Sunday, July 10, 2011

AX 2011 FULL Review from Rukazu

Anime Expo 2011 FULL Review

WOOT! This year was absolutely amazing!

Day 0
So for Day 0, we had a bit of a rough start. I found out from Matt that we were going to interview Nirgillis, Fred Gallagher and Talesin Jaffe. I spoke to one of my friends earlier to see if he would like to be our translator just in case AX didn't provide one. Then I found out that he had stuff to do for our Masquerade Skit and he couldn't be there physically. I decided the next best thing was ask my friend Jay Igarashi to translate the questions into romaji and we would read them out.

We get to the Westin Boneaventure Hotel about 2:15 and I was lost as to where the Press Room was. However, when we did find the Press Room, we found out that we actually were early so we took a nice break and the AX staff gave out refreshments. I ran into Zanney, Jackie and Avi there as well and we chatted and caught up before having to go out and interview Nirgillis. The interview with Nirgillis I heard went really well, they actually had their own translator and we got some good responses to our questions.

I knew that I wanted to interview Fred Gallagher. So I told them that I wanted to be the one to ask the questions. We were escorted upstairs to the top floor and in one of the hotel rooms, we were greeted by Mr. Gallagher. We sat down, chatted for a bit, and began our questions. We asked him stuff like why he started Megatokyo, where he got his nickname, and what did he look forward to at the Expo.

Right after the Gallagher interview, we interviewed Jaffe, who was right next door and this time Zanney asked the questions. Jaffe was pretty cool in the sense he has directed, done script writing and done voices for games and anime.

I had to drop off Zanney and her friends off at the LACC at 6:45 and then had to head back home to drop my sister off at her piano lesson. I was not able to pick up my press badge that day but that was fine. This ran into some conflict with Ryan and his friend Vivian but nothing that could be solved the next day.

Day 1
I dropped off Ryan and Vivian's stuff early in the morning, then headed to the LACC to pick up my badge around 8:00 in the morning. After I got my badge I headed back to the West Hall to pick up my AMV ticket. I had to go to the bathroom and just as I walked in, I ran into Vic Mignona so I said hi to him, shook his hand and left. As usual, the con didn't really start picking up speed until around 12:00 that day. The only thing I had to do was the Tales of Gathering and that was at 1:00 that day. It's interesting to note that in the three years since my sister and I started to cosplay, this was the first gathering we have done together. The gathering itself was pretty fun considering we did several really fun shots and we all just chatted about the series and hung out afterwards. After that, I tried putting on Lelouch with the kite hat and that got a lot of attention and it was just looking around the dealer's hall and talking to people and getting pictures. After about 3 hours though, that costume was becoming really painful and I decided to try debuting Banker from Star Driver. I managed to find a Galactic Pretty Boy and we started talking about the series and about AM2. He told me he knew Chase Wayne and we talked about how he did a lot of stuff for the fans, but he was a poor money manager. After several more minutes and more pictures, I met up with my sister and my friends for the AMV contest. I am a little disappointed that they decided to hold it inside the Concourse Hall considering that it's relatively small compared to last year when they had it in the Nokia Theater. Other than that, they had very good AMVs and they even added a new category called the 'Fun/OVA” category. After the AMV contest my sister and I had to head back cause it was already midnight.

Day 2
This day is when I found the con really picked up steam. I started with Lyrica Prismriver because the Touhou gathering was at 1:00pm. All seemed to be going well until I had to pick up something from my friend at the South Hall. When I walked over there, the South Hall was closed off and evacuated. I didn't think too much of it at first and headed back to the Morikawa Panel before the gathering. Morikawa was a Guest of Honor at AX 2009 and he said he was so impressed by the reception that he wanted to come back again if he could. He talked about his career, which spans almost a quarter of a century, his work in voice acting in anime and games and about his music. When they opened the floor for questions, one of the questions that was asked was since Morikawa has voiced the characters in many video games, has he played any of them? And his response was that he has played them but was not very good at them. Many years ago when he voiced Ryu from Street Fighter, he went into an Arcade and all around him he heard his voice “Soryuken! Hadoken!” And he said that it felt weird in a way.

The Touhou Gathering was okay I guess, it was held inside, which I felt was a silly idea and was a bit too short in my opinion. After that was the Vocaloid Gathering and I decided to change really quick for that one. After that, I decided to change into a more comfortable outfit, Sergeant Fury for FMA later and walked around, met up with my friends in the Anime Club and hung out with them for a few hours until the gathering at 5:00. I have to admit that the FMA gathering, my first one, was a really pleasant experience as it was one of the first series I really got into, but didn't cosplay until several years later. The gathering was ran smoothly and lasted over an hour and twenty minutes and by that time, I was so tired that I had to go back to my car and took a nap before the Miku Concert.

The concert itself was amazing! It was very different than that of Matsushita or FLOW back up at Fanime, in the sense that this was a music program singing for us, with very realistic movements and seemed human enough to engage the audience. Her songs were also amazing and some of them were so fast that I knew they were not written for a human to sing. It was one of the best concerts in my life, and I left the con that day with high hopes for the next two days.

Day 3
This was tied with day 2 for being one of the craziest days in the whole convention. I decided to do a simple cosplay in the morning, Naoi Ayato and hoped to meet up with a friend of mine who did Tenshi, but ultimately she was too busy. I also had to get my Lelouch costume fixed, had to run back downstairs then chance into Banker for the Star Driver gathering and again for Lelouch for the Code Geass Gathering. The gatherings themselves were okay and enjoyable, but I had to put that aside once 4:30 rolled around for the Masquerade. I had to help move all the equipment and props, and basically waited for judging. I'll say that in the VIP lounge downstairs in the Nokia Theater with all these crazy cosplays that were super high quality, I felt more than a little intimidated.

As it turns out, there were a total of 44 skits, including about 9 walk-ons, and there were two of every major series. Four Vocaloids, two Geass, two Star Driver, two Madoka, two Blackbutler, two Final Fantasy 7, two Soul Calibur and so on. Once 7:00 rolled around, the judges came by for the judging, and I was told what my role would be. Seriously, we did not rehearse our skit with all the costumes and props until on stage. When it came time for us to go on, I could remember that my heart was pounding as I looked up at the number of guests. Before the Masquerade, I stood in the same spot that Miku stood the night before and looked out at the auditorium. Now that auditorium was filled with 7000 people. When it was our turn to go up, we just made sure that everything was put into place and just ran with it. I'm glad that none of our props came apart and when our giant mecha that we were working on for three months took center stage finally, I heard the loudest applause and cheers from the audience. When we went backstage again, the entire room erupted into applause. When I finally saw the skit a week later on AC Paradise, I was very amazed and I think on that night, we got the loudest cheers and reception out of all the skits. I am very proud that I got a chance to do this, and I thank everyone including our Masquerade Leader for allowing me to be a part in this.

Day 4
Today was a little more laid back than the rest of the expo. The most important thing I had to do was my interview with Mario Bueno. I get a text from him about 10:30 asking me where we wanted to meet and I replied that we can meet in the West Hall lobby, just look for the guy with the Lelouch cosplay. At 11:00, he comes up the stairs and he brings not only himself, but the winners of the 2009 AND 2011 AX Idol, essentially three for one deal! I was totally not expecting that so I had change my questions a bit. The winner of the 2009 AX Idol was Sean Chiplock, 2010 was Mario Bueno and 2011 was Rachelle Heger.

AX Idol 2011 Interview by caconblog

The interview with the three of them was a little over an hour long and it was probably my best one yet. We talked about a number of things, from cosplay, to Geass, to mecha, to singing lessons, social interactions of cosplay, and more. After the interview, I hung out and chatted with Mario for a bit about the Masquerade as he was one of the judges and I asked his feedback on that. Afterwards I took one last look around the Exhibition Hall, and headed out to the South Hall to take pictures. Catch is, since I was in my overly fancy Lelouch cosplay, I was the one who was getting pictures taken of, not that I really mind. I was lucky that around 4:30, I met up with Ryan and handed back his stuff, chatted with him a little about his con experience and headed out a little later after that for dinner with my family. After I watched the fireworks, I fell asleep for 12 hours.

Okay putting aside the random stupid drama, this con was my favorite EVER. I thought that nothing could top Fanime this year and Anime Expo surpassed all my expectations and even beat out Fanime. I'll start by saying that last year was almost disappointing in a way. I got to see some good panels and guests and the AMV contest was amazing, but overall it felt very tedious in a way. I also didn't like how the staff from last year seemed very rude to the guests. When we stood in line they were being very strict about being directly on the line that they taped, we couldn't sit in the hallways because of fire hazards and they were very strict on weapons policy. It was that kind of negativity that almost made me not want to come back this year and I remember saying that if they didn't turn it around this year, I won't come to AX anymore. They did.

This year when I walked upstairs to pick up my badge, they were very polite and showed me where the booth was upstairs and greeted me. When I walked into the Exhibit Hall, they had CARPET on the floor! That may not seem like much but walking on carpet felt so much better than walking on concrete and it was much easier on the feet. And I also like the new layout that they had with the autographs off to the side, a lounge area with tables and the Artist's Alley in the back.

Also this year they FINALLY had a cosplay repair station with freaking changing rooms and mirrors! I remember reading on the forums that AX really should have one because Anime LA had one for many years. I had to go in a few times because the jewels on my costume fell off and they had the materials ready. Again this doesn't seem like a lot but from the feedback that I got from the other people who used the cosplay repair station all the comments were very positive.

I also heard from my sister that the staff also asked where the cosplayers would like to have their weapons peacebonded, and when her friend climbed ten feet high on one of the beams, politely told her to climb back down because of safety concerns. Plus in the West Hall Lobby, they even projected the schedule onto the wall so that everybody could see what where and when the panels were taking place, the videos and events which was a great addition.

And this year they did not fail to dissapoint with amazing guests and panels, and three amazing concerts that included Nirgillis, Kalifina and Hatsune Miku. I only went to the Hatsune Miku concert, but even that was amazing in itself.

This was without a doubt my favorite convention because every major thing that I wanted to get done got done and I had a great time doing it. The cosplay, the gatherings, the AMV contest, masquerade, Miku concert, everything went as well as it could have. I definitely recommend anyone who is interested in anime and manga to attend Anime Expo and I look forward to next year!

This is Rukazu signing out!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.