A bit late in posting this but there were a ton of things I had to catch up on as soon as I got back from my “five-day” 4th of July weekend. Anyway here is a rundown of just about everything I did at this year’s Anime Expo convention in Los Angeles.
Day 0 — (Thursday) June 30th, 2011
Badge and Ticket Pick-up: I arrived outside the L.A. Convention Center at around 9am with my group ready to start this so-called “Day 0″ which I’ve never experienced first-hand before — but I’ve heard some unpleasant stories from the year’s past about it. Why did I decide to now come a day early? Simple. To get the best seats possible for the Hatsune Miku concert. As you know, tickets are given at a first-come first-serve basis. On top of that, I have for the first time a Premier pass at this year’s event; which grants me preferred seating to any live concert I attend. So the odds of having possible front row are looking good in my favor. That is until a guy I met in line told me that they usually reserve the front for Guests of Honor and other high-profile attendees. FFFFFFF
Later that afternoon they separate us Premier Fans from everyone else into a separate line inside the cool air-conditioned LACC. With my new goal in mind — reserving a seat in the second row for Miku — we picked up our badges and rushed upstairs down to West Hall to get into yet another line for tickets. One of the first attendees to receive theirs shouts out, “I got second row!” My fanboyism intensified even further after hearing those sweet words. When it was finally my turn, I looked at my ticket and, lo and behold, I’m in the second row. My reaction.
Day 1 — (Friday) July 1st, 2011
Red Carpet: We arrived around 8AM in time for the Red Carpet event where all of this year’s top guests would arrive — and maybe strike a pose for us. It was a delightful treat for those with the fortitude to wake up this early in the morning. You can check out video of the arrival for music group Kalafina below.
Opening Ceremony: This year the opening ceremony took place at Petree Hall, as opposed to last year where it was held in the Nokia Theater. All the Guests of Honor were introduced, including the first ever virtual GoH. However technical difficulties kept that from running smoothly. How hard is it to play a 10-second video — on VLC — of Miku saying, “Hello, my name is Hatsune Miku.” I don’t know, but it took them 3 tries to get it right. Oh yes, I knew right then that I was officially at Anime Expo. Some video intros below:
Exhibit Hall: As Premier Fans, we were allowed to enter the Exhibit Hall an hour early before everyone else. It was so worth having first dibs at the dealers’ booths. You know how tempting it is to splurge at anime cons. My first target was the Miku-Fes booth. You can check out all they had from the video below. (*Note: all the Hello Kitty Miku merchandise you see displayed was not available to us early goers.)
Sawashiro Panel: Our first AX panel had us in line for voice actress Miyuki Sawashiro; (Mint, Petit Charat, Shinku, Dead Master, etc.) Of course, it doesn’t begin as scheduled on the program. I should’ve expected this already but what can you do. As we finally began entering the doors inside, there were AX staff members scanning our badges. What the heck was this about? Apparently now they have a new system in place for how they’ll determine who will and who won’t be able to attend the GoH’s autograph session. How it works is at the end, they’ll display a list on-screen of the first and last names of the attendees who have won a ticket for the session. All I could think about is how much this blew. Before entering rage mode I said to myself, “fine, I won’t make such a big fuss over autographs this year like I did last. If I win, awesome. If I don’t, oh well.” If you remember from my 2010 AX post, everyone who appeared at a panel received a raffle ticket at the end. With that you could get in line on a first-come first-serve basis.
Sawashiro had the usual Q&A session with her fans and once it was over, they displayed the names of the winners. I wasn’t on it, but luckily my friend was. She ended up getting her Punit Collection Shinku doll signed. I had my LE Arcana Heart boxset on-hand — she voices Weiss — but I guess I wasn’t going to need it. Around Day 3 or 4 I heard it was still possible to receive signatures from GoHs without a ticket, but I wasn’t really in the mood to stand in lines for hours on end like I did last year. So I was okay with it.
Miku Keynote Panel: Oh hey Danny Choo, nice to see you here.
Itoh Hiroyuki (Crypton Future Media CEO) and Toshihiro Fukuoka (Chief Executive Editor of “ASCII Weekly Magazine”) were the keynote speakers at this Vocaloid panel. Here they talked in-depth about the origins of Hatsune Miku and how she became internationally well-known as she is today. They spoke about topics such as Piapro, NicoNico Douga, Youtube Vocaloid reprints (I would like to think I did my fair share of this throughout the years), and something called MikuBook — a new social networking Vocaloid site in English. Its goal is to help users recommend videos, illustrations, and music to their own followers; which in turn contributes to the growing Vocaloid community outside Japan.
Toshihiro Fukuoka (left) and Itoh Hiroyuki (middle)
This made me laugh as they used Maxine for the “Cosplay” category
Day 2 — (Saturday) July 2nd, 2011
Morikawa Panel: GESPENST!! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!!
I felt I was one of the few SRW fans who came to see him :(
Even with being surrounded by a horde of screaming fangirls, there was a guy who got voice actor Toshiyuki Morikawa (Griffith, Dante, Sephiroth, Naraku, etc) to say that famous Kyousuke line during the Q&A. It was really awesome to hear him in character.
Kalafina Concert: You see last year I had no glowsticks at all to enjoy the concerts with. But this year my group came prepared! It was time to head off to Club Nokia to see music group Kalafina (ED to Madoka and Kara no Kyoukai). Wow did they put on a great performance. I was in the Pit area deeply immersed in the sounds of their neo-classical gothic pop style. No camera or recording devices were allowed inside, however, I’ll provide you with their farewell AX message to the fans.
Mikunopolis Concert: About an hour after the Kalafina concert came the most anticipated event of this whole convention. The Hatsune Miku concert at Nokia Theater! When I got inside I found myself sitting in the second row — a bit towards the left side of the center aisle seats. The live show started a little after 8PM with Danny Choo as the emcee introducing Danceroid. Oh but not before making us say this silly phrase to make Miku appear. “Miku-san maji tenshi!” Cause you know we’re in the City of Angels. Okay one more go. “Miku-san maji tenshi!” Now with an English accent! … Dollfie guy cracks me up. But enough about that. Let’s start the show!
You know what I was saying to myself throughout most of the show? “Wow those outfits Miku wears sure are darn cute.” Really when you see them up close in person you can’t help but love the clothing she wears. Anyway, the concert was amazing. More so than I could ever put into words. It’s not just having Miku, Rin, Len, Luka (yay Luka!) all there; but it’s this indescribable feeling of euphoria hearing your favorite Vocaloid songs performed live on stage. I swear I think my soul was cleansed after it was all over. Been a fan since day 1 so this really meant a lot to me :3
For a setlist, you can head over to this page on MikuBook. And for those who want to download the stream itself…
*Mikunopolis Live Torrents:
Mikunopolis concert covered by local news:
Day 3 — (Sunday) July 3rd, 2011
Niikawa Panel: It’s the third day of AX, around 10AM, and I find myself heading over to see the person responsible for all the countless gaming hours I spent grinding till my eyes bled. This was the panel for Disgaea creator Sohei Niikawa. Personally I’ve been playing NIS games since the Marl Kingdom days. So this was another event I was looking very much forward to. They discussed how and why he became a game designer — it was actually a very interesting story. From there much of the discussion focused on Disgaea 4 since the localized release was coming out soon in the US. There was a Q&A of course, and after, the names were revealed of who was going to win a chance to receive his autograph. And finally! My name appeared on screen. So I guess I’m not leaving AX without a signature afterall.
Niikawa Autograph Session: There I was standing in line, with my Etna figure ready to receive Mr. Niikawa’s autograph. The people in line were nice too. I really felt we connected through our love of the Disgaea series. When it was my turn, I presented him with the box and told him he can sign it anywhere he pleased. As he began writing his name I told him how much I loved the 4th installment in the series. Then I was completely caught off-guard when he asked me what part did I like best about it. For some reason my mind went blank for a second. But when I gathered my composure I replied, “the post-game chapters, the freedom to design you’re own pirate ships, and of course that incredible soundtrack.” Have you guys heard D4’s OST? I mean just listen to how beautiful this sounds.
Afterwards I was told that if I wanted I can have him sign another item if there was no one else with tickets. I couldn’t believe it. Thank goodness I brought with me my copy of Disgaea 4! So I ended up with two signed items from Niikawa-san. That really made my whole day.
Maon Kurosaki Concert : It was now time for the last concert I got tickets for. Music artist Maon Kurosaki (ED to High School of the Dead and Index II) put on an amazing show! I mean I could just feel the entire crowd in the Pit area were really into it. You can check out a clip of the show below. (*Note: please turn down your speakers as the audio quality is rather poor.)
Here is her farewell message to her fans:
Day 4 — (Monday) July 4th, 2011
Exhibit Hall: It’s the final day of AX and we decided to spend it on some last-minute shopping. Also, I did attend this banner auction they had going at the Aksys booth. In the end, I won the Arcana Heart 3 banner they had displayed. I so wanted it!
So to conclude my “five-day weekend” at AX, I’ll say that it was quite a memorable one. From the hotel, to the great food, to the amazing live performances, I will not soon forget all the fun I had at this year’s event. I look forward to the next one in 2012.
AX 2011 Swag
Niikawa at his autograph session
Close-up of the autograph on Etna
Close-up of the autograph on my copy of Disgaea 4. Yeah I know it’s kinda hard to see