ANIME EXPO 2015

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Guys, I think I have a favorite convention. Yes, out of all the events I've been to that is nerdy and geeky, Anime Expo has absolutely won my heart. I enjoyed every single day, every second of it. °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

At first, I was kind of hesitant because my scope of anime is more of the older ones, classics to the early 2010s. I know nothing of the on-going and newer ones. My preferences are slice-of-life and music anime. I've watched my share of long-runners such as Yuyu Hakusho, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Rurouni Kenshin. I was a kid when Sailormoon R was released. And having a Japanese aunt meant that I had a Sailormoon related gift every Christmas until I was old enough to braid my own hair. I played and enjoyed video games and JRPGs. I felt I could keep up with it but at the same time, what about the newer crowd?



Turns out, it was not a problem. The anime community is the nicest, most passionate, and welcoming community ever. There was no judgment. So much love and acceptance. It doesn't matter if you put all your time and effort into a costume that you made yourself vs someone you bought off the shelf. I've been ridiculous fat and hairy males dressed up as Sailormoon or Velma from Scooby Doo. It doesn't have to be an anime or cartoon... a good chunk was dressed as Marvel characters especially Captain America on 4th of July. Some of us didn't even bother with costumes or anime-related apparel. But everyone had smiles and excitement. I loved the energy coming from every person on that floor.

DAY ONE

My brother and I got 4-day passes. Whoa. FOUR DAYS. I originally planned to skip Thursday because I had work. I'm off Fridays so that wasn't a problem. But I didn't want to waste a day so I pulled a half-day at work and started my Anime Expo experience. The line to get the badges was non-existent and the push of the Thursday crowd wasn't so bad... yet.

And it definitely was the right choice. It was more overwhelming than any convention, concert, event that I've been to in the past. It's not the volume of people or the cosplayers, it's the vastness of what was there to see. Toys, artwork, videos, random stuff, shiny things, freebies. And of course, the very many people in and out of costume. Let me just say this again, cosplayers rock. It was 80 something degrees all four days and people were walking around in coats, wigs, full body cardboard costumes, wings, headpieces, masks, full face makeup, robes, tentacles, tails, onesies, leather, toting around weapons, shields, stuffed toys, and all the swag that they bought. I can't imagine being under the sun with a heavy wig on your head while waiting for your food at the food trucks. Hats off to you guys. Hopefully, I can join you in your pain next year.

We got there at around 2pm-ish on Thursday. It was 2-3 hours before closing, I believe. We got food and then decided to check out the exhibit floor. Closing time came and we were still just about halfway done. We had one more half and the rest of Artist Alley AND the whole other wing to explore. Towards the last 30 minutes, we just hit the specific places we wanted that were located in the other side, specifically the Capcom and Rice Digital booths.


We just had to come to the Atlus booth first. Persona 4 is something that both my brother and I enjoy a lot. He played all the games and I watched both animes. I think that's the show that brought be back into anime. My brother was raving about the game and when I looked it up, there were two anime versions. Persona 4: The Animation is TONS of fun. Thanks to that, I've found two cosplay possibilities in Yukiko and Chie. If only I can get over my dislike of wigs.


If you're looking for cosplayers, the lobby is where it's at. But I did find a cosplayer on the exhibit floor so good, I just had to take a photo with him. I'm a huge fan of Fullmetal Alchemist and I flipped when I saw this awesome Major Alex Louis Armstrong cosplay! ∩(︶▽︶)∩


I don't take pictures with people a lot nor do I care for autographs. But when I see something that impresses me, I want to be in the photo and I will ask for your autograph. (More on that later.) There was another Alex Louis Armstrong cosplayer who was equally impressive but he was shirtless so I felt a wee bit awkward. ;-)

It was surprising that on day one, we already blew through our budget. The only merch that I buy at conventions are art books. And Funko toys if I see something rare and interesting. But art books, always.

We managed to check out one panel on Day One. And yes, it's the academic panel, Anime & Manga in the Classroom. Apparently, that's a new thing here in the States. I don't know about you but growing up in Asia, I had some awesome teachers and professors who knew about anime as much or more than I did. I would get anime character names in my word problems or photos of them in presentations. I once submitted a project about anime in my grade school years. I would LOVE to have a program dedicated to anime and manga. It's amusing to see Westerners talking about it and trying to pronounce Japanese as best as they could. There were some parts of the panel that I disagreed on but then again, I come from a native Asian perspective and she does not. Overall, it was an interesting panel and it made me want to go back to school just so I can check out manga and anime and getting graded for it.


I was so ready for Day Two. Our first full-ish day at the Expo. We didn't have anything planned except for the Voice Actors panel. There was one every day, I think. And boy, we struck gold attending this particular panel. I'll get to that in a bit.

DAY TWO

So we went through the rest of the exhibit floor the morning of day two. By the time we got done, it was lunchtime. Food trucks are one of the reasons why I love these events. They are expensive and not always worth it but I just love food trucks. And whenever White Rabbit is in town, their tocino rice bowl is a must have. For my brother, it's Jogasaki.

Like I said, I don't go all out on cosplay but to go with the flow, I make an effort. In every con that I go to, I wear my Disney tights from Hot Topic. I'm surprised that I've yet to see somebody else wear them. Every time I wear mine, I get no less than 5 people come up to me asking if they're stockings or "did you really do that to yourself?" Meaning, are they tattoos? (=^▽^=)


I pulled out Alice this time. Snow White was getting a lot of appearances. I love these things. I plan to get backups of them. I've had people take pictures, touch them, applaud. Those things make me feel great. I can only imagine how it feels for cosplayers, being recognized for their effort.

Our one panel of the day, like I mentioned above, was Inside the Voice Actor Studio. I freakin' LOVE voice actors. It gives me a kick when I start to recognize voices from different shows and games. We were so lucky that we picked this day for this panel because they had Todd Haberkorn on the panel. My goodness... Death the Kid from Souleater, Ling Yao from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Firo from Baccano!... and I'm sure many more if I watched more dubbed anime. It was so trippy hearing him talk, seeing a face with a name but when I close my eyes, I picture Ling Yao instead. (′ʘ⌄ʘ‵)


This was the most fascinating panel ever. To see how voice acting works out... they did a demo using people from the audience. It was so awesome to watch. And I love how serious and professional Todd was even though it was just a demo. He coached the participants and it brought out the best in them. It was a beautiful thing.

(Also, I saw some... things... that made me think that I'm not so bad after all. My fangirling might be over the top for some but there are definitely worse people that me. It's a good feeling yet incredibly sad at the same time. Hehehe, peace!)


Day 2 was also the day when I saw the most awkward thing in the world. So... the exhibit hall was closed so we moved to the grounds. We decided to just hangout and look at cosplayers. Then we happened to come across these bunch of Chinese ladies in idol/maid costume and it looked like they were filming a music video. I never actually found out what was going on but like fools, we stayed until they were done filming. Some of them were rehearsing, eating, chatting... then dancing to a song that we could barely hear. None of them could dance well and it was just so awkward to watch each of them. We planned to head home after they were done but our ride wouldn't be until hours later. What to do?

That was when I discovered the joy of the Open Mic rooms. Ooooh, it's so good and so bad at the same time. But you'll definitely feel so much better after just one song in that room! XD I applaud all those brave enough to go up there and sing in a language that they don't speak, singing a song they don't 100% know and can't even follow. Such brave souls. I'm not one of them lol. I might, if it's K-pop. One chick did an SNSD song after all. And I can actually sing. ;-)  Or I could've done Fushigi Purupuru Pururin Rin! song from Welcome to the NHK. If you decide to listen to it, you're welcome.


See. Even No Face was in line to sing. The queue was 2 hours long. Some of them are just overeager people who go up and sing over and over again. Not the same songs but I mean, with a wait that is 2 hours long, you'd think it's a lot more people but really, there was a number of people who frequented the Open Mic rooms. Both rooms.

After three days just hanging out there, these were the most popular songs:
  • unravel from Tokyo Ghoul. No, just... no. 
  • again from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood aka the "final boss" song. You must have some big balls if you're singing this and you don't have any kind of fluency in Japanese. Lovely song though.
  • I'll Make A Man Out of You from Mulan. Even the hallway was singing along.
  • "some Bleach song". Yep, that was how it appeared on screen.
  • Let It Go from Frozen. You just can't get away. I actually have a full video of the whole room, including myself, singing along. Just click the song title. ;-)
Open Mic was gold. It totally paid for my ticket and then some. I have a pedometer on my phone and for the first 2 days, I clocked in at more than 20,000 steps. When I fully realized the magic that was Open Mic, my total topped at around 13,000 to 15,000. Yep, sitting beside an outlet, charging my phone for no less than 3 hours just watching people in costume make brave fools out of themselves. Like with cosplaying, I look forward to joining you next year. I just have to master the final boss song.

Also, July 3 was the first day of the 636 Night Market.  (๑^ں^๑)

DAY THREE

It was Fourth of July. In years past, I would probably end up at the Rose Bowl to watch the fireworks. Nope, not this year. Or the next. I spent my July 4th lunch eating Filipino food (from White Rabbit truck) at a convention celebrating the Japanese entertainment culture wearing my BIGBANG shirt and Middle-Earth leggings. Try digesting that first. (⑅˘͈ ᵕ ˘͈ )


I had ZERO plans for day three. I've seen the floor and I had no panel plans. My brother wanted to go to the Isuna Hasekura panel at 8:30PM. He wrote the light novel Spice & Wolf and we both love that. I've read the first two light novels (out of 17) and enjoyed the anime. I planned to go to some K-pop panel but I got sidetracked by the Open Mic rooms. And I realized that I might not be able to stand a panel about "K-pop journalism". K-pop has the worst headlines ever. It doesn't matter who wrote it; the headline will either make you laugh or cringe or both. And besides, I'm not exactly a K-pop fan... I'm a YG stan. Huge difference. I'll be that one clueless person in the room when they show pictures of groups and random actors. Heh. To each her own.

Although, I did check out another academic panel. Manga & Anime Go To Hollywood. I enjoyed this panel so much. I wish they talked more about live action adaptations of anime but there were time constraints. Anyway, I liked the panel so much that I did pre-order the book!

I think Day 3 was when I took another go at the floor and took pictures. Man, was it CROW-DED. Everyone was off work, it was the weekend, and everyone had money to burn. And we finally got our hands on that free Persona 5 poster bag from the Atlus booth. The first two days, the line was super long and it wasn't really worth it. When we came by on the start of Day 3, there was no line and I managed to get the last Catherine shirt in small so I can get the free bag! 

My brother and I also passed though Artists Alley. I admit, I never went to a convention's artists alley much, if at all. I know, I promise to remedy that very soon. I had an awesome experience. And I think... I'm hooked. (See Day 4.)

The highlight of my day was this guy who sang the FCK out of Motherland from Fullmetal Alchemist. I was innocently reading, trying to ignore the screaming chaos that was going on around me. And then... this guy comes on. I took off my earphones because I knew what song it was. What I didn't expect was for him to sing it so well.

See, that's the reason why I loved the Open Mic rooms so much. You sit through a lot of horrible (but fun) ones, hoping and waiting for that ONE good performance. You go into a room and you'd think, "WTF is this?" But you sit down because you have to charge your phone and rest. There's an outlet nearby so you do just that. After a while, you block out the noise and you find yourself joining the other audience members in cheering the brave souls on whether they're good or not. You experience secondhand embarrassment but you don't leave, even after your phone's fully charged and there's that manga panel you wanted to see. Because.... because you're starting to enjoy yourself. You cheer on the bad ones and applaud the decent ones. Then a crazy good one comes on. And that one performance makes your 3 hours of waiting worth it.

And you come back the next day! (*≧▽≦)

DAY FOUR


OOTD, 7/5/15
SoulEater shirt: Hot Topic
suspender dress: CNDirect
2D bag: AX2015 vendor
Converse boots
You bet I did go back! But we had a friend with us on this final day at Anime Expo. We needed a fresh set of eyes to experience this. Sure, it was just until 5pm and everything was too much all at the same time but after the last 3 days at the Expo, we were pretty much exhausted. All I wanted to do is eat and waste away at Open Mic. But thanks to Mags, we saw the exhibit floor AND Artist Alley in a whole new light.

We were honestly running on fumes. We've been at it for three long days and I'm not used to long commutes anymore. And conventions require a lot of walking. It's overwhelming visually, audibly, and mentally. But it was the last day. We just couldn't wait for it to be done.

(Until I realized that there'll be no more Open Mic after that. Nooo! LMAO.)

Having an otaku with us was fun. She got excited seeing cosplays of her favorite anime. I admit, I'm not as updated as she was but I enjoyed it too. We exchanged recommendations and now, I have a whole new batch of shows to binge watch.

But Artist Alley. Guys. I've been missing so many beautiful things. What the hell? Next convention, I'm reversing the error of my ways. Artist Alley makes me insecure about myself. LOL! I don't draw AT ALL but when I see the different artworks that they have on sale, I wish I could draw or color like that. I never really felt the need to buy art in the past. In fact, I ventured back into Artist Alley because I was going with Mags for the first half of her Anime Expo. I ended up buying two pieces on impulse and dang, one made me so EXTREMELY happy.


I had a stupid smile on my face for the rest of the day. Yuyu Hakusho was the anime of my childhood. I'd watch this every year, dubbed in Filipino. Now, I have the whole series in Japanese. I still love it. I love this piece of art so much that I actually had the artist sign it. He was packing up my purchase when, on a whim, I asked him to sign it. I think I made his day as much as he did mine. :)

The rest of my day was spent, you guessed it, at the Open Mic rooms. There were good ones who sang For Good from Wicked and If I Were A Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof. For a final song, one of the staff volunteers lead the remaining audience members to Viva La Vida by Coldplay. It was just so great and what an awesome convention experience.

I had such a good time that I bought our 4-day passes to Anime Expo 2016 as soon as I got back home. No joke. Aaaand... I'm planning to cosplay. I'M DEAD SERIOUS. My choices are Aisaka Taiga from Toradora! and Shiina Mayuri from Steins;Gate mainly for their shorter heights. And they're cute. Hah! I'm not claiming to be cute but at least I have the height requirement covered. I would like to try to be Amagi Yukiko from Persona 4 or Makisa Kurisu from Steins;Gate as well. Maybe. I don't know.

So that's that. This recap is long overdue and just plain long. I'll stop making you read now and dump a bunch of pictures starting in 3... 2... 1...

Yay parenting!
El Psy Congroo!
I saw Mojo Jojo at WonderCon too!
He was at last year's Comikaze too.
Familiar?