Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Anime Expo 2014 Journal (also included: a LOT of creative Sailormoon Mashups!) by John Garcia

My Anime Expo 2014 Journal
By John Garcia

July 2, Wedesday: Day 0 of AX 2014

I teach a summer class from 7 am to 10 am, and amazingly the timing works out so that it’s the finals for this summer session.   I wrote the exam to be a half MLA format/ half House on Mango Street multiple-guess exam on a scantron, so I can give the test, and run the scantrons on the machine, finish grading by noon, and I’m done.  Most students finish the exam within an hour, but as one of the last students finishes his exam, a student comes in, deer in headlights, realizes what’s happening and asks the obvious “Today’s the final?” 

All this unpreparedness moved my schedule up from hopefully finishing at around 8:15 am, to finishing at 10 am, and I still had to fill out a separate scantron for that irresponsible student, to finish grading.  I finally finished grading at noon. 

This gave me just enough time to go home, get lunch, take a shower,  drive to the Metro Light Rail Blue Line and get to the LA Convention Center by 3, wherein Industry Registration starts. 

I got home, and friends’ tweets and Facebook statuses were all complaining about how long the line was.  I figured it did not apply to me since I was going through the Industry/Press/Media line.  I got a message from my friend in the Industry line.  The line, as I suspected, is relatively short, but...their servers crashed. So that's why the line was so long. 
At this point, I figured, I would just leave registration for Day 1.  Instead, I did some final touches for my costumes, and did a couple of trial pictures of my new props with retrorefletive vinyl.

Having reflective material preserves the prop's "glowing" illusion even, or especially when someone is using Flash photography.  This isn't true for LEDs.

I found out later that all those friends complaining went through hell, with no umbrellas under the afternoon California Sun.  Here’s a link to this illustration showing how long the line was at 8:45 pm.  I had another friend text me at 6:30 pm, and got his pass at around 9:40 pm.  

Apparently, the line got THIS LARGE on Day Zero.  (Map Courtesy of 24 Frames Per Second Blog)

July 3, Thursday: Day 1 of AX 2014 

Other than registration, I did not have much to do for Day 1.  There were two cosplay gatherings that I had to choose from: a DC Gathering at 2, and a Tokusatsu Gathering at 3:30.  With my current DC costume being the Golden Age Red Tornado, and it being so hot, I opted for the Tokusatsu Gathering, and to wear my Taiga Nobori, Fangire King from Kamen Rider Kiva [very casual] costume.  Besides, I knew a lot more people personally who are going to be at the Tokusatsu Gathering, and no one at the DC Gathering. 

In Japan, a shining face means you're a vampire. Kind of. -Ed

Laziness and hunger sets in, as it was the first day since summer school started tht I could wake up late.  Having a 7 am class was killing me, and it showed how tired I was, since I work up at 11 am.  I figured the exhibit hall didn't open until noon, and the gathering isn’t until 3:30, so I took my time, made a good brunch for myself and my sister, leisurely making my way to the Blue Line trains station.  I got to the Convention Center at 2 pm.

I got through the Industry Registration fairly fast, but remnants of the server crash reared its ugly head: my guests’ names were nowhere to be found.  At least that’s what the volunteer in front of me was saying.  This meant that I couldn't just pick up their passes at that moment, and I had to register them on site each day.  Yes, I was going to spend part of each morning on the Industry Registration line.  I can just imagine how much more it sucked for the people who went through general registration.  I was glad to find out that AX staff had put out tents this time round for the registration line, though those tents were thankfully not needed as much as they were on Day 0. 

Kyoryuger at AX!

Only in Anime Expo do you see variations such as Tropical Vacation Gaim and the Human Lockseed!

I did not do much of anything this day but go to the Tokusatsu Gathering.  I saw a lot of familiar faces, and met a couple of new friends.  This is a lot warmer and a better crowd than 2009 when there was no Tokusatsu Gathering at all. That year, half of the Tokusatsu fans who saw my Kamen Rider Kabuki costume railed on me for being fat or criticized my choice of cosplaying as Kamen Rider Kabuki at all. This year, thankfully, was nothing like that.

(Left: AngelicNoir, Editor-in-Chief of The Tokusatsu Network.  Right: Deb, Social Meda Manager of Plastic Ronins)

After the Tokusatsu Gathering, I met up with some friends at the massive Food Truck gathering across the street from the convention center, which is an amazing thing to have nearby.  Then, I went home rather early. 

July 4, Friday: Day 2 of AX 2014

Happy Philippine-American Friendship Day!

Oh, and Anime Expo, Day 2.  The only other comfortable costume I had was Russell from Up.  I figured I could take a few pictures with the other Pixar cosplayers out there.  I saw a lot of cosplays from Frozen and Wreck-it- Ralph. 

Again, even though in the past, the Friday has been one of the most event-packed Day for AX, the event did not really grab my attention.  There was a Kill La Kill event that was part panel, part English dub premiere, part concert.  Like many of the main events for AX, however, it was TICKETED, and ticketed in the sense that you have to PAY for the tickets on top of the $40/day cost of an AX pass. 

My guests were arriving today, so I had to spent part of my day (I got there relatively early, at noon this time) at Industry Registration.  The volunteer this time around was a more competent one, or maybe the server issues had been fixed, and they found the names of my guests. 

Anyone know this dude (in the Blue Exorcist Costume)?  My friend was trying to find him again, to no avail.
It was my friend’s first geek convention, and after wandering around and looking at the cosplays, decided she had fallen in love with a Blue Exorcist cosplayer, and spent part of the day looking for him.  By, the way, does anyone know who this gentleman is?  My friend, April would be so happy to be in contact with him. (The Ace of Geeks - now a missed connection site! -Ed)

We went to the exhibit hall, and to the Hulu booth.  We took a couple of fun pictures, got free 1 month memberships, and went shopping.  That Hulu Booth is an interesting sponsor.  Huluplus does have a large number of anime compared to something like Netflix. (And usually subbed, which is great. -Ed)  Crunchyroll was also there, but they have been AX’s sponsor for a while now.  Hulu was just new. 

April, Vanessa, and I eventually got tired and went to rest at the Lounge 21, which is a nice air-conditioned lounge for con-goers ages 21 and above.  It was a nice mellow atmosphere.  There was alcohol, and occasionally live music.  We met up with Angelic Noir from the Tokuatsu Network to…. well, network.  

So apparently, actual work is done when people Network at these things. AngelicNoir from the Tokusatsu Network with April, the Bull from "The Badger and the Bull" Podcast.

It’s also nice hanging out with them, and we did not need alcohol to have fun.  The alcohol and air conditioning just made it feel like a different place altogether, than a lounge at a convention. 

Leaving the lounge, we went back to shopping, and Blue Exorcist cosplayer hunting.  My friends ended up leaving the convention early, so I went to see the other thing the convention had to offer.  The Exhibit Hall was on the South Hall of the LA Convention Center, and right outside of that is the rest of the South Hall, which is where a lot of cosplayers gather. 

Then, there is a sort of skyway between the South Hall and the West Hall.  On the skyway’s ground floor is the Lounge 21, the room where the nightly dance would be, and upstairs are some panels, workshops, and viewing rooms. 

On the West Hall, the upstairs has the Karaoke Room, Manga Lounge, some more panels.  On the ground floor are two giant halls that are separated.  One houses the main ticketed events like the Kill La Kill event, Concerts, and Masquerade.  The other half of that giant half are the miscellaneous, but awesome thing the convention has to offer.  Most people ignore this part, but AX has done a good job of consolidating all of these things and putting them in one giant hall than stuffing them in smaller rooms where there would be panels.  This West Hall includes the arcade, console gaming, tabletop gaming, and cosplay stage sets. 

The arcade is nothing to write home about, but the machines are fairly new.  The same goes for console gaming, which is mostly fun during the scheduled tournaments.  The tabletop gaming I saw there was mostly Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, and small number of tables where you could play with a good number of their tabletop board and card games, with people willing to teach you.  One of my friends played some Settlers of Cataan, and I decided to save the world in a game of Pandemic.  

The Tabletop gaming are is a fine area, but I somewhat miss the years when AX had Wizards of the Coast as a sponsor.  They would have very lively game representatives demoing and teaching the games with the convention-goers.  I remember a very lively sample Dungeons and Dragons pick-up demo in 2008, where the game master was amazing.  He was enthusiastic, informative, and he was entertaining, cracking clever jokes and making voices.  Not that this set-up isn't great.  It is, but a set of tournament organizers doesn’t capture the same sense of awe as Corporate Gaming money, being thrown and used for a gaming area. 

One of the stage sets, a classroom.  These guys recreated that horrible episode of the Catherine Tate Show when David Tennant was a guest star... wait a minute, IDRIS WASN'T THERE!  (Picture Courtesy of Amy Brown)

There were also cosplay stage sets.  Yes, these are live stage sets for people to take photos in.  they include a Japanese classroom, a nomad’s tent, a cherry blossom, orchard and a 3-D floor drawing of a deep ground chasm, to name a few.  I haven’t seen these done in other conventions before, and it’s very clever and fun.  

Supergirl and the 3-D ground drawing!  (Picture Courtesy of Amy Brown)

After wandering around, I rested once more in the South Hall before shopping for a bit (I kept coming back to check out the Kamen Rider 000s Drivers).  It was fun, but I was thinking, it was mostly because of the people I’ve been seeing. Just a few moments after that, I met couple of cosplayers who were just nice and pleasant a I saw next to them of the benches at the side of the South Hall. 

Met new Cosplayer friends like NeinXTails. As you can see, she is showing amazing dexterity, using those cat claws to attach Dhalsim's contacts :-p

I went home around midnight after hanging out with some friends at their hotel.  It was interesting to see fireworks being set off by people in the Hooter’s parking lot, and when the fireworks went off at a lower-than-expected altitude, all the car alarms just went off simultaneously. 

July 5, Saturday:  Day 3 of Anime Expo 2014

I was planning on getting to the convention a bit early, but there was nothing that was compelling me to do so, since the friends I was going to meet were going to meet me midday anyway.  I washed and threw in the dryer my Russell Costume, to wear it again for today. 

I had friends who were not going to come until 4 pm, since that’s when AX opens the exhibit hall to the general public for free.  Coming to the convention at around noon, I had missed the showing of Sailor Moon Crystal, which I heard was pretty awesome.  The theme of the day (and maybe the convention) was also the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon. 

I was very happy to see o many creative iterations of the Sailor Senshi, and both men and women were participating in this celebration of creativity.  On the men’s side, I saw a set of Superhero (spandex) version of “Sailormen,” and these guys are not being ironic or anything, like what others have done in the past.  There was another group of Pirate/Sailor Sailormen.  As for the girls, of course, there were some regular costumes, but the creativity just exploded.  There were steampunk Sailor Senshi, knightly Saior Senshi, Faerie, Disco Bunnies, an American-Flag themed Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon pair as well.  

Sailor Sailors and Sailor Disco Bunnies! (Picture Courtesy of Adam Fisher)

The Sailor Men... Superhero Style! 

Knightly Sailor Moon
Faerie Sailor Mercury.
Sailor Scout Regiment!

Punk Rock Sailor Jupiter
I only stayed for a couple of hours on Sunday, as nothing else was catching my attention.  The Masquerade was ticketed, and I’ve learned in the past that Youtube provides much better seats anyway.  In the past years, there were some events that were happening at Nokia Live, like a live mini concerts.  I’m not sure if there as anything like that this year. 

I still enjoyed AX on Saturday though.  I saw and hung out with a couple of old friends, and met some new ones, which seemed to be what I’ve been wanting to do at AX the most, see friends, and hang out with people much more than the convention’s own activities. 

What have I started?!  Count the Medals... 1...2..and 3

I also finally bought that slightly used (but excellent working condition) Kamen Rider 000s driver I’ve been eying the whole weekend, and a couple of loose core medals, thinking, “Oh, no, what have I started?!” 

John Garcia is an English Professor in the Los Angeles area, and an avid con-goer. 

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