Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ray Reports: Anime Expo 2014 - Day 4, Post-AX Activity, and Conclusion

And so, we come to the final day of Anime Expo, set on Sunday. Not much to do besides make final Dealer's Hall purchases, say goodbyes, and maybe head out into LA for some post-expo activity.

Day 4

Like last year, I ended the convention cosplaying as Reimu Hakurei. I swear, I'm becoming more at homein girl cosplays than boy cosplays.

Before I could do anything, I had to pack up my belongings and leave my room, as the room I was in was reserved only for until Sunday morning. I left the room, leaving my remaining food for my other roommates to take home as I didn't want to carry such bulk in my bag on the way back, and went down to visit my friend's room, which I was staying at on this particular evening.

I then withdrew a majority of my remaining AX budget from the ATM at the Staples Center, and went on my way to the convention center.

Most of the time, I sweeped the Dealer's Hall, looking for things to purchase with my remaining budget. As I sweeped around, I was surprised to see a large number of fellow Touhou cosplayers, despite the gathering being yesterday.

I was surprise to find that GungHo Online had a booth for their hit mobile game Puzzle & Dragons, and it seemed like they were hosting contests there.

As for my purchases...I mostly purchased Kantai Collection fan goods at the ChinAnime booth, such as an art book and a bag. Unfortunately, my purchases involved partial nudity, and more unfortunately that's justified as clothing damage is an in-game mechanic in KanKore, so I can't really show them here.

Eventually, the Dealer's Hall closed, leaving me with little else to do. I left the convention center, went back to my hotel room to drop my goods off, and came back down to meet up with friends to say my goodbyes before heading off to Japantown for dinner.

Day 4 - Post-AX

Around 5-6 PM or so, my friends and I regrouped and we hopped on the Metro to head to Little Tokyo, where a number of AX attendees were present. "DenialCon", as my friend put it.

We went to Nijiya Market and bought a few goodies for ourselves--I grabbed some bottled water because I was super thirsty. Afterwards we split off, and my subset of friends and I went off to Oiwake, where we got a buffet special. I indulged myself in chicken katsu, curry, and soba, and it was okay, but nothing spectacular. I saw a few of my cosplay friends there, and I took advantage of the time to catch up on things.

Afterwards, we went back to our respective hotels, and I had the opportunity to have an entire bed to myself, as only two other people were in the room I was in for that night. Having slept on the floor for the past four nights, sleeping on a bed--one I didn't have to share, no less--felt like the most luxurious and comfortable thing in the world that night.

The Day After

I got up at around 6 AM, finalizing my packing before leaving the room. My roommates were still asleep the entire time.

Hailing a Lyft car, I got to Union Station, and had some Subway for breakfast as well as a trenta-sized iced tea at Starbucks. Going back to the BoltBus bus station at aruond 8:40  AM, wondering why no one was waiting for the bus, I realized I made a critical mistake: I had thought the bus left at 8:50 AM, but it had already left, at 8 AM. Ouch!

Panicking, I tried to assess my options--the next BoltBus back to San Jose was at 2:30 PM, and I could use my pass then, but that was sold out. I consulted one more option: Megabus. I went over to the Megabus stop, where I learned that there was a Megabus arriving at 12:30 PM, and much to my luck, there was a seat open for standby tickets! Though, standby passengers were not being accepted at this time, so I had to wait a couple hours and come back at the scheduled time. I gambled on this possibility, aware that others may be trying to gain a ticket as well, and went back into the station interior to relax and play some Shin Megami Tensei IV to pass the time.

Around noon, I went back out, and my luck held out; I was able to secure a ticket for $40. A friend of mine showed up, waiting for the same bus; turns out she had missed a bus last night like I did, and she ended up having to stay at a nearby hotel for one extra night so she could catch this particular bus.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I boarded the bus, sitting next to my friend, relieved that I had secured a way back home, even if it was with money that could buy me a new 3DS game. I spent my trip listening to music and chatting with friends on LINE. We made one stop in Kettleman City for food and drink, where I grabbed a soda from Starbucks and consumed the other half of my Subway sandwich.

I arrived back at the San Jose Diridon Station around 7:15 PM, glad to be back in the land of "hella" and ten million tech billboards. My uncle gave me a ride back to my house and I took the time to relax after the tiring six-day adventure.


AX this saw me getting more out of what the convention had to offer, so I had a better idea of the quality of the convention.

There are some serious issues that unfortunately need to be addressed, such as the registration line--having people collapse in line from heat stroke is a very bad thing. Getting into panels is also a pain, but I don't see any way for that to be easily addressed for the more popular panels. There were a few inconveniences that sadly are not as controllable--fairly-priced food was scarce, so I had to rely on the food I brought with me. Food trucks, while providing a wide variety of options, were costly and also were out in the hot outdoors. That said, getting into panels at last left me with some fun experiences, and I got to spend a significant amount of time with old friends, which is a major reason why I come to conventions in the first place. However, as an industry convention of over 60,000, the sense of community associated with Fanime and local-sized cons is fairly absent--making new friends that didn't have a lot of mutual friends was quite difficult, and I felt a sense of detachment from other attendees. It's for these reasons that while I enjoy AX, Fanime remains my "home" convention, the one where I feel most at home.

Will I come back next year? Hopefully. I have some friends who want to go next year and need a room, so if I decide to go I will be facilitating giving them sleeping space so we can have a pleasant hotel experience.

As for my next convention, it's up in the air. Kin-Yoobi Con is not coming back this year, I'm not as interested in Japan Expo USA as I was last year due to its new location and general lack of activities, and Sac-Anime hinges on me having the budget to go. I'll just have to see what I can get.

Thanks for reading my multi-part report, and to AX attendees I met, I hope to see you next year if I do attend, or perhaps at other conventions.

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