Anime Expo 2016 Review — Was It Worth The Hype?

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So I finally went to Anime Expo for the first time ever this year. Let’s talk about my exploits.

I rarely like to take vacations these days because it’s usually more stressful than staying at home and working, and the last time I went on a vacation, I ended up with more injuries than a harem protagonist wandering into the woman’s bathroom. However, I’ve always wanted to get the Expo experience at least once ever since I first started this blog, and after years of my job situation and family plans getting in the way, I ended up going during the best time possible. Scores of big anime names were arriving this year. More online friends than I could possibly meet (sorry, Kurotsuki). One of my favorite anime directors premiering his newest film for the first time. And best of all, the lines weren’t as awful as I feared. They were even promoting Persona 5 with the convention badges, so all in all, it wasn’t the shitstorm of two years ago I’ve heard horror stories about.

What was shitty was the goddamn hotel I had to stay at. I managed to book the last remaining one that was nearby the convention center at a reasonable price, only to discover that the Internet was so bad I could barely keep up with the new season even with 480p streams. The elevator situation was even worse, as most of them were broken down and there were no stairs, so when you couple that with the huge crowd that participates in these conventions…brrrrr. Also, due to some mistakes I made regarding my data usage plan, I had to pay ten dollars to extend it for another gig on my phone so I could use the online guidebook and all that. But I’d gladly suffer through all of that again over the situation I found myself in when my flight back to Texas got cancelled. The one from there was cool, but that return trip was so disastrous I didn’t get home until Independence Day was nearly over.

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But let’s talk about the actual convention. I didn’t really have anything I wanted to do on the first day so I stuck with my online colleagues for the most part, made fun of how PA Works’ booth has a girl from every single one of their series – including Kurumukuro – lined up as if they were the hosts of the event (and before people ask, no I didn’t buy Shirobako merchandise. I never even finished that show), and seeing Tomoka from Ro-kyu-bu beat up Shana from Shakugan no Shana and Kirito from Sword Art Online with her mad basketball skills in that Dengeki Bunko fighting game. Didn’t get to explore as much of the Exhibit Hall as I wanted, but I didn’t mind too much because I don’t buy anime merchandise to begin with. As for the actual panels, I went to the Aniplex one and not only did they announce stuff I didn’t care for, but the dubs on all their trailers were so horrible I stopped caring about the actual anime they were promoting about three seconds into each one. Didn’t stick around for either the Crunchyroll or Jojo panels, but I wish I had, because I had trouble getting into the one for In This Corner of the World, and by the time I got in, most of the actual animation had been shown and they spent the rest of the convention talking about Japanese customs.

The last panel I went to that day was kinda cool, even though I don’t read manga and the stuff they were saying about Perfect Blue wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but I was so tired and restless by that point that I nearly slipped on the stairs. Thankfully, I got back to the hotel and rested up well for the second day. Didn’t have much planned since I didn’t bring anything to get signed, but that changed when I went to the Sound Euphonium panel and ended up buying the expensive blu-rays so that a voice actress I didn’t even know of prior to the thing (Chika Anzai, the voice of Reina) would allow me to join on the signature bandwagon. Now, I only think that show is decent at best, and I’d normally never pay that much money for something that isn’t even the full series and I could just watch on Crunchyroll anyways. But it was worth it just for the experience of owning a signed product, as well as the Eupho plastic fans I could use to cool myself off if I was standing outside in a line. Better than the experience of getting an autograph from Kawamori at least. Did you know if you didn’t wake up really early to get an autograph ticket, you had to buy a Nobunaga the Fool wall scroll for fifty bucks just to get him to sign something? At least I can actually use the things I bought to get my signature. Maybe my brother would like the show considering he was in orchestra.

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The Euphonium stuff was the only real thing I did on the 2nd day though, as all the big events required waiting in long lines to get tickets for, and there’s no way I was doing that for a Sword Art Online, a One-Punch Man, or “anything revolving around anime bands” event. So I went back to the hotel early to prepare myself for the third day and whilst I didn’t get to see the first two episodes of Mob Psycho, it was by far the busiest day for me. I waited in line really early to see Makoto Shinkai’s new film and regardless of my overall opinion on it, the experience of seeing your name with all the Shinkai fans crying, laughing, and getting all excited over what happened in it was completely worth it. So happy I got to see the film before Japan with a huge crowd. Glad to see that Funimation licensed it as well. Probably means I can watch it again that much quicker. I think Enzo wrote about it on his blog (he was at the premiere, although I never got to meet him), and I’ll do it sometime as well.

Aside from that big event, I got to experience the joy of a Korean slider before wrapping up the Expo experience with some panels in the Petree Hall. First was the Production I.G. one, where they announced some Ghost in the Shell stuff, including discussion of the upcoming live-action film. I remember laughing at how they had to keep the tatchiikomas secret, but other than that, I don’t remember nor care about any of the production details discussed regarding with it because I don’t know why people still care about more GiTS, especially after that recent horrible movie and the consensus that Arise was a mistake overall. They did announce Mamoru Oshii was working on something, but apparently it’s only a microseries where each part would be five minutes long, so not much to get hyped about. We did get a trailer for that Production I.G. x Netflix collaboration, Perfect Bones. But whilst it looked cool, so did the initial trailer for Blood Blockade Battlefront (as well as its Funi trailer) and by god did that anime suck hard.

The next one was the FLCL panel. Other than some details on an anime I only think is decent at best and the fact that the Pillows would be returning for the sequels, they didn’t release any new information we didn’t already know. Enough said about that. Didn’t stay for the Trigger panel, but I didn’t have to, because all they announced were sequels that gave me “more of the same” vibes rather than anything new. We’re getting more bloody Little Witch Academia, except now it’s all going to be on Netflix. Well at least it’ll be easier for me to avoid that way. We’re also getting more Inferno Cop. Really do not give a shit about that series anymore, especially since I thought it lost its appeal some time before the finale aired even back then. But apparently, we’re still under the delusion that that short series is the savior of anime we deserve. Yawn. Wake me up when they announce something that’s actually new.

And that was the end of my Expo experience. There were some other activities I did whilst in LA, but they’re more personal and you had to be there to even attempt understanding the experience, so I’m not going to bother boring you with a description of them. I will say though that I’ve never been near a hostage situation before, so seeing Little Tokyo get closed off due to a guy going on a rampage with a sword was kinda surreal.

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From left to right: Shinmaru, Ivan, Bokusatchii, Kat, and Appropriant

But really, at the end of the day, the best thing about Anime Expo was seeing these guys and many more. Well, not “many” more, but at the end of the day, it’s meeting people you usually only interact with online, putting faces to those images you see every day, and hanging out with them in general that makes these things worth going to. Bonus points if they like singing Backstreet Boys with you.

Minor Quips

6 responses to “Anime Expo 2016 Review — Was It Worth The Hype?

  1. Good post. I don’t know how total newbies deal with AX, it’s so huge and crazy that even con vets have a hard time getting around and finding out what’s going on. Like I did not even know about the paid Kawamori autograph session…

    Too bad you didn’t get tickets for the Japan Super Live, that was great.

    • I noticed that you were at AX as well, omo. And I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if it was my first con either.

      Too bad you didn’t get tickets for the Japan Super Live, that was great.

      I think four hours of anime bands is too much of a good thing for my eardrums. I remember when I went to an Urbangarde concert and while the music was fun, the realization that my ears weren’t as deaf as I thought gave me some problems.

  2. I looked online at the prices for the Euphonium blurays and it turns out $75 for the collectors edition is a good price. They go for $85+ on other sites (such as the Crunchyroll store), not including tax and shipping.

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