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Victory is mine!

This fellow with the creepy grin and poorly kept hair is me, at the end of four days of Convention ups and downs.

Anime Expo has sort of become a summer tradition for me over the last few years. It’s one of the closest large conventions to me, and during a time where it is relatively easy for me to attend.

Of the three AX conventions I have attended, this is probably the worst, though I had a bit of a better experience than most. Let’s take a look at a day-by-day, shall we?

Day -1: The Drive

  • Left Albuquerque, my hometown, late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, to drive on out with my group of friends. Mostly uneventful.

Day 0: Getting Badges and Tickets, AMV Creator Meet and Greet

  • Went to the convention center to pick up badges and premiere tickets for the concerts myself and my friends were attending.
  • Got badge without a hitch, tickets went okay for the most part (though one of our members wandered off and failed to get his SKIN ticket.) Got one of the first tickets to the SOS Brigade Concert when everyone else was going for SKIN.
  • Had some fun as Ghetto Envy (Me wearing a sign that says “Envy transformed into me and all I got was this lousy ghetto cosplay) in Cosplay chess, was the knight that checkmated the opposing king in the second game
  • Went to the Rock Bottom brewery for the AMV Creator Meet and Greet (as one of my AMVs, Does L Creep You Out, was in the AMV Contest finals), met a bunch of really cool guys and had alot of fun.
  • Day 0 assessment: The relatively fun and peaceful calm before the storm.

Day 1: AX Idol Insanity, Event Delays and the AMV Contest Stolen Vids Caper

  • Cosplayed Light Yagami, Got my Death Note Peace-bonded, Meandered through the Exhibit Hall for a while.
  • Went to AX Idol Voice Acting Auditions. Didn’t make it in, but got some good advice on my attempt at Light Yagami (who is a TOUGH character to pull off.) 5 great singers and 5 great VAs made it to finals.
  • Tried to get to the Aya Hirano, Yuko Goto and Minori Chihara panel in time to get a ticket for autographs, but AX Idol ran over time.
  • Friends at SKIN concert had to endure a two hour delay, and the AMV contest suffers similar waits.
  • I hear that despite the delays, the SKIN concert was great.
  • AMV Contest Delay due to someone stealing the DVDs with the Action, Drama and Comedy videos on them. Some call it a fiasco, I’m not entirely convinced. Those parts of AMV Contest rescheduled to Day 3. AMTV runs, I become interested in watching the series Fate/Stay Night. Great AMTV vids: Amitie’, 5 Seasons of Evolution, Skittles, Old School Anime Baseball, Knights of Fate (my pick as best.)

Day 2: More Convention Glitches, AX Idol Finals, SOS Brigade Concert

  • Cosplayed Ippongi Ryuuta from Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!! Hairspray is a fun experience, but I don’t understand how j-rockers put up with it so much. Got photographed alot, too, with my other Ouendan cosplaying friend.
  • Delays continue to plague the main events hall, and Aya Hirano et al Signing pushed to day 3… during the AMV contest reschedule.
  • SOS Brigade Delayed but ultimately alot of fun. However, Convention Center staff prevented one of my friends from entering, and were reportedly quite rude about it.
  • Convention Center staff also demonstrate their rudeness to the Japanese guests by insulting Yuko Goto while the SOS Brigade event is going on. Aya Hirano apparently not pleased with AX.
  • AX Idol Finals event in the evening starts late and is poorly organized. However, most of the finalists have good performances. However, I have complaints on the two winners. The winner of the Voice Acting competition portrayed Haruhi for both auditions and finals, since that’s the character she practiced the most on. Her Haruhi is EXCELLENT, better than Wendee Lee (and I LIKE Wendee Lee as Haruhi.) However, because finals involves on the spot dubbing, I felt that she should have picked a different character to show what else she is capable of. As for the Singing winner… apparently, she was the winner of a previous AX Idol, but didn’t get a chance to record like the first singing winner, and so was allowed to re-enter under no guarantees. Had a less impressive performance than either Jose (who pulled the audience in INCREDIBLY well) and Chantelle (who many picked as their favorite.) Still wins, much to my confusion.
  • Halko Momoi has an impromptu performance to end the evening. My happy fuse comes close to breaking. SHE’S TOO DAMN CUTE.>.< And really good, too. Better stage presence than Aya, Yuko or Minori. And she wore a freaking power glove. I am now a total fanboy.

Day 3: A Glimmer of Light amongst the Darkness; AMV Contest Action, Drama and Comedy vids shown, Masquerade

  • Got up bright and early to make it to the AMV Contest. No cosplay, just casual dress.
  • AMV Contest airs the remaining categories without a hitch. 21 wonderful AMVs shown… and somehow my AMV gets some of the most thunderous applause, including a few encores in the area I was sitting. Yeah, my face went red. Excellent AMVs in the Action Category: Lolitech, Even More Fatal Blood (my pick), The Guardian Gene. Excellent AMVs in the Drama Category: Animus, A Beautiful Lie (my pick), Imagine. Excellent AMVs in the Comedy Category (not including my strangely popular one): Code Monkey (my pick), Cleaver Girl, Be My Girl.
  • Shopped around the exhibit hall for a while before heading to watch the second Death Note Live Action movie.
  • Death Note: The Last Name proves to be an excellent way to end a Death Note movie franchise while ignoring the second half of the manga. I won’t say anything other than that it has a good ending.
  • Not really convention activity, but a Hot Dog stand outside the convention center provided the cheapest meal I had all trip, as well as the tastiest hot dog I have ever eaten. From now on, all hot dogs I eat will be from roadside stands.
  • Masquerade started on time (truly a marvel,) and despite some hitches and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many video game skits (although the Okami one was quite amazing) it was quite enjoyable. I really enjoyed the one Death Note skit that had nothing to do with Yaoi. Because I like that dang muppet show song. Mannah Mannah! Death Note musical was also fun, and had neat takes on the costumes. Too much FFXI, though, if you ask me. The Moogle costume was adorable, though.

Day 4: Award Ceremony

  • Again, no costume, though I remade Ghetto Envy sign to be less Ghetto just in case I had a chance to wear it.
  • Got up late, and so didn’t go to the Halko Momoi official concert (which is okay, since I saw her perform after AX Idol.)
  • Friends were going to try to get to the Transformers movie pre-screening, but the line was way too long, so we all headed to the AMV Awards Ceremony Together
  • AMV Awards Ceremony went very well.
  • Winner of Best Action: The Guardian Gene (My Second Pick)
  • Winner of Best Drama: Imagine (My Second Pick)
  • Winner of Best AMTV: Skittles (My Second Pick)
  • Winner of Best Comedy: …Does L Creep You Out (My Video)
  • Yeah, I was shocked as well. My video won Best In Category: Comedy as well as the Fan Favorite award. Prizes included a Death Note “love pillow” (really just a cushion), a L Teacup and Teadish (Quite a nice prize), an Anti-Yaoi Exorcism Slapstick Fan (My Anti-Paddle), and a rather expensive Mikuru Bunny Girl figure (supposedly to put me back on the right track.) Excellent haul.
  • Drove out shortly after the award ceremony, got home in less than 12 hours.

So, what were my thoughts on the convention?

Well, The events themselves were fun as always. However, the convention center and its staff left alot to be desired, and their mishandling of the convention for the first two days left the con as probably the worst AX I’ve been to. I still had fun, but there are lots of negatives still lingering in my mind. Also, the Premiere tickets were a great idea that was executed extremely poorly. Unless they can figure out how to make it work next year, I see no point in doing it again.

Kudos to SPJA for moving away from Long Beach for AX 2008, it’s really improved my chances of coming again. I do have some mixed feelings about the new site next year, though. On one hand, being in Los Angeles Convention Center, former site of E3 and freaking HUGE place, is kinda nice, since it’s probably one of the nicer convention centers around. On the other hand, I keep hearing negatives about the area the Convention Center is in, as apparently the surrounding area is a fairly rough neighborhood of LA. If I can get into a hotel connected to the convention center and not have to leave it during the evenings, I will probably go to the convention next year, but right now I’m not so sure.

I still plan on submitting more AMVs and preparing cosplay, though. My AMV participation victory has inspired me to work harder than ever, and I feel I have at least one good Costume idea for Masquerades down the line.