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 second 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 1, 11:30am)
What started out (probably) as a joke on the AX TYPE-MOON Fate gathering Discord ended up being a real thing. That’s right, Fate characters in bunny suits. And it turned out exactly as you’d expect it: hilarious and full of good fun and a great start to day 1.
Fate Photoshoot #1:
(Day 2: 3:00pm)
The first Fate photoshoot of AX was unfortunately the most problematic. Not only was it hosted by the flaky photographer, but it overlapped with the official Fate cosplay gathering hosted by ACP and Aniplex in the exhibitor’s hall (which would require re-entering LineCon 2019 since all cosplay photo areas are located outside of the convention center). The plan was as follows: hang around the area and give the original organizer a chance to appear and lead the photoshoot. If she didn’t show up 5 minutes past the time of the original gathering start time, we would start redirecting Fate cosplayers/photographers to go attend the official ACP one so that they’d at least be able to go home that day with some of the photos that they were hoping to take that day. If she did show up though, we would go ahead and let her run the show as she wanted and just politely offer assistance if needed.
I ended up arriving early to the Fate photoshoot since the Azur Lane one was cut short/ended early due to some panel conflict. By the time I arrived (~2:40pm), there was already a sizeable crowd of cosplayers and photographers there, but no sight or known whereabouts of the original organizer.
As expected, by the time the photoshoot was supposed to start, the organizer was MIA and no one in the crowd had heard any updates from her. Per original plan, we waited another 5 minutes before starting to redirect people back into the convention center to the ACP booth’s Fate gathering at 3:30pm.
I continued to hang around the area asking people who showed up late if they were the organizer and, upon hearing negatives, redirected them to the ACP gathering. This went on for another 20 minutes before I abandoned ship and went back inside to hang around the Yostar booth some more. Anime Expo, please, get your shit together next time. Don’t irresponsibly allow random people with a history of no-showing to cock-block actual responsible organizers from properly running photoshoots for one of the largest fandoms at anime conventions. [/not-sarcasm, lowkey upset at AX]
Fate Photoshoot #2:
(Day 3: 1:00pm)
The second Fate photoshoot was also hosted by the same no-show organizer as the first one, and her expected consistency of no-showing was quickly confirmed by reports that she also no-showed for an earlier League of Legends photoshoot that she signed up for. Since this shoot didn’t overlap with the ACP one and it was during noon of Day 3 (e.g. expected high turnout), our fallback plan this time was to actually go ahead and take over leading the photoshoot (with permission of the attendees of course) if it was another no-show.
After giving the original host a healthy 15 minute window to announce herself, we informed everyone of the plan and, with the permission of the gathered crowd, the photoshoot went under way, starting with the initial all-together large group shot!
And of course the obligatory Carnival Phantasm opening dance!
Now that that’s out of the way, we went through the normal routine of photos. Starting off with series, then by class, then by Servant/Master pairings, then whatever.
We started off here with Fate/Zero
“Non-Fate series”. One day…
Fate Photoshoot #3:
(Day 3: 8:00pm)
The third and final Fate photoshoot was the “main” photoshoot organized by us. Despite the unfortunate late time of it (we had to push it back to avoid conflicts with last minute event announcements from Aniplex that we knew most Fate fans would attend, such as the FGO USA Tour panel), it turned out to be the largest Fate gathering of the weekend with almost 100 Fate cosplayers participating (by rough visual estimates). There was also one minor issue with this shoot which was that the AX staff had placed the “Cosplay Gathering Site #2” sign in the wrong place (e.g. up the stairs inside the convention center instead of outside by the stairs where there was actual room) and as attendees we were not allowed to touch the sign. We were promised by AX staff that morning that they would move it, but of course they didn’t, so I had to stand by the sign once again redirecting people to the right location up until 5 minutes after the shoot start time.
When I did leave my post and go back to join in the main crowd (and boy was it a huge crowd), it looks like the photoshoot had already started so I had missed all the by-series photos. But it was fine cause it looked like everything else was running smoothly and well underway.
Fken precious gold right here. Glorious. Right after the Berserker photo callout, the cute Frankenwaifu started AHHHHH!ing at the Lancelot who in turn also AHHHHHHH’d back. This went on for a good minute or so and everyone loved it. Click the video thumbnail for 1000% preciousness.
Frankenwaifu x Mordred fist-bump
After the successful photoshoot, the main organizer SargentJY from the Facebook group invited me and a few others still hanging around at the shoot for ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. 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!). Regardless though, it was a great end of the day and nice end to a job well done. Despite all the craziness, I genuinely enjoyed the experience of helping out with running photoshoots and can definitely see myself getting involved again if I come back to AX next year.
Here’s a few random individual shots of Fate cosplayers I took throughout the convention outside of the photoshoots.
Selfie with cosplayer NatsumiLouise in her adorable TamamoCat meido cosplay – unfortunately I forgot to take a full picture of her cosplay :(
Perfect cosplays don’t exi—- HOLY FK THIS PERFECT FRANKENWAIFU!
Please marry me Cosplay Alice <3
And that wraps up Part 2 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!