「Anime Expo 2016」
Photos Courtesy of Takaii & Xumbra
Anime Expo 2016!
Even though I wasn’t able to enjoy the convention for its entirety (I was up in Northern California for most than half because of family related things), what I was there for was simply amazing. Luckily I also had Guardian Enzo, Xumbra, and Jig there to cover things in my steed (their impressions down below!).
Takaii’s General Impressions
Having been around the anime convention scene for a while now, I can safely say that this year’s Anime-Expo was one of the best. Jam packed to the max with literally everything a con-goer would be looking for be it people or merchandise, it’s entirely possible you wouldn’t be able to see everything you wanted to without hustling a bit. Starting with the basics though, one of the biggest changes compared to previous Anime-Expos at the Los Angeles Convention Center was the separation of Artist Alley and Dealer’s Hall. For the uninitiated, Anime-Expo’s Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley are, to put it simply, gigantic. With booths for as far as the eye can see, it’s entirely possible you could get lost looking for your favorite shows before you even realized it. Getting back on track though, it was definitely a little strange having the two in separate places. Traditionally held side-by-side on the upper floor, the Artist Alley was moved downstairs this year in favor of expanding the Dealer’s Hall. Overall it felt pretty nice to not have my attention split between decided whether or not to go to the “official” merchandise side versus going to the cooler or more unique artist’s side.
That said, there was one big issue with the Artist Alley being held downstairs. And that my friends, would have to be the horribly hot temperatures combined with tons of bodies being crammed side-by-side with made the whole area feel like a hot swampy mess. And that’s apparently on the days where management decided to crank up the air conditioning after getting enough complaints about the whole thing. And while I’m not here to attack anyone since there’s always going to be growing pains for a convention this large, especially when they try something new, I have to give props to the artists and their booth buddies for enduring the rough environment. I was down there for maybe an hour and a half and never have I wanted to strip all my clothes off more than I did after exiting.
If you want some additional reading from someone who actually sat through all of that and still managed to stay positive while giving some constructive criticism, check out this little blurb here. (No, I don’t know this person and just caught the write up from a friend. It’s a good read though.)
My Quick Thoughts
As I said earlier, I wasn’t actually able to experience most of this Anime-Expo since I was gone for three out of the four days. Which is a damn shame because of all the huge names that were there (Aquors, Flow, Aoi Eir, Suwabe Junichi, ZUN, and Kato Kazue just to name a few). That said, I still managed to live vicariously through all my friends who really embraced this year’s con culture. From seeing pictures of the amazing AniMatsuri Japan Super Live which had like a billion artists performing to some “illegally” filmed videos of Flow and OLDCODEX from battle of the bands, I think it really says something about how fun a convention is when you can have almost as much fun as the people who were there.
In terms of convention staff and what not, everyone was just as friendly and helpful if not more so than previous years. While I can’t say for sure, it feels like management has taken steps to make the process of experiencing the con a much more enjoyable one. I also appreciated the extra security both from the convention itself and from more frequent citing of police. Because with all the crazy things that have been happening throughout the year, the last thing we need is some horrible incident to happen during one of the biggest conventions. And before I forget, I have to give a huge shout out to the convention for actually providing awnings outside for all the people who pre-registered for their badges. That simple gesture probably made everyone in that line so much happier that they probably forgot about just how god damn long that line was (it did move pretty quickly on most of the days from what I heard though).
I always have this fear that Anime-Expo is going to stop being the cool and awesome con that I remember it as. Amazingly, it’s still going strong and seems to get better and better each and every year. This year in particular, it felt like we had so many different things to do that there just wasn’t enough time to squeeze it all in. Luckily, there are some rumors flying around that the convention might add one more day to its schedule next year. And while I’m not sure how that’d work logistically since ending on July 4th allowed people who regular jobs to actually attend, if the rumor is true they have an entire year to figure that one out.
Anyways, I’ll catch you guys next year (hopefully) and I apologize in advance for the smaller number of pictures. Have a great one and I’ll see you around in the other posts!
P.S. It’s my birthday today! Haha. I think I managed to put out an AX post on my birthday a few years ago too lmao.
The easiest thing for me to do after my first trip to Anime Expo would be to complain about the management. And since it’s the elephant in the room, I guess I have to acknowledge it. Yes, the way this con is run is terrible – it’s like something from a Lovecraft story. I’ve been to many like-sized events in both the U.S. and Japan, and while the latter may be an unfair standard, even the U.S. cons have generally been much better in terms of line management and communication. Staff is a mix of affable volunteers who know nothing, and genuine DBs who seem drunk on power. And no one seems to know the policy as regards press (which is clearly posted on the A/X website).
Still, even taking all that into account A/X is a great event. There’s a ton of top-shelf programming and an unbelievable guest list. I wish they didn’t cram 98% of the really good stuff into Saturday and Sunday, because that forced me to miss several things I really wanted to see due to scheduling conflicts, while Friday and Sunday had almost nothing I wanted to attend. But in a matter of two days I saw a Shinkai world premiere with the director in the hall (sneaking around in the dark to gauge reactions), heard from the founders of P.A. Works and Bones, and interviewed two of my heroes from FLCL. Not even A/X mismanagement can tarnish that for me.
It was also great seeing just how passionate American fans still are for anime. Attendance was over 100K for the four days, and while that still pales next to Comiket (500,000 in three) it’s impressive. And the sheer scope of Artist’s Alley makes me believe that the U.S. could support a full-on Comiket style event, either in conjunction with A/X or as a standalone. I’ll definitely plan to be back, with a few lessons I learned this year tucked under my belt.
This was the most fun I’ve ever had at Anime Expo! I got to meet up with lots of friends, both new and old, and experienced so many things.
The biggest highlight for me was seeing ZUN, the creator of the Touhou Project. As a fan of doujin music, I’m just awestruck by seeing not just seeing him, but Yuro and JYUNYA, the creators of Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet and Touhou Genso Wanderer. Hearing their thoughts on Japanese and Western fans, Touhou, and game development was interesting, and as expected ZUN had a cup of
Another highlight was the watching the premiere of Makoto Shinkai’s your name. True to Shinkai’s work, there’s plenty of scenery porn, the characters were likeable, and everything in the story was tied together neatly. I enjoyed this more than Garden of Words, and as much as I want to talk about it with my friends anything I say will probably ruin the story. Please watch this, it’s amazing.
The other things that come to mind are the Overwatch cosplay meetup (sitting in the sun for an hour, the things I do for my fandom), watching the first two episodes of Mob Psycho 100, and ultimately missing out on the Japan Super Live concert, despite buying tickets for it. Thank you unannounced family plans.
But some things can be improved. For example, picking up my press badge was difficult, as I was directed all over the place before I (ran into Enzo and) finally got where I needed to be. And there were times when I had to help a friend line up for a panel, and it wasn’t obvious where the line for the panel was. You might think the line would be next to the room, but in some cases you’ll have to go down the stairs, walk through the food court, take a right to go outside, cross the bridge, head down the stairs to the left, and then find the line under the tent! I knew all of this because I’ve been to Anime Expo before, but my friend visiting for the first time didn’t. And while I’m not an artist, I’ve heard that the lack of air conditioning in the Artist Alley was a big deal.
But overall, Anime Expo was fun, and I would totally go again.
“Luckily I also had Guardian Enzo, Xumbra, and Jig there to cover things in my steed…”
“the Artist Alley was moved downstairs this year in favor of expanding the Dealer’s Hall.”
“… made the whole area feel like a hot swampy mess”
“growing pains for a convention this large, especially when they try something new, I have to give props to the artists and their booth buddies for enduring the rough environment.”
“I also appreciated the extra security both from the convention itself and from more frequent citing of police..”
“The easiest thing for me to do after my first trip to Anime Expo would be to complain about the management. And since it’s the elephant in the room, I guess I have to acknowledge it.”
“There’s a ton of top-shelf programming and an unbelievable guest list. I wish they didn’t cram 98% of the really good stuff into Saturday and Sunday…”
“And the sheer scope of Artist’s Alley makes me believe that the U.S. could support a full-on Comiket style event”
“This was the most fun I’ve ever had at Anime Expo! I got to meet up with lots of friends, both new and old, and experienced so many things.”
“The biggest highlight for me was seeing ZUN, the creator of the Touhou Project. As a fan of doujin music, I’m just awestruck by seeing not just seeing him, but Yuro and JYUNYA…”
“But overall, Anime Expo was fun, and I would totally go again.”