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Anime Expo 2016 – Part 1/2

Note: This is a blog post I was supposed to have written literally half a year ago. Due to numerous factors (mainly Black Desert Online, Revelation Online, Project Rem, and procrastination), I did not write this until today. But better late than never I guess, so here it is!

Note: This is part 1/2 of my Anime Expo blog post. See here for part 2


 

Anime Expo (AX) is a four-day anime convention held annually in Los Angeles, California. It is the largest anime convention in North America, with AX2016 attracting over 100,000 attendees (more than four times the attendance we had at Sakura-con 2016). I hadn’t attended Anime Expo since AX2011 (Mikunopolis LA), but this time it was announced that there would be a huge concert called Anisong World Matsuri featuring many popular Japanese anime music artists performing (such as JAM Project, T.M. Revolution, etc.) as well as TeddyLoid, so it was a definite must-go for me. I had also made a second batch of hand-made Fate/Grand Order cards that I was going to be handing out while cosplayed as Gudao, so I was looking forward to the Fate photoshoot and meeting fellow TYPE-MOON fans as well. I had also made a few new Dollfie Dream friends at Dolpa LA 2015 last year and would get another chance to hang out with them again. Last but not least, I going to be attending the con with a couple of friends that I hadn’t met up with in a long time plus the lovely cosplayer Bridget and a few of my MMO guildies who I had never met before, so it was bound to be a fun time.

#Index
Because this was a four-day convention, there were a LOT of things to do and I took a LOT of photos, resulting in quite a long blog post which I’ve broken up into non-sequential sections:
Part 1 (this post):

Part 2 (next post):

If you don’t want to scroll through all the photos, either click on the above anchor links (only works on keripo.com) or just search the page for the section name (including the “#”) and start reading from there.

#General
Arriving in Los Angeles! Lucky for us, the weather was nice that day and throughout the weekend. Except we stayed indoors most of the time so it didn’t really matter :P

First thing first, line up to pick up our pre-reg tickets! There was surprisingly quite a lot of people (AX is one of those large cons where the pre-reg line is always far longer than the walk-in registration line) but the volunteer staff managed to move the line quite smoothly. With such large and ever-increasing numbers each year, it won’t be long before AX organizers will need to start considering line tactics used at even larger events like at Comiket (just kidding! Well kinda, at least maybe not for another 5 years…)


After over an hour of waiting, we finally got our badge and loot bags. They gave us all nice-looking backpack-able bags (mine was advertising Akame ga Kill) containing mostly fliers and the program schedule booklet. Unfortunately the bag was pretty poorly made and I saw a lot of people with ripped bags, but one of my friends brought his backpack so we just stuffed things in there, then went back to the hotel for some good rest in prep for day 1.



The next morning. The crew (minus me, the photographer) gathered for some quick breakfast before heading off for day 1. We were staying at a cheap AirBnB not too far away from the LA Convention Center where the con was hosted, so we just walked over.

The pre-reg badge pickup line was even more ridiculous that morning. Thankfully we had already gotten ours the night before, though we still had to wait outside quite a while just to line up to get INSIDE the convention place.

Some (official?) God Eater cosplayers right inside the entrance, posing beside a giant statue of a Vajra Aragami.

Of course beside the statue was a display of promo stuff and related merchandise. Not gonna lie, I was pretty tempted to enter the lottery for the Alisa Dollfie Dream the year before but ended up passing.

Welcome to Anime Expo 2016, enjoy your stay

Being a four-day event with a decently large group of 5-8 people (depending on the day), proper schedule planning was definitely required. Here’s what I had written down on my phone, but of course schedules never end up working out the way you want them to (and there were plenty of scheduling conflicts), so we ended up skipping/missing half of the events. I ended up missing all the 18+ panels due to conflicts as well as my chance to meet ZUN :(

On one of the days, the CrunchyRoll Live Stage featured real maids flown in from Akihabara’s maiddreamin maid cafe chain. Video of them dancing in the #Videos section at the end

One of the few events that we did manage to squeeze into our schedule was the world premiere of Makoto Shinkai’s now-famous film, ”Kimi no Na wa.” (“your name.”). I’ve been a huge fan of all of the director’s past works (”Place Promised in Our Earlier Days”, ”Voices of a Distant Star”, ”5 centimeters per second”, ”Garden of Words”) so I was going in expecting yet another bittersweet movie. Without spoiling anything, I was definitely blown away by the emotional masterpiece that was “your name”. The best part of it was that during the showing, Makoto Shinkai himself actually walked up and down the aisles (with no one noticing since everyone was too engrossed in the movie) so that he could observe the audience’s reaction in real time while the scenes unfolded on-screen. No pictures were allowed of course, but here’s some from the post-showing interview.

Another big event we attended was the Masquerade, traditionally the largest event of every con (except this year it was the Anisong concert). Super long line-up as expected but we were still able to secure decent seats.

There were a good number of funny skits this year. Here’s a few photos of random skits, with a few videos in the #Videos section at the end of this blog post.



Since food in the convention place was ridiculously expensive, we ate outside/nearby most of the time. Here’s us stopping at a nearby Starbucks while on the way to the Berserk movie premiere (which turned out to be overbooked so didn’t end up seeing it).

Being in LA, definitely had to go get some KBBQ as well! Fun fact: Of the 9 people in this picture, more than half of them are/were members from my old MMO guild RageQuit Inc. So this was (unofficially and unintentionally) the largest RQ offline gathering ever with 5 members present :P (Arri, Sawechi, Cooper, Meix, and myself, Keripo). I think that raised my people-I-finally-meet-IRL-that-I-previously-only-knew-in-game count to 10 or so.

Also got a chance to catch up with a few university buddies while I was in the area


#Merchant’s Hall
First stop was of course the merchant’s hall. The place was pretty huge and had many, many rows of stalls (both industry and local stores) with the artists alley occupying the entire back area. I didn’t really have anything I wanted to buy so I just wandered around taking some photos.



Not gonna lie, if the line weren’t so long, I probably would have lined up for a photo as well (Suu best girl, Papi #2)

I wanted to go run up and hug that Rilakkuma but I probably would have died from embarrassment >_>

Kotobukiya’s stall. Had a few nice Frame Arms on display, but otherwise a pretty small booth.









I have no idea what this was about, but people went on stage and shouted very loudly. Maybe they were trying to go Super Saiyan? xD

Sekai Project booth! While I don’t play any visual novels (Tsukihime is admittedly the only VN I ever completed), I do appreciate a good team working hard on bringing Japanese media to the west. I do regret not pitching in to the Grisaia kickstarter for the wallscroll/daki though :(

Nekopara maid cosplayers :3 One of these days I’ll play the Nekopara VNs. Later that week you’ll probably hear a news report about police finding a young man dead in his apartment, death by cuteness overload. In any case though, I did just recently pitch in together with Tsukikira to the recent Nekopara OVA Kickstarter, mainly because I’m a huge sucker for plushies and really, really wanted the Chocola and Vanilla plushie set.

So when I said there wasn’t anything I wanted to buy from the merchant’s hall I was half lying. Why? Because there was something I wanted, but it wasn’t something material. It was the chance to meet in person and get the autograph of my favourite cosplay group, Spiral Cats (SPCats) from Korea. They were here cosplaying in Dungeon Fighter Online and Overwatch outfits (neither games of which I play) but I didn’t care. I had been a huge fan and follower of theirs for many years and actually have a few posters and photo books thanks to thebobness. Unfortunately my two favourite members, Miyuko (Aza) and Tomia, are no longer part of the group, but their leader Tasha and newer member DoReMi came to Anime Expo to do autographs and take pictures with the fans.



Dorky me on the left, Tasha in the middle, and Doremi on the right.

Here’s the final Polaroid one (they had an official photographer take photos and print them out on-the-spot). On my phone were the Google-translated words “You are pretty, please marry me!” (or something like that) in Korean. The official Polaroid photographer had to do a couple of retakes since Tasha insisted he get the words to show up clearly in the picture. The picture still ended up blurry and unreadable though, but at least I got to see their shy embarrassed faces in person, was well worth =w=

Also got a full set of signed posters (see loot pictures)

After getting the autograph, I wandered around some more and checking out some of the stalls. This one had a huge wall of phone charms and prize figures on display.

This one had an impressive 1/1 scale (PVC?) model of Haruka from 18+ VN Choukou Sennin Haruka

HobbyJapan had a huge block where they were showing off some newer PVC figures. Took a few pictures, but don’t think I’ll ever order from them – AmiAmi’s pre-order discounts are too good :P












Not surprisingly, Fakku (NSFW link) actually had two booths as they were one of the sponsors for AX. Though I admittedly don’t visit Fakku anymore (that’s what sad panda is for), have to respect them for being the first to realize and seize the business opportunity and legitimize themselves here in North America (similar to what happened with Crunchy Roll from their early fansub roots). Here’s their smaller one where they sold T-shirts and other stuff.

And here’s the long-ass line for their main booth where they sold the doujinshis. They were selling a limited edition box set of translated doujinshis from one of the artists I follow, saitom, so I had to line up.

While waiting in line, I managed to spot Jacob, the owner of Fakku, and took a pic with him. He didn’t seem to look too enthusiastic, probably because I wasn’t some cute girl :(

Goods acquired, more photos in the loot section. Apparently due to a communication mistake, rather than sending them one signed box for every set of doujinshis, the printing company sent them one box. A single box. And so we had to write down our emails so they could ship us the box later. No idea how such a hilarious mistake could have happened, but I guess things like that do happen.

Giant Monster Hunter Generations blimb.

One stall had a bunch of dakimakuras on display. Couldn’t resist taking photos of the Monster Musume ones and the Sakamoto one.

Ended up buying a Oshino Shinobu (Bakemonogatari) one. I’m not a fan of peach-skin dakis (nor do I even have space on my bed for it) and I’m 99% sure its a bootleg, but it was only $20 and looked cute so I said what the heck.

Also ended up getting a Shiro (No Game No Life) throw pillow cause the art was really nice and yay for more couch pillows!

DEJA VU! I’ve just been in this place before!

As it turns out, there was also a stall in the corner run by one of my friend’s doujin circle, Mystery Parfait, selling their Touhou-themed card game, “Danmaku”. Picked up a box as well as a poster of Yukari.


#Anisong World Matsuri
As mentioned earlier, the main reason I decided to attend Anime Expo this year was because of Anisong World Matsuri 2016. This would be the first time Anisong would be happening in North America and it actually turned out to be so much of a success that they announced that it will be happening again in 2017 (which I might end up attending as well). Technically there were four concerts: One Punch Matsuri (JAM Project), Love Live Sunshine Event (Aqours), Japan Super Live (Eir Aoi, JAM Project, Luna Haruna, Minami, sphere, T.M.Revolution, Yoko Ishida) and Japan Band Battle (FLOW vs OLDCODEX). We only attended the main one, Japan Super Live, as not everyone was interested in the others (I personally half wanted to see the One Punch Matsuri but there were way too many scheduling conflicts). In any case, I went in with high expectations and was not at all disappointed. Unfortunately I didn’t get too many good photos, but you can take my word in that it was awesome. The unofficial song list can be found here.

Initial setup photos (even though there were assigned seats, we arrived super early)



Opening act with JAM Project. I was shouting ”CHA-LA HEAD CHA-LA!” (Dragon Ball Z OP1) my head off

Luna Haruna looking super cute and singing ”Overfly” (Sword Art Online ED2) and a few others



Luna Haruna and Eir Aoi duet cover of ”MELISSA” (Full Metal Alchemist OP1)

Minami singing ”Shining☆Days” (Mai-HiME), which sadly few people recognized, and a few other songs



Yoko Ishida, wasn’t too interested in the songs she sang though


Minami Kuribayashi and Yoko Ishida duet a cover of ”God Knows” (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). I was jumping up and down pretty hard here while my less-otaku friends were wondering what was going on. Recorded the song with my camera in the #Videos section below, but be warned that it’s super shaky :P

Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, DJ Kazu comes on stage for the interlude and totally kills it with his awesome line-up of both old and new anime songs.

And then the legend, TM Revoluton. Not gonna lie, I screamed like fangirl through all his songs. ”INVOKE” (Gundam SEED OP1), ”Ignited” (Gundam SEED Destiny OP1), ”Resonance” (Soul Eater OP1), ”HEART OF SWORD” (Rurouni Kenshin ED3), ”Preserved Roses” (Valvrave OP1) and ”Kakumei Dualism” (Valvrave OP2).
Holy shit my pants. Pretty much lost my voice by the end of it. I could have died happy right there. Video of “HEART OF SWORD” below in the #Videos section.


Sphere singing a bunch of songs that I didn’t recognize. Their outfits and dances were cute though.




#TeddyLoid
TeddyLoid, a music producer best known for his works in Panty & Stocking (D City Rock”, ”Fly Away” and ”Scanty & Kneesocks Theme”) as well as the more recent ”ME!ME!ME!” (though my favourite is still his ”Mukei Spirit -MUGEN LOOP REMIX-“). Still surprised that he’s only one year older than me… what have I been doing with my life? @_@

Half-way through Sphere’s performance a couple of us left to line up for the TeddyLoid event. Since they held it in a much smaller room meant to be like a club event, there was a long line-up as they let waves of people in and out slowly. We ended up waiting over an hour in line. I was worried I’d be out of it still after TM Revolution, but I was soon proven wrong.=


And here he is!

They had some “specialty cocktails” at the bar in the back. Forgot which one I got but wasn’t all that impressed (as expected).

More TeddyLoid pics. See the #Videos section for some video recordings (with me in the background destroying what little vocal cords I had left)



#Fakku Party
Unfortunately not every night could be TeddyLoid night, so on Sunday we checked out the Fakku party. Having not been able to attend any of the Fakku events the entire con due to schedule conflicts (despite there being so many of them due to Fakku being one of the bigger sponsors for the convention), I had absolutely zero idea of what to expect. Whatever expectations I did have, however, were quickly proven wrong. Rather than some themed ecchi/eroge-related playlist, it seemed to me like a random list of club songs thrown together (most of them weren’t even anime-related). At one point though the DJs did play ”Rewrite” (Full Metal Alchemist OP4), which I found hilarious, but that was it (see the #Video section). The two screens on the side would constantly either flash the word “HENTAI” or show some lewd/NSFW gif on loop, but that was about the only hints that this was happening at an anime convention.

Examples of NSFW gifs looping the background

Spoiler:
“Sisters ~Natsu no Saigo no Hi~” if you’re wondering

There were quite a lot of people though, with an impromptu mosh pit did form at one point (but people were super careful that no one got hurt), and my non-anime friends who tagged along were having fun so we stayed for a while. Personally would have preferred more TeddyLoid, but that’s just me :P



#Kill la Kill Photoshoot
There were tons of large photoshoots at Anime Expo but with the limited time we had, we only attended two: Kill la Kill and Fate. Kill la Kill because it was the very first anime for one of my friends who was with us (ironically I was also the one who introduced him to anime… not sure if I should feel happy or regret :P)

Starting off with some Kill la Kill group photos!


The Ryoukos

The Satsuki-samas

The Makos


The Elite Four (minus Houka Inumuta)

Nuuuudist Beach

Senketsu!

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

The Mankanshoku family


Kneel before Satsuki-sama

Satsuki-samas vs Ryoukos

OTP?

Best friends?

I’d ship it

Maybe?

No.

Final group photo

Blog post continues in part 2 here

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