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Anime Expo 2017: Days 1 & 2 Con Diary

Anime Expo 2017: Days 1 & 2 Con Diary

I have mixed feelings about my experience at Anime Expo this year (second time going), but the pros, for the most part, outweigh the cons. I’d been fortunate enough to receive a press badge, which saved me from waiting 4-6 hours in line to either pick up badges or get inside the Los Angeles Convention Center (I’m not exaggerating here: my friends stood in line for almost four hours.) If not for the press badge benefits, I would’ve attended “LineCon” — a name dubbed for conventions that keep attendees in line longer than in the event itself.

Anime Expo has been around for so long that you would think they’d start mailing out badges to save commuters from driving all the way to LA to pick up them up. A fair amount of people go on Day -1/0 to avoid the arduous long lines on Day 1 (opening day), but those people either have time or live nearby. Even beyond the badge pick-up and entry lines, I felt as though the number of attendees was so high that lines formed everywhere inside the convention: exhibit hall, Artist Alley, panels, screenings, food trucks, and restrooms. I think half the time spent for each day allotted to just standing in line.

Front view of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

My friends and I arrived at the convention center at around 9 a.m. on July 1, which was Day 1, and already we spotted an enormous crowd. There was no movement — just a mixture of annoyance, restlessness, and some excitement. I parted from my group and squeezed through the throng of con-goers, hoping to find the press badge pick-up location. I asked a volunteer if he could direct me and he merely pointed in a vague direction. I proceeded to head elsewhere and asked another volunteer who was walking toward me. Maybe it was because of my lost expression, or most likely my press credentials, but the volunteer offered to escort me to the press badge pick-up location. I was relieved at this point and followed him inside the convention center — only for the volunteer to “transfer” me to another volunteer who led me to the exhibitor badge pick-up location (face-palm).

I searched for signs that I’d hoped would do better in telling me where I needed to go but decided to march up to the volunteers sitting behind the exhibitor badge pick-up booths and asked them where press received their badges. They told me it was upstairs and then gave me directions on where to find the nearest elevator. At this time, only industry, exhibitor, Artist Alley, and press were allowed inside the convention center since the event opened its doors to the public at 10 a.m. (no wonder attendees waited outside without budging an inch.) I felt naked without a badge slung around my neck, but finally, I found the desired area and acquired my press badge, along with a gigantic Final Fantasy XII bag.

Because I was on the third floor, I had a clear view of the mass of attendees waiting to climb up the stairs toward the exhibit hall, which was on the second floor.

Note: This picture does not capture the entire sea.

Not long after I’d picked up my badge, thunderous cheers sounded and taiko drums, accompanied by a flute, commenced the grand opening of Anime Expo 2017. I walked down the stairs and hovered by the exhibit hall doors, watching attendees rush to get inside (staff sternly told them to walk.) I plunged into the crowd and entered the exhibit hall where I took in the huge hanging signs of major industry players such as VIZ Media, Funimation, and Crunchyroll.

Long lines hadn’t formed yet so I hurried over to VIZ Media to buy some merchandise. VIZ Media publishes a lot of Shonen Jump manga such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, One-Punch Man, and Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma; I was there for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I bought volumes one and two, and with my purchase I received a free tote bag; I chose the Sailor Moon-themed one over the two other options.

After my first splurge, I scoured the exhibit hall and grabbed free goodies while supplies lasted. I took note of the booths I wanted to revisit and snapped a few pictures of cosplayers. I even got a picture with life-sized, moving Rilakkumas!

These bears are probably taller than me.

I probably spent two hours in the exhibit hall by myself since my friends were still waiting in line. While I toured the exhibit hall, I noticed that the Artist Alley was nowhere to be found. Not until I left the exhibit hall and went down the stairs did I notice a flock of attendees going down another flight of stairs. I spotted a sign that indicated Artist Alley had moved to its own area. Before I ventured into Artist Alley, I lingered around the main hall where cosplayers gathered for pictures. I’d been hauling the oversized Final Fantasy XII bag (larger than my five-foot self), so I decided to organize my belongings and stuffed everything into the Sailor Moon tote bag.

Feeling refreshed, I wandered into the Artist Alley and could immediately feel the heat that’d amassed from everyone lining up to get inside and the lack of air conditioning. The gaps between the rows of artist booths were filled with attendees walking slowly as they sometimes paused to admire the artwork. I noticed a sign that reminded people to ask artists for permission to take pictures of their booths, but I caught a few sneaky rule-breakers snapping pictures on their phones. I asked Miso Happy, who creates adorable art and puns, if I could take a picture and she responded happily, thanking me for asking.

I live for these puns.

Puntiful.

Once I finished looking through Artist Alley, I met up with my friends who finally got inside the convention center. It was close to 1 p.m., so we all agreed to grab some food and re-energize. I came prepared with a bento box while everyone else bought $10 chicken tenders and fries. We ate in the cafeteria area and didn’t want to search for food trucks since they’d be outside (my friends didn’t want to go back outside for fear of having to stand in line again.) When we finished eating, we geared ourselves for the exhibit hall.

I visited the Kodansha Comics booth and squealed at the sight of the official Cardcaptor Sakura manga gallery. The Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Prologue premiere was scheduled at 4 p.m., so to see artwork beforehand increased my excitement.

After our fill of the exhibit hall, my group found ourselves in the Artist Alley (everything’s round two for me.) Instead of admiring art this time, I bought two graphic t-shirts from Jelly Momo, a few bookmarks from Sugar Mints, and a couple of prints from Yuumei.

I kept an eye on the time as it was approaching 4 p.m. A couple of my friends wanted to see the Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Prologue premiere too, so we decided to leave half an hour before the showtime. We had to walk all the way to West Hall where all the major screenings occurred, but when we got to the location, there was surprisingly no line.

Once inside, the temperature immediately dropped and there were rows of chairs. Only a quarter of the chairs was available so we quickly snagged seats in the middle and craned our necks to see the three screens that temporarily projected the “AX” logo. Volunteers walked around with signs that said no photography or videography was allowed during the screening, which was expected. The audience received a cute “gift card” that offered a free code to a digital copy of Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card volume one.

Then, a representative from Kodansha Comics appeared on stage, followed by the anime’s producer, Chiyo Kawazoe. I was on the edge of my seat (literally), trying to listen to the translations while peeking over people’s heads to see the screens. After 10 minutes or so, the anime finally began in all its HD glory. Because I sat toward the back, I couldn’t quite read the subtitles but I had an idea of what was going on. The audience cheered, squealed, aww’d, and cried. Twenty minutes flew by way too fast, and the two names that echoed in my head throughout the entire screening were “Sakura” and “Syaoran.” There were cheesy moments, but the episode was still adorable because the characters are in elementary school. With one final big “AWW” at the last scene, my friends and I applauded with the rest of the audience and bid our temporary goodbyes to our childhood, which had finally returned.

We regrouped with everyone else and at this point, our energies ran close to dead. I still had some fuel but because I had a press badge and would be returning for Day 2, I figured I should rest up. It was around 7 p.m., so we called it a day and left the convention center.

The next day, July 2, I drove to the convention center by myself and paid a hefty $30 parking fee. I arrived at around noon, so I managed to sleep in a little bit more. I dove into the exhibit hall once again but did not look for anything particular. I’d already splurged enough from the Artist Alley, but I did keep my eye on the Atlus merchandise line, which kept closing because of Persona 5‘s astounding popularity. I revisited some booths but noticed the increase in lines, so I didn’t stick around for very long.

I planned to attend the “C3 & Queersplay” panel discussion, which wasn’t until 4 p.m (separate post for this panel). For the majority of Day 2, I wandered around and took pictures of cosplayers (which can be viewed here) with a friend who was practicing his photography skills. We visited the Entertainment Hall, which was where the video games flourished. Blizzard set up a huge booth in one corner, and there was a section for retro arcade games. Different scenic backdrops were displayed so that cosplayers could take group photos. I spotted a PC gaming area as well as a handful of cars with anime decals and merchandise displayed on the dash. My favorite was the Persona 5 car.

Protagonist/Akira from Persona 5.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch a couple of screenings that I wanted to attend such as the Violet Evergarden movie premiere and The Ancient Magus Bride anime TV series premiere. I had to have lined up way in advance even with a press badge, and the lines for both screenings were incredibly long. Despite all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed Day 2 of Anime Expo — it was less hectic than Day 1.

Anime Expo this year had a plethora of special guests, premiere screenings, and interactive panels. I can only imagine it’ll grow even bigger next year. My only concern is the lines — one-day attendees almost wasted their entire day just waiting to pick up their badges. I was a little peeved by the schedule (Saturday to Tuesday), as previous years had been Thursday to Sunday. Anime Expo overlapping with July 4 is no surprise, however.

So did you go to Anime Expo this year? What was your experience like? Highlights? Let us know in the comments!

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Deanna Nguyen
Staff Writer at Girls in Capes
Deanna Nguyen is a staff writer for Girls in Capes. She reads fantasy, plays video games on the Playstation 4, watches current and classic anime, and scrolls through Tumblr to keep up with the latest memes. Follow her on Twitter @deetheshortee.
Deanna Nguyen
Written by Deanna Nguyen

Deanna Nguyen is a staff writer for Girls in Capes. She reads fantasy, plays video games on the Playstation 4, watches current and classic anime, and scrolls through Tumblr to keep up with the latest memes. Follow her on Twitter @deetheshortee.