Better late than never?
Over a month later, I'm finally posting my Anime Expo report. Most of this was written up the week following the convention, but I was lazy about getting the pictures off my tablet, stuff happened, etc. I apologize for my crazy amount of procrastination.
For my second Anime Expo, I made it for two days! Unfortunately, I completely screwed up meeting up with people offline because I assumed that there would be at least one free wifi hotspot I could hook up to to broadcast my location. That was a dumb assumption for me to make, since that wasn't true (or rather, I gave up before I realized that the food court had wifi) and I missed everybody. Lesson learned. I will do a better job next year! (And/Or get a smart phone.)
I made it to the convention center a little bit after 10 in the morning and experienced a miracle: there was no line for pre-reg badge pickups! I literally walked right through. It didn't even take five minutes. I will hold on to this memory, since I doubt it'll ever happen again.
The first panel I went to was for Megumi Han, and I think I'm an even bigger fan of hers now! She was really cute and funny. She's clearly a person who loves her job and knows the kind of impact VAs have on fan favorite characters. I also loved how she played along with the guy who asked for a rock-paper-scissors match and did it in Gon's Nen pose.
After that was the Fate/Zero English dub screening, and it sounded pretty good to me. I was thrown for a bit of loop with the pronunciation they went with for Rin's name though. Was that how it was done in the first season's English dub? I wouldn't know. Anyway, as with most gorgeously animated shows, big screen beats a NicoNico player every time. The blooper reel with Kotomine insisting that everyone get a haircut and a shave was also hilarious.
After buying some stuff from GSC's booth (more on that below), I went to get in line for Megumi Han's autograph session. I had my raffle ticket from her panel the day before, and from what I'd read on AX's website about their new autograph policy, I assumed that I'd be able to skip the huge line waiting for raffle vouchers. Once I got to the autograph area, I asked a staff member if my assumption was right, and he sent me right through to the pink waiting area. After a few minutes of being ecstatic about my excellent place in line, another staffer came up and kicked out me and another person out, saying that despite the fact that we had raffle tickets, we still had to wait in the insanely long line in order to exchange them for vouchers. Needless to say, me and the other person were pissed off, since there seemed to be no point to the tickets. And since it was getting close to the start of the autograph session, it was likely that by the time we got through the line it would already be over or at least past the cutoff.
We complained to several other staffers about it while we moved through the line, and we got the same response from all but one person, who agreed with us that it was stupid, but she didn't have the authority to do anything about it. Eventually, one of the staff members we had spoken to came back, apologized, exchanged our tickets for priority vouchers on the spot and sent us through to the autograph area. Vindication! I ended up with a good spot in the priority line (#35) and Megumi Han signed the front of my Gon Figma and was very happy to hear me speak Japanese. All's well that ends well, but there's definitely a few kinks that need to be ironed out if AX is going to keep this policy. I think that having a separate and clearly marked line for people who attended the panels to exchange their raffle tickets for priority line passes would be a good start at cutting down the confusion.
Because of that little problem, I completely missed the Attack on Titan panel, but as it turned out the line for the Sunrise industry panel I'd also wanted to go to was getting long, so I waited for that instead. I'll be honest, I was disappointed. I was hoping to hear more details about the second Tiger & Bunny movie and the second season of Valvrave (which still got big cheers in the room when it was mentioned, albiet with an undercurrent of disapproving mutters), but they just ended up parroting information I could've easily found on the internet. That section might as well have been a press release. The "big announcement" ended up being for another Gundam series getting official English subtitles on Daisuki (Gundam ZZ). The only Gundam series I've seen is 00, so this didn't mean much to me, but I'm happy for the people who were excited. They also showed the trailer for their new project, Gundam Build Fighters, which looks like Angelic Layer but with Gunpla. It seems that they're trying to market it to the older fans as an opportunity to see crossover fights, but again, since I'm not very familiar with the franchise, most of this flew right over my head. I bailed on the panel soon afterwards.
I wanted to go to the Garden of Words screening, but the line was already insane even though I got there an hour early, the hallway was already full. I took one look at that, went "lol, no" and went back to the food court to eat pizza instead.
The last panel that I went to was for A-1 Pictures, with Masuo Ueda as an industry guest. The Q&A part was interesting, but it was painfully obvious that it was scripted, with the questioner asking these vague questions in English that were copy-pasted on the PowerPoint they were showing, and then Ueda responding in Japanese without needing them translated. He was also in Kirito cosplay and wearing the Kuro mask that was given out at the Blue Exorcist screening. Since UtaPri sold so well, do you think he'll come in Starish cosplay next year? (That was a joke. ...Sort of.) The panel wrapped up with clips from their upcoming projects, including the noitaminA title that was just announced, Galileo Donna.
People are calling this Line Con 2013 for a good reason. Aside from my insanely good luck when I got my badge, I spent a lot of time in line. For the A-1 panel, there was even a line waiting for the start of the line. It was that crazy. That said, the staff was helpful and friendly to me in finding where I needed to wait for a certain panel and in keeping the line moving. However, there clearly were some logistics problems and there weren't clear cut off points. For example, the line to wait for the Fate/Zero screening was pretty far away from where the actual screening room was located. I don't know if I would've found it if it weren't for the Kayneth cosplayer outside the door. I don't think that anything I went to started on time because of how long it took to get people in the rooms.
I spent a lot of time in the Exhibit Hall, and I'm just as impressed as I was last year with the industry booths. Sentai went all out with the cosplayers and the tank, and while I did enjoy the show they put on, I'm not giving them any money until they make a concrete statement about what they're going to do about their QC problems. They should be focusing on putting out a quality product first, not as an afterthought.
But my favorite booth was from GSC! This was a huge deal for the figure community, since this convention season is the first time they've been willing to have an official booth with prototype displays somewhere outside of Japan! This was the first booth I went to on Day Three, since the lines on Day Two seemed to have an approximate wait time of infinity. Still, I'm happy that this went well for them, and I was able to grab some great pictures while I was waiting. You can see the stuff that I bought from them below.
As for the programming, I enjoyed everything I went to even though the Sunrise panel wasn't what I expected. A lot of stuff that I was interested in was cross-booked, including a couple industry panels I wanted to go to, and with the lines being insane, choices had to be made. I hope that they don't group so many together like that next year. And also, like I mentioned above, there was no clear cut-off point so I didn't have much of clue whether I was going to get in or not. I did make it to everything I lined up for, but I've already heard stories about more popular panels and the Blue Exorcist screening turning away hundreds of people.
In summary, this convention is clearly growing, and the line policies in place don't seem to fit anymore. I have no idea how the convention staff can fix this problem, though. As kind of a sidebar to that, I know that the convention has a very strict solicitation policy, but at one point when I was taking a breather and making sure all my stuff was still on me after going through a crush of people, I was a approached by a woman who clearly wasn't staff and was asked to make a donation to a charity I'd never heard of. I told her that I had no cash (which was true) and she went on her way, but it brings up the problem of having so many people in one area. It is impossible to enforce all the rules and keep track of everyone. Bag check was more of a joke than anything else; I brought a large shoulder bag that I bring to fairs, airports, etc., so I'm used to it being searched through since I can put a lot of stuff in it. On Day Two, the guy looked through it pretty thoroughly and was fine with the snack bars I had in there, but on Day Three it was barely glanced at before I was waved through. It was also very easy to bypass, and felt more like something put in place to make people feel more secure, not because they were actively looking for something.
That said, aside from the conflicting instructions I got at the autograph area, all of the staff I talked to were nice, polite, and helpful. But if this convention is going to balloon into something like Saturday every day, I wonder if they're in over their heads.
Not pictured: My signed Gon figma (since it has my IRL name on it and I'm not ready to reveal my secret identity on this blog just yet), the Sailor Moon pin and poster I got at the Kodansha booth, and the free Cardfight-themed notebook from Bushiroad.
--Not nearly as many Homestuck cosplayers this year. They seem to have been replaced with SAO and Attack on Titan cosplayers. Especially Attack on Titan. I am okay with this.
--On Day Two, I saw a ton of guys walking around with the free [K] posters Viz was giving out, as well as other [K] merch. Either the fandom at large is more accepting than I give it credit for, or I've underestimated Viz's marketing.
--I could not get close to Aniplex's booth on both days, even though they were giving out postcards and Fate/Zero stamps like last year (and the lines weren't nearly as long then!)
--More line shenanigans on Day Three when GSC had the poster for huke's signing at their booth, making it look like the line there was the line for the signing. In actuality, it was along the wall. They had to explain this to a bunch of confused people before it occured to someone to move the poster.
--Lots more not-quite-anime booths this year, with a steampunk watch booth and more clothing stalls of different styles, like Lolita.
If you see yourself or your friend represented and would like to be credited (a link to your Tumblr, etc.), feel free to tell me and I will add it!
And that's it for this year! I have many more photos over on my Google+ page (mostly of the GSC booth) if you want to see more.
Photos by me.