Hey everyone, I’m back with another convention post as I just got done with Anime Expo 2016, certainly the biggest convention I’ve ever been to and also the biggest anime convention in North America. It was quite a few months in the making, giving that I was traveling across the US from VA to CA and the cost was nothing to scoff at either but the whole thing went off well enough, as far as getting to the con and getting back safely after the con was over. Of course, though, there were a few things I got to do and I suppose the easiest way to do it will be to go day by day.
Alright so let’s go from Day 0 since that’s important enough to cover. I got up early in the morning to go to California and made it to the hotel and con at around… 1:00 PM? I think? It was a struggle just to stay awake all day, given the time difference and the walking around we did. The line was relatively smooth; for a con of 80,000 people we managed to get through in one and a half hours which was nothing compared to what I’ve been through before. The rest of the day was spent going to places like Target and hanging out in the pool. Nothing was really going on at the convention although it gave me a general idea of where I was going and got me my badge so I didn’t have to tackle the monster line on Friday.
Onto Day 1, I woke up early and got to the Entertainment Hall (aka Video Games) which was going to be a recurring theme throughout the con thanks to the general lack of things that interested me at 10:00 AM. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play much day 1 as not too many set ups had been… setup… for things like Smash 4 and Melee, which are the two games I was interested in playing. I got to play some rhythm games, but having to pay for them was kind of weak, especially for a con being the size it was. Seeing them fully utilize the hall with Itashas on display and two stages for other events was cool too, as well as the P.A. Works booth.
After hanging out around there I went to the Industry Hall to check it out and man what an overwhelming sight. At least the size of Otakon if not bigger, and with constant traffic around almost any area. Honestly the most offputting thing to me about the convention was the size. Getting into panels, moving around the industry hall, and even just getting from one place to another was hard sometimes. While there are obvious advantages to a big con there are those disadvantages you might not immediately consider.
Anyway, for the rest of day 1 I met up with some people. A friend I met through the speedrunning community, a cosplayer friend I met at Katsucon, and some people from Anitwitter whom I managed to hang out with for the last part of the day, meaning my convention day 1 experience ended mostly after leaving to go hang out in their hotel room. After hanging out with them it was late and while I had wished to be able to stay longer, I was still on a relatively normal sleeping schedule and I also didn’t want to mess around with wandering around an unfamiliar city when it was dark outside.
Onto Day 2… it was certainly a little less interesting than day 1. The most interesting part was getting Chika Anzai’s autograph (also known as the voice of Reina Kousaka from Hibike! Euphonium). I managed to not have to wait very long at all, as I had bought the second collector’s edition of the series. Before AND after that was a Smash 4 tournament. And honestly that was probably one of the lowest points of the con to me.
The tournament was run horribly; free entry and 188 entrants, where at least a third if not more didn’t show up. Throw in the fact that it was single elimination (in a normally double elimination format) and that they had five set-ups… and just imagine how long the tournament took. Two or two and a half hours for me to even play a match because my first opponent didn’t show up. I eventually got knocked out and left to do something else but after coming back 2 hours later (6 hours since the tournament started) it was still ongoing. Left a bad taste in my mouth.
The rest of day 2 was spent killing time. I went to my first panel which was a Q&A with a hentai artist popular on Fakku!. Then I signed up for the Otaku Parliamentary Debate being held on Day 3. After that, I believe I just went back to the hotel room and slept to prepare for Day 3.
Day 3 was the big deal to me. Makoto Shinkai was showing his new movie “your name” and I was definitely going to see it. Unfortunately I misunderstood the autograph situation and didn’t wake up early to get in line to get tickets but I’m not that torn up about it; it was going to be difficult to get a ticket anyway and I’m sure he’ll be back eventually. But the important thing is that I managed to wait 2 hours or so for the movie and I got to see it. I’ll be writing about it soon while it’s still in my mind (of course, with heavy spoiler warnings).
There was no issues getting into the movie itself and thankfully the line management was very forgiving with getting out of line to get drinks or go to the bathroom, unlike some other conventions I’ve been to. So I didn’t have to starve in order to see the movie, given that it was happening over lunch. After, there was a VERY short Q&A with Shinkai but I didn’t get to ask a question, unfortunately. I learned some interesting information about the making of the movie though.
After the movie I went around the dealer’s hall some more and basically tried to kill time until 9:45 PM when I went to the Otaku Parliamentary Debate. That panel was pretty fun; it gave me a chance to get up on stage where I couldn’t before given that none of my panels had gotten accepted. I was able to hold my own but lost to the underdog (no surprise there) team of 1 man who was fighting against teams of 3 and 4. It was based on audience participation and of course no one was going to root against the 1 guy. But we did manage to beat one team and the host of the panel complimented my debating/speaking and I asked him about coming to the east coast to do something similar. Maybe I’ll get in contact with him for future panels? Who knows.
Day 4 wasn’t anything special. Last day of con so that means going to the dealer’s room most of the day to see what was up with any sales. In the end I only bought a few CDs and I got an IA t-shirt (IA from the Vocaloid series of games). I didn’t stay to the very end of the convention and left at about 3:30 PM to get ready to go to Santa Monica. I managed to get there with a few hiccups but that was pretty much the end of my convention. I watched some fireworks and slept to get ready for my return trip.
In conclusion, AX was certainly a good experience to have at least once. Given all the circumstances though I think I’ll be sticking to closer conventions especially because I’m lucky enough to have so many close to me. Plus, I want to run more panels and AX isn’t the best place for that kind of thing. The size was overwhelming even for someone who has been going to cons for years as well. Not getting into panels is annoying given that’s what I usually do at cons to entertain myself. But I got an autograph I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten and I got to see “your name” a full month and a half before anyone else. Overall it was worth it. Made me pine for conventions again and made me sad to leave so I suppose it was successful in that regard.
Anyway, I’m going to be posting up the “your name” article in a few days here too, so look out for that if you’re morbidly curious. Thanks for reading as always and I hope I get to meet more of you guys at future conventions.