jump to navigation

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 September 8, 2019

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 001

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

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

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


Day 1 – Friday, August 30th

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 003

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 013

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 017

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 019

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 010

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 050

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 056

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

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

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

 

Day 2 – Saturday, August 31st

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 067

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 086

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 107

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 109

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 120

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 128

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

Day 3 – Sunday, September 1st

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 130

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

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 155

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 159

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

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

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 168

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

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

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

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

 


Extra thoughts and Conclusion

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 178

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

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

Crunchyroll Expo 2019 006

Program guide for CRX 2019 as a newspaper.

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

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

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

FanimeCon 2019 June 2, 2019

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

FanimeCon 2019 461

FanimeCon 2019 took place May 24th – 27th at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. FanimeCon is an anime convention “by fans, for fans”. I’ve been attending this anime convention since 2011, and I do intend to attend it annually as long as I’m able to, as it is one of my favorite cons around.

For all of my photos taken at the con, please check out my Flickr set FanimeCon 2019.


Day 1 – May 24th

FanimeCon 2019 001

Day 1 started with me waking up at around 7am, a time I’ve been used to waking up to due to work. I aimed to get to the con by 10am, and since it takes about an hour to drive down to San Jose I planned to leave SF no later than 9am. I had all my stuff ready to go the night before, so after a quick bite to eat and putting everything in my car, I set off.

FanimeCon 2019 005

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

FanimeCon 2019 010

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

FanimeCon 2019 080

FanimeCon 2019 185

FanimeCon 2019 174

After the ceremony concluded, I checked out the Dealer’s Hall. Besides the usual vendors of anime merchandise, towards the back were some food vendors. We had Okamoto Kitchen, Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Soda Pop, and Psycho Donuts, a local specialty donuts shop. There was also Hirotako Co., a Takoyaki stand who also seemed to operate the neighboring Giant Baby Bottle, where they were selling 1 gallon sized baby bottles filled with organic fruit drinks that you could get unlimited refills for for $30. I saw that they lowered their price later on in the weekend to $25 because sales were probably slow.

FanimeCon 2019 189

Most of the day I was either scouting around for photo taking, or taking a break at the anime viewing rooms. I picked up dinner at Okamoto Kitchen as I had a dollar off coupon for them. I didn’t know how much their bentos were until I got to the cashier. For about $15 you get this, which wasn’t too bad but the size is quite small.

FanimeCon 2019 078

FanimeCon 2019 192

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

FanimeCon 2019 194

Day 2 – May 25th

FanimeCon 2019 200

For Day 2, I had a friend riding with me to Fanime. We arrived at the con area at around 10am. The plan for parking was to park at a garage located at the Peggy Sue’s Diner, as they had free parking with validation during the weekend. Unlike last year where (I thought) the garage was blocked by a running event called The Color Run, it didn’t seem to happen this year so parking there was easy. In case that the running event did take place, I found out that there are multiple entrances/exits to that garage that I could use, but luckily I didn’t need to go to those this time. We ate breakfast at Peggy Sue’s Diner and afterwards headed to the con.

FanimeCon 2019 214

FanimeCon 2019 209

FanimeCon 2019 211

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

FanimeCon 2019 227

FanimeCon 2019 276

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

FanimeCon 2019 292

FanimeCon 2019 319

FanimeCon 2019 323

FanimeCon 2019 331

FanimeCon 2019 374

FanimeCon 2019 389

FanimeCon 2019 400

FanimeCon 2019 429

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

FanimeCon 2019 436

Day 3 – May 26th

FanimeCon 2019 439

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

FanimeCon 2019 050

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

FanimeCon 2019 452

FanimeCon 2019 470

FanimeCon 2019 504

FanimeCon 2019 517

FanimeCon 2019 530

FanimeCon 2019 550

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

FanimeCon 2019 556

FanimeCon 2019 554

FanimeCon 2019 555

FanimeCon 2019 558

FanimeCon 2019 560

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

Day 4 – May 27th

FanimeCon 2019 563

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

FanimeCon 2019 571

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

FanimeCon 2019 629

FanimeCon 2019 599

FanimeCon 2019 622

FanimeCon 2019 651

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

FanimeCon 2019 679


Afterwords and Overall Thoughts

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

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

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

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.