This is how I am greeted wherever I go.
Hello, friends! This past weekend I attended my hometown convention, Anime Expo. I ducked writing about my trips to Sakura-Con and Anime Boston earlier in the year due to being quite busy and because I rationalized that people wouldn’t be too interested in reading about me hanging out with people and me being not the King of Maids. I don’t think I can avoid writing about this, however, so here I am! I don’t want to go on endlessly, though, so I’ll keep my points fast and loose, just like my high-flying, adventurous lifestyle. Here we go!
- From Day 0, I really should have realized that the whole convention would be a logistical nightmare. If you’ve attended Anime Expo in the past two or three years, you could have seen this experience coming from a mile away — for various reasons, Anime Expo has been on the verge of not being able to handle its massive turnout for quite a while. It was a question of when, not if the whole thing would explode. Well, explode it did this year! I got lucky with but an hour-and-a-half wait for my pass. Some of the unlucky folks lining up on Day 1 were greeted with waiting times up to three or four times that amount. Lines to get into the exhibit hall in the morning regularly curled around outside (and if you wanted to get an autograph after Day 1, you had to get a good spot in that line, which meant showing up super early). Popular panels had regular attendees lined up in unrelated rooms, whereupon they joined the audience 10 or 15 minutes after the panel began. Total mess, by far the worst part of the convention.
- But I did get some things done! I’m not usually an autographs person (I’d only gone for Miyuki Sawashiro prior to this year, which was a nice experience!), but there were some nice guests this year I thought I’d at least try for. Due to the aforementioned clusterfuck lines, I was never able to get even close to getting autographs for Masaaki Yuasa (disappointing, even though I really had nothing for him to sign!), Kazuhiko Inoue (I didn’t get my Cars figure in time for an autograph), or Megumi Han (how nice would it have been to get a Gon autograph?). I was able, however, to take advantage of confusion about the autograph process on Day 1 to get a decent spot in the line for Mari Okada. (Basically, I was told to walk up to the front and grab a ticket, even though there was a long line. I bet that didn’t happen other days!) It was a lot of standing around, but eventually . . .
- . . . I got my copy of Simoun autographed! I’m almost certain I was the only person in line with this series. (Most folks had stuff from True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha (Okada appeared with P.A. Works’ Nobuhiro Kikuchi to promote the Hanasaku Iroha movie), and Toradora!) When I took out my DVD set, Okada’s immediate reaction was, “*gasp* Simoun!! :D” I thought it would get a good reaction, but her sheer delight still took me by surprise. I was a bit flustered while telling her how much I enjoyed the series, haha. Okada totally won me over here; she obviously had nothing but great memories working on this series, and seeing that joy was quite heartwarming for me. It’s a lovely memory!
- And I also got a photo with Ms. Okada, where I’m not actually looking straight ahead, because how do I camera? Despite me raising my dojikko level (not the first time this would occur during the weekend), Okada’s enthusiasm still makes her too moe for me. The moment I saw her relishing her memories of Simoun, moe as a concept crystalized for me. I hereby declare The Cart Driver a PRO MARI OKADA ZONE.
- So about my dojikkoness, my precious Day 1 memory was nearly tainted because I am a fucking idiot. Not five minutes after I arrived at the convention center, I lost my phone (that has to be a record), and later in the day I misplaced the keys for my rental car. I am a walking disaster. Thankfully, both items were taken to the lost and found area, which gave me a bit more hope regarding the overall kindness of humanity. From then on, I checked my pockets like a paranoid maniac to make sure everything was there constantly, haha.
- On Day 2, I attended Mari Okada’s panel, which was one of those that got hit by the Linecon curse. I was unfortunately quite late and missed much of the beginning, but there was still some interesting stuff. Best part for me: Okada said she and Shoji Kawamori are trying to get more AKB0048 made, though she gave quite a diplomatic answer to someone trying to bait a season three announcement from here. I hope it happens!
- Also went to the Sentai panel where there was a lot of awkward pitching and getting people hyped up for stuff. Industry panels are so dopey, but there was really nothing else to do at the time.
- The highlight of Day 2, however, was finally being able to see Kick-Heart! I’ll have more in-depth thoughts when it’s digitally released in a week, but I enjoyed it quite a bit! It’s definitely more humorous!Yuasa than thoughtful!Yuasa, which was obviously a good direction to go in for this story. I was a big fan of pro wrestling back in the day and even watched my fair share of Japanese wrestling, so seeing all the in-ring action was quite fun. I wonder if I was the only one thinking, “Oh my god, Maskman S is using the Stretched Plum!!” during the second match. Maybe. In a room of hundreds watching a wrestling cartoon, surely someone else must have watched Toshiaki Kawada at some point. But, yeah, definitely glad this project came into fruition; Kickstarter is a good place for these shorter, odder anime projects that the normal economic climate won’t support. I really enjoy directors with distinctive visions knocking out these short features — there’s good stuff in anthologies like Robot Carnival, Genius Party and Neo-Tokyo.
- No real Day 3 or 4 highlights other than me kicking it with many cool people, trawling the exhibit hall, eating out and playing way too much Tanto Cuore. Unfortunately, I doubt I will ever be King of Maids. I tried to see Little Witch Academia because I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and Garden of Words just because Makoto Shinkai was there, but the line for the former was more than I felt like dealing with, and the line for the latter got capped more than an hour before the showing. Yikes! That’s a lot of foot fetishists.
- Let’s close out with lots of pictures!
This is the tank Sentai Filmworks brought in to promote Girls und Panzer. They also had buttons and stickers and stuff to give out. There were many tank-related jokes hurled at Sentai throughout the weekend.
Inushinde spotted this at the Kinokuniya booth. I am not sure what it is, I and don’t know that I’d like to find out.
Quite a terrifying exhibit hall sight. Cap’n Crunch’s weight has driven him to madness, while Tony the Tiger looks to be in immense pain. Only $45 each, kids!
My first con purchase: A figure of Bruno Buccellati from Vento Aureo. I would have preferred the Super Action Statue version, but anything that’s not a current or reprinted release is ridiculously expensive, so I make due with what I can. I needed Bruno in my life because I have fallen in love after watching the fifth JoJo All-Star Battle PV a million times. Bruno has BY FAR the best battle cry in the series, and I love his style. (I’ve also fallen in love with Narancia because HOT-BLOODED YUUKO SANPEI.)
I’m not that huge a fan of Lynn Minmay, but this figure is so cool that I had to snatch it up. Now Minmay watches me from above as I sleep at night. That’s not creepy at all, yeah?
I also got this JoJo card game even though I can’t read any of the cards and have no clue how to play it. But there’s a foil Dio card inside! Worth it.
My final major purchase was a mystery bag, because why not? I live tweeted my opening of the bag because that is always fun. The first prize was this Deerling! It’s actually pretty cute. I like it.
The second was a staple of mystery bags: A random volume of some manga! I didn’t even know Escaflowne had a manga, but there you go. I ragequit at the character page because Dilandau’s design was all changed. I don’t even get to hear Minami Takayama be a glorious asshole as Dilandau, so whatever.
Final thing: A figure of Haruka from The Idolm@ster! All I know about Idolm@ster is that you can put burgers on the girls’ hands in the games. That’s pretty much it. I didn’t really know what to do with the figure at first, but I had a couple of ideas . . .
Haruka riding her valiant Deerling steed + . . .
. . . the Stone Mask from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure = . . .
. . . THE ULTIMATE BEING!!!! It totally works, because as an idol, sex is useless for Haruka.
This, however, is the crown jewel of the convention for me. I commissioned it from a Twitter pal (you can find her art Tumblr here), with the specification of Popee the Clown doing a JoJo pose. (I used this screenshot from Milky Holmes as a reference.) I didn’t even have to request Popee being put in a bloodstained Hell; Sammi did that all herself. It’s beautiful, and I will use this bookmark in public as much as possible. By far the best money I spent at Anime Expo!
So that’s it! I had a good time, and I hope all the lovely people I met — old and new — had a good time along with me. Also, I apparently lied at the beginning of this post, because this is stupid long.