After a bunch of crazy running around to confirm whether I COULD go or not, I finally made my way to Anime Expo. The event was particularly a big deal for me since, besides the usual guest stuff happening, I would be:
1. Meeting up with Shirukii for the first time.
2. Hanging out with my usual friends for the last time until whenever I’m able to leave Montana again.
It really was quite a trip, and I made a lot of good and not so good memories there. For starters…
Day 1 – Pre-registration, Sawashiro Miyuki
I left early morning to catch my 6:15 AM flight to Salt Lake City where I would transfer planes and fly to LAX. First off, I couldn’t fall asleep the previous night, despite trying to sleep around 7:00 PM with three shots of vodka to help me become dizzy and fall asleep faster. I ended up falling asleep around 1:00 AM and immediately had to wake up at 3:15 AM to get to the airport…which was futile anyway because none of the staff except for security was even there yet, so I couldn’t even check my bags until around 5:00 AM. Combine this with my inability to sleep on a plane, and you get me running on Day 1 with 2 hours of sleep, something I tried not to do after getting only 4 hours last year. Secondly, there was some sort of delay and as soon as I landed in Salt Lake, I had to board my second plane without being given a chance to eat dinner. Definitely getting a little pissed off by now. I eventually landed and got my trip to the convention center no problem, so I thought it was going to go well…
Until I hit the fucking pre-registration line, which was so bad that the At-con pre-registration line was considerably shorter. Something I had thought unthinkable, but at the same time it made since if everyone was under the mindset that I should pre-register so I don’t have to wait in a longer line. At this point, coupled with the fact that the group in front of me would stop to take pictures of every Tiger & Bunny cosplayer they saw and preventing the line from moving forward, I was extremely pissed and would occassionally “accidentally” hit the heel of one their shoes with my luggage bag. I know that may be messed up a bit, but I really didn’t care at the time since it seemed imminent that I would be missing Sawashiro’s panel.
Luckily, I didn’t. I got done around 12:15PM, and I was glad to find the line to get in wasn’t that long. While a couple of mishaps happened, including one I won’t mention here, everything seemed fine, and I found myself chatting with other fans not only about Sawashiro herself, but about Marvel and SSF4: Arcade Edition, as well as showing what I was going to get autographed. We then proceeded into the Petree Hall for the main event.
First off, unfortunately and as many who went to the panel know, there was no video or photography allowed during the panel. While one part of me thinks this was a personal request from Sawashiro-san herself (since flash photography fucks you up), another part of me wants to think this is another monopolizing money plan for AX since there was at least one person recording the entire panel in the front row, along with a promise that the events will be available on a highlights video in the near future…which never ever happens. No use crying over it though, just put it away in my bag and continued on. I was lucky enough to be sitting about 6 rows away from the front row.
As for the panel itself, Danny Choo was MC for the panel, which to me just felt weird cause I didn’t see him in his Stormtrooper costume. Still, it seemed a bit more pleasant to have him around as opposed to just your average interpreter. Anyhow, with a call of “MIYUKI SAWASHIRO!” from the audience to “awake her from her jetlag” (even though she apparently got here Wednesday?) Sawashiro-san came out dressed in a lovely kimono. The panel at first started out with some standard Q&A that Danny read off a piece of paper, something I started to start disliking due to some rather unpleasant memories from last year. Still, some of it was interesting regarding the sadistic Maria from Arakawa Under the Bridge being one of her more sadistic roles, and it’s also nice they decided to save streaming the first episode of Arakawa for Day 2 and have it be it’s own event. And then, finally, after the first 15-20 minutes, Danny decides to take questions from the audience. Now, how this was set up was different from last year in that audience members would have to raise their hands rather than line up in front of a mic stand; FYI, there was a mic stand with no mic in the aisle I was sitting so I had assumed it would be used. It gets even weirder when Danny tries to make people stand out for the questions by waving their hands and doing other dumb shit to get picked. A bunch of the questions were were archived on a transcript at Anime Diet, which you can check out here.
As for me, I did get to ask my question, which if you look at that transcript is the Cammy related question that Mike has transcribed there, though I think his version of her answer is a bit incorrect: rather than “Uncertain she was going to do it” (the recent E3 trailer confirms her to be Cammy’s seiyuu again), since I was more under the impression that she can’t talk about SFxT in general since the game isn’t out yet.
What’s NOT in that transcript is the manner in which I was able to ask the question: being frustrated that we had to do all this idiotic stuff to get a question, I was willing to act wild in order to get my chance. After some just rather silly stuff to get ask, Danny Choo chooses to propose this little number:
“Okay, can anyone do a handstand maybe?”
I’m not sure to this day whether or not anyone was hesitating to do this task, but me in my infinite wisdom decided to rush out to the aisle and attempt a one-handed handstand while grabbing my two legs with the other hands, due to my limited (read = almost zero) experience break dancing when I was in junior high. Leave it to me to put too much force into the headstand and not balance myself to cause me to overshoot and tumble onto my back on the aisle and be handed a mic to ask my question with short breath right away. Do I regret it though? Nope.
Afterwards, Sawashiro-san gave away some signed audio CDs by playing audience Janken. Then, massive stampede to the Exhibit Hall’s NIS America booth where, to my dismay, I found out that her signing here would be giving customers who bought the Arakawa Premium Box set would be given a priority ticket. Thinking all hope to be lost and thinking I would have to fight my way through the general signing event happening later that day, along comes an NIS America employee to announce they hadn’t sold all of the Arakawa Box sets yet and that it would still be possible to get a ticket upon purchase. I purchased one without a beat and proceeded to get her to autograph my Weiss stick art. And while she didn’t freak out with excitement like Kitamura Eri did last year, she nonetheless gave a very sweet thank you and shook my hand (I never noticed, but her hand is about as small as mine…and very soft :D). Feeling satisfied, I then went on to explore the dealer’s a little bit before meeting up with Nick, Su, Spenser, and Kaushik to go eat at Chipotle, which was orgasmic for a couple of reasons:
1. No Chipotle’s in Montana, I hadn’t had it in a month.
2. I was very hungry considering all I had to eat that day were two bags of peanuts and a cup of coffee on the plane.
Afterwards, feeling tired, I went back to my room and tried to go to sleep around 9 PM…only for a certain group of people come knocking on my door and offering my fucking red velvet cupcakes. And that’s how I’ll always remember first meeting Shirukii in real life. Fucking asshole.
Day 2 – Sawashiro Miyuki (again), Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Tournament, Kalafina concert.
Finally getting some sleep around 10:30PM, I found myself waking up around 6:15 AM. Since I got that pesky eight hours of sleep business out of the way, I figured why not wake up and enjoy morning coffee and breakfast at my local Starbucks? After getting an iced Caramel Macchiato and choosing to eat the Coffee Cake instead of breakfast sandwhich which was mistakenly put into my bag, I decided to travel to the console gaming room at AX, thinking it would at least be open before the Exhibit Hall…except it wasn’t and, after going to the actual coin op arcade and playing a game of SSF4 Arcade Edition (I suck horribly at that game now), I found myself instead going back to my room and setting up my PS3 to practice my combos in Marvel to prepare for the tournament. As the clock rounded 9:40, I decided to journey to the dealer’s hall and wait for it to be open…except I didn’t expect for it to have a line to go in until opening, something which I immediately knew would mean for me: if I wanted to get Sawashiro’s autograph a second time, I should’ve lined up much earlier, especially since the JW Marriot is litterally right next to the convention center. When the Hall opened, I needed to wait for 15 minutes before proceeding myself and going to the autograph area: as I expected, there was already a line to get her autograph, and I happened to be at the part where the staff basically said “You’re not getting one, try the NIS booth later again.” Thinking about it, I remembered that, aside from Arakawa, NIS was giving priority tickets to those who bought both volumes of Persona -Trinity Soul- Premium Boxes. While I know I haven’t heard too many good things about the show, I really wanted to get her to sign one more time on a blank autograph/sketch plaque. Thus did I go to the NIs booth and proceed to put an order down for Persona. Got my ticket and my bag of both boxes when I notice that there are actually two signings happening, one 12:30 – 2:00 and one 4:30 – 6:00. Since the Marvel tournament was happening during the first signing I asked if I could get a ticket for the second one and got my ticket exchanged. Twas a success, and I proceeded to the console room to sign up for the tournament and try to get some casuals in.
If you want a bigger stick than that, then enter coupon code CROSSCOUNTER…
The tournament itself had about 100+ entrants, which led to the organizers setting all matches to be best 2 of 3, single elimination until Top 16 came. I didn’t get very far and went 1-1 do to a person using a Gold-Hsien Ko team, something I hadn’t had a lot of experience fighting and cost me the tournament, which sucks because I was fairly confident I would at least make top 16. Just goes to show you that it’s important to learn how to handle gimmicks during a tournament, and something I’ll be grinding in the future.
Since this meant I finished around 2:00, I texted Shirukii and met up with him to look around in the dealer’s hall and make some purchases before heading back to the NIS booth around 3:30 to try and wait in line. To my pleasant surprise, a line had not been formed yet, so after asking an NIS Employee about it, he suggested I go ahead and start the line. While being first in line was rather short lived due to someone holding a priority ticket from YESTERDAY, this did mean that I would be able to get Sawashiro’s autograph and go to Kalafina’s concert at the Club Nokia without too much trouble. My friend Daryl called me to request putting stuff in my room before the Kalafina concert, so I had him meet me in the line and kill time talking about what’s been going on so far until Sawashiro came into the booth, though not quite ready to sign yet. As she came by, I waved to her (again, having a serious case of deja vu) and she waved back without anyone except me, Daryl, and the guy in front of me noticing she was there. A few more minutes of waiting, and finally I was up to get my plaque signed. Again, I got to shake her hand, and after an exchange of “Arigatou Gozaimasu” she said “Thank you in English.” My response:
“It was nice to- thank you so much for- THANK YOU FOR COMING!”
My words came out exactly like that. I get starstruck way too easily. For seiyuus.
Afterwards, instead of making immediately towards Club Nokia, me and Daryl played a few games of Marvel before trying to get in. Something we didn’t count on was there already being a line and the concert actually managing to start close to the scheduled time. By the time we arrived, I’d like to say Kalafina only sang one song that we missed the beginning part of.
The concert itself was pretty awesome. I had thought at first that they were lip syncing because of how well they were singing, until I noticed a few times where the BGM track would be louder during the more softer parts of some songs. The setlist I believe was:
-Hikari no Senritsu
I feel I might have forgottens some as well as the exact order, but it was awesome. Most hype songs in my opinion were oblivious, sprinter, and Music.
Afterwards, me and Daryl met up with Shirukii’s group to have dinner at the ESPN Zone, which I feel bad about since Daryl ended up having to scarf down his food in order to make it to the Hatsune Miku concert in time; he later texted me that the concert hadn’t actually started by the time he DID get in though. ggs AX Scheduling.
Day 3 – Boredness, Voice Acting Panel, Dinner.
Day 3 seemed a bit slower than most since not that much was going on, but I did buy most of my stuff that day due to the excessive amount of time I spent in the Exhibit Hall. At the time, I had been debating going to Kurasaki Maon’s concert later that day, but eventually decided against spending $15 for it and didn’t want to bother waiting until they perhaps started giving it away for free. I did briefly go with Daryl to the NIS Video Game panel where they previewed Cave Story 3D, Bleach: Soul Ressureccion, and Disgaea 4, plus a Q&A panel with President of NIS, Niikawa Souhei, but overall I felt a bit disinterested. Afterwards, I met up with Shirukii’s group once again and toured the Exhibit Hall until I decided to go to the Bang Zoom! Voice Acting panel with Nick and Spenser. While the information in the panel wasn’t anything really new to anyone familiar with the voice acting/dubbing process, the real point of these panels is to get volunteers to try a recording live during the panel in front of the Bang Zoom! team with VA’s Tony Oliver and Sandy Fox commenting on how to approach a character and critiquing about how to improve. Because I will obviously pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a voice actor in approximately 6 years time, I was fairly disappointed I did not get picked to try a session, but I learned a lot about the mistakes made from some of the ones who did get a chance to act.
By far, the most memorable experience on Day 3 was dinner, or rather what it took for us to go to dinner. Shirukii’s group met with mine in my room (where we, again, were playing Marvel), before we set out to eat dinner at Daikokuya Ramen in Little Tokyo. While the route estimated 7 minutes t get there, thanks to my infinite wisdom, I had a assumed we could take a certain street and ride it all the way into the road we were supposed to go down. Thanks to that and my misunderstanding how roads in Downtown LA worked, we got into Little Tokyo in about 30 minutes. What’s more, we only had one 5 seater car to work with, with a total party of 9 actually eating, so we had to make two trips, with me at the wheel with no navigator. Thus, it took another 30 minutes to find my way back to the JW Marriot. The trip back only took about 10 minutes thanks to having a navigator and following the directions as laid by the iPhone GPS thing.
Dinner Daikokuya Ramen unfortunately ended being cancelled due to them being packed and not taking reservations on tables unless the entire party was there. Instead, Nick and co. found another restaurant, Teishokuya of Tokyo aka “T.O.T.” that we settled for, which in the end turned out to be great. I myself ate Tonkotsu Ramen, Shirukii ordering soft shell crab and…some other stuff I don’t remember because I was too busy eating my stuff. Conversation topics ranging from Shirukii’s problems with Starcraft II to stock phrases said in h-anime made it truly a memorable night and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Day 4 – Checking out, salty runbacks on Skullgirls, going back to Montana.
Day 4 was pretty somber for me, stemming mainly that I wouldn’t be seeing any of these people I had such a great time with for almost another year depending on whatever circumstances may come up. Still, I took one more tour around the Exhibit Hall, making my last purchases and also having an extremely salty match in Skullgirls, before saying goodbye to everyone besides Nick, who would drive me to the airport. Got on the plane, then started writing this post as I flew into Salt Lake, then into Great Falls.
Now I sit here in a pile of dirty clothes, a bunch of swag, and one more TE Stick than I came there with. Overall I had fun this year, and while there weren’t as many guests that I was interested in as last year, nothing incredibly exciting to do during Day 3, and missing both Opening and Closing ceremonies, as well as the Kalafina panel, I had a good time and eagerly await next year.
So obviously, I only got Sawashiro-san’s autograph, but I did get it twice:
First off, my initial goal, my Weiss TE Stick Layout. This actually has quite a bit of history behind it: while the background is a page from the Arcana Heart 3 artbook, the left image of Weiss swinging her sword was originally a black and white picture I found on danbooru, mirrored from the pixiv page of doujin artist Takeda Hiromitsu. I commissioned deviantart artist Takusi to color the picture in. I was very pleased with her work and set out to get Arthur Hong of Tek Innovations to print it out. Unfortunately, the first print that came in was bent due to carelessness of the USPS, so it was reprintted with a bit darker colors and sent with my Plexi-glass cover. At this point, I was going to throw the biggest fit if I didn’t get this thing signed after how much time I spent on it.
Putting the lessons from last year’s AX with Kitamura Eri into play, I brought along and held a silver sharpie for Sawashiro-san to sign with…only to find out she had her own silver and gold sharpies with her, along with the standard black one. I chose to get the signature in silver, though I’m still left wondering if gold would’ve been better. Either way, I’m still ecstatic I was able to get it. And not only that, Sawashiro-san had this cute little stamp with her first name in hiragana on it that she stamped on the blade swipe after she had physically signed it.
EDIT: Finished Stick
Finally got around to building it last night. Much better than that dumb 360 colored buttons shit.
Last year I said I would be coming back this year with a bigger paycheck. It’s funny how despite it being bigger, it disappears just as fast.
As I mentioned before I had to buy the premimum boxes of Arakawa Under the Bridge and Persona -Trinity Soul- to get the priority tickets. As I haven’t seen either show, I guess now would be as good time as ever to check it out.
First off, the Premium Edition’s really just mean about 13 episodes plus an artbook and episode summaries. While it’s not THAT impressive, I do think the little interviews with the cast are pretty neat. Thus the Arakawa box is extremely similar to the Toradora box set my friend Robert purchased last year with everything mentioned in the above sentences. The most notable thing for me besides that is that the show also has the Blu-Ray versions, so I’ll actually be using the Blu-Ray feature of my PS3 for once.
As for Persona -Trinity Soul- …
I actually didn’t end up getting that in my bag. Instead, I found Pandora Hearts Vol. 1 and 2, something which, after checking Sawashiro-san’s voice roles, Sawashiro-san wasn’t involved in. At all. At first, I considered telling them of this mistake, but since I’ve heard bad stuff about Persona anyway, I figured to just run with it. Unlike the previous Arakawa box, the art book in both Pandora Hearts volumes are exclusively that. Art books. No interviews, only a few side comments by the original mangaka and the anime staff. Kind of disappointing considering Kawasumi Ayako is in this show, I would’ve liked to read about her. Oh well.
And of course…figures. I had bought 3 total, but since one of them is ridiculously huge, and I only had enough room to carry one as a carry-on in the plane, I sent two home with Nick, which I will later have mailed to me on a later date. As for the one I brought with me…
It’s Alter’s Dizzy figure from Guilty Gear XX Accent Core. Of the three that I got, I think it’s the best one I bought. It was also the most expensive one I bought at $250, because the other venders had already sold out of the other ones (one sold for $190, another for $220). Luckily, Shirukii gave me almost half of it to cover for it, so I only spent $140 for it.
First off, the wings must be attached. I felt like I was going to break her applying so much pressure, but I think it’s because I’ve never really held a figure like that before. The wings take some work to get in, but seem pretty snug afterwards and don’t look like they’re going to fall out. They each weigh about the same, therefore balance. If anything, the most fragile parts of the figure are Dizzy’s bangs, they seem pretty long and weak, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem even if it tips over. All in all, I think Dizzy looks pretty damn sexy.
Also, she doesn’t wear underwear. Someone needs to confirm for me if this was true in Guilty Gear or not, since I don’t have a copy to play right now.
Lastly, I started wandering to this one booth that, among stuff like figures, sold Weiss Schwarz cards (more info on Weiss Schwarz here). In particular, it sold the Melty Blood packs. If I remember correctly, every day until Day 4, I bought a pack before the day was done, until finally…
Not to mention I bought a custom structure deck from a different booth that had a theme of Akiha, maids, and Miyako; the structure deck itself contained an english translation of the “How to play guide” as well. That particular booth was also cool in that they let me choose one card from a big binder of misc. Weiss Schwarz cards to keep. My choice?
Besides that, from what I can tell, it seems holofoil cards are even rarer to come accross in Weiss Schwarz packs. I only got this V. Akiha card, but then again I’m not sure what constitutes rare in Weiss Schwarz, so that’s something I’ll need to look up later. The box also came with a few sleeves (with the booster’s cover art on the back, no less), so I was able to put it in there. My only real regret after buying these cards is that I expected to get a Ryougi card somewhere in there, then I remembered Kara no Kyoukai has it’s own separate booster. Fuck.
And that’s pretty much it. I’ll be leaving my other figures a surprise until I receive those and review those later. Until then, I’m going to stare lovingly at my Dizzy figure…while I’m in bed…
My hips are moving on their own.