Time for an Anime Expo Recap! This was my 4th time attending AX. I first went in 2009 and my last time going was in 2013, but that year I only did the free exhibit hall pass.
This year, I went all for days and usually arrived at the con around 8:30 am.
-guests of honor
-guidebook (mobile app that showed the schedule plus updates)
-Crunchyroll bag and 1 granola bar
-cosplay sets (they set up backgrounds to pose in front of)
-industry booths giving out posters and fans
-overcrowded Exhibit Hall and Hallways
-organization of Autograph Sessions
-organization of lines
-all of this lead to LONG wait times, safety issues, and false hope
Since I missed Fanime this year, I was seriously looking forward to AX. It definitely quenched my anime needs and I had a lot fun. However, the line and crowd situation is really bad. Ridiculously bad. I think they even had to stop selling badges because they were filled to capacity.
I’m going to talk about how each day went, but I want to highlight the major fails first. First off, I know there are good volunteers and bad volunteers. Good staff and bad staff. Running a convention is hard and I appreciate and am thankful for everyone’s efforts. However, something happened this year and I’m not the only one who noticed. All you have to do is check out the replies on AX’s FB page and the forums to see. I know Fanime had a tough time last year with lines, but I heard really good things from this year. I’m hoping the same will be true for AX in the future.
This was my first year trying to get autographs through AX’s ticketing system. The autograph sessions I wanted to attend were Keiji Inafune and the original Sailor Moon dub cast. If there’s a panel before the autograph session then they *might* give out raffle tickets to those who attend the panel. I don’t know if they give a ticket to everyone or if it’s just the first 50. Who knows. No matter what, keep your ticket even if you don’t win anything because that gives you priority over other people standing in line for autograph tickets. Go to the ticketing booth in the Entertainment Hall and trade it in for a numbered ticket. Then, come back when it’s almost time for the session to start and stand in numerical order for the autograph session.
The Entertainment Hall was a separate hall from the Dealer’s Hall (Exhibit Hall). It held the autograph ticketing booth, video games, card game tournaments, cosplay sets and cosplay repair stations.
On Day 2 we lined up at 8:30 am in front of the entertainment hall and waited until doors opened at 10:00. For some reason, the staff decided to tape the other doors shut and only open the doors near the center of the line not the start. As soon as that happened, people rushed through and ran across the hall to the ticketing booth. It was total chaos. By the time we got to the booth there was another huge line. We waited another 2 hours and finally got tickets. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get autographs from the Sailor Moon cast that day and I was okay with it. I understand that time ran out and there was just too many people. What made me the most upset was with how the lines were handled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that on Day 4 the line situation was addressed and people were brought inside in a more orderly fashion.
Keiji Inafune Panel: The panel itself was good, but the line. LOL We got to the room about an hour early and saw a makeshift line by the entrance near a volunteer. People in that line said they were there for Inafune. If I was a volunteer and saw a line forming, I think I’d ask what those people were lining up for, but he didn’t. Turns out the real line was outside and no one bothered to tell the people standing there until it was time for the Funimation Panel to start. OK. So I probably should have asked someone in charge, but c’mon. Why tell us at the last minute. When we found the line outside it was huge! We all waited patiently, but noticed that the panel wasn’t starting on time. We received no updates as to what was happening. The panel started an hour late probably due to the Funimation panel running late. Instead of 8:30 pm, we left the panel at 9:30 pm. Good thing we ate dinner first! I’m grateful I was even able to get into the panel, but the lack of communication was annoying.
Dealer’s Hall: It was painfully crowded. I couldn’t even get through half of artist alley by the end of the day since it was way in the back. Also, they kept telling people to not sit against certain walls or in certain areas, but it all just looked like they were singling people out. I get that it’s for safety and I’ll totally comply, but how can you threaten to take our badges away when there are 3 people sitting closer to the walkway just a few steps away from us. What about them?? Just make a rule that there is no sitting on the floor in the dealer’s hall ever.
I almost forgot about the line to get into the dealer’s hall. The only day we lined up for the dealer’s hall was on Day 3, Saturday, because we wanted to sign up to audition at the Bang Zoom booth. Sign ups were at 10:00 am with voice acting auditions starting at 11:00 am. There was a huge mass of people forming a chunky line at the center of the lobby waiting to go up the escalator to the dealer’s hall. We stood in that line since it seemed that they weren’t letting people line up to the right of the doors upstairs. Apparently, there was another “official” line that had started somewhere outside that was letting people into the hall a lot faster from the left side. As soon as people saw that line, they started hurrying up the other escalator to that side of the room. I guess it was better to have multiple lines, but it was still really weird seeing a huge group of people seemingly come out of nowhere and get into the hall while we’re still stuck below. Either way, we were able to audition. So it’s all good.
Anyhoo, there are people with worse stories than mine and also people who had the best time ever. It really depends on what you’re there for. In the future, I’ll probably focus on smaller panels or events.
**Wow! If you’re still reading here’s a . Now I’m going to describe my weekend. I’ll try to keep it brief!**
Day 1: Pre-Reg line for us wasn’t too bad in the morning since it was still a little cool. It took about 2 hrs to get our badge which was better than what most people had to endure in the scorching heat before they were able to set up tents. Still, I don’t like how some people brush off registration wait times as “normal” for anime conventions. Please don’t lower your standards. If we start to accept this stuff then nothing will change. I get that it’s harder for conventions that don’t have a lot of resources, but I feel that in some cases it’s just poor management.
This year we got orange Crunchyroll bags with a granola bar and program. The program was only useful for checking exhibit hall times and seeing what the guests of honor looked like. I mainly used the Guidebook app on my iPhone since there were many changes made to the program last minute. We also got plain lanyards for the badges since Premier badge holders get the lanyard with the AX logo on them. Since the dealers hall wasn’t open yet we went to some panels. They clear the room after every panel btw.
Eir Aoi Panel: She sang theme songs for Kill la Kill, SAO II, and Drag-on Dragoon 3. She talked about her career and answered questions. They also handed out tickets to her autograph signing. We headed over to the dealer’s hall after the panel and then to her autograph signing. She signed Marvin’s game and my cd. Then we shopped some more and headed home early.
Day 2: Line-stampede-line-got tickets. Got autographs for Inafune, but couldn’t get Sailor Moon signatures. Since we were in line so long we didn’t bother to check out the SM panel since there was already a big line that had formed. I did watch a video of it on YouTube today and it was awesome! The voice actors were all super nice and excited to be there. I’m really happy they had a chance to interact with fans and to see how much they were a part of our childhoods. I found it a little strange that there wasn't a staff member moderating the panel or letting them know when to start. The casting director took charge of the panel well, but when he was asking whether they had another panel or autograph session there was no official AX representative that stepped forward to let the audience know. In fact, people in the audience were yelling that there was a panel Saturday, but what some people didn't seem to know was that that panel was for the NEW dub cast and series. After lunch, we went to the dealer’s hall again and got an autograph from another artist. I also got a new Gundam to build! Wing Zero from Endless Waltz! Also, a totally random thing happened. We were walking near the entertainment hall and saw a bunch of girls asking a guy for his autograph right next to this trash can by the escalator. I couldn’t tell who it was, but asked for one too. I kind of had a feeling as to who it was so I looked online for a picture of his autograph and I was right. XD Turns out it was Masakazu Morita! (a voice actor in Bleach, Tiger & Bunny, K: Missing Kings) It was crazy timing. Then, when we got home I got another Gundam as a belated Bday present from my friend negativethirteen. It was Seravee!!!
Day 3: Auditioned at Bang Zoom’s booth with Rib-kun! We had to go at different times since I didn’t make the line cut-off the first round. I was nervous, but it was really fun. Then we finished off artist alley and the dealer’s hall. I didn’t get much from artist ally though. I thought some of the prints were a little pricey and I don't really have room for them anyway. ^.^; I ended up getting a pack of Sailor Moon buttons, stickers, an Armin postcard and an Armin button. I’m gonna start an Armin button collection! On a side note, I was very impressed with the fancy keychains people are making now. They’re metallic and very nice. Also saw a lot more screen printed plushies and mini purses. I guess floral head wreaths are also really in. I only saw one booth selling, but lots of cosplayers wearing them. XD Oh yeah, also saw some amazing Evangelion cosplayers on the way to the Inafune panel. XD Keiji Inafune is a video game producer and illustrator. He talked a lot about Mega Man and his new upcoming work Mighty No.9 which is like a "spiritual successor" to Mega Man. They also showed some clips of the game and a new anime series. On the way home, we got ice cream and saw some fireworks.
Day 4: The last day! The halls weren’t so crowded in the morning which was nice, but there were lines forming at all the stairways and escalators. I guess they weren’t letting people go upstairs to the video rooms until a certain time. There was a huge line for the Vocaloid Panel. We didn’t go, but we saw some of the guests casually standing in the lobby by the entertainment hall and we got their autographs. ^.^ At noon, we got in line for the Sailor Moon autograph session again and this time our spot in line was really good. Unfortunately we could only get one thing signed per person and were asked to keep our talking to a minimum. The cast was so nice!! And some of them wanted to talk more, but we had to move it along. Unfortunately, Sailor V's voice actor couldn't make it, but Molly and Artemis were there. I loved their voices! The casting director was also there and they said he had voiced Grandpa Hino too. Afterwards, we walked around some more and then said our farewells to AX 2014.
Since then, I've just been recovering from post-con blues which haven't been that bad. I think I was more tired than anything really. Now, I just want to do some more drawing and crafting before the summer is over. I also have to do a bit of studying before the fall semester starts. :/
btw, I started a new art blog on tumblr: fancymallet.tumblr.com