at 10AM again, so I had time to run an important errand before work. I planned to grab a Funko Pop! Vinyl D.Va & MEKA Buddy figure at the Blizzard booth in the Entertainment Hall, but they had limited quantities per day. As my work shift starts when the halls open for business, I used my Exhibitor status to get in before it opened for everyone else. I thought I could buy it earlier than 10AM so that I could get back on time to the Exhibit Hall for my shift, but unfortunately I couldn’t buy it until around 10AM exactly. In the meanwhile, I decided to go back to the Exhibit Hall to explore it before it opened. It was definitely an strange experience being in the Exhibit Hall before it opened. There was still a bunch of people running around, but we were all exhibitors so yeah it felt like we had some time to ourselves before the masses were allowed in. I got myself back to the Blizzard booth at the Entertainment Hall at around 9:45AM, but they couldn’t sell anything until 10AM. I sent my CR correspondence a text letting them know I was going to be a little late because of that. After I bought the D.Va Pop figure, I ran back to the Crunchyroll booth and got to it a few minutes past 10AM, so I wasn’t too late. Luckily there wasn’t a massive line that I had to manage like the day before.

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It definitely wasn’t as busy as Day 2, and while that was mostly a good thing, it also made time fly by more slowly. When 2PM finally came, I was ready to head out to wander AX for a few more hours before having to leave for home. I did my final shopping spree and grabbed as much freebies before calling it quits at around 6PM. With virtually no traffic on the way back, I got home at around 12:30AM.

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Other things I want to mention….

This was the first time that I didn’t feel pressured at all about taking quality photos. Because my main purpose at Anime Expo this year was working for Crunchyroll, I dedicated myself to that and because of it, overwrote my usual initiative for taking photographs that would showcase the con as a whole. Instead, the photos I took highlight the interesting things I saw during my time at Anime Expo; working and enjoying the convention like I should instead of covering it like a news story. Usually trying to get as many cosplay shots is what I do as part of my photo coverage of anime conventions, but because there is so much competition with amateur and professional photographers alike at this event, I didn’t even try. At least I didn’t feel bad about it at all, as I probably would feel if I came to Anime Expo as a normal attendee. The only qualm related to my camera I had at AX was that I lost my lens cap on my DSLR, probably due to people constantly knocking into because it was back-right side most of the time.

Speaking of taking pictures, most of my pictures was taken with my smaller point-and-shoot rather than with my DSLR. Using the smaller camera was always a better way to take pictures in a pinch, but I’ve almost always used my DSLR as my main because of its better quality, albeit its less convenient size. I’m now considering getting a quality mirrorless camera so that I can have the form factor of a point-and-shoot with the quality of a DSLR.

I heavily relied on the Anime Expo app for looking up the schedule and events and such. Though a bit confusing to browse the schedule in the beginning due to me being used to looking at a grid schedule for cons, it became helpful once I got used to it.

I didn’t mention much about my experience of the LA traffic in my main day by day post above, and I’d like to share it. This wasn’t my first time driving in LA, but it has been a while, though this is the first time I’ve come here totally alone. The first thing I noticed is how much more aggressive drivers are here, especially on the freeway. People tend to be much closer to one another, slow down and stop without much warning, and accelerate and switch lanes in the same fashion. There was always some sort of traffic, but it wasn’t too bad this time around. Because I’m a new driver to the area, I had to study the roads before going on them to know where to go. I didn’t rely on my GPS at all because I was able to remember the exits and streets I needed to go on (and I have a good sense of direction), as well as my GPS having a horrible time locking onto a satellite, especially when in a parking garage. I’m surprised that I didn’t need my GPS, but at the same time hoping to get more use out of it even with its slow calculating ability.

Overall Thoughts

This Anime Expo and trip as a whole was a total success. What I mean by that was that everything I had planned happened and then some. I haven’t been this satisfied with going down to AX since 2012. For me the con was quite chill, despite the problems other people were having with the con. These problems are mainly connected with the fast that Anime Expo is getting overcrowded, as you can see with their line problems. People were reporting hours long wait time just to get into the convention center with a badge, because of the slow security bag checks. I got through just fine because I was exhibitor and thus got in a side way, but for the normal masses I feel their pain. I can imagine those attendees who had things planned out, didn’t include a massive delay due to just getting in. There were some major events that were occurring at the neighboring JW Marriot, and that didn’t require much to get in there so at least there was that. Down the line Anime Expo may have to start imposing a cap on badges because the convention center is always at full capacity during the event. I do hope that I can return as an exhibitor or other type of attendee in the future as it made for a much more accessible experience for me, maybe even as well as a Premiere Badge status in way. There’s nothing I would change from my Anime Expo 2017 trip, and I hope for even better ones in the future.



Anime Expo 2015 July 9, 2015

Posted by coolmikeol in Events, Otaku.
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This year marks my return to Anime Expo after taking a one year break from it. If you don’t know what Anime Expo is, it is a anime convention that takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center around early July. It is North America’s largest anime convention known for bringing the best of the industry to the fans.

In this post I will be talking about my experiences of my Anime Expo trip as detailed as possible, both what happened and what thoughts were running through my mind at the time. An overview will be posted after the Day summaries.

I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to at this year’s Anime Expo, but please check out my 400+ photos here at my Flickr set Anime Expo 2015.

Day 1 – July 2nd

Our trip starts technically the day before, but I’ll just call it early Day 1. At about 10PM on July 1st, my three friends and I met up at my place to take UBER to the station where our Megabus was going to be. It was my first time taking UBER and it was a pretty enjoyable experience. It was quick and inexpensive, especially when you can split the cost with others. We arrived at the Megabus station at about 10:40PM, about a 20 minute ride across the city. You could already see some people who were obviously going to Anime Expo as well, from their cosplay props and the like. About a half hour later we started to board the bus. I was originally worried that my luggage was going to be too big based off of Megabus’s policy (It was pretty much at the limits of the policy stated on their website), but they just put it in with the rest which put me at ease. I even brought a tape measure in case they wanted to contest my bag which I measured at their 62 inch size limit. With a group of four, I reserved the second floor front row seats, the best seats of the bus in my opinion. It cost a little extra, but worth it for the trip. Leaving on time at promptly around 11:30PM, we tried our best the sleep throughout the bus trip, but it was a little hard with it bouncing frequently and sometimes strongly. Whenever I fell asleep, I tended to wake up gasping for air in a somewhat noticeable way. I don’t know why that was so, but I felt a little embarrassed about that.


We arrived in LA’s Union Station at about 6:30AM, a bit earlier than the original arrival time of 6:40AM. We used UBER to take us from the station to our hotel, the Millennium Blitmore Hotel, where we left our big luggage with the Bell Desk until check in time. (The standard check in time was 3PM, but the hotel receptionist told me that my room would be available at around 11AM.) Anime Expo has shuttles that takes attendees back and forth from the main hotels, but I think that only applies to people with badges. Since we didn’t have ours yet, we walked over to the convention center which took about half an hour. While I didn’t go to AX last year, I heard of the stories about the long badge pick up lines, and heat, and overall displeasure. I was pretty sure that AX was going to step up their game, as hinted from AX assuring people that lines were moving efficiently and people reporting much shorter lines, from when I was monitoring social media on Day 0 from home.
Anime Expo 2015 108When we got the pre-reg badge pickup, I never stopped walking until I got to the staff who were scanning our reg confirmation. Virtually no wait time this year for getting our badges. It’s like how FanimeCon has done the same now that they have the dedicated convention space to do it. It seems that FanimeCon and AX have finally killed Linecon for good, but only time will tell if it will stay as good as it has been. While I did say that I didn’t have to wait for picking up my badge, actually getting into the convention floor is another story. There was a lot of people lined up in front of the main doors, waiting for 10AM when the show floor would open. I never remembered the convention being closed until a certain time, but maybe that’s because I haven’t really been at the con as early as this year. Because it was only about 8AM, we decided to head back to the hotel and check in first before going back to Anime Expo when it was open. We walked back instead of taking the shuttle to pass by Target to grab a pack of water bottles and other supplies. Anime Expo 2015 014

I was able to get the hotel room keys at about 10:30AM, much earlier than I thought I would of gotten them. Our room was on the fourth floor, so close enough for us to walk down the stairs if the elevators were crowded. Our hotel room was much better than what we had two years ago; it was bigger which was our main problem when we had almost six people at one point in a room about half the size of this year’s. The only initial issue we had was that there was a mosquito on the ceiling which we dispatched by throwing a magazine up at it. We made sure to close the window to prevent any more bugs from potentially getting in.

After settling in for a bit, we headed back to the convention via shuttle at noontime where we waited in line to get into the convention center. The sun was pretty strong once the overcast skies cleared, but after 10 minutes of the heat, we finally got in, that is after a quick bag check. Security was more present than I’ve seen before at AX, and while it was welcome for Anime Expo’s safety, I can imagine how much of a hassle it would be for smaller conventions like FanimeCon, where going in and out of the conventions at will is something that is convenient for everyone there. We headed immediately for the Dealers Hall where it was packed with people trying to get stuff, stuff that was free, exclusive, and limited in quantity. It was already announced a few weeks before the convention that the Dealers Hall would be bigger than previous years, and so the first time going into there we just zigzagged around to get a general feel for the expanded area. We also went to the Entertainment Hall which housed the video gaming and cosplay areas, alongside the Nendoroid 500 showcase and Little Witch Academia 2 keyframes and artwork exhibit. After touring around this area as well, I split up from my friends and headed off solo to check out the Dealers Hall and Entertainment Hall at my own pace. It’s hard to take your time at times when you’re with your friends because sometimes they can get bored or uninterested in what you’re looking for, especially when I’m taking photos of seemingly random things, which is why I tend to split off when I can so that I can get my own objectives done.
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The only event I planned to go to at Day 1 was opening ceremonies (titled Guest of Honor Welcome Ceremony in the schedule), which was to start at 5:45PM, pretty late when compared to other conventions. I wasn’t complaining as it allowed me to take everything in before the event that was to start off the whole con. I got into line at around 5:15PM, which wasn’t too long considering the time. They let us in a little late, at about 6PM, and didn’t start until almost 6:30PM. Danny Choo and another person was the MC for the ceremony, which has been the same for at least the past few years, and just like then they announced each guest with an intro, with the guest coming on stage to give a short speech to the audience. As the guests went on, you can tell that the energy of the room was pretty low the entire time. I wasn’t surprised as this year’s lineup was not too great, but I guess it’s also because we haven’t had a really big popular anime come out in a while. It didn’t help that Danny’s humor felt rehashed from previous opening ceremonies he has been a part of for AX. I left after the surprise mini concert by a upcoming Japanese musical artist at about 7:25PM, which was already running past its scheduled time. It was suppose to end at 6:45PM, but since it started late, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it ran until 8PM.
Anime Expo 2015 140My friends called me up and let me know they were in tabletop gaming, apparently in the parking garage? I went to where they said they were and low and behold, they converted a in-convention parking garage into a tabletop gaming area/autograph line area. This was a first for me and don’t think I would have found this without my friends calling me to there. I guess since the cosplay sets are now a thing at AX, it displaced the board games to the garage, which actually was a nice area. With lots of space, food vendors, and enclosed with air conditioning, it was a side area that added much needed space to Anime Expo. We headed back to our hotel via shuttle, and had dinner at the nearby Westin Bonaventure, the hotel we stayed at the last time we came to AX, as there was not really any other options we could think of that was easy to get to at the time. Got some pretty pricy Chinese food, ended up not getting what I ordered but ate it anyways, then headed to the hotel for some sleep we haven’t gotten for some time. ————

Day 2 – July 3rd

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Woke up at around 8am to an alarm I set for myself before the trip began. After a quick shower, I changed into my Kaizuka Inaho cosplay, which I kept secret from the public eye until then because I wanted it to be a surprise to my friends, as they might of found out if I announced it on my Facebook page. I didn’t want them to bug me about it too much. Had breakfast at the Westin before taking the shuttle from there.
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Once we got to the convention center, we entered the dealers hall to look around again. After touring around with my friends for a couple of hours, I split off and did my own scouting of the dealers hall for photo opportunities of anything interesting. Leaving the hall at about 1:45PM, I made my way to LP3 where supposedly the panel for seiyuu Tomoyo Kurosawa was being held. According to the original schedule in the program guide for AX, it was going to be held at 11AM, but the online schedule showed 2:30PM so I went around that time as the online one is up to date. Arriving at LP3, the schedule for the room didn’t show her panel so I asked the staff there about it. Turns out that they knew nothing about it, as they were strictly following the posted schedule of the room. Figured that it got cancelled or something, I decided to leave to go check out what was going on around LP1 where Main Events takes place. On the way there I passed by another room, LP4 which had a long line, which I found out was for Tomoyo Kurosawa’s panel on the schedule board. I followed the line to the end, only to shortly be told that the room was capped, maxed out its capacity. Anime Expo 2015 187
Anime Expo 2015 188After the confusion and disappointment, I continued to head to LP1 to see when lines would start forming for the Little Witch Academia 2 Premiere. Staff guy at the front door said that lines for that event would start at 3:30PM and also confirmed with him that no official line would begin until then. As it wasn’t too long until that time, and walking back and forth to the main area would be inconvenient, I decided to wait it out in the neighboring Entertainment Hall. (I started writing this post during this time, only writing some of the Day 2 stuff, on my phone to later transplant it here.) Soon after I met up with my friends there as they were in the area. At around 3:15PM we went towards the area where the lines would form for LP1, outside right next to the room with shade. The line for the event before the Little Witch Academia 2 Premiere, the Funimation Industry Panel, was still there, but started to move into the room as we and others around us for the premiere watched and waited for our chance to line up. One of the staff members holding us back from the lineup area was trying to say something, but most of us couldn’t hear him as he didn’t really yell or use a loudspeaker. Turns out he was just saying to wait until they were ready; I thought he was saying some special rules for the lineup. With people in anticipation, already holding the duck tape that acted as a stanchion over their heads, abruptly someone gave the signal and everyone just rushed into line. Everyone tried to get into the first row of lines, because of that it was not a single file line as I knew the staff would try to fix. At first they told people to stretch the line backwards so that we could achieve the single file, but the people behind us were not moving, even with everyone yelling to do so. The solution was to move the line forward, into the LP3 Main Events room, into the Funimation Industry Panel before it started. I was worried as we entered the room because I recalled that they usually cleared out the panel rooms entirely before letting people in. I didn’t want staff to think that we were in there for the wrong panel, even though they were the ones who brought us into there in the first place. Because this panel was not something I planned to go to, I tended to do other things as the panel went on: Check my 3DS for Streetpasses and nap. There were some interesting things to see, but for the most part it was just the announcement of new dubs of animes and business stuff related to Funimation. After the end of that, we moved forward to get a better seat as people exited, sitting close to the front and middle. When the premiere event started, we got a short message from the Trigger staff before starting the show. From the get go, turns out that we were not close enough, as I couldn’t read the subtitles from the main big screen because it was too low and peoples’ heads were covering it. I ended up watching the right side screen more because it was raised higher in comparison to the main screen. As for Little Witch Academia 2, it was fantastic. (SPOILER ALERT!) Sure the beginning was super loud that some of us had to cover our ears, but after getting used to that, it was pretty good. What bugged me during the first half of the show was actually the main character, as she was pretty childish and clearly at fault for not listening to her friends. I’m pretty sure that was the feeling the producers wanted us to feel, because as the story progressed, she eventually realized that she was to blame for her friends actions towards her. Besides that, I liked the new characters, the way the show sort of spoke to us when asking to applaud or cheer, and the quite obvious Gainex/Trigger trademark stars and transformations. For example, when *don’t know her name* danced on her broomstick in an attempt to show what she can do and finished, we (the audience) all automatically applauded, but the other characters didn’t, in which she asked them to applaud her, which sounded like she was talking to us in a way. While it doesn’t sound like it here in writing, the experience in person was pretty funny because of the blend of the audience’s actions and the dialog of the show. At the end of the screening, I can say that it was the best event for me so far, a major highlight that made me feel quite happy inside. I feel bad that I didn’t write down how exactly I felt back then, but the memory still lingers with me, that good feeling, that I’ll remember. Afterwards we decided to have dinner at Little Tokyo, Los Angeles’s Japantown. It was my first time really exploring the area, and it was quite packed even at 9PM. Because of that, it was hard finding a place that didn’t have long wait times. We did eventually find a place that was on the edge of Little Tokyo, a Japanese place that had a diner feel to it. It was pretty good for what it was. Didn’t get a picture of my food though.



Day 3 – July 4th

Day 3 started off similarly to the previous day, getting dressed in cosplay and eating breakfast at the same place as yesterday, after finding out that the other place we were planning to eat at was closed for the weekend. Upon arriving at the convention, we quickly split up to do our own things. I decided to go and catch up on my deficit of photos, mostly of cosplay shots. The only thing I planned to go to was the Culture Japan Night with Danny Choo, an event I always have gone to ever since I started going to Anime Expo back in 2011.

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Since I knew that we could stay in panel rooms even after the panel ends, I entered LP2 near the end of the Mega64 Panel where my friends were. They didn’t stay for the Danny Choo event, so I moved as much forward to have a better seat for the event.

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The first half or so was Danny’s usual panel with him talking about what’s currently going on in his life and career. This year it’s mostly focused on his Smart Doll product as well as production on Culture Japan Season 3. Unfortunately, Danny has also mentioned that his spinal hernia now causing his pain enough to put him in a wheelchair, though during this event he was able to do without much sitting. After the talk, we had a group photo with everyone who was still around, also recording a couple of shots for shoutouts for Culture Japan Season 3. Anyone who wanted to speak to Danny and/or get autographs, etc. had to line up for it, and it was quite the long line. Since this was Culture Japan Night, it was an event that was meant to network like-minded others together, and I tried just that. While waiting in line, I decided to try and talk to people I didn’t know. That’s how I got into conversations with the guy in front of me and behind me. It was enjoyable to talk to people about Danny Choo, Anime Expo and other anime related stuff. Even though I’m not really a social kind of guy, this event made me realize that maybe I can try doing this more, doing networking. I recently graduated college with a degree based on media production, specifically for me video production, and it’s very beneficial to have connections in the industry in order to make your career thrive. That’s how I was able to meet and befriend new people a few years ago at the exact same event, and I feel that it makes anime conventions more satisfying. Causally talking to people, interested in where they’re from and sharing my own experiences with them, it’s what I strive to do when it comes to my own content I put out. When I go to anime conventions, I aim to take photos that illustrate my own experiences of the event with the intent that others who see them somewhat feel like they’re there as well. Of course I can’t be everywhere to capture all the highlights of the convention, but I do my best to go around to as many places as possible.

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Time flew by and before I knew it, I was already at Danny. As I noticed that it was reaching the 8 o’clock hour, the end of the event, I decided to keep my conversation with him short and somewhat simple. I didn’t actually know what to talk to him about besides saying hello again (it was my 4th or so time meeting him), and repeating the same stuff I think I’ve told him before, like about how he’s inspirational to me and how I’d hope to be able to help out his company in the future. I didn’t think about it then, but now I feel that I’m all talk with nothing really changing about myself, like I’m wasting my chances of talking with Danny about things that would be more worth talking about, for both of our sakes. Like I mentioned, I pretty much repeated the same things I’ve talked to him about in previous events, and I feel bad about that. I know that I’m somewhat in the comfort zone, and that in order to proceed in life I need to move forward out of that to achieve greater things in life. I know that, and I’m determined to do something about it. Because I want to combine my media/video production skills with my love of Japanese Pop Culture, the first steps I want to take is to work at anime conventions, starting off with volunteering. This year would have been an excellent year to do so as I feel that I wouldn’t have missed much because of the combination of two things: The first is that there hasn’t been any one super popular anime that creates a theme for this year’s anime conventions, and the second thing is the lack of notable guests of honor. If one of these things was flipped, then I feel that the convention would have been more exciting. This year’s Anime Expo just felt like an upscaled version of FanimeCon, and that’s saying something about North America’s largest anime convention. Next year I’m planning to become more involved with volunteering at cons and events to build up my experience towards the industry.

After the Culture Japan Night, I returned to my hotel room and started writing this post, only writing part of Day 2’s events before heading out again to pick up dinner at a near by Subway’s. Before sleep time, my friends and I played some Sushi Go and Once Upon a Time for our last night of the trip.


Day 4 – July 5th

Day 4 can be pretty much summed up as “last couple hours shopping and going home”. After packing up our stuff, checking out, and leaving our stuff with the Bell Desk, we headed out for breakfast. Our original plan was to go to a place called Eggslut at the Grand Central Market located nearby at the Historical Downtown LA area, but since it was busy we looked around at other places in the area. We decided to go to Jose Chiquito, which was a place that served breakfast dishes all day. I got myself a breakfast wrap which was a bit small but good with the added mild salsa-like sauce.

After breakfast we headed back to the hotel to catch the shuttle back to the convention center to do some last minute shopping at the Dealers Hall for gifts for people at home and anything else I happened to spot that I wanted. While I didn’t buy anything for myself on the last day, I did nab an Aldnoah.Zero Artbook from the Aniplex booth, and some Super Mario World bead sprites from the artist alley on the days before.

We left the convention center at around 2:20PM and got back to the hotel area to get food to bring for the bus ride back home. I bought a water bottle and another drink at a Famima!! convenience store for pretty cheap compared to prices at the con or anywhere else, a dollar for a 23.7 oz Arrowhead. Also picked up a footlong Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt sandwich at Subway on the way back to the hotel, where we proceeded to chill until it was time for us to head back to Union Station for the Megabus. At about 4:10PM, we sent a request to UBER which came in about 15 minutes. After a bit of confusion about exactly where we were suppose to be dropped off, we arrived at the station at about 4:30PM. I had to look at the map of the station to realize that we actually were on the opposite side of where the bus depot was. Luckily it was easy to figure out how to get from the front entrance, where we were to our bus. There was a straight path that passed under the trains with branches on the left and right sides leading to them. At the end of the tunnel we reached the familiar sight of the transit plaza, where our bus was already awaiting passengers. The bus departed on time at 5:10PM, with us arriving in San Francisco at about 2AM, an hour and a half late due to traffic on Interstate 5. I got home at 3AM and went to sleep shortly after, ending my LA/AX trip.

This year’s Anime Expo trip went way smoother than it did the last time I came back in 2013. The main differences that made this trip better was that I didn’t have to drive the long distance/pay for a expensive rental car, and also I didn’t have that one annoying person on the trip that had issues, for the most part. Getting from home to LA and back was relatively easy, credit to Megabus and UBER being fast and cheap.

The convention was good this year, but Anime Expo’s lack of notable guests of honor, in combination with no major overarching anime/theme for the anime convention left more to be desired. If anything, as I mentioned before, this felt like a medium sized convention like FanimeCon inflated to fit the LA Convention Center. I think of myself as able to read the energy of the room or situation, and overall, it was chill in the a couple of ways. It was a nice casual year for anime fans, but at the same time didn’t ignite hype or energy that usually Anime Expo is known for; it’s even more evident when I look back at the cosplay at the convention. At Anime Expo I’m used to seeing a large amount of cosplayers dress as characters from a few popular animes series, like how Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan were dominate in their particular years. This year I felt that there was less notable cosplay, and more of casual and broad varieties of cosplay from the last few years, evident from the lack of cosplay of recent animes this year. It was very obvious to me during the convention as well when I didn’t feel like taking as many photos as I would normally would try to take, the lowest amount to the size of the convention ever for me.

One other aspect of the trip that had influence on how well it went was the presence of my friends. While it pains me to be brutally honest, it is something I feel I need to address for the sake of covering all my bases when it comes to writing a complete post about my Anime Expo trip. Personally for me, it’s harder for me to have friends along for the ride than it sounds, especially when they’re not into the same things about anime and Japanese pop culture as you are. As I don’t see myself as a full fledged otaku, but still knowing of a lot of the broader topics within the culture, it’s hard for me to translate that to my friends who are semi-casual at best when compared to most of the average anime convention attendee. Sometimes I feel like I have to tone myself down because it may look embarrassing to my friends and whatnot. While they probably would be somewhat understanding, I still avoid becoming overly enthusiastic in case they think I’m strange for doing so. It’s a sad thing for me to do, especially at a place that suppose to be the center of it all, but by habit I do it anyways. One improvement from the previous years of going with friends to anime conventions is that I don’t feel like I needed to babysit them like I did a couple of years ago. I could split off from them without worrying that they would become bored and feel lost, and that I abandoned them. I think they understand that I do things in a certain way when it comes to these events, and they allow me to do so. If I was asked if I would let my friends tag along for my future trips to anime conventions, I would almost always be glad to, as long as I have my freedom to do my own things as well without being questioned or pressured out of.

The fact that the convention center is almost maxed out its space illustrates the dire need for the Los Angeles Convention Center to expand. Just like how the San Jose Convention Center expanded and now FanimeCon has much more room to breath, the LA con center needs the same. At AX it’s pretty hard to get a quick break by sitting where you are. For me I can only really sit in the West Hall, as it was the place with the most space and less people. At FanimeCon it used to be the same kind of, but with the addition of a couple Halls there is plenty of space to work with, whether it’s for an exhibit or people space. Also with the addition, it allowed more rooms to handle more events and the expansion of the Dealers Hall. Anime Expo needs just that: besides the Artist Alley being cramped and needing its own space, major panel rooms would benefit from this as well. There have been many times I tried going to a panel and the lines are so long to the point of it being capped because of maxed occupancy. I also feel that the cosplay sets and related should have their own area, as well as the video gaming which should be re-combined with the tabletop board gaming. This would require at least another two halls to make my idea work, but seeing as how FanimeCon has made this work for the most part, I think it’s definitely possible for AX. Throughout the convention, I kept saying that an expansion over the area where the shuttle buses were would make sense, as it would shelter the buses from the sun and add at least another Hall above the area. This was before I found out that plans for expanding the LA Convention Center was already in the works. Looking at the proposals and renderings of them makes me very excited for the future of Anime Expo. Besides the added space to the inside of the convention center, it would breath new life to outdoor areas of the center as well, perfect for cosplay gatherings and the like. One thing that I enjoy at FanimeCon over Anime Expo is the cosplay gatherings. At FanimeCon, almost all of the major gatherings occur right in the front, which has the space, shade, and nice settings for the groups to have great photos by photographers. Whereas at Anime Expo, first off I don’t even know where they are, let alone if there is any official gatherings at all. Even if they are they might be outside in the sun or in places away from the major paths of the convention only the gathering cosplayers know about. I know there are no gatherings inside the con as I’ve walked back and forth countless times just see people and cosplayers just strewn about. With new areas in the outdoors within the convention center area, I feel it would become a new area for gatherings that would be more accessible and noticeable for all, a win-win for the cosplayer and photographer.

Overall, Anime Expo 2015 was fine, and just that. Because I already knew that this year is an off year for popular animes, I wasn’t expecting too much from AX, so at the very least I wasn’t too hyped to disappoint myself. As mentioned, this would have been a good year to volunteer as I would not felt that I would have missed too much while working at the con. Any other year and I would feel I’d miss out on things. Another thing that this year’s AX did for me was make me think a lot about what I want to do in the future in relation to my own field of media and video production. AX marks the end of my anime convention season for the year, but I’ve already started mapping out what I may go to next year. Definitely looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the future.

Anime Expo 2013 July 10, 2013

Posted by coolmikeol in Anime, Events, Otaku.
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This year’s Anime Expo experience was a mixed bag because of a lot of things, things that well… should of gone a lot better. This post will allow me to vent a bit of how I felt during the event. If I do sound mad or annoyed at any particular person (which I won’t name obviously but they may notice anyways), I just want to be honest about it, please don’t take it too seriously.

Day 0

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I woke up at around 6:00 AM after getting about five or so hours of sleep. I was pretty much preparing stuff to pack in the morning before I went to sleep. I double checked my checklist that I wrote up since I was bringing so much stuff before having a quick bacon and eggs breakfast before leaving to go pick up the four others (friends and acquaintances) a little after 7:30 AM to bring them back to my place before ultimately leaving for LA. I arrived with everyone back at my house at about 9 AM and it took an hour to pack the car with my stuff. Between everyone who had stuff to bring, I had the most: My clothes luggage, bringing an additional luggage for Wii U (friends wanted me to bring it), cosplay, cosplay fixing materials, sleeping bag and pillow, and a whole bunch of snacks and waters complete with a big cooler. I rented a 7 seater minivan, but even with just 5 of us, we were much more cramped than I thought we would be. We left at 10 AM and made our way to our first stop at Gilroy which was brief. We made a second stop at Kettleman City, an exit on the 5 Interstate that I always go to on these kind of trips. I was planning to get gas here, but it was expensive. I decided that we’ll try for gas at the Grapevine exit, right before the mountains leading up to Los Angeles, hoping it was less expensive. We ended up going to the exit right before Grapevine because I was unsure for a second about where the exit was. The gas there was a bit cheaper, so we filled up there before going up to LA. We got into the LA area at around 4PM , but we got lost because of the GPS. Apparently when I input the address of the Los Angeles Convention Center, I put “Figueroa St” instead of “S Figueroa St”. I did not know that there was another Figueroa St. that was located near the coast. Luckily we figured it out before we actually got to the wrong destination, but it took more than an hour out of our way to get back to the downtown LA area, as we took side streets that were extremely slow to navigate. At this point I was getting really irritated due to the fact that one of my acquaintances who was older kept bugging me about the time and stuff. We finally got to the hotel at about 6PM or so, checked in, brought some of our stuff into the room, and got to the convention center at about 7PM where we proceeded to wait in line for our badges for about an hour and fifthteen minutes. The line for pre-reg badge was not bad, it was long but there was barely a time longer than a minute where I wasn’t moving. At Fanime 2013, I waited more than double the time here so I wasn’t complaining. By that time we got our badge, it was around 8:20 PM, so we just explored the convention center. Since it was my friends first time to AX or any anime convention for that matter it was a good way for them to get familiar with the area. (My older acquaintance has been to AX many times so he went his own way for a while.) While we were wandering around, I got a call from a friend I met at AX last year. I made arrangements for him to stay in our room for Day 0 night only so he was calling to let me know he was at the hotel. (We were staying at the Westin Bonaventure.) We returned to the hotel at about 10:30 PM where we welcomed my friend who was staying for the Day 0 night. We were too lazy to go out for dinner so we ordered room service, mainly burgers and fries and stuff. Not too expensive…. well actually it was. Whatever. Anyways it was nice chatting with my friend who was staying with us. He had a busy schedule for AX as he was one of the staffers for Danny Choo, who I am a big fan and follower of. He had to leave early the next morning so we went to sleep before 2AM for the first day of AX.

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Day 1

I got up when my DC staff friend woke up. He left when he needed to so I saw him off. Took a quick shower and got ready to get to the convention center for opening ceremonies which were to start at 10AM.  I came to AX Day 1 dressed as Seiun Eiji’s Summer uniform. There was some conflicting information about when it was to start though. The Anime Expo programs said it was to start at noon or something, while the AX program on their website said it started at 10AM. To my knowledge at the time, I knew that the online ones would be more accurate than the printed ones, but I checked with the info booth who confirmed the time for me. We all headed to the Main Events hall which was now located in the West Hall area for the opening ceremonies, which was delayed by about 3o minutes. Most events at anime conventions I’ve been to don’t really start on time. Throughout the entire opening ceremonies, it was obvious that the hosts did not rehearse (as they even kept mentioning that they did not rehearse throughout the ceremony.) All the guests of honor was announced, but I already knew that this year’s GOHs were not as fantastic as previous years. It seems that the west coast cons are lacking in good GOHs and I don’t know exactly why. The only notable GOH I wanted to see was Danny Choo as usual, but there was no real good music guests or seiyuus. I was still satisfied though because it gave me more time to focus on Cosplay Photography which is always my main concern at a con scene.

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After the opening ceremony, we got back to the Main Hall area (South Tower Lobby) where as expected, hundreds if not thousands of people were eagerly waiting for the Exhibit Halls to open. Normally I would wait for a couple to a few hours to enter the Exhibit Halls to let the surge of people dissipate a bit, but I ended up getting swept in after going around and taking photos of the crowds. I met up with my friends who were also in the Exhibit Halls and we proceeded to explore what we could in the crowded aisles. After a while we exited the Exhibit Halls where me and my friends split so that they could go around on their own and also so I could work on taking photos.

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I ended up leaving earlier than I would because I wanted to return to my hotel to finish working on my Seiun Eiji Solar Marine cosplay before tomorrow’s Danny Choo panel. I tried to finish it when I was back home, but I ran out of time so I had to work on making the shoulder armor parts throughout the night. It came out well enough at least. I decided to put on the finishing touches when I wake up the next morning.

Day 2

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I woke up super early, about 6 AM to start getting ready, cosplay too. The Danny Choo panel was starting at 9AM so I planned to be at the convention center at around 8:30 AM or earlier. When I got there, a line had already formed which irked me a bit. We entered the panel room pretty much on time and I was able to get a seat in a decent location on the right side. I set up my video camera as usual to record his panel, but it wasn’t the same as it was in previous years. Normally he would go through his talk about  how he got to where he is now from his humble beginnings back in the UK, but this time it was short. I could tell that time was quite limited for him even though he had three hours of panel time. After that he did some Q&A session, and then he did signing sessions which pretty much ended the panel. It wasn’t like previous years where he did like Rock-Paper-Scissors, giveaways, or the big group photo at the end. It just started and ended in low key. I kept my optimism as high as I could back then, but right now writing this from home remembering back, it just really didn’t do it for me. I kind of felt that Danny is more so at AX for promoting his Culture Japan than ever. Of course that’s not a bad thing and I do like seeing more exposure for it, it’s just that it felt that he was more here for business than for his readers and followers. I know that’s what a lot of people admire about him, his ability to connect with his readers personally and on a larger scale, because he was just like one of us, regular avid anime fans. I know he also has limited time too, and that the stuff I mentioned that he didn’t do this year in his panel that he normally does in previous years he might of phased out because it became old. I don’t know… I have mixed feeling about what I was expecting from the panel, it just wasn’t as great as I remember it would be.

After the panel which I felt early (about 11:30 AM), I got word that a fellow Mirai Millennium cosplayer was at the Mirai Mart booth, so I headed in that direction. After a quick hi to her at the booth, trip to my car to drop off a bunch of stuff, I headed back  to the booth again with just my cosplay and camera. We had a quick photoshoot before promptly returning to the Mirai Mart booth for Danny’s return.  I stayed there for a good few hours cosplaying for the booth with her while she was donning her Mirai Suenaga Solar Retrograde Suit cosplay. Her’s was pretty well made, despite the lack of time she had to make it and it being incomplete. Makes me feel that I should keep working on mine too, since I won’t be cosplaying for a while. That way next time it will look better than ever and it won’t keep breaking apart like it was during Day 2.

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By 2:30 PM, I left the booth and headed back to my car so that I could take off my exhausting cosplay. It was the first time I wore such a thing in a con so it was tiring. Even more so that the weather was warm (of course its LA). I went in to pick up a quick lunch at the convention food court and set out to do some cosplay photography. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was shooting at 3200 ISO which made my photos a bit grainy. I was wondering why I was getting such a high shutter speed but didn’t realize it was because I was using a much higher ISO than I should of been using. I noticed only once I got back to my hotel room. The photos were OK, but I told myself after that to always check my camera settings so that I wouldn’t do something like that again.

Day 3

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Unlike Day 2 where I felt that I was rushing to get to the convention early with cosplay, Day 3 was more chill. I got to the convention center via shuttle this time versus driving all the time and paying for parking at around 11AM. I only events I had planned to go to was the Culture Japan x FAKKU meet up at 5PM followed by a Culture Japan Night at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Little Tokyo at 7PM. In the meanwhile, cosplay photos.

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My friends and I started going back to the hotel at around 4PM, but stopped by the new Target/food area for a late lunch. After that we headed to the hotel where I rested a bit before returning pretty late to the CJ x FAKKu meetup at 5:45PM. It once again was not how it was like last year, it felt like another panel than just mingling like last time. I left shortly after it ended, took a few more cosplay shots, then headed back to the hotel again to prepare to go to Little Tokyo by car for CJN.

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I got to Little Tokyo before 8PM, but I got a bit lost while trying to find Kinokuniya by foot. I ended up running around the wrong block. By the time I made my way to Kinokuniya, there was a line of people waiting to talk and meet Danny. I wanted to wear my Solar Marine cosplay so I went back to my car which was not too far away, put on what I could without the body suit, didn’t bring out the sonic naginata due to me not being in a con scene and not wanting to bring out too much attention on the streets, and headed back to Kinokuiya. The line for Danny, while it wasn’t long, still had a decent wait time because it was here that Danny was taking more time to talk to each person, something that makes him feel more down to Earth than most high profile people. While in line I realized that I didn’t have much to really talk to him about besides my cosplay and stuff. Before that happened though we had a quick group shot with everybody which was cool. When it was my turn to talk to Danny, I kind of jumbled for words as usual. I should be used to meeting with Danny, but it’s just a natural reaction I end up having. He asked a bit about my cosplay and how I made it, I also told him ( as I’ve and many people told him before) that his Culture Japan brand is a wonderful way to spread Japanese culture and that I would always support it. I also brought my Mirai Suenaga Nendoroid that I won in the Mirai Suenaga Nendoroid give away a while back. I told him my quick story about how I thought I wasn’t in to win (because I entered late), then got an e-mail saying I did win, saw pictures of signed business cards of winners which did not have my name on any of them that made me think I did not win and that it was a mistake, then getting an e-mail before AX saying that it was sent complete with a picture of the package, then receiving it before bringing the Nendoroid back for him to autograph. Long story short: I won, I lost, I won, I got autographed. I left just around the time it was ending, about 10PM. I didn’t get a chance to go browsing Kinokuniya because I was in cosplay, I didn’t feel like walking around in there in costume. Got back to the hotel at 10:30PM where we started to pack up for home the next day.

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Day 4

Day 4 was suppose to be a chill day, but my nerves with my friends and acquaintances were starting to get to me. After we checked out of the hotel and had breakfast, we headed to the convention center for the last time, mainly for last minute shopping and cosplay shots.

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While I would have liked to stay until around closing ceremonies, because stuff likes to happen then that I like to photograph and be a part of, me and my group ended up leaving as early as 2:30 PM because apparently they wanted to go home already. Once everyone was in the car, we rushed out to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area. After traffic and stuff we arrived back in San Francisco close to midnight, right around when I estimated we’d be back. I dropped off everyone at their own homes and I got home at 12:30 PM where I just ate a bit before going to sleep.

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Throughout the trip, I kept a flexible, optimistic mind about things, but by the end of it I had to face facts: Things just didn’t go as I expected. One of the main reasons why this trip didn’t go so great was the fact that I brought along an older acquaintance who pretty much annoyed the shit out of me. He was like a damm backseat driver the entire time, always reminding me of the time which made me feel that I had to rush when we didn’t need to. I ended up speeding almost the entire trip because of it, putting my other friends in danger when my nerves were on the brink of breaking. Just thinking of it now just makes me want to regret letting him come. Luckily the person I’m referring to here doesn’t have regular access to the internet, nor does he know about this website, so I think I’m safe from him figuring out that I was annoyed with him the entire trip. I was nice to everyone on the trip, but I could only maintain that persona for so long. Once I dropped him off on the late night of Day 4, I sincerely apologized to my other three close friends who came on this trip. It was their first time really going on a trip of this scale and I felt that I made it a pretty bad experience. During a convention, I always see them sort of like a business venture. It’s a place where I can network and do work (photography). Since I’m on the move all the time, it’s hard to keep watch over my tail (my friends) who at times would become bored or tired of the convention and would end up splitting up, going back to the hotel room early, etc. I’d feel bad for them, but at the same time I warned them that this would be the case as this is what I do at conventions. After driving back two of my friends, the last one who I was to drop off had it rough during the trip because he rarely gets out much and the trip itself was like a total culture shock to him. He also got a bit of motion sickness because of my rough driving going back home. As I drove gently back to drop him off at his place, I cried a little. I felt so bad that I brought them along, for their own sake. I felt that when the idea of them coming along came up, it was half-heartily thought of. I felt I convinced them to come just because I thought  things would be good. I was wrong. I learned that for theses trips, it’s best for me to go alone. I don’t want others to be affected by my faults or unexpected events. Anyways, photographers are almost always solo right?

The convention itself was not as great as the previous couple of years I’ve been going to it. For starters, as mentioned, the GOH list was not impressive. It seems to be the case for the Fanime as well. Danny Choo seemed busier than ever which made his my encounters with him not as fun as it was last year. The cosplay at AX at least was pretty good, so at least we had that.

In terms of how much money I spent for this trip, I can tell you I spent much more than I estimated. What really was off the charts was how much I spent on parking. I estimated $60, I think I spent almost $200 on it alone. I wasn’t keeping track of food costs or how much I spent on loot because those were for necessity and enjoyment. The hotel and car rental was the majority of the costs of my trip, but those were partially recuperated by the split playing from the friends and acquaintance.


While it was a pretty crappy trip, I did learn somethings which is always a plus from a failure. Don’t bring people along who are bugging you about every little thing and others who you have to keep watch over all the time. Babysitting is not my thing during a trip like this, or any trip for that matter. Also, watch the amount of things I bring on a trip, because a car can fill up very fast. Try and scout the area a bit more from home so you know where cheaper parking is. Stuff like that.

As for Anime Expo, this year was my worst experience with it out of the three times I have gone. Would I return to Anime Expo again? Probably, because there are still friends I meet at conventions, and cosplays to take photos of. The guest of honor list really needs to improve next year with some notable Japanese voice actresses or something like that. I know I need to expand my list of conventions to go to, as I really only go to AOD, Fanime, and Anime Expo every year. If I had my own car, I’d go to more cons around the Bay Area like Daicon or Anime Destiny. I’d also like to go to ALA, Sakuracon, and PAX Prime as well.

The next couple of events I’ll be attending will be the J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown on July 27 and 28, and Japan Expo which is at the end of August.