This year's Anime Expo wasn’t the worst but it certainly wasn’t the best either.
Day Zero was absolute hell. I have never been more frustrated in my life. So, for those who did not attend or who didn’t hear about it, Anime Expo was Line Con 2014. It might have been karma since Fanime, the usual Line Con, was blissfully uneventful in that regard. But that’s not really my call. A lot of things happened to result in this 95 degree hellish vortex of melting makeup and cosplay carnage. First off, there were more people than ever before preordering their tickets. My friends and I got there at 8am and we were still really far back in the line ourselves. I’m not sure Day 0 is so worth it anymore. The line went for actual blocks! They cut the line around 5pm because they were sure that they wouldn’t get to everyone. They were right. The ticket line was supposed to open at three but, like every year, it took an extra hour. This time it was because the servers failed. I stayed in line with my friends in the normal line to see what it was like but once the tickets opened I headed for the press line. What happened there was horrible. In fixing the servers, they had only gotten to the general admission, not press, industry, or Artist’s Alley. Artist’s Alley got fixed first, then industry, THEN press. After waiting in line with my friends for 8 hours, it took another 2 to get my own ticket. TEN HOURS. I was extremely upset the rest of the day as I had to go home and finish my cosplay. The general admissions line went for the next however long until midnight. It was a real disaster.
Day One is always the day where I run a little late so I got there around eleven and met up with some friends for awhile before heading to the Eir Aoi panel. All I can say about her in person is just how beautiful she is and how cute she acted. The beginning of the panel was the staff asking her questions about her new albums and Kill la Kill, as it was Kill la Kill con. They showed two music videos of hers after a couple technical difficulties, but then again, what’s a real panel without a few of those? She was soft spoken but very full of spunk with her answers. Soon enough, they opened questions to the public. To my surprise, no one was impolite or asked inappropriate questions. I think my favorite question was “So how is it being in LA?” and her response was “Before I came to Los Angeles, I tried to get a sense of it by playing the game Grand Theft Auto 5. It was very good! It’s interesting seeing the buildings from the game in real life.” Turns out she actually really likes video games and got more than a few questions about them. One thing Eir was very adamant about was that if she could go into the world of Sword Art Online, she would in a heartbeat. It was really cute because she got really into talking about her love for the series and what she would do. Which became an amazing transition into her announcing that she was the singer for Sword Art Online II’s opening! They played the new opening and the whole room was people cheering, reminding me just how popular SAO really is. At the end when they had maybe five minutes left they did a raffle for a few signed posters and then staff was ready to chase them out. She did take pictures with a few cosplayers and was generally the sweetest woman I’ve ever met in my life.
After her panel, I bee-lined for the Dealer’s Hall opening. I have never seen more upset anime fans in one place in my life. There was NO breathing room, elbow room, or any kind of room! It was person to person on the floor of South Hall, everyone scrambling to get even a foot closer to those escalators. True to past Anime Expos, the Dealer’s Hall didn’t open on time… or half an hour later… or even an hour later. Not that that deterred the fans. Everyone stood there for an hour and a half after it was supposed to open; some patiently, some not so patiently. At about 30 minutes into this, my friends and I noticed that there was an interview going on for, presumably, a TV station. I do not know who was being interviewed but I’m going to assume someone important in the convention who decided that the best place and time for this interview was the rail above the main floor so that you could clearly see the see of dedicated (angry) fans. Once this was pointed out, the crowd got really upset. People started chanting “LET US IN” just to disrupt the interview so that it would get cut short and they could get in. It didn’t work. In fact, from my own observations, it just made them need to do another take… I don’t know if that’s the case but being in a sea of people for an hour and a half in the middle of summer in Los Angeles was disgusting and I almost fainted from overheating. The second I got in the Dealer’s Hall I had to sit down on the wall for a good while.
Once inside though, the Dealer’s Hall was as glorious as always. Horribly overfilled, but amazing. I walked around with my friends for a long while, checking out the main booths and working our way from one side to the other. An hour in I found the booth for my favorite dating sim company, “Shall We Date?”. I too a survey, got some merch, and took pictures with the various cut outs they had of the boys. Then they had a board with all of the boys from every single one of their games and you were supposed to pick your favorite. I sat there for five minutes, no exaggeration, before one of the girls running the booth came up and asked who my favorite was. I told her that I couldn’t choose because I loved so many of them and had played every game. She was so thrilled about that and we talked about the games for awhile before she went and got one of the other women working to come talk with me. That woman was the head writer of every single game. I was blown away. Most people don’t understand my love of dating sims but I really do admire them and this woman was like my hero. She could only speak Japanese and the girl I was speaking to before that was actually her translator. I talked to her for a really long time about her games and how much I loved them. She asked me which one I liked most was which was either Ninja Love or Mononoke Kiss and she told me that the artist for Mononoke Kiss was actually there working on a CG. I got to meet her too and it was perfect. She was so extraordinarily nice and she even drew my favorite boy from that game for me. It was a dream come true. I wanted to go check out other booths so I told them I had to leave and they asked me to drop by again on the other days. I’m still not entirely over how amazing that was.
After that I ran around the Dealer’s Hall with some friends for the rest of the afternoon before attempting and failing to get into the TRIGGER panel. My friends who went all loved it though so I guess that’s worth something. More hanging out and dinner happened after all of that. Later at night my friends and I went to the Super Art Fight: Unleashed. That may have been the funniest panel I’ve been to in a long time. They have artists battle it out with their drawings by giving suggestions based on a randomized wheel. It was an 18+ event and it got extremely raunchy, but it was hilarious nonetheless. At the end of the panel, they auctioned off the drawings for hundreds of dollars in a huge bidding war. It was hilarious and definitely a panel I would go to again.
Around then, my friends got to the convention and we checked into our hotel room before crashing.
Day Two was a lot more hectic. I woke up and helped my friend do the finishing touches on her Sailor Pluto cosplay then ran down to the Kuroko no Basuke gathering. I spent an hour or so there, got together with some of my friends for lunch, walked the Dealer’s Hall for awhile then booked it to the Kill la Kill event!
I cannot say enough good things about this event. This event was probably one of the most amazing things that has ever happened. I had nearly front row tickets, with an amazing view of the stage. The staff passed out special light sticks that had only been used in Japan beforehand that were able to be synced up to a computer so that the staff could control the colors to put on a show that way as well. The event started with introducing the guests of honor Kazuki Nakashima, SUSHIO, Ami Koshimizu, Ryoka Yuzuki, and Yousuke Toba. They said some quick words then they premiered the Kill la Kill English dub. Which was actually pretty good! I was impressed. They showed the full first episode and somehow I didn’t mind watching it all like I thought I would.
After that, they had a Q&A session with Toba, Nakashima, and SUSHIO while SUSHIO drew a picture through the whole event, determined to get it done. This led to a lot of chanting from the audience of “SU-SHI-O” throughout the event, and even after. They talked about how it was to work on Kill la Kill and how amazing it was to see everyone at the event enjoying their work. They were extremely sweet and rather humble, well, SUSHIO continuously proclaimed that his art was the best art in the world and that his drawing was a masterpiece sent from God. But it was really funny! Toba and Nakashima talked a good amount about how stressful the last episode was, since they hadn’t had it finished until a few hours before the event. SUSHIO got asked one question about why he made the outfits in Kill la Kill look the way they do and he looked out into the crowd very seriously and said, “For the sexy cosplayers.” Everyone laughed in good fun and the producers went backstage after saying goodbye.
Next they brought out Ami Koshimizu and Ryoka Yuzuki, the voice actors for Ryuuko and Satsuki respectively. They were in KLK cosplay and did some voice work on stage, yelling at each other and Yuzuki even yelled Satsuki’s famous line about “pigs in human clothing” to the crowd who screamed forever afterwards. The two girls also had a Q&A session about their experience with KLK. They spoke nothing but good things. Yuzuki said that she was very shy and not like Satsuki at all. She said that her confidence in Satsuki’s character helped her come out of her own shell and that she will always be grateful for that. Apparently, according to Koshimizu, Yuzuki was also very good friends with the voice actors of the Elite Four who would constantly help her when she was feeling down, just like in Kill la Kill. It was extremely heartwarming to hear. Koshimizu said that her personality was very much like Ryuuko’s and that really showed in the way she presented herself on stage. Later in the event, Nakashima even said that she acted like a Yankee and he probably wouldn’t have hired her if she acted more reserved like Yuzuki.
Finally they brought the whole panel of guests out for a final talk session, just letting them say what they wanted with a few questions. They were all extremely nice and very passionate about their work. They even talked about post work drinking parties and how Koshimizu drinks a lot! There was never a dull moment in their session. SUSHIO was still working on his drawing on the side of the stage, giving his input when it was asked or even when it wasn’t. We got glimpses of his drawing as it came along and it was amazing! He was disappointed that he couldn’t finish by the end of the session but that he would keep working backstage to finish it in time. The cast said their goodbyes and went backstage so that the Eir Aoi concert could begin!
I find myself at a loss for words just how amazing the concert was! Eir Aoi is a brilliant singer and being towards the front of the audience I got to see her move and preform her heart out. She came out singing the Kill la Kill opening, sirius. It was beautiful and perfect and this is when the light sticks they passed out came in handy. The stage set up had a thin screen at the top that showed the audience as they change the colors of the lights. The audience even coordinated moves to her songs! It was an amazing experience. Her concert was about 20 minutes to half an hour and my voice was hoarse by the end of it. The lighting and effects were spot on, her vocals were brilliant, and the show in general was one of the most pumped concerts I’ve ever been to in my life! After she finished singing she spoke a few words about how grateful she was to be there and what an amazing time she had in LA. She was just too sweet!
At the end, the whole cast came back up and said their final goodbyes, SUSHIO showing off his drawing, which was amazing, that was to be sold at the booth they had the next day, I believe. It was an amazing experience I won’t soon forget.
After the trauma of trying to get out of the event hall, my friends and I met up and walked around until the NIS America Panel. I was fortunate enough to get a front row seat. They talked about their new games, such as Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Firefly Diaries, and a new Disgaea title. Most of the panel was them announcing their new games and relaunches then watching the trailers. By the end of that, they only had ten or so minutes for questions, most of which were pretty basic.
Once that was over I went back to my hotel room to change out of cosplay and get dinner before heading back to the con for MYTH: Legends of Burlesque and Magic. I did get to it late though. This was my second year in a row going to the event and they just keep getting better. The show was entertaining and the right balance between sexy and magical. The girls would dance a number then a magic trick would be played. Even though the magic tricks were fun, the burlesque numbers were beautiful and everything I could have asked from a show. They did hit a few snags when certain acts weren’t ready, but the hosts were more than capable of stalling with style. However, because of these snags, the show went an hour past its slot, and though it didn’t get shut down, I started shutting down. I ended up leaving early with my friends. I will always go back for that show and I recommend it to everyone who’s legal to go.
Day Three was definitely the day when nothing went right for me. My back seized up before I could leave and I had to have my friend massage me out so that I could even walk around, making it impossible for me to wear my cosplay that day, or even bind. By the time I felt good enough to walk around it was already noon. I decided to go with my friend to the Sailor Moon gathering and take pictures for her. It was a huge gathering and the people were nice though the gathering had been moved twice by con staff, so the organization was a little hectic. After that we went to drop off my friend’s prop because it broke and then went through the artist’s alley for shopping purposes. I didn’t do very much and didn’t make it to any panels because of my back issues and personal drama that was too much for me to enjoy my day.
The last day was just checking out of the hotel and then wandering around the Dealer’s Hall finding last day deals. Well, and a lot of karaoke, then saying good bye to friends.
All in all it was a pretty okay con though I can say that I would not have enjoyed it at all had it not been for the Kill la Kill event. I wish Anime Expo the best because, to be at least, it’s been going downhill for the last few years. I hope they get it together because at the end of the day Anime Expo is one of my favorite conventions.