Anime Expo 2012 Wrap Up

Anime Expo 2012 winner of best cosplay.

Well, another year of Anime Expo has come to pass, and since I’ve gone since like 2002 or some shit I didn’t miss this year either. Almost did, but things ended up working out so we went but only for 3 days given there was absolutely nothing to do for the most part. Anyway, this is a wrap-up/review of the convention and how it was. I’ll make another separate post for my purchases by tomorrow.

Let’s start off with the shitty stuff then move on to the good stuff.

Exhibit Hall!

SHITTY STUFF

Staff

First up on the list – the convention itself. Anime Expo is very well known for having an AWFUL staff full of incompetent and clearly retarded fucks running it, staffing it, and volunteering for it. This was no different this year. Okay, it was slightly different. I have to admit there was a SHIT TON more staff, and that some actually seemed to know what they were doing and weren’t complete sacks of shit, which is a huge surprise if you’ve ever been to AX in the past.

Hell, the only time I even got called out by one was because he wanted to let me know I could skip to the front of the registration line due to being disabled (as he noticed my cane after coming to tell me to stop sitting on some stairs – and also let me stay on them after that given I already had my badge). Aside that they didn’t pull out their usual threats of kicking you out or whatever else which they often do very quickly for anything, or fuck with you because your leg is injured and make you miss panels because god forbid they let you use the elevator instead of climbing the stairs you’re incapable of getting up. Also worth mentioning, and very surprising, somehow not a single one managed to yell at walls – which if you’ve been to AX, you might know what I’m talking about. A certain not-anymore-on-the-staff guy who used to be a pretty high up in charge of the majority of the staff used to very literally talk to walls and expect people to listen somehow. It’s not even an exaggeration, he was a fucking moron. He would then freak out about why nobody was listening – staff and attendees, and start treating both equally shitty for his incredibly retarded bullshit. Gee, I wonder why he wasn’t there at all. Overall the entire staff was much more polite and well behaved, still mostly DIPSHITS who don’t know what they are doing, but not assholes and a handful of smart ones and that’s very seriously a big step up. In my comments on a previous entry just last night or so I got someone saying they were treated like shit by the staff – so I could have just been getting lucky, and with how many staff members they added this year it’s very possible we just never ran into the same ones or they had extremely bad timing or something. But for me personally they were much better than any of the recent previous years.

However, still shitty for the most part thanks to the stupidity in most cases.

Loli cosplaying an extremely high Henrietta. Gun and all!

– Every panel was interrupted by the convention staff getting on their mics out of nowhere – even during the actual panel, whether they were talking or showing trailers or whatever. And why? Oh, to make sure to obsess that everyone, EVERYONE, don’t leave any empty seats there’s no room we need every seat raise your hand if you have an empty seat lbah blah blalh blah blah blah. Which would be okay if they did it (1) before the panel BEGAN and (2) if there really WERE NOT enough seats. However, let me make this very clear, there were literally hundreds of VERY CLEARLY OPEN seats. One entire side of the room was full of probably around 500 seats that NOBODY was in aside maybe 3 or 4 people. And no, they weren’t special seats, roped off, or anything, just nobody was fucking sitting in them because of personal preference. So was it necessary to interrupt the panels just to repeat this worthless shit instead of, I dunno, making people sit in places they might not want to? The room was never full, and never even close either, not even by the end of ANYTHING. Even the Kajiura concert which “sold out” shit tons of empty seats.

– Speaking of the panels and the staff being inept yet again, on day 1 the AC was broken (which may be out of their hands given it’s not their building) so it was hot in Funi’s first panel. It wasn’t SUPER hot, but it was very uncomfortable and even the Funimation PR girl joked about it at the end. And more importantly, the projector – which IS up to the AX staff to maintain and run – was FUCKED up. It covered everything in a pink and purple hue very heavily and anything remotely dark was unseeable. Yet, they did nothing. The entire hour long panel – mostly of trailers – was entirely fucking pointless and the AX people didn’t even bother trying to fix it or apologizing.

Pre-reg day 0 line.

Lines

Lines this year were also not very different from the past. They were poorly designed, poorly run, and almost always completely pointless. It was nice they were smart enough to for one of the bigger and more popular panel rooms to use the empty adjacent rooms for more line forming. But aside that it was just as bad as ever.

Worse even is the fact that the Kajiura concert that you had to buy SPECIFIC SEAT NUMBERED TICKETS for online, for some reason, had a line! And not only that, but this line wasn’t allowed to move at all for over half an hour after the concert was supposed to have already started and this still took another 30 minutes about due to them very slowly letting the line go in. But going back to the seat numbered ticket thing – there was NO REASON FOR A LINE TO BEGIN WITH. No matter who got in first you had a SPECIFIC SEAT. And if they had just opened the doors and let those with tickets in, the concert MAY have not started about an HOUR late – which was actually it’s planned ENDING time. Shit like this is embarrassing and makes us look awful to the Japanese guests. An hour fucking late is not okay. This wasn’t nearly as bad as the recent awful convention concert many have heard about where the staff fucked up so amazingly bad it basically made the concert ruined for both the performer(s) and the attendees, not to mention they left the fucking lights on maximum the whole time. But, that’s not AX, so it’s not relevant.

Another line issue was the one for pre-registration. They do this every year somehow and it never gets better. It’s retarded and given everyone already paid should be much more fucking streamlined and fast. Instead it takes 7 hours of standing in a line because the staff has no idea what they are doing.

Prices and Trickery

The prices of con-priced stuff (as in, concert tickets, the convention itself, etc) were increased dramatically. I believe the 4 day badge was $75 but more importantly the concert/main event tickets were priced from 20~ (real shitty back seats in a flat room) to 40~ (real shitty front seats in a flat room) after being only $15 for tickets to the actual Nokia Theater even.

– More importantly on that previous matter – they very clearly purposefully tricked people into believing they were buying tickets for the Nokia Center such as previous years. They not only didn’t say otherwise, they even used the exact seating chart from the Nokia center for when you picked your seat. Only AFTER your transaction went through it tells you it’s in the LACC and not the actual concert theater. The place you THOUGHT you were paying all that extra money for and, given it was amazing the previous years they’ve used it, figured it was worth the cost.

Manga Gamer booth! Didn’t have anything worth buying that I haven’t bought from them already and am actually interested in. Also, not a fan of them raising the price for sketches from $15 to $80. Not related to the pricing complaints as AX staff has nothing to do with it, duh, but still shitty.

Nothing to do, limited and mostly lackluster GoHs, very few worthwhile panels, etc.

– One of the biggest problems I had personally was that there was basically nothing there this year. Where were the Japanese guests of honor? Where were the voice actors? Where was ANYBODY? Very seriously the ONLY THINGS TO DO were a few basic panels – ie RightStuf and Funimation, and the Yuki Kajiura concert. Aside that the entire schedule was just awful and (not literally) empty. You might disagree due to personal tastes…but even then, it’s a FACT that there were barely any guests at all this year. Disregarding my tastes, the entire convention had like 3 voice actors total, like two of which were american, and one or two japanese industry guests. There were a handful more but they were all hidden mixed into bigger panels and still most were not exactly big names.

The quality of the panels was pretty low too. Funimation for example just showed off titles they already announced and kept shoving their awful dragon age movie (which looks like a 2001 CG film) and clearly spent their entire budget on trying to sell the shitfest tryhard anime that is Panty and Stocking. Oh, and again, no mention of Railgun at all. RightStuf’s was alright, but nothing really happened worth mentioning there either. NISA at the very least basically said Working’!! (Wagnaria!!/Working!! season 2) is coming. Funi’s second panel was literally the first one with shorter trailers this time and even more Panty and Stocking pushing. Another personal issue was that a couple of the actual worthwhile panels had horrible times AND were not left in the schedules. If you look at the printed schedule and most of the ‘updated’ ones at the con itself, for some reason Production I.G. and a handful of others were just entirely missing from it – when they were on the online version a week prior. And more importantly, they weren’t cancelled or anything, they were just fucked over by the AX staff for some reason, so the only way anyone knew if they were still happening was thanks to the other panels mentioning it due to Maki being such a fun person that everyone is friends with her, so RightStuf, Funi, and I think NISA, all mentioned her and asked for people to try and get to her very poorly scheduled 9am panel. I usually always go to the I.G. panel but that wasn’t doable this year, but it still annoys me that they managed to cut off a few panels from their schedules like that.

In the end we ended up basically going Day 0 as a last minute ‘why not’ which took way longer than it should have but at the actual con we went only Day 1 for about 6 hours, Day 2 for the longest this year at around 11 hours (pretty much entirely for the concert and wanting to go to an early panel which aside shopping are the only things we did I believe – and not wanting to pay for parking twice in one day or the gas to go from Long Beach to LA twice in one day), and then Day 3 for another 5 or so hours which were spent 100% in the dealers room and then the AMV rescreening, nothing else.

– I can’t really blame AX at all for it but the AMVs were awful yet again, as always. However, the staff is to blame for one thing, the awful organization and genre choices of the AMVs. There were literally 2 comedies in Drama and two more in Action. Comedies are exactly that – comedy. These are not TV series or feature length films – so the idea of ‘maybe they really were both’ doesn’t come into play. Plus, these weren’t both. For example, this godawful naruto and DBZ video that won the action category somehow – it was just a terrible crossover amv that was entirely based around trying to make the low-tier casuals who think cartoon network is the best thing ever and naruto is such a yaoi bishy to laugh because narutus was fighting along side gooku. That’s not action, that’s (unfunny) comedy. And then the winners of the AMTV Pro or whatever its called category – yes, winnerS – were a pair of two. Not one guy. Since when did they allow teams to compete in the AMV contests? That seems entirely unfair to people who worked their asses off by themselves for you to show up and win because you simply had someone else do half the work for you. Not to mention one of them WORKS FOR ANIME EXPO. HMMM I WONDER HOW THEIR AWFUL VIDEO WON…Fuck the AMVs and fuck the contest. I’m so glad nobody got fucking money and just got those cheap wal-mart director chairs this year.

Don’t know how good or bad the costumes were, but for some reason the three S;G cosplayers walking staggered like this and in this order just seemed so accurate and natural for the characters. They were just leaving for the day but it seemed like a better moment than them posing on purpose.

– It may have just been me but it seemed like there was a big lack in cosplay this year. I did see plenty of costumes, but much less than I feel like is usually there. Then again, as I mentioned, there wasn’t much to do so I could have just not noticed as we weren’t there or sitting around much. I also didn’t see any cosplay of stuff I figured there’d be some of, or at least more. Such as Tales of Graces – though there were a couple Pascal’s so that was cool at least given she’s the best anyway, wasn’t able to get any pics though. But I was still expecting more. Hell, even stuff I expected to be overly annoyingly done like Steins Gate there were only a handful of them.

– Fuck the X-Games.

GOOD STUFF

I’ll leave the best for last, so first up

– Carpet in the dealers hall! Yes, the entire fucking place, not just the front or a side or something, the ENTIRE exhibition hall was carpeted which also was great for my leg issues. I’m not including artists alley as they aren’t really part of the dealers hall and are just pushed in there nowadays because there’s space. Also, everyone in the AA was awful this year, fucking ponies and dr.who are not anime, and if you didn’t do those, your shitty art shouldn’t be considered it either. There were maybe 3 booths out of the HUGE number of them that had actual good stuff. Sadly, the people who have done awesome stuff in the past – including the booths I ended up spending upwards of 300 bucks combined last or the year before last (I forget, i think the former) at were just entirely not there which kind of sucked. So the AA is a con but oh well. Exhibition hall was great.

– Another pleasant thing, Air Conditioning was actually on and working this year.

PSG being pushed in ways that are pretty much as stupid and shitty as the show itself.

– Lot’s of great merch (I’ll have a post specifically about my swag up later) , surprisingly I saw a lack of more recent popular shows merchandise yet a LOT of Working!! and other older shows stuff. Nothing I even bought is from anything recent aside like two things. Everyone was as kind as always in terms of the shopkeepers and things. Also found a lot of rare stuff!

– NISA basically said they will be bringing over Working’!! (season 2 of Wagnaria/Working), which I got lucky someone ran up last second after they said no more questions and asked. I love Working and season 2 is great too, so that was nice to hear from them even if it was assumed already, they didn’t announce it or anything but they made it out like “well duh”, practically saying exactly that.

– NISA also DID announce (not just imply, but officially stated) bringing over Atelier Ayesha, which is awesome news. The game only came out in Japan like one or two weeks ago, so it won’t be here for awhile, but it’s coming!

He ran out of Command Points just in time for this picture to get taken.

Yuki Kajiura and Fiction Junction concert!

As I said, best for last. The concert was awesome. Kajiura and crew live was entirely something I didn’t expect, I mean I clearly knew it was exactly that, but I never really thought about it aside Kajiura being there, and when listening to her music I didn’t really think about the vocals or anything too much in the past. However, seeing them live really gave me an entirely new perspective, feel, and vision of her music. It was hampered a bit by being where it was instead of being in the Nokia theater which would have made it absolutely amazing, but it was still pretty much just as great even in this setting. Now when I hear the music I don’t just hear the music, I can (for the most part) have a more full idea of the song itself and know who is doing what parts which, being able to differentiate and know the faces of each part, really adds to the overall music. Kajiura laid it out pretty simply at the start and it’s much more true than I realized. The four of them all have their one part that they are focused on in every song which is how the vocals and choruses get such an awesome feel to them in almost every song.

Also, the smallest one of the singers was the most surprising. I’ve never actually looked up Fiction Junction or anything outside of just the music (no images or anything), so while I knew these girls sang I never saw or knew how many there were. Finding out there were only 4 was pretty surprising. But back to the point, the smallest girl looked and acted much like a genki idol (which is silly considering the type of music) and had a girly Japanese voice when speaking. Kajiura introduced her as being an alto to a baritone, which seemed unlikely or like she was joking or exaggerating a bit. However, this wasn’t only true, but beyond what you’d even imagine. She had an extremely deep and powerful voice for any woman, but even moreso for being a moe little Japanese girl dancing around like an idol half the time during the more upbeat or active songs. I believe she’s either Oda or Keiko, I’m not sure which.

However, the whole team up there of Kajiura, the guys on the instruments and sound deck, and of course the 4 amazing singers, were so into it that you could see it even from a bit back and without looking at the screens. It was really intense and you could both clearly see and hear it. And, listening to some Kajiura tracks on the way home – including plenty I’ve heard before – I was blown away by how different it was live than on their studio versions. Both are amazing music, but you can really feel that intensity in person, and as for the vocals, they were pretty much putting their all into everything – they were basically overpowering everything else completely. In the studio versions it’s all more balanced, but the live versions are much more powerfully gotten across to the listener and it was almost like they were competing with the music instead of just singing with it which gave it a real great feel of them sincerely doing their best and made the vocals stand out way above anything else.

Kajiura was also pretty fun, and even right off the bat while just introducing the girls and herself was making everyone laugh and making jokes. Overall it’s always great but seeing her stuff live and the vocalists really was crazy and awesome. EASILY the high point of the con, and the same can be said for the previous years concerts for that matter. I love Kajiura music but I wish they’d have played less My Hime and Meguka and more Xenosaga and other older stuff. I mean, no Hepatica or Sweet Song? Come onnnnn. But seriously, it was great. Also, we were sitting behind the press, meaning there was a gigantic space between us and the row infront of us – basically the full size of a hallway, and the “press” was just the one camera for the large screens and the one japanese team with one camera, which I mention this at all because that group was allowed to film in a ‘no filming even for press’ environment plus more importantly they had some Japanese girl dancing around for their camera and stuff, it was silly and cute but I have no idea who the FUCK they were. But they were all clearly Japanese and she was clearly someone relevant on some level.

Yet another shot of the exhibition hall.

Overall

I’d say this years AX was a mix of good and bad with the ‘bad’ outweighing the good in terms of what it should be. I’m extremely happy with the concert (upset it wasn’t in Nokia though) and also very happy with my purchases, but very very very let down in the lack of guests and panels. It felt like the extra high prices this year and the past couple was put into SOME stuff that was good for the attendees, such as the carpeting and AC, but also felt like they were ripping us off to pad their checks. But all in all I did enjoy it. I really didn’t do much at all aside shopping, like 4 panels, the amv rescreening, and of course the concert, so it felt pretty empty – but with the awesome merch available this year and the amazing concert it really makes it easy to forget how we didn’t do much of anything else. Plus, thanks to the small time we were there most days I didn’t feel that harsh fatigue that usually comes with AX and makes it a literal pain, which I think actually made my overall experience better – just not for the reasons it should have been, you know, anime related stuff.

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