Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nate Reports: Anime Expo 2016 (Days 3-4, #PostAX, Review)

Part 2 of my Anime Expo 2016 report continues here!

Day 3

Well the night before this day was memorable since we were celebrating one of our roommates' birthday and we pretty much partied the night away. On Day 3 I had to wake up early again at 8am to grab an autograph ticket. Luckily, my friend did the sacrifice to stay at the autograph line all night to get herself a ticket for Suwabe. But for me, I was grabbing a ticket for Mai Yoneyama who worked with hit anime titles like Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt and Kiznaiver. We both got our tickets and I quickly went back to my hotel. With the lack of sleep I had the night before, I just crashed into bed and had a good sleep until 11am. I had no cosplay plans going on for the day until our photoshoot later on so I was just casual for now. Throughout the time, I would wander more around Exhibit Hall exploring more on what they have this year. And start on a little shopping for myself.

Bushiroad was a stop that I would go to as always as they always display their products to the attendees. They are mostly involved with card games like Cardfight Vanguard and Weiss Schwarz. In this con, they introduced a new card game called Luck and Logic, a card game that is already out in Japan and now they're bringing the game here stateside. They were also giving away buttons for the game which I was able to grab. And this booth also has a display of all the Aqours girls! Each VA that was here at AX was able to sign their character and some gave messages to the AX attendees! It is also here where I began my shopping spending a lot on Love Live! things and this booth has many of it. Things aren't looking good for my wallet that's for sure.
All Nine members of Aqours displayed in the Bushiroad booth

Some of the displays were signed by the seiyuu's that were Guest Stars in AX 2016

Because I spent $50+ at the booth, I was able to participate in a lottery where I would roll one of those wheels where a ball comes out and I would be rewarded with a prize. I would win a fan that has the Bushiroad mascot on it. This isn't the only booth that was giving away things when you purchase from them. I would explore more on the stores around the Exhibit hall during this time.

Next door to Bushiroad is Daisuki where I saw a crowd bunching around a screen. People were also flailing glow sticks, like they were at a concert or something. But they were mostly watching an Idolmaster music video and all of them were into it. It was interesting to see, like a concert was really going on. At that booth was also the Anisong World Matsuri booth where I bought my concert T-shirt and glow stick. What surrounded that booth was the displays that showed information about all the Matsuris happening that weekend including the two Matsuris I participated last night (Aqours and Japan Live!). And the one happening on this night, the band battle with FLOW and OldCodex, which I was so hype for! The display had signatures too from the artists which was pretty awesome to see!

When Idolmaster fans come together

Poster of Japan Super Live at the Anisong World Matsuri booth

A member of Sphere was glad to sign the display board in the booth

I would also visit the Good Smile Company booth where luckily I didn't spend much there, instead I was able to see the models that were coming out soon from the company including their big showcase of AX: Carcaptor Sakura. It was actually in its own case in a corner of the booth, like its very exclusive! Other figures I saw were nendoroids of Luluco from Space Patrol Luluco and Korra from The Legend of Korra, two figures I can't wait to have! Besides these, there were other figures and nendoroids Good Smile Company were showcasing and they were all in the back of their booth.
Luluco nendoroid from Space Patrol Luluco

Korra Nendoroid from The Legend of Korra

Then we saw Pony Canyon in their display that was like last year's display. They were showcasing shows like Sound Euphonium and Rokka. But they were also promoting the 2nd season of Cutie High Defense Club Love where we had some fans lining up for. Bandai was also next door and they also were showcasing figures especially for Dragon Ball Z and One Piece. We also did see two huge poster sets in that booth that had the backgrounds of Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. Me and my friends wanted to do our favorite Sailor Scouts pose in front of the display so I tried to do Sailor Uranus' pose to the best of my ability. I did it well, I guess.
Display boards for Pony Canyon shows like Sound Euphonium and Cute High Defense Earth Boys 

Rokka Brave of the Six Flowers Cosplayers

After much exploring, me and my friends would meet up for lunch and I would grab something inside the Exhibit Hall. Everything was priced pretty high, but then again it was a convention so the prices makes sense. I would grab chili fries and a drink and we would sit somewhere outside of Exhibit Hall to eat. Although pricy, it was something I needed because I was famished for most of the past two days.

We all wanted to go to the Miraculous Ladybug panel but it was all closed up. The panel was full to capacity, even to us Press members, that we couldn't get in. We were disappointed about not going to the panel because we were big fans of the show and wanted to know a lot more about what's coming up next for the show, but we couldn't do anything about it. I would split off with the group after a couple more hours of hanging around the con because I was going to change out to my cosplay for today. I would cosplay as Brief from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt with a Panty and Stocking with me. Now this isn't the ordinary clothes you see in the episodes, the Panty and Stocking I was with were wearing bunny suits! And I was cosplaying Brief in his white suit. I found us all matching like we're in a club setting or something like that. Nonetheless, we all looked great in our outfits! When we all met, we went to our photographer for our shoot.
Our Panty and Stocking cosplay group!

I would spend a couple of hours in the shoot before I had to go back and change out to something comfortable. The concert was coming up real soon! My friend who held my place in line for autographs also helped held my spot in line for the concert as the line went around the block as we waited for The Novo to open. I haven't actually been to this place since 2013 when I was able to see the band Porno Grafitti. Not much change has occurred since then but still I was excited for these bands to perform. Once we got in, we had to go through security and bag check before finding a spot on the floor to watch the band perform. We were able to get a good viewing spot next to the sound booth.

Getting ready for the concert!

First DJ Kaze would come up and spin some tracks from openings of notable animes that the crowd would know before the first band came up to the stage. After all, it is Anime Expo. What else should they put up for their setlist? He would end his setlist and would introduce the first band, OldCodex! The band consists of two singers Ta_2 and Yorke. Ta_2 would be the one mostly on the vocal, while Yorke is on the vocals but behind it all he would be painting. There were two boards setup on each side of the stage for him to paint. During a couple of songs, he would put up the title, their logo, or something that's just on his mind. It was a cool visual to see plus Yorke looked like a pretty cool artist. Together with their band they would sing their songs which had a mix of Rock with Nu-Metal vibe. They would also sing songs from animes like Rage on and Dried up Youth Fame from Free!. I wasn't really that fond with OldCodex but I had a fun time listening to them rocking out with their songs as well as having a new sound to listen to with this new band that I enjoyed seeing! Overall their performance was amazing!! Plus I wish to be in their pit because they were constantly sprayed with water from the band!

Once their set is over, the next band FLOW would come out. But they had to set up so in comes DJ Kaze again laying on some mixes on anime songs like he always does in his performances in AX. Only that this setlist felt longer but we still enjoyed the music that he was laying down to the concert crowd. I would never expect people to rock/dance along with Love Live!, Haikyuu, and Bakemonogatari songs! It was like a club was happening for this intermission!

DJ Kaze would end his set and then introduce FLOW! It was my 3rd time seeing this band perform since the previous two times they performed at Fanimecon. Now that I see them in this venue of Anime Expo, I wanted to see how they would rock the AX concert crowd. And no doubt about it, they put on quite a show! They would perform their hit anime songs like the two Code Geass songs (Colors and Worlds End), Bravblue from Eureka Seven AO, and Steppin' Out from Durarara x2. When I heard those songs, I would be in total excitement like everyone in the crowd rocking out with the band. They also did some silly stuff like when Koshi and Kego were introducing the band, each member did their own solo. But the guitarist (Take) put on a show when he came out in a LED black suit and was dancing like it was a rave! He did that for a couple of minutes but everyone was impressed at his dance moves! They would introduce their new song, Kaze no Uta from this seasons new show, Tales of Zesteria the X. And they would end the show with a song everyone knows, GO! from Naruto. When they performed this song, I never heard the audience become so engaging. The band even let them sing the song along with them. The ending was great and the band would go offstage but as all FLOW shows I've seen, there always has to be an encore! So when we chanted for one, they came back out and did one more performance. From the looks of things, they love their crowd. They were really happy to come to Anime Expo! And the audience were so glad to see them perform as well. No doubt about it, this one was FLOW's best show yet! They pulled off an amazing performance and I rocked out all along throughout this concert. I hope they come back soon! So glad to see them again!!!

Selfie after the concert!!!

It was 11pm when the concert ended and me along with my friends who came along to the concert decided to have one last dinner at Tom's Urban in LA Live. I would have my first full dinner there as I was pretty much hungry throughout this con and this meal was greatly needed! I would arrive back to the hotel to meet up with Ryan for one last meeting with the CaliCon crew for one last chat about this year's convention which I will explain more on my AX report later. We wanted to grab a drink but since it was too late around 1 am, no restaurants or bars were open for us. So we decided to chat back at the JW lounge chairs. It was only me and Ryan, Tally and Lucas were unable to make it for this final meeting.

Afterwards, I would go back to my hotel room where everyone was watching the newest episode of Shokugeki no Soma since the 2nd season debuted that weekend and I watched along with them. And then began packing up for the rest of the night because I wasn't exactly packed up for tomorrow is the last day and we had to check out before 1pm. 3 days of Anime Expo just flew by us like that. So much was done at this con and I couldn't believe that it's about to end tomorrow. I'd have to do what I can to make this last day memorable.

You know your in LA when this appears in Anime Expo

Bugs and Lola Bunny cosplayers from the Space Jam representing the Golden State Warriors

Miraculous Ladybug cosplayers or more like a dance crew

Day 4

At long last the final day of con has arrived and I would continue on packing from last night. I would finish around 10:30am and would lift all I've got from my luggage to the new stuff I bought from this con to the front desk where they would hold all my things until we were good to go back home later in the day. Because at 11am, I would head back to the Main Events hall to see the Cowboy Bebop: Jazz Cat Experience. And a big thanks to the press department for providing me a ticket to this event. I would find a good seat close to the stage when I entered and Alice Underground who would be the headlining band of this event. The band was as the event says, a jazz band that had dancers dancing as well during a couple of songs. In the middle of the event, an MC from Bang Zoom! would come out to introduce the English VA's behind the hit anime, Melissa Fahn (Ed), Beau Billingslea (Jet), Wendee Lee (Faye), Steve Blum (Spike), and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Juliet). And they would spend most of the time talking about their time in the studio for this anime, how this began their voice acting careers, and other things about Cowboy Bebop. It felt like seeing a chat room/ interview live right in front of the whole event crowd. Everyone felt relaxed, like a room where you talk amongst your peers. The Q&A lasted about 30 minutes and when we cheered the cast as the left backstage, Alice Underground would perform for the next hour performing songs from the show ending with Tank!, the opening of the show. Alice Underground really gave a big thanks to Yoko Kanno who composed the music of Cowboy Bebop and it was because of his songs that they made this band. And it was an enjoyable experience hearing the amazing jazz tunes from the show remade by this band and they performed really well to my taste. It was a good couple of hours that I really enjoyed.
Cowboy Bebop English Cast introductions

Alice Underground performance during the Cowboy Bebop Jazz Experience

Now it's 12:30 and with only a couple hours left of con left, I would have to manage around what I missed around the con before it all closes up for 2016. So I quickly went to Artist Alley and it was actually my first time checking out Artist Alley this weekend in its new location in Kentia Hall. This room is below the main floor of Anime Expo inside what used to be a parking lot. Half of the hall was Artist Alley which stretched from the entrance all the way to the back of the room. But with so many people going through this area on the last day I was only able to see a couple of Artists. I was able to grab a Nico Yazawa keychain and a Yo-Kai Watch drawing during my excursion through Artist Alley. Now with only two hours left, I would spend the rest of the time in Exhibit Hall exploring the last of the dealers that I didn't manage to get through. I would end up going to Sentai Filmworks to buy a Shokugeki no Soma keychain for a friend and an Akame ga Kill! shirt for me. In return, I would grab one of the bags they were giving away for Anime Expo if you shopped there. I would get a Shokugeki no Soma bag along with my purchase. Then I would hit Aniplex and would grab a Madoka Magica wall scroll and would also get a free poster just for shopping there. Unfortunately when I was there the poster I wanted (Your Lie in April) was sold out so the only thing I would get was Nisekoi, which I wasn't too sad about. I like that series too!
A Madoka Magica display that was selling in the Aniplex Booth

Neko Atsume booth at Anime Expo

Racing Miku and Super Sonico collaboration figures

And just like that, the Exhibit Hall has closed. There was Closing Ceremonies after everything closed, but I decided not to go to that. Instead, I would take that last ride down the escalator to the main floor though the gates that said "See you in Anime Expo 2017!" I would walk through the hall taking pictures as much as I can and through the South Hall gates taking one last picture of the Los Angeles Convention Center where Anime Expo was held.

And that was it. The con was over. 4 days of unbelievable fun with all my good friends and anime. But I felt this trip should be done by just us leaving. No, the day is still young. It's 4 pm. Plus I didn't get lunch. So this means it's time for........


It was July 4th and the city is celebrating our country's independence. Maybe that's a reason why most of LA Live was pretty empty. The JW Marriott wasn't as busy anymore like the past 4 days, everything was just like normal again not full of attendees. So when me and my friends who I rode along with going to AX decided to grab food, we went to Bazil Pizza and made our own pizza for lunch. What I liked was the restaurant was empty, no sign of Anime Expo Attendees that packed LA Live during the lunch and dinner times. We had a relaxing lunch as we talked about the convention, especially my friends since it was their first time going to Anime Expo. They really enjoyed it, like a con experience they have never had and they are considering coming back next year. That's good enough for me to know that this Anime Expo was unforgettable. After lunch we would grab our luggage from the front desk and would be on our way back to the Bay Area.

On our way back home, we would see fireworks firing off in the distance while driving down highway 5 since it's July 4th and we were heading home during the night. When I saw that, it kind of felt like a celebratory feeling knowing that all of us in the ride home had a great Anime Expo and that the fireworks was like something to celebrate the con. We would see them as we rode up the freeway back home to the Bay Area. We left around 7pm in LA, arrived back home around 4 am. A long ride back but it was fun nonetheless. No doubt about it, a great weekend with everyone at this convention. My 3rd year going to Anime Expo and it was a notable one.

Our luggage plus our AX swag. Its too much! 

One last selfie before the journey home!


So what I usually do in reviews for conventions is talk about the bad before the good and there are some notable ones I have to point out.

One would have to be the Artist Alley. Last year, the Artist Alley was located in Exhibit hall where the vendors are located as well. Now with this move for Artist Alley to the Kentia Hall may have sounded like a good move, it really wasn't to be honest. Without Artist Alley in the Exhibit Hall, that gives out many vendors to go ahead and showcase for the Anime Expo crowd. But what I saw was space. Actually, a whole lot of it especially on the sides and the back of the hall. So I have to ask, was there not enough vendors? Because that's is probably the reason why there was so much space. Now let's go back to the new location of the Artist Alley in the Kentia Hall. There were so many artists that got approved for this Anime Expo from the looks of things. Because Artist Alley took half of Kentia hall and that area was just jam packed! So many people everywhere going to try and look at all the artists there but there was just so many and I'm talking about artists and attendees. There really wasn't enough space to even move around let alone even try to see all the artists. On my lone time roaming the Artist Alley, I could only manage to see 1/4 of the artists there. Plus I also heard complaints from the artists that it was too hot in that hall. Probably because there was no A/C in that hallway. To sum it all up, a mess. My suggestions for Anime Expo is to either bring the Artist Alley back to the Exhibit Hall because like I said, there was a lot of space that Artist Alley could be back at that hall again. Or lessen the count of Artists for the Artist Alley because that was just way too many people there. Hopefully I'll get to see major improvements for this department come next year.

Another thing I have to point out is the AX Press staff. It was pretty inconvenient to have us notified on the day of the con about interviews and press conferences especially when you already have plans set up. When we had the change to possibly interview a guest of honor like FLOW, I was notified really late from Ryan that we may have a chance to have an interview with them. As a big fan of the band, I quickly went to meet up with Ryan, spent a couple of minutes making questions, only to find out we got denied. It was inconvenient but it would have been better if we had a heads up especially before the con. Just daily notifications of whom we can interview or meet with will not work with me. Everyone has their own plans, it would be great to be notified about press interviews before plans were already made before Anime Expo even began.

There were a little bit of hiccups in Anime Expo that wasn't really a big deal like not making panels, autographs, or not much overcrowding especially between the South and West halls. I was actually able to get though each halls easily not hectic from the previous years I attended AX. As for Autographs and Panels, there is a lesson to get from this and that is to get there early as soon as you can. Even if a time is designated for a panel or autograph tickets to start, be there really early. For Anime Expo, make it 2-3 hours early. I just keep getting denied entry to certain panels but with so many people attending this con, you can't really do much. Fire Hazards and other rules will prevent me from complaining much.

But besides that, this Anime Expo was a really good one. The con surprised me with the guests that came by especially the music guests. I had to buy tickets for these concerts since press couldn't get us tickets but it was all worth it. I had a blast at the Anisong World Matsuri concerts and I hope big shows like this will happen again for Anime Expo. Exhibit Hall with the enhanced space is worth going through now that there's more breathing room to check out all the booths that were setup at the hall. Every anime and video game company that have went to AX has shown some great stuff for all the attendees to enjoy. I mean the big displays really were eye-popping. What I have to give props to is VIZ Media for it's 30 year anniversary and what better way to celebrate that having a stand of autograph boards signed by the many artists that have produced great manga throughout those years. It was showcased at AX and it was really cool to see!

Fullmetal Alchemist author signs for the VIZ Wall

One Piece author signs for the VIZ Wall

Pokemon manga author signs for the VIZ Wall

The Entertainment hall was fun with that they had in there. I was surprised to see many showcases that were in there besides the gaming areas and the movie setups for cosplay photos. One that stood out would be Bang Zoom! since they have always had auditions inside Exhibit Hall, now they found its new home in Entertainment hall which works out to me. The cosplay gatherings were fun, no notable big dilemmas between AX staff or the LACC staff that ran the building. Well to just sum it up, it was great! This con really has a thing now for me. As my 3rd year attending the biggest anime convention in the country, I just keep seeing big improvements for this con. Like every year, something new will pop up and it would satisfy me and my AX experience. I can't wait to see what AX has up their sleeves for the 2017 showing. Maybe it might get me back again like they did this year (remember I really wasn't supposed to go but AX and their surprises got me back!)

And that sums up my review of Anime Expo 2016. Long as always but you were able to see my experience for this year's AX. I hope to return next year but we'll have to see. Just bring the best guests back!

Next event I'll be covering will be back in the Bay Area for this year's J-Pop Summit! Last year's included two artists (Eir Aoi and JAM Project) that were in this year's AX Anisong World Matsuri, unfortunately they won't be there this year but with GARNiDELiA and Silent Siren headlining this year's J-Pop Summit, it's gonna be a fun time!

But for now, my coverage ends here for Anime Expo and my visit to Southern California. Until next time!!!!

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