It’s been a while since I’ve written an anime convention blog post (since AX2016, I’ve just been creating Flickr albums for every event I attend, writing a short Facebook blurb, and calling it good) but due to the higher-than-normal number of photos I took this year, I decided to go ahead and write one. Another reason for this was that this year’s AX experience was a bit different than past ones.
First off, there was no Anisong Matsuri this year, which was arguably the biggest draw for me to the convention after losing my voice screaming like a fangirl at TM Revolution at AX2016. Rumors say this was due to mismanagement mishaps on the AX organizational committee that resulted in the failed booking the Microsoft Theatre. This supposedly led to a chain of impacts, one of which included the disastrous day 1 LineCon experience. Aniplex also last-minute announced a bunch of their panels and events, resulting in a bunch of scheduling conflicts. Volks USA also no-showed this year (apparently due to staffing issues), cancelling both their booth and panel. This combined with schedule conflicts lead me to decide (for the first time in a long time) not to bring Arcueid with me, resulting in no Dollfie Dream photos this year. And with the clusterfuck that was the schedule, I decided that the focus of this AX would instead be on the community: making new friends and meeting old ones, attending cosplay photoshoots, and taking lots of photos.
Selfie with beautiful SPCats cosplayers Tasha and Doremi
Selfie with cosplayer NatsumiLouise in her adorable TamamoCat meido cosplay
The second thing that was different about this year’s AX was the Fate photoshoots (which, as a hardcore TYPE-MOON fan, I am obligated to always attend). Due to some scheduling stupidity on AX’s side, an individual photographer was allowed to schedule not one but two Fate photoshoots despite having a history of no-shows to photoshoots she scheduled in previous years and also despite the fact that there was a well established Anime Expo TYPE-MOON/Fate Gathering Facebook group that usually organizes this particular photoshoot. Attempts to contact this photographer to coordinate turned out fruitless (it seems she just wanted the title of “being in charge” without actually putting in any of the work) and the AX staff point of contact chose to stick with their “first come first serve” policy. The result was the group having to schedule a third Fate photoshoot and formulate a backup plan for the first two expected no-shows just to make sure no Fate cosplayers would be left hanging. One way or another, I ended up volunteering to help out with this photoshoot coordination efforts, which was a new experience to me as I had only previously participated as an attendee that was part of the crowd. I also, as a last minute whimsical decision, went ahead and created a life-sized stand of Sasaki Kojirou. I was originally thinking of creating a cardboard cut-out like in the Carnival Phantasm scene I was referencing but I realized that a roll-up banner poster + stand would be far more durable and re-usable in future anime conventions. This AX would be his debut appearance, hopefully the first of many. Long live Regend, savior of France!
The third and biggest thing to me about this year was that this was the first North American anime convention that game publisher Yostar would be attending. Yostar is the North American publishers of the popular shipwaifu mobile game Azur Lane that I am currently playing (and really enjoying). I had previously cosplayed as an Azur Lane Shikikan (commander) at Sakura-con 2019 as my backup cosplay (my original cosplay plan of Lord Grim from King’s Avatar didn’t get finished in time) and I usually have a policy of only wearing cosplays once. But when I heard Yostar was attending, my Shikikan backup cosplay suddenly became my main cosplay (with an upgrade of a nice pair of swag sunglasses). Of course I wouldn’t be the only one thinking of attending in Azur Lane cosplay. The number of AL cosplayers at Sakura-con earlier this year was pretty small but I knew there’d be plenty at AX (plus a photoshoot and planned dinner with other AL players on Discord) so I was definitely looking forward to taking many pics.
The following is the first part of my 3-part blog post covering my AX2019 experience. It’s a pretty long post so I’ve included anchor links to the various sections below. Links to all the Flickr albums and the other two parts of the AX2019 blog posts can be found in the Links section at the end. Happy reading!
Day 0: Arrival
The flight to LA was nothing really special for me. Took an early morning flight there (crashed at my friend/con roommate’s place the night before since I knew I wouldn’t otherwise wake up in time), managed to somehow catch up on sleep on the 3hr flight departing from SeaTac airport, then arrived safely at LAX airport with all luggage accounted for (there apparently was some delay at the gate but I slept through it). After arrival, we headed straight to the hotel, then met up with some friends for lunch as planned.
Lunch at Curry House CoCo Ichibanya! Unfortunately there was no Azur Lane x CoCo collab ongoing at the time, sadface
Chicken cutlet omelette with a Jumbo Thai tea. Normally I’m not a fan of Indian curry (or rather, my stomach doesn’t seem to handle spices that well) but Japanese curry is pretty mild and I had no troubles with it. The thai ice tea though was a bit too much and I ended up not being able to finish it all xD
Heading back to the convention center. Looks like Aniplex advertisements were out in full force, with banners for the newly EN released Magia Record (Madoka spin-off mobile game) all over the place.
The Resident Inn hotel where I’d be staying at over the next few days, conveniently right across the street from the LA Convention Center. With some bonus
pomf pomf PONPONPON
After unpacking at the hotel, we decided to head over to the convention center to pick up our swag bags. As it turns out though, only premiere badge and pre-show strap holders could pick up their swag bags on day 0. Luckily, I had a pre-show badge (in the event there would be a concert or something interesting on day 0, but alas), so I joined in on what would be just a small preview of day 1’s Line Con disaster.
Swag bag get! Actually, it was a pretty sad and empty swag bag that just contained the main programming pamphlet, an FGO USA Tour lanyard, and a slightly-better-than-those-shitty-Crunchyroll-sacks bag.
Being day 0, it was pretty empty inside (as expected). We had a bit of time to kill before dinner so we hit up the entertainment hall that was right near the West Hall entrance that we went in through
It was a good thing we did that cause the FGO Duel booth was ready and open! They were giving out special limited edition holographic FGO Duel promo cards to all those who play tested the game at AX, and I really wanted to get my hands on a Gilgamesh one. Since we knew this would probably be the shortest line the entire weekend, into the line we went!
They were also handing out the FGO Player Guide 2019 to everyone in line. I don’t actively play FGO anymore (gave my NA account away to a F2P friend) but it was a nice booklet to add to my TYPE-MOON collection.
Free sticker for those who had the FGO game installed. I literally just started downloading the game right there and then for the sticker, showed the booth girls my screen, got my sticker, then proceeded to uninstall the game. Please no telling on me :P
Back to the FGO Duel game itself, there were a couple tables set up for it and cards/play piece figures already set up. Attendees would just be randomly assigned a deck/setup and taught the rules if you were not familiar. Gameplay involved moving your Servant pieces across the board, then attacking each other using the cards you drew.
When it came time for me to sit down at a table, I of course opted to go on the side with Gilgamesh. Note that the skill cards haven’t finished being translated yet so we were instructed to play the game without Servant skill usage. Apparently that’s a pretty important aspect of gameplay but this was just for fun anyway so we didn’t really care.
The game was actually somewhat interesting but the gameplay rules were completely different from that of the Fate/Grand Order mobile game despite still using Buster/Arts/Quick cards. I was extremely disappointed to learn that there was no Berserker bonus for example. RIP Buster Berserker Brave chains.
I actually didn’t end up finishing the game since my party had to head out to catch our KBBQ dinner reservation, but the booth staff gave me a card anyway. And of course I got Arturia. Useless Servant
On the way out, I spotted the Azur Lane shuttle bus. Owarida!
The KBBQ place ended up not having enough space for our reservation so we split and a bunch of us went to some random nearby “Brazilian” restaurant. Not sure what made it Brazilian but looked like pretty standard assortment of ‘Murican food here and there xD
Back at the hotel, there was an [email protected] Cinderella Girls itasha parked outside featuring the Triad Primus girls.
Day 1: LineCon 2019
Year after year, Anime Expo is by far the largest anime convention in North America, with over 100,000 unique visitors for the past 3 years and 115,000 unique visitors for AX2019 (according to Wikipedia). So you would think that, as the largest, they would have figured out the whole scaling thing, right? Unfortunately not as day 1 of AX2019 was a total disaster and literally LineCon 2019. According to rumors (which I won’t cite for the protection of the sources), there were lots of “cost cutting” in the volunteer staff department due to the whole Anisong fuck-up, and some of the volunteer staff that were cut were the ones in charge of line management. Go figure. In any case, the result was an incoherent mess of zig-zagging and intersecting lines that had no clear start or end and sometimes even looped into each other at the scale of tens of thousands of impatient otakus (half of which were in cosplay as well). Lines that went up stairs, then back down, into the garage, then back out, back-forth a few times, around the entire Staples Center building, then back to the start. Even the premiere badge line was hell from what I heard, taking over 2hrs just to get in. For me, it took 3hrs, but I think this was because I was lucky and got into one of the lines that somehow merged into the actual entrance line, but others were not so lucky and I heard horror stories of 6hrs of waiting in line. Thankfully it was overcast skies that morning, but still, the level of chaos and disorganization made me feel like the LineCon experience was even worse than Comiket.
My first target though was the Yostar booth. I didn’t actually need to buy anything there (since my premiere badge friends were able to grab stuff for me earlier) but I wanted to take pics of the booth cosplayers and meet up with some fellow Azur Lane players from Discord, as well as of course snap a pic with Intern-kun while in my Shikikan cosplay. All of this was accomplished; see my Part 3: Azur Lane blog post.
My second target was the IdeaFactory booth, which was promoting Azur Lane Crosswave and selling a bunch of Azur Lane merchandise. I also didn’t actually need to buy anything there (thank you again premiere badge friends) but I was looking to take more photos; see my Part 3: Azur Lane blog post.
In addition to AL cosplayers, there was also an Azur Lane-themed itasha Lamborghini on display.
Despite having lined up for 3hrs outside to get into the con, I had to leave almost immediately to meet up with my cousin and her family for lunch. Unsurprisingly, it was still LineCon 2019 hell at that time (a bit before 1pm)
I was originally planning on attending the Cencoroll 2 premiere but after seeing the LineCon that was the morning and knowing the line for Cencoroll 2 would be pretty packed, I opted to skip out and just head back into the convention (will just have to watch it later in theatres or whatnot). This time around I headed straight to the South entrance. Which surprisingly had a very short line. Not sure if this was due to it being a lesser known entrance or due to the lines finally dying down after most of the people got in/gave up. Probably the latter.
Back to the Yostar booth, just in time for the raffle draw. They fked up hard on day 1 by handing out all the raffle tickets to premiere badge holders giving regular badge holders no chance at all (they changed this on day 2 by doing 50/50), but I was lucky enough that someone in Discord was willing to give me theirs.
On the other side of the FGO Duel booth was the FGO USA Tour stage. Apparently there was some actual FGO max damage challenge thing that was being hosted there, but I just wandered around taking photos of the cut-out stands
DISNEY WENT MOE??? (note: the PV shown at the booth is different from the official trailer and sadly I can’t find it online anywhere)
Here’s a video of part of the PV they were showing. The best part: the background music is one of my favourite Perfume’s songs: Electroworld
Directly across from Doki Doki Coding Club was the booth for VR KARESHI! That’s right, we got VR Kanojo (VR Girlfriend), so why not VR Kareshi (VR Boyfriend)?!?! The gender equality here was strong! Unfortunately demos were done for the day, but I definitely would have tried it otherwise xD
Suiseiseki and Souseiseki <3 Brings back memories of this timeless classic (desu~)
Also in the Exhibitor’s hall was the Good Smile Company’s Nendoroid #1000 Celebration Exhibition where they had every single regular-sized Nendoroid ever manufactured on display. Here’s a few pics from the exhibit; the rest can be seen in the Flickr album.
Here’s Nendo #000 and #001, the original Neco-Arcs! (mispelt as “Neko Arc” on the displays). A bit disappointed they didn’t include the Neco-Arc ~Deka Ver~ but was still nice seeing the first on display.
The Miku Nendoroid #033, the first of many to come
Ultimate Neco-Arc #120!
After the first 300, they switched the display case style to be shown as two rows (probably cause those acrylic stands are pretty expensive). They also switched to cheaper compact florescent lights which flickered at a rate that made all my phone camera pics show up with vertical orange stripes like seen below :(
Nendoroid #1000 was, of course, yet another Snow Miku. No surprises here xD
And, since it was also July 4th (US Independence Day), fireworks watching was obligated (even though I’m Canadian xD). I ended up joining some of my friends ontop their AirBnB apartment building’s rooftop pool area to watch while drinking the night away.
Day 2: Of Hangovers and Photoshoots
Despite usually being a heavy drinker and self-proclaimed alcoholic, I made the noob mistake of drinking on an empty stomach (we ended up skipping dinner yesterday to catch the fireworks) so I was pretty hung over the next day and ended up sleeping through the one and only panel that I had actually planned into my schedule, aka the “Azur Lane Behind the Scenes” panel. Instead, I just spent the entire day attending the Azur Lane photoshoot (see the Part 3: Azur Lane blog post) and the first Fate photoshoot (see the Part 2: Fate blog post), then wandering around taking photos of cosplayers here and there (see “Cosplayers” section later on in this blog post).
The one other event I had on my schedule for the day was the premiere of Trigger’s new Promare movie. But one look at the wait line said no chance xD
So I wandered the merchant’s hall and exhibitor’s hall some more and took pictures of cosplayers and also get stopped to have my picture taken of (I’m no cute cosplay girl so I can only assume people really just wanted a pic of the Unicorn daki xD). I did spot this sweet Toyota AE86 Trueno on display though.
Day 3: Moar Photoshoots
Day 3 was more or less the same as day 2 for me. Passed on the Nekopara TV premiere in favour of a bit more sleep (apparently I should have gone though cause the line was short), went to the second and third Fate photoshoots with some more wandering and cosplayer photo-taking in between, then ended the day with a late-night ramen dinner with some Fate Discord people.
The root beer at Wild Bill’s was pretty nice and smooth. I’d rank it an 8 on my Unlimited Root Beer Works list. Also tried out all the other flavours. The Sarsaparilla was decent. The others just tasted like average soda of their type.
Ending the day with ramen and gyozas at Daikokuya with new Fate gathering friends. We waited almost 3hrs in line outside for seats (for our party of 7) and still ended up being seated separately. The ramen was absolutely delicious though, but not sure if it was due to actually being delicious or just the hunger from the wait (probably a combination of both). Still doesn’t beat that one super-rich-broth’d ramen I had in Waseda, Japan during my 2012 Japan trip though (really need to visit that place again!)
Day 4: Artists Alley and Goodbyes
Day 4 was the last day of con with the only item on my schedule being the premiere of the Bunnygirl Senpai movie. Like on the day before, I ended up deciding not to bother with lining up for it, especially since it was being hosted in a room with a max capacity of 200 people and there were over 500 people who had added the event to their schedule in the AX2019 app. Turns out, it was a good idea because not a single regular badge holder was able to get in; even half of the premiere badge holders were turned away xD
GreenTeaNeko had a stall there too! I picked up a copy of MonGirl Vol 2 and got their autograph on the front. This was also their first time in North America and the first time seeing the real face behind GreenTeaNeko. And the gender reveal is……. a secret :P
Also picked up an adorable Kanna throw pillow and a plush Masterball. For the day I find the one I want to catch :>
Last meal before I headed off to the airport to fly back to Seattle. I wanted to try out an Impossible Burger but they were out so I got a Beyond Burger instead. Tasted pretty decent. Could definitely tell the difference between it and real beef, but it definitely still tasted good on its own right (just a bit chewier and softer than I expected)
Here’s a partial photo dump of individual shots of random cosplayers I saw across the 5 days I was at the con. See Flickr for the complete album.
TAICHIIIII!!! Right in the childhood! Pretty hyped about the just-announced Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna movie that’ll feature this icon duo from Digimon Adventures.
Boogiepop <3 The anime OP song “shadowgraph” by Myth & Roid sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it
RIP Princess Euphemia. ALL HAIRU BRITANNIA!
My Hero Academia group shot. UNITED STATES OF SMASH!
Today’s menu for the Kobayashi family: a healthy dose of chu-chu-yeah!
Mixed into the crowd I spotted Tasha and Doremi from Korean cosplay group Spiral Cats! I had met them in person previously at AX2016 but was nice seeing them again (and once again not recognizing their cosplay xD).
Also managed to catch my new friend NatsumiLouise outside in her TamamoCat meido cosplay. Wish I had take a full photo of her though cause it was super cute. She later changed into an Azur Lane Kaga cosplay – see the Part 3: Azur Lane blog post.
Mini loot boxes from the Yostar booth (they’re actually just empty boxes that used to contain stuff my con roommates bought from the Yostar booth but I thought they were pretty neat so I asked him to let me keep em xD)
Fken adorable Kanna throw pillow from a booth in the Artist Alley (forgot the artist’s name, sorry!). The booth actually had a ton of really cute throw pillows and I was split between this one and a couple others. On hindsight, should have just bought them all xD
Shiny Gilgamesh card from the FGO Duel booth. Zasshu!
MonGirl Vol 2 bought from GreenTeaNeko‘s booth in the Artist Alley. Also signed by the artist :)
The Sandy towel became a Sandy banner atop my TV. To remind me every day that she is NUMBA WAN!
The Gilgamesh card (alongside a Quartz pin bought from the Aniplex booth) joined the collection various other FGO cards (including my custom hand-made Berserker Arcueid)
And that wraps up Part 1 of my three-part Anime Expo 2019 blog posts. Make sure to check out the other two parts via the links below. Thanks for reading!