After three weeks since my last post announcing a semi-hiatus for the blog, I’m back today with my coverage of my now ninth time at America’s biggest anime convention, Anime Expo…
I have to admit that as the years have gone by, I’m finding myself taking it easier and easier at Anime Expo. Last year, despite staying all five days, I didn’t attend many major panels or events and spent more time just hanging out with friends and relaxing in the gaming room. And this year, that’s pretty much all I did. I think it’s due to a mix of getting older and finding interest in simpler things like playing games with friends that I don’t get to see very often due to my now busy adult life, the con itself becoming more and more crowded each year, making me want to stay away from all but my most must-see events, and the fact that I’m not quite as obsessed with anime as I used to be. But regardless, I still did some notable things, the biggest being the Evangelion 20th anniversary event that I’ll get to on Day 4. But overall, it was a very chill AX and I enjoyed it that way.
Day 2 – Fri. July 3rd
Found these Pokemon Breeders on my first day. Those are actual moving puppets!
Since I have a new full-time job, I didn’t try to get Thursday (Day 1) off. Going three days was good enough for me (Friday was a holiday due to 4th of July falling on a Saturday this year). From what I was hearing, after the nightmare registration lines from last year, AX implemented a new system for getting people their badges that worked really well. Pretty much everyone got their badges within minutes, myself included, which was amazing compared to basically every other AX. The only drawback is that the badges are no longer personalized with every attendees’ name, but it’s a small price to pay for not having to wait in line for hours!
I wasted no time jumping into the Exhibit Hall madness!
All I intended to do on Day 2 was do my full perusal of the Exhibit Hall and Artist Ally and buy whatever goodies I wanted. I spent about three or so hours in there, but didn’t end up spending as much as I usually do. My haul was…
A box of Fate/Stay Night UBW Weiss Schwarz cards. This is one of the newer Weiss sets and one I’m interested in trying out. I haven’t bought new cards in a while, but now that I have income coming in again, I’m excited about making a Fate UBW deck! ;)
To go with my new cards, I bought a Fate/Stay Night card box and an Angel Beats! card deck box (I didn’t really need the latter but I couldn’t resist the gorgeous artwork!)
A couple of goodies from Artist Alley – a Vaporeon keychain that a friend of mine got me since she knows the artist who made them, and a fan for Five Nights at Freddy’s (an indie horror game I like).
And lastly, my biggest purchase of the con, an awesome Mega Rayquaza plushie! It was between him and a giant Wailord plush, but in the end I decided I’d be more likely to find a place in my room for Rayquaza. He’s quite big – he’s about as long as my leg when fully stretched out – and he’s bendable. I was wearing him around my neck after I bought him and he got a lot of looks and compliments XD
Speaking of Mega Rayquaza, I found this guy cosplaying him, with the same plushie XD
After I finished shopping, I met up with some friends to eat and then spent the rest of the night in the gaming room. My friend and I played Pokemon and Weiss Schwarz games with each other and with random people we met, and we even helped a newbie Weiss player build a deck. Since I wasn’t staying overnight that day and was carpooling with friends who were staying late, I didn’t get home until almost 2am (I’m not a night person, so for me that’s really late!) It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have to get up at 7am the following morning to be picked up by my boyfriend to head back to the con for Day 3. But the excitement overcame my lack of sleep, which was good XD
Day 3 – Sat. July 4th
Got hit with nostalgia when I found Metal Sonic along the way!
The only event I was planning to attend on Day 3 was the Weiss Schwarz tournament put on by Bushiroad, that started at 1pm. I was actually staying overnight at one of the AX hotels with another friend and her group, so I had to take some time in the morning to drop off my suitcase there and grab a bite to eat. My other friend attended the tournament with me and…I sucked pretty bad XD I was using one of my Angel Beats! decks and got really close in one game, lost two, and got a by with two more due to my opponents not showing up (it was a free tournament, so no-shows were to be expected). I know I’ve greatly improved over the years as a competitive Pokemon VGC player and can often hold my own against even champion players, but as for competitive Weiss Schwarz…eh, I still need work =P
At least we got some nice freebies for attending the tournament – a Bushiroad bag, pen, and random anime sleeves XD
After the Weiss tournament, I hung out with friends for a while longer before heading back to the gaming room with them to play more Pokemon and Weiss (guess that’s what I really wanted to do at AX this year XD)
As the picture above shows, there was a concert on Day 3 for IA, one of the popular Vocaloids. Like the Evangelion event I was going to on Day 4, this was a special ticketed event that you had to pay for (about $50 depending on your seating tier). Which leads me to one of the worst AX screw-ups I’ve seen in a while, which didn’t happen to me, but to one of my friends. The picture above was printed in the AX guidebook that everyone got, clearly stating the IA concert was from 8pm to 11pm. My friend is a huge fan and was naturally planning to attend the concert, buying his ticket online beforehand and spending the previous two AX days buying IA merchandise like shirts and CDs. He was totally hyped for the concert, and when my boyfriend and I left him as he headed over there that evening while we chilled in the gaming room, we were surprised to see him come back just a little while later…and told us that the concert was at 3pm, so he’d missed it! He was devastated and I was just furious that they did something like that and didn’t even email the people who bought the tickets to tell them of the change, or make any big announcement about it. He said about twelve other people had come to the concert room at 8pm as well only to find that the time in the book was wrong and they’d wasted $50. So yeah, that was extremely messed up, and if any of you guys who went to AX and know how/why this issue happened and if anything is being done about it, let me know!
An amazing Good Smile display showcasing all 500 of their Nendoroids
After chilling a bit more in the gaming room, I headed back to my hotel early to try and catch up on the sleep I didn’t get the night before. I was in bed a little after midnight, but unfortunately I had a bout of insomnia and couldn’t sleep much again…probably due to my not being used to sharing a room with a bunch of people, something I haven’t done since AX 2007. I’m already a light sleeper as it is, so yeah, sharing a room with more than one or two other people just isn’t for me. I’m just getting too old that too I guess XD
Day 4 – Sun. July 5th
Despite wanting to sleep in, I ended up getting up around 7:30am on Day 4. I was really hungry and craving decent food since I hadn’t been eating great the past couple of days, so I decided to splurge and get the expensive hotel breakfast buffet. It was so delicious…totally worth it! The Evangelion event was from 1:30 to 3:30, and since I had pre-bought my ticket that had a specific seat number, I didn’t need to get there super early (and unlike the IA event, the time was actually printed on the tickets, so AX couldn’t screw that up!) So I took my time heading back to the con and ran into my friend Spoon in the gaming room. There was an exhibit for doing origami cranes to hang up, and he was struggling with trying to make one. I’ve done origami before but was totally out of practice. We spent almost an hour trying to get our cranes right XD
Where everyone’s cranes were displayed
Around 12:45 I headed over to the room where the Evangelion event was going to be held and lined up a little before 1. They let everyone in soon after.
My fairly decent seat inside the event room. Unfortunately photos and video recording weren’t allowed once the event started, so I can’t do much more other than tell you guys how it was. Going by the event description, all I knew was that Yoko Takahashi, famous for singing the Evangelion opening “Cruel Angel Thesis,” was going to do a concert, and there was going to be something with voice actors and cosplay. They didn’t specify Japanese or English voice actors, but after seeing all the Bang Zoom! ads playing on screen while everyone was taking their seats, I had a feeling it was just the dub actors. I was fine with that actually since I watched the Evangelion dub a lot back in the day and grew to like it. Even by today’s standards, it’s pretty decent.
After the MC said a few words, the event began with, what else…Yoko Takahashi! She was wearing an interesting outfit with horns and wings, very reminiscent of Maleficent. She of course sang “Cruel Angel Thesis” as well as “Fly Me to the Moon” and some non-Eva songs. She unfortunately didn’t sing the one other song I wanted to hear that she does, the first ending for Shakugan no Shana, “Yowake Umare Kuru Shojo,” but oh well. An amazing cellist and dancers performed with her too, which was cool. After that, three of the voice actors came on the stage: Tiffany Grant (Asuka), Amanda Win Lee (Rei), and the guy who did the vocalizations for Evangelion 01 who’s name I unfortunately can’t remember. Spike Spencer (Shinji) and John Swasey (Gendo) were supposed to attend as well but weren’t able to, so they left us a funny video message which we viewed on the big screen. Then the MC invited a few people from the audience to try dubbing a few lines from Evangelion with the voice actors’ help. They did very well considering how many people they were performing in front of! Then there was the cosplay event where cosplayers who had gotten invites in advance came to the stage and the audience voted on which one we liked the best. The winner had a full-on Evangelion 01 costume that he said took him a month to make…but I thought all the cosplayers were very good to be honest! Yoko and the cellist then performed a bit more before everyone came back on stage to do a group sing-along of “Cruel Angel Thesis.”
The Eva event actually ended a bit before 3:30 despite starting late. Overall, I guess it was worth the $50, though my only complaint is that, since we’re paying extra, an extra goodie for attending would have been nice, even just an exclusive little poster card or something like that. The cosplayers got goodie bags full of Bang Zoom! stuff, so a little something for everyone else would have been nice, especially since the ad for the event said there would be “prizes” (they didn’t specify that it was just for the pre-chosen cosplayers). But I guess it’s not a huge deal XD After the Eva event, I just headed back to my hotel and waited for my friends to pick me up so we could carpool back home.
Concluding thoughts on AX 2015
This was one of my more haphazard Anime Expo’s in terms of planning, since I originally wasn’t even going to go at all due to wanting to save my money for D23 Expo in August. But once I got a job and had some extra money, plus finding out that so many of my friends were going, last minute I decided to go for three days, only staying overnight one day thanks to rushed planning. Next year I’m gonna be more organized and get my own hotel in advance like I usually do XD Despite my waning passion for anime and AX events, I still love going to AX just for the atmosphere of being surrounded by people who have the same interests as me, and being able to hang out with friends I don’t get to see very often due to being a busy full-time worker now. And of course, there’s always at least a few events I want to go to, like the Weiss tournament and Eva event this year. So yes, I still don’t see myself skipping AX anytime soon XD