I was unable to attend last year, opting to spent two weeks in Japan. This year’s Anime Expo was moved from the city of Anaheim to Long Beach, which is closer to the LAX airport. The Anaheim Convention Center had a ‘Home, Garden & Active Adult Senior Expo’ instead. Unfortunately, I didn’t pre-register for AX months in advance. It was sort of a last minute ‘I’ll go if you go’ thing. So at the door, a 4-day badge costs $60.
It was going to be a completely different experience from my first anime convention back in 2005 because I wasn’t volunteering this time. I saw this expo 100% from the spectator standpoint and will report it as such. I was anticipating waiting in the registration lines. I did hear that they mailed out badges beforehand to those who registered early enough. So I figured the lines should be shorter this time around, right? (Boy was I wrong on that one.)
* Water bottles
* Backpack, handbag
* Lots and lots of cash
* Digital camera
* Cell phone, watch
* Suntan lotion
* Handheld gaming devices (DS/PSP)
* Pens, pencils
* Cosplay gathering schedule
Day 1 Friday, June 28
It was hard to sleep the night before. All that built up excitement. I wasn’t able to finally dose off until 2:00 in the morning. Woke up at 6:00. Ate breakfast which composed of bacon, eggs, and rice. Left the house at 7:00. Parked in the Terrace Theater Garage. It was nearly full. I was lucky enough to find a spot.
To my dismay, registration was already jam packed spanning all the way to the other open parking lot.
You could see the AX banners on the buildings but there were no signs designating where exactly to line up.
For those who did not receive their badges in the mail in time, they had to wait in the same line too. Regrettably, there was no roller coaster at the end like at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
The sun shone brightly at 8:00. So what are we to do while waiting in line? Take tons of pictures of passing cosplayers of course.
There was a small group who gave up and left saying they should have staked it out at 3:00 AM. There was also a ‘drive-by’ when a girl from a car shouted ‘ZABUZA!’
Ninjas versus Pirates, a preview
Many more pictures. Female cosplayers with their animal plushies in between their breasts was a reoccurring theme.
Everyone’s favorite, Pepsi man
His shirt reads “Attention Anime Nerd In Need of Girl Friend.”
Air Gear emblems
Time was now 10:00. Once you get to that underpass, the line separates into two. Right was for those who pre-registered beforehand and just needed to pick up their badges. I was in the left line for at the door registration. Up to this point the line seemed to have been moving fast. However, it soon slowed to a snail’s pace. Some people started breakdancing.
There were people who finished getting their badges congregating along the railing on the floor above you. Were they just bored and wanted to torment us? Scorpion from Mortal Kombat appeared. The crowded roared as he waved to us.
We were herded by the staffers with red jackets. Written on their backs was ‘Access Control,’ which is a fancy term for Crowd Control. There was a weapon’s check for all props. Once approved they wrapped the item with a pink tie strap.
11:30 and I could almost see the Seaside Meeting Rooms. Once inside, there was yet another line albeit shorter. 12:00 finished. Picked up a grab bag at the end that only contained the thick program that was 80% advertising. No free magazine extras like in 2005.
In conclusion, the total amount of time I spent in registration was 8:00-12:00 = 4 hours. I thought to myself, ‘This better be worth it.’ There was a couple who cut in line starting at 10:00 and finished in 2 hours.
I skipped lunch :(
Man-Faye strikes again!!
Visited the artist alley.
Stopped to get a shake across the street next to Gameworks.
Hey look, it’s StrongBad!
Past the 300…
…beyond the volunteers checking for badges, and down some escalators is the Exhibition Hall. It closes at 6:00. Aisles numbered 100, 200, 300 all the way up to 1900. People can sit and rest along the walls.
Omar Dogan from Udon Comics, $80 commissions
The hentai section was always populated…hmm…
Lots to buy. Anime DVDs, books, figurines, swords, shirts, costumes, Yaoi paddles…yes…Yaoi paddles, fans that made a snapping sound, stuffed plushies, art supplies, and video games.
There were cat girls outside the Final Fantasy 11 booth. They were giving away one month subscription CDs for $3. They also had trivia.
There was an Eyeshield 21 gathering outside the steps of the convention center at 6:00.
This Himura couldn’t make it to the gathering. His tragic account at http://forums.cosplay.com/showpost.php?p=1970947&postcount=94
Ate dinner at Chili’s. Ordered chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. The waitress said typically it’s not too busy over the summer. But with AX, business was picking up big time. She was happy.
On to AMVs which was supposed to begin at 8:00 at the Long Beach Arena. Seating actually started at this time. To my surprise, one of my college classmates submitted an entry in the AMTV category, Am2 Amit?�e. I was proud of her. Her goal for next year is to win.
The arena is a circular auditorium. Inside there were two large TV panels, left and right of the center stage. They played Jpop songs in the background like ‘Rainy Days Never Stays’ by The Brilliant Green. Also the Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight Opening theme ‘Kiseki no Umi.’
At 9:00 they darkened the lights. The arena was full except for the top two balcony sections. AMVs was delayed two hours because the SKIN concert ran over. I was told that it took that long to seat everyone and check their bags.
9:24 TokyoPop advertising. They sponsored the AMVs. First series was about a rocker with a cursed eye, midnight carnival. Second was set during the Crusades.
‘Well they SAY they’re Catholics’ (Crowd: oooooooooo!)
Third, I Luv Halloween with this annoying high pitched girl voice who plays Moochie. They did a character overview. Finch is the protagonist, brother of Moochie. Pig Pig whose parents are Jewish, the irony.
After the previews, it’s on with the show, right? Houston, we’ve got a problem. Ok so they are only going to show one category tonight, AmTV which luckily is what my classmate submitted. The host claimed that the CD that contained the other categories (Action, Drama, and Comedy) was stolen. He forgot to close the zipper on his bag on the way from the hotel. My sense was that he just misplaced it. He wanted to retire after this year and pass on the reigns. The rest of the videos were rescheduled for Sunday, 10:00 AM at the Terrace Theater. No ticket required.
A few notes about AMVs. THEY WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for series you haven’t seen yet. The source material for AMVs are raws, oftentimes series that are not available on DVD in the US. So how did they make the video then? One is they imported the Region 1 Japanese DVD at $50 per disc which I doubt they had the money for. The second is to use TV raws similar to what fansubbers use.
Am1 State of Humanity - Ghost in Shell. Parental discretion advised. Nudity and violence.
Am2 Amit?�e - Utena. I voted for this, but in all honesty I don’t think she’ll win.
Am3 5 Seasons of Evolution - Digimon every season including the latest one. Used Japanese versions. Digi-mental Up!
AM4 Old School Anime Baseball - One Piece and other random animes.
Am5 Knight of Fate - Fate Stay Knight. Graphically the best out of all the submissions. Used the CGs from the PC H-game. Servant list. ‘No one’s gonna take me alive.’
Am6 Skittles - The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Song was Candy Pop. Had great coloring effects. Breast groping.
Am7 Reflection - Naruto. Sasuke and Naruto comradery up until the point where Sasuke turned traitor. Song Fairyland by Ayumi Hamasaki.
To pass the time more videos of previous AMV winners were shown.
Code Monkey. Anime romance series, The Legend of Black Heaven. Fritos, Tab, and Mountain Dew. Guitar.
Bride of Berserk. Comedy, reminds me of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Utena rose effect. Elbow in the face at the end.
GTM (Grand Theft Megadeus). Mechs. One audience member said, ‘I like his car.’
Azumanga Daioh/Strongbad Techno. Shifty eyes. Dance Revolution. Dancing robots! Football (actually soccer). ‘Sorry,’ says Strongbad, ‘I can really keep that up for that long.’
Evangelion. German song. Evil Asuka. Deep man’s voice when she speaks.
Full Metal Alchemist. Grainy picture, didn’t use high quality DVDs. Hong Kong rips?
Total Waste of 6 Min & 35 Sec. Lain. By XStylus. Have to see it for yourself.
The Wedding Ring. Video game tribute.
Finished at 11:00. Drove home.
Day 2 Saturday, June 29
I was lazy to wake up. Came to at 7:00. Breakfast of Japanese food my parents ordered last night. Left the house at 9:00. This time parked on the larger, more spacious outdoor lot at the corner of Shoreline Drive and E Seaside Way (where the registration line extended).
Today’s first activity was a visit to the arcade on the third floor of the Westin Hotel & Resort, across the street from the Terrace Theater on Ocean Blvd. They had Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, Street Fighter 3rd Strike, Dance Dance Revolution Supernova and Extreme, Para Para Paradise, Initial D, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2, Fist of the North Star, Marvel versus Capcom 2, Metal Slug 6, Puzzle Fighter, Melty Blood, Don Pachi, Mushihime Sama, Tekken 5, Time Crisis 3 and 4, and air hockey. There was someone cosplaying as a DDR pad while playing Dance Dance Revolution.
Ran into a Mithra couple from Final Fantasy.
Crossing the street back, we came across more cosplay.
Starcraft Marine, BlizzCon is next month
That’s one evolved Zergling
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
Exiting from the Exhibit Hall and in the Arena Lobby is Captain Morgan Beach Cafe. 12:30, perfect timing. Lunch was a large portion of chicken alfredo. Total came out to $9 without a drink.
1:00 The Art of Glowsticking in Workshop 1. Brought to you by http://www.glowsticking.com/ Put simply glowsticking is dancing with glowsticks. Yea, the same ones you see sold on Halloween. There are also LED sticks that are battery powered. 400 free sticks were thrown out to the crowd. There were personal instructors teaching the basics. Half the room was divided into stringing, and the other half into freehand. In freehand, first you start by pointing the stick and drawing a figure eight. After you can do it with each hand separately, you put both hands together. Might take a couple days to get it down. It’s analogous to patting your head, and rubbing your tummy. Later on you can curve your eights as in a helicopter.
Next is tracing where you use your body as a canvas. You move the stick around the outline of your body. Around your head, along your arms and legs, and circling your stomach. To mess around girls often trace their breasts.
Third, tossing which is identical to baton twirling. You spin or flick the stick either vertically or horizontally. You can even juggle it or kick it like a hackeysack.
The sticks can produce some pretty cool camera effects.
Some Naruto fans were having an orgasm over it. Chidori! Hey it’s an anime convention after all.
5:00 the mother of all cosplay gatherings. The Naruto gathering took place outside by the Rainbow Lagoon, near the parking lot. People were in the trees snapping photos. Cosplayers were sectioned off by village. From left to right, the Akatsuki, Mist, Sand, then Konoha. Some people started singing the fourth Naruto opening song ‘Go!’
Left early at 7:00. Ate dinner at home.
Day 3 Sunday, July 1
Awoke at 7:00. Sausage, eggs, and rice for breakfast. 9:00 was supposed to be Marker Sketch Techniques in Workshop 2. That got swapped to Monday. Today was Character Development taught by Javier Francisco Harriman from the Montecito Fine Arts School of Art and Design in Arcadia. http://www.montecitofinearts.com/
From the front of the room, there was a camera zoomed onto his drawing paper taped on all four corners. First off, he explained that there are two ways to create a character. 1) Concoct out of the blue. 2) Derive one from reading a script or a real setting. He accepted a couple full page character drawings from the audience and began improving upon their appearance. It is all about asking questions. How old is the character? In what place in time are they from? What is the character’s name? There is a big difference between Washington and Scooby. You wouldn’t take someone named Scooby seriously. Who are the character’s parents? Are they rich, poor, or middle class? If you were to line up 10 characters, what would make this one stand out? Your character should want to be discovered. Every item and every accessory is a word. You want to exaggerate as much as you can. Personally, I thought he overloaded the character he was working on. Clich?�s are ok to use in that there is some fact to them.
Lunch was an $8.75 sandwich and green salad from the same Beach Cafe as yesterday.
1: 30 Ragnarok Online gathering on the Rainbow Lagoon Islands located directly behind the Arena over the bridge. Full story about how we stormed the Gaia Online booth at http://iro.ragnarokonline.com/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=5417&posts=18&start=1
After that I headed over to the console gaming room located in Room 102 next to the restrooms. They just finished a Naruto tournament where Kakashi was the victor. Game selections were Guitar Hero, Smash Bros, and Halo. There were way too many people on the floor playing their DS. Get up and socialize you losers!
4:30 Coloring and Screentoning in Photoshop 101 in LP4 by Marvel comics colorist Christina Strain. http://justaddninjas.com/ http://ceeceeluvins.deviantart.com/ She receives black and white line art. Her first step is to convert the bmp to rgb. Select the image, cut, and paste it into a Channel > new Alpha 1 layer. Check Preserve Transparency. Flood fill. Select all white, inverse makes it black.
With the flat, using the lasso tool and holding down the alt key to make segments, enclose the area you want to work with. For screen tone, Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone. You can even scratch tones off and make gradients.
Dinner was salmon at Chili’s.
Finally the main event. 7:30 Masquerade Contest in the Arena. Picked up tickets by the door for balcony seating. It was packed. We started doing the wave. It kept going around in a circle. The people on the left side were strong and kept it up at least ten revolutions. Then we flapped our arms like Angels in the Outfield. Where I was seated, we started chanting, ‘Big Juicy Burgers!’ ‘Ninjas versus Pirates!’ and ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’
One guy shouted at a Final Fantasy chocobo girl below, ‘Hey how much gil for a ride?’
The Masquerade started on time at 8:00 and didn’t finish until 11:00. Sponsored by ImaginAsian TV http://www.iatv.tv/index2.php. There were 300+ performers. The Masquerade composed of short minute long skits. All dialogue was prerecorded. So the actors were only lip-synching. ‘Walk on’ means the cosplayer just walked from one end of the stage to the other showing off their costume. Between performances, stage ninjas would swiftly remove any props left on stage. They sure were popular (’Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!’). The judges were all young fans like us. One was from Japan.
Entry #1 couldn’t make it.
#2 Sora got Served
#3 Bleach. Ichigo and Renji arguing over who is stronger. My bankai is bigger and Harder! It’s over 9000! Renji summons Zabimaru. Pokeball go!
#4 Dragon Quest 8 (Winner).
#5 .hack//G.U. You noob. I’m level 3!
Some issues with the lighting. You fail technician.
#6 Arc the Lad. *Skipped*
#7 Dragon Ball. Mr. Satan summons the dragon then kicks the balls off stage. Host comments, ‘It takes a lot of balls to do a skit like that.’
#8 Final Fantasy 11 Puppeter
#9 Hellgirl. Boy wishes to send some people to hell as revenge. He posted as anonymous so they take his soul.
#11 .hack//G.U. Player Killers. When you pick on someone, beware for they may know of someone stronger than you are. Host, ‘Are the big swords supposed to be compensating for something?’
#12 D.Gray-Man. You tore my cuff off. Started stripping each other.
#14 Bleach. Urahara brandishing his sword. ‘Sing Benihime!’ Walk on.
#15 Gundam. With Hard Gay. Doing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Carlton ‘Jump On It’ dance. Host, ‘Promote safe zecks, use a gun-dam.’
#16 Princess Mononoke. Forest god. Walk on.
#17 Robotech. Rick Hunter’s veritech. Transforms but not quite. (Winner of best novice costume award.)
#18 Dead or Alive
#19 Romania. Bring out your dead. Monty Python. Smacks with a hammer. Now he’s dead. (Winner).
#20 Trinity Blood. Elaborate dress. Walk on. (Winner).
#21 Super Monkey Ball Time. Peanut Butter Jelly!
#22 Dark Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2. Choosing a sword.
#23 Final Fantasy 11. Indecent Proposal. Female Mithra sets up a Behemoth in order to lure a male Mithra to her so she can make love. She proceeds to strip him. He said he’ll take his chances with the Behemoth. (Winner).
#24 Death Note. Singing apples. Ba-da-be-da. Do-do, de-do-do. (Winner).
#25 Gundam Zaku 2. Dancing robot. Took out his gun and axe.
#26 One Piece of Ocean Life. Something deeper…Yaoi! Tune in to the next 87 episodes. (Winner).
#28 Utena. Two heavy set females. ‘I like big butts.’ Yuri. Walk on.
#29 Speed Grapher.
#30 The Cat Returns. Classical ballroom dance. (Winner).
#31 Final Fantasy 11. Titan with casting sound effects.
#32 Trinity Blood. Cain versus Abel.
#33 God of War 2. Tyra Banks America’s Next Top Model. Sorry, you’re not going to cut it.
#34 Yaoi Note! (Men in the audience, ‘Boo!’)
#35 Final Fantasy 12. Ultima.
#36 Romeo and Juliet.
#37 Trinity Blood. About all the love affairs Abel had. Couldn’t hear the dialogue very well.
#38 Final Fantasy 11 Moggle! Kupo! (Square-Enix Winner)
#39 England (?). Large dance group. Idol Master by Namco. (Winner)
#40 Excel Saga. Elgala manga character. Nabeshin comes on. Ilpalazzo shoots Excel and Elgala. ‘Madness, this is Excel Saga!’ (300 reference).
#41 Final Fantasy 11. This is the Navy. (another 300 reference)
#42 Death Note the Musical
#43 Legend of Sanda (?). Trying to catch a firefly. Walk on.
At this point the arena started to look like a planetarium with the cameras flashing. Waved cell phones.
#46 Sailor Moon dance. (ADV Winner)
Back to the one skipped earlier.
#6 Arc the Lad. Lieza and Pandit. Pandit pees on a plant.
Now what you’ve all been waiting for. The halftime show, Ninjas versus Pirates. The age old story. It was a giant Pirates of the Caribbean 3 slash 300 parody. It was quite lengthy and featured live voice acting, microphones in hand.
Summary (May not be exact. I’m going off memory here.)
Kakashi head of the ninjas formed an alliance with Zoro the pirate. They were hunting a bear plushie.
Kakashi: ‘We strike as one!’
Zoro: ‘I think I’ll pass.’ *Throws a sword at the bear.*
Kakashi: ‘I knew you pirates can’t be trusted to do this simple task.’ They break off their alliance.
Zoro: ‘I get to keep the bear.’
Wushu. You see Sakura doing splits. Naruto sword display.
One Piece pirates break dancing.
Kakashi: ‘What message do you bring?’
Pirate: ‘Peanut, butter, and jelly.’ *Naruto dances*
Kakashi: ‘You came all the way here just for peanut, butter, and jelly? I heard that the monkeys and robots have rejected you.’ *Proceeds to kill the pirate messenger*
Pirate: ‘This is madness!’
Kakashi: ‘Madness. This is Expo!’ *boots*
Kakashi consults the ninja clan’s oracle. She dances. Morpheus from the Matrix interprets.
Morpheus: ‘There’s a sale in the Exhibition Hall.’
Morpheus: ‘You are to bring 300 ninjas.’
Kakashi: ‘Why not 500?!’
Scene changes to the pirates side.
‘We’re going to war.’
Back to the ninjas.
Kakashi: ‘Oh Gaara…where is he?’ (Played it off). ‘Is he in the bathroom?’ (Crowd chants ‘Gaara!’)
Sand reinforcements arrive.
Kakashi: ‘What is your profession?’
Sand #1: ‘Bleach fansubber.’
Sand #2: ‘The voice of Wookie from Star Wars.’
Sand #3: ‘I shut down illegal fansub sites’ (Crowd, ‘Boo!’).
Kakashi: ‘We have spears.’
Gaara: ‘We have earth benders.’
Sakura wields her staff like Seong Mi-na from Soul Calibur.
Kakashi: *looking at Rock Lee with two swords* ‘I’m not quite sure what they are.’
Gaara: ‘We have finer benders (?).’ Sand sports a helmet and spins on his head.
Kakashi: *In approval* ‘Your head spins make me smile.’ Sand and Konoha join forces.
The pirate lords have been gathered. Jack Sparrow to the scene.
Kakashi: ‘Where’s your ship?’
Sparrow: ‘In Davy Jones locker. And you are Shakira?’
Kakashi: ‘Kakashi.’ Sparrow further mispronounces his name.
Fight over the beach.
Rock Lee with a whip.
Kakashi: ‘Where is your captain?’
Sparrow wants to run away.
Kakashi: ‘Will you leaving knowing that your men sacrificed their lives here?’
As Kakashi’s back is turned, Sparrow takes a swipe at him.
Kakashi: ‘You cheat!’
Sparrow: *shrugs* ‘Pirates.’ *Pulls out handguns*
Here comes a new character. Game over. A female robot shoots everyone. Robots are haters. The End.
Sparrow singing and playing a guitar. Pirate song. Well done.
Day 4 Monday, July 2
No more major cosplay gatherings today aside from Pokemon, Trigun, and Avatar. 9:00 Marker Sketch Techniques put on by Montecito. What I wanted to see yesterday. The markers they used were Prisma. http://www.prismacolor.com/
First you start off by drawing cubes, 6-10 pages worth to get down the concept of lighting/shading and depth/value. To stay competitive, the more practice the better. Then you move onto spheres, cylinders, and cones. All advanced images can be broken down to these basic shapes. The techniques are applicable to transportation design, interior design, and fashion design.
Taking a perspective class is a plus. Pick a light source. Outline the area you are going to work in first. Shade in the three sides of the cube steadily increasing in % color value, going from light to dark (40%, 60%, 80%). Don’t be afraid to move your sketch pad around. You want to blend the markers while it’s still wet. If you take too long, it’ll dry. It is good to use references such as photographs of the object you are coloring. But it is not necessary to stick with how those are colored in real life. Have confidence in your strokes.
Lunch was inside the Exhibition Hall. A big juicy burger, pickle, and fries for $8.50.
12:00 waited outside the Terrace Theater for the movie Transformers. http://www.transformersmovie.com/ The line stretched all the way past the fountain. Bag check. They wouldn’t allow you to bring water bottles inside.
Go watch my movie!
1:30 seated. Started soon after. 3:45 finished. Few scenes within the credits. Starscream blasting off into outer space.
Transformation sequences were detailed. I was glad that they got the original voice actor from the cartoon series Peter Cullen to return to play Optimus Prime. Blatant product placement: GMC, Chevrolet, Ebay, Mountain Dew, Dance Dance Revolution, and Taco Bell. Volkswagen was stubbornly against keeping Bumblebee as a bug and turned him into a Camaro. Devastator was a tank instead of the Constructicons. Megatron was also a plane. Note the Allspark Cube is not the same as Energon Cubes. The movie is not entirely action. There are plenty of laughs. People are murmuring about a Transformers 2…
* 300 was a great movie. But the overuse of ‘Madness. This is Sparta!’ killed it.
* No signs policy. Thank you soccer moms.
* Momoi Halko ‘Anime Expo was horrible…’
Main Idea of this Rant?! -
My second anime convention attended, the Anime Expo in Long Beach, California in the year 2007. Yaoi is a magical word indeed!
Closing Statements -
Thank you for the memories. Over 44,000+ people attended this year. You know you are a hard core anime fan if you could correctly identify every cosplayer, the series they came from, and their character name. Anime Expo 2008 will be in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Check out all the rest of the pictures on my photobucket