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

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 September 1, 2017

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 010

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

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

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


Day 1 – August 25th

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 039

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 055

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

——

Day 2 – August 26th

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 066
The second day started almost like the first, but I avoided potential traffic by taking the 280 instead. We arrived at CRX at around 4:30pm and split up shortly after so that I can go around to take photos while my other friends wander the con. At 6PM we meet up to grab some dinner at the food trucks that were posted on the side of the convention. There wasn’t many options, but it was better than nothing. I got myself some Korean chicken “rice bowl” that didn’t have rice due to the truck not having any more rice. Despite that, the chicken was quite good, just wish I had rice, that would of made it more filling. There was some events that each of us wanted to check out at around this time: My friends wanted to go to the screening of Lastman, a french animation about a magical boxer…. apparently.

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 108

Crunchyroll Expo 2017 113

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

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


Overall Thoughts

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