I wrote something complaining about several aspects of Anime Expo last year, and since I went again this year, I felt obligated to do the usual nit-picking. Don’t get me wrong – I actually enjoyed Anime Expo for the most part this year, but there are still some issues that need to be addressed in order for it to be a better con.
This year, people had the option to pre-register online via Paypal, I assume, to make things easier for the people running AX. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I registered myself before coming to the con, hoping that I could get my badge and thing of junk faster.
Bzzzt! I’m sorry Tony, but I can’t do that…
Those of us who were "smart" enough to pre-register had to wait in line for 1.5 hours to get our badges and stuff, while some friends of mine walked to the front of the line, waited for 5 minutes, typed in their information, and promptly walked out with all of their stuff. Yay?! I wanted to taunt them for not registering early, but the joke was on me, and apparently, several thousand others. If it’s going to be like this next year, screw pre-registering. I know you can save money, but you certainly don’t save any time…
A before and after picture while lining up for pre-registration. Pictures donated by Sklathill.
Anime Trivia Contest
I know this is being anal, but in the guide they listed "Anime Trivia Contest II" so doesn’t this imply that there is an "Anime Trivia Contest I"? What the heck is up with that?!
I went to the Anime Trivia contest hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad as last year, but it was worse. How? Not only were people chosen at random again, but only 2 people were chosen at a time. At least in the previous years, up to 5 people were chosen at a time. Also, the people who actually were chosen didn’t seem to know much, judging from the easy questions. They pretty much got cool prizes simply by sitting down. It was more like a random lottery than an actual contest. There should be a screening process and a buzzer system so we can watch people in exciting competition, rather than watching a couple of clueless fans stumble on questions everyone in the audience knew right away. Giving them both so many prizes (a t-shirt and a box set of Vandred for the "loser") after such a debacle is like a slap in the face to any fan interested in anime trivia.
On the upside, they weren’t able to do their Anime DDR competition due to "technical difficulties". I still don’t understand why they have an anime DDR section at a trivia contest. It was already prominently featured in the gaming room, and I’m pretty sure most of the people who are interested in trivia aren’t there to play DDR. Why is it so hard to stick to good, solid questions? I’ll give them credit for trying to do "Guess what happens next" where they show a clip from an anime and you have to "guess" what happens next via multiple choice questions, but the execution is much too slow to be enjoyable.
It wasn’t a total loss since the crowd was pretty lively, especially during the "Name that Tune" section, and I won some prizes on a random audience questions. I won a copy of Yu-Gi-Oh (I gave it to a friend since I don’t like Yu-Gi-Oh and I don’t have a Gameboy). Another friend was lucky enough to get a Patlabor: WXIII box set on his question, but I answered another question after that, and I won two gimpy prizes – Bast of Legend and Black Lion DVDs (I’m still debating if I should bother watching them or just sell them right away). Judging from the other prizes that were given out, the ones I got were the worst. I think there’s a conspiracy against me since the only good prize I won at Anime Expo was the Yukikaze hat that I won at the Anime News Network panel.
Too bad I don’t like to wear hats…
As a warm-up, I went to the Chibi Masquerade, which was actually a lot of fun since it wasn’t crowded at all and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. Being able to see what was happening on the stage is always a big plus in my book. I’ll be sure to check it out next year. Hopefully, it doesn’t get out of hand like the other one…
Since we didn’t get any vouchers for our hotel room, we had to wait in line on Sunday morning from 7:30 to 11:00 to get the elusive tickets for the masquerade – it was actually a lot less waiting than we had to do in previous years, but I think that’s due to the fact that a lot of people got their tickets via vouchers. We were seated roughly halfway back in the room so we had pretty decent seats; however, there were a couple of people in front of me who were taller than me so I couldn’t see it most of the time. The camera work was pretty terrible since it hardly covered most of the stage. I spent a lot of the time bobbing and weaving, trying to catch a decent glimpse of the stage since the cameras weren’t on the ball.
The MC mentioned how we should "thank the cameramen", since without them, people in the back wouldn’t be able to see it at all. Of course, this implies that the only way that people past a certain point could actually see the masquerade was through the two monitors, which defeats the whole purpose of coming into the room in the first place. Why even bother coming in the room when they’d get the exact same experience sitting in a simulcast room?! I suppose some people enjoy being in the company of other fans during a popular event, feeding off of the energy of other congoers simply by being in the same room. Although, I don’t think it’s really worth going unless you’re able to sit close enough to see the stage.
Verdict – Overall, Better than Last Year
Hmm… it seems like I don’t have as much to rant about as I did last year. I suppose this could be considered a good thing, but it’s irritating to see the same problems arise year after year. Fortunately, I had a lot of fun hanging out in the hotel room playing games with random people and messing around at the Anime Trivia Contest with my friends. I really want to believe in Anime Expo since I still have nostalgia about "the good ol’ days" back in ’97 and ’99. I suppose this could be due to many factors: a new generation of fans, Expo growing faster than people can handle it, changing of the staff, me getting older.
There’s something missing from when I first started going, and I’m still trying to find out what that is…