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The Anime Expo 2005 Experience

This year started off different. This year, I had a "Press Badge". I realize this gave me a rather skewed perspective of the con, but I tried to keep in mind things that I thought went wrong as an advocate for the little guy. I’ve been there, and I know how they feel. Not that I’m actually famous – it’s likely no one will read this "rant", but you never know…

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Even though I couldn’t actually pick up my Press Badge until Friday, 9am, I was in the area having dinner with some friends so I decided to drop by the registration. When we got there at around 8pm, the staff told us they were closing the line for the night for some reason. A lot of people who got there were quite frustrated, but my friends managed to get their badges after about an hour of negotiation, so it all turned out all right. Others were not so fortunate, and I feel for those who pre-registered only to be turned away and told to come back the next morning. The following conversation from Con Gripe was quite enlightening.

Q: What’s the point of pre-registration if you get turned away? I got turned away. San Diego Comic Con uses bar code scanners. The main chokepoint is the searching for people by name.
A: We had a problem with the database, and we realized that we couldn’t handle it ourself. To fix this problem, we hired professionals to do it; however, the typists that they sent couldn’t even type. We immediately hired another company to come in on Friday.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I try not to believe in bad luck, but…

Friday, July 1st, 2005

After a bit of a drive down to Anaheim, we went to register in the morning where I thought that they would have normal registration, but they didn’t have the press registration in the convention center with everything else – I wasted only about 30 min waiting so that wasn’t too bad. I suppose they did this because it is where most of the high profile guests are staying and it made things easier for them. Of course, it didn’t make too much sense because they had the industry registration in the same area as everything else.

Kaita, Eric, and The Sign from Anime Expo 2005    Registrationmania from Anime Expo 2005

As I was waiting in the line for press registration, I was talking to a guy who said that he "enjoyed" the Real Otaku Heroes songs (as well as someone else), but he didn’t recognize the name "The Spatula". ;_; Mada mada da ne…

The line to get into Opening Ceremonies was freakin’ huge! Fortunately, the Press Badge allowed me to go to the front – I was sitting in the third row. Curiously enough, I ended up sitting next to Christopher MacDonald, the head honcho over at Anime News Network. I said, "You’re from ANN, right?" to which he replied "Yeah". When I was about to introduce myself, he said, "And you’re The Spatula". I was taken aback – I was surprised that he recognized me. It’s probably because I pestered him so much over the years. Inside, he was proabably thinking, "Oh great! I have to sit next to The Spatula…"

Opening Ceremonies was the same ol’ thing with a curious statement from the chairman relating AX to a city. "It’s built the way that anime and manga fans would want the world to be… make sure that you eat, sleep, and stay hydrated… Oh yeah, and shower." Hah!

I also noticed a spatula in the clip from Ultra Maniac so I made a note to look for that some time in the future.

After a bit, I went to the exhibition hall at around 12noon, but I had to be threaded through a long ass line that went downstairs into room "e" (should have a map of the Anaheim Convention Center to show the movement of the line). Fortunately, it only took around 30 minutes to actually get into the dealer’s room. I went to talk to Chris from Hen da ne about setting up some sort of demo/tournament thingy, but he was busy, so we put it off for later. I didn’t want to hang out in the dealer’s room because it was a bit crowded and the KOTOKO panel was soon; it had nothing to do with the fact that I had no money. Tabun…

Venturing on to the KOTOKO focus panel, I met up with Raven and Linalys. I wasn’t really surprised to see that Raven was near the front of the line. The panel was delayed a bit, until 2:30, but that wasn’t that bad. During the panel, the usual barrage of questions

Q: You’ve made many songs over the years, which one do you hold closest to your heart?
The Spatula (to self): Hmm… her most recent song is Chi ni Kaeru, so…
KOTOKO: I love all my songs, but right now, I love Chi ni Kaeru.

One particularly interesting question was:

Q: Would you consider being a Seiyuu for Geneon?
KOTOKO: I am often asked if I would like to try to become a voice actress, but I have no training or talent, so I think that it would be rude to become one without all of that training. I would first like to take all that training first before becoming one.

During the rest of the questions, I realized that I should’ve brought my official Kaname Chidori halisen

After the panel, we finally had a chance to check in the Inn. Most places do this at 1pm, but we had to wait until after 3pm. Why so late? I decided to have some granola bars and a Cup Ramen. Despite my careful planning, I realized that I had forgotten one important thing… forks. Fortunately, there was a 7-11 nearby.

I returned to the dealer’s room and chatted with Chris again about showcasing some doujin fighters, but he didn’t have many of those games in stock. We agreed that it wouldn’t make sense to have people playing games there when they couldn’t sell them anything. Oh well. Since it wasn’t really well planned to start with, I suppose it was for the best. Hoping I’d have better luck at the Console Gaming Room where I knew MadTeaParty was at, I headed off to the Marriott for the next part of my journey.

The console gaming room was strangely laid out – all of the tables were occupying the back fourth of the room leaving a huge empty space in the front. I’m sure there was a good reason for it being like that, but I couldn’t figure out why. I tried not to think about it too much, and hung out with some friends for the rest of the evening.
Saturday, July 2nd, 2005

The main event of the day was the KOTOKO concert so I went to wait in line. There, I met up with Linalys and Team Texas led by VManofMana. I played Linalys a bit and he mercilessly beat on me – I cried and cried, but he just kept laughing and laughing and… yeah. Anyway, we got to go into the Geneon Anime Festival, but we didn’t enter until about an hour after it was supposed to start. Bleh. At least they had some neat previews.

The KOTOKO concert rocked. I got to sit up in the fourth row from the front. Unfortunately, the people in front of me thought it would be a good idea to stand up blocking the view for the row behind them, and so that row stood up blocking the view for the row behind them, and so… you get the idea. I was content to sit down and enjoy the show. Years of practice being civil barely won out over my desire to push people over SO I COULD FREAKIN’ SEE! Again, I realized that I should’ve brought my official Kaname Chidori halisen… [Edit (7-12-2005): Everyone in front of me was taller than me, so I had a much better view sitting down. I didn’t dwell on it, and I was up on my feet cheering like everyone else.]

I forgot how freakin’ loud concerts were. The main problem I had was that the music was so loud, her singing was nearly overshadowed. Chi ni Kaeru was pretty cool since I was able to clearly hear her sing – too bad they couldn’t get a full orchestra for that ;_; The crowd was wild some of the time and creative at other times; some guy held up his cell phone and then a couple hundred people started to do the same. Pretty wild stuff.

At the end of the show, people were chanting "KO TO KO! KO TO KO!" – I tried to start a continuous stream of "KO TO KO TO KO TO KO…" but the guys near me just looked at me funny so I stopped. I had a feeling that they had planned an "encore" performance, so I waited around a bit at my seat while most of the crowd started to leave. When KOTOKO came back on stage, the people who were up and about rushed up to the stage and many people took pictures. This might not seem like a bad thing, but the audience was explicitly told not to take any pictures. Of course, how are you going to stop a mass of rabid fanboys?

Washing my hands of that sordid affair, I went to the 2nd floor to seek out New Challengers. I never noticed before, but they apparently gather betwen 207 & 208 of the Anaheim Convention Center. 22 curious souls gathered for a beatdown. 7 laptops. All doujins. It had begun…

Doujin: The Gathering (Rear) from Anime Expo 2005    Doujin: The Gathering (Profile) from Anime Expo 2005

I played some Melty Blood Re•ACT, I won the first round using Hisui vs someone’s Len, but I got destroyed in the second round against Linalys’ Miyako. My problem is that I still don’t know the proper timing for cancelling attacks so I lost that every time. After that, I was in the EFZ tournament and my Mishio bested Linalys’ Rumi. I think that he just used it as an excuse to skip out and head over to ADV‘s "Fanservice" panel. Damn Linalys…

I forgot that the first round was an elimination round into a round robin which consisted of, I believe, 9 people. I first played against Lovely Kitsune (Internet Celebrity), who destroyed me, but I managaed to win one round, so I’m happy for that. I then played Evospace, the mysterious owner of The Moonlit World, who trounced me using Doppleganger Rumi. Damn Kimuchi…

Earlier I had promised to go to the ANN panel, so I just left in the middle of the tournament – years of experience told me that I didn’t have to play the other people to know that they would beat me.

The ANN panel went well – they had a lot of stuff to give away for people who asked questions. I probably should’ve asked a question, but I couldn’t think of anything decent at the time. At times, I have too much pride; I wasn’t going to ask a lame question to get a DVD, but it probably would’ve been worth it. Oh well.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

I got up at around 7am and did the usual shower, breakfast thing then I went to get the pass for the Maaya Sakamoto concert and the Masquerade. If you look at the picture below on the right, you’ll notice that the only "MAIN EVENTS" listed on the pole for Sunday is the Maaya Sakamoto concert. Apparently, the Masquerade isn’t considered a main event. I hung out with some friends in the line for the Sakamoto tickets but didn’t stay long because I had to go to the Anime Trivia.

Waiting for Sakamoto from Anime Expo 2005    Vanishing Masquerade from Anime Expo 2005

The format for Anime Trivia was the same as last year: trivia, name that tune, and guess the scene. The first game was at least 30 minutes; not too bad, but for some reason it felt longer than that. They really should get some buzzers so it would move things faster. Obviously, if one contestant doesn’t know it, then one of the other contestants might know, right?

As usual, the last part with guessing the video stuff takes way too long. They should cut this section back a bit or cut it out entirely; it also didn’t help that they used many of the questions from last year. Everyone who went up got quite a few prizes. It bothers me that you can simply be randomly picked to be on the show, don’t have to answer anything, and then you can walk off with a couple DVDs and a CD. This implies that being lucky is more important than actually knowing anything. Lame.

The second round was a bit faster, 24min, because the contestants actually knew the answers. At the end, they just asked a bunch of random questions for people in the audience. I didn’t get anything this time, but that didn’t really bother me as much as the fact that they didn’t really improve over last year. It pains me to write about the same problems when the solutions are relatively simple. I didn’t dwell on it since the Maaya Sakamoto concert was next.

The concert was pretty enjoyable, but it felt a bit… rushed. Something felt off. Maybe she was scared of all the American fans. I hate to compare the two concerts, but KOTOKO definitely had the better act since she had an actual show and live band to go along with her singing. This is not to say that I need to see an elaborate show to enjoy the show, just that it added to it.

Finally, the Masquerade rolled around and I had some pretty decent seats; I was in the second row from the front on the very right. The only problem was that the angle was a bit bad for taking pictures. Fortunately, the camera work was very good this year; I spent about half the time looking at the monitor. I probably wouldn’t have minded sitting in the middle or back since they covered the stage very well. There were a lot of high quality costumes and skits and there wasn’t much dead time. Great job.

Monday, July 4th, 2005

I didn’t plan too much for this day: the Maaya Sakamoto Panel, Con Gripe, and AMVs.

The Sakamoto panel went pretty well except for the fact that most of the questions started off with, "Hi, I’m your biggest fan, I love… blah blah blah. Now, my question is…" I really wish they would screen the questions so, at the very least, it would expedite the process allowing more questions to be asked. Another fan actually walked up to Sakamoto and shook her hand after asking a question – I definitely should’ve brought my official Kaname Chidori halisen

I really didn’t have a lot to gripe about this year, but I went to Con Gripe anyway to see what people were complaining about. Most of the complaints for Con Gripe were related to registration and the Masquerade. The usual things. Perhaps the main thing that bothered me was that it was impossible for me to go to every panel/event/showing that piqued my interest. Damn schedule conflicts…

To end the day, I caught the winners of the AMVs, bringing Anime Expo 2005 to a quiet close.

Kuonji Ukyo Part 1 from Anime Expo 2005    Kuonji Ukyou Part 2 from Anime Expo 2005

As a final note, I was happy to see two Kuonji Ukyou cosplayers.

Spatulas unite!