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Anime Expo 2014

Los Angeles, California

LA Convention Center

July 3rd-6th

By Riotblade


Anime Expo is one of the big names of anime conventions. It only makes sense for it to also be a featured line con… right? Since our report on the notorious 2013 Fanime convention line, we have never encountered a line similar to the python we saw snaking around the blocks of this convention center. Though the con was bursting (literally) with people, we all had a lot of fun and definitely recommend the con to anybody who wants to have fun.


Day 0:


My group thought we would learn from our lesson from last year and get there a little later this year. We reached the line at around 4 PM and were in shock when we realized that the line snakes a few times through a little cove and into the streets a few blocks away from the convention. Here is a map to show what the line looked like:

Woah, it's a snake

We decided to man up and line up anyways as we thought that the processing time would be extremely quick. No more assumptions were ever had for that weekend. We ended up lining up for about 5.5 hours because their printers were malfunctioning. By the time we got our tickets, it was around 10 PM and we were starving. Fortunately, AX thought it over and partnered up with Nature Valley to give each grab bag a free granola bar. What a life saver!



Day 1:

We arrived at the convention center early in the wee hours of 9 AM. Outside the convention center, there was a “Fluff Ice” truck giving out free fluff ice and a sticker for those who would like to pursue the Sentai Filmworks sticker hunt. At the front of the convention center was a huge line that made us glad that we spent some extra hours picking up our tickets to be able to get in early. This was the most peaceful day as a lot of the congoers haven’t shown up yet, and there was a good amount of walk space. We headed to the Trigger Studios panel to see what new projects they were cooking up.
Trigger spent a good amount of time talking about their upcoming anime adaptation, Ninja Slayer. Ninja Slayer is a hilarious parody of how westerners view Ninjas. Rumor has it that the manga was originally written by Americans (Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez), and translated by two Japanese guys (Honda Yu and Sugi Leika). They also gave us a preview of Little Witch Academia’s second OVA which looked awesome!



Day 2:


This day was the long awaited day for Yazool. We had tickets to the Kill La Kill special event which included a mini concert by Eir Aoi (who sang the first opening song), voice actors for Ryuuko and Satsuki (Ami Koshimizu and Ryouka Yuzuki), script writer, producer, and their animator Sushio. They let us preview the first two episodes of the English dub (which wasn’t bad at all) and gave us a sneak preview of Episode 25 titled “Graduation.” During the Q&A session, Sushio drew a masterpiece which was auctioned off in another event.


Day 3:


I didn’t end up going to much today as the convention was packed to the brim. It was extremely difficult getting into any panels without either waiting in the sun or standing in line at least one hour early. However, Yazool did manage to get into the Terror in Resonance panel which he claimed was “awesome.”

Our highlight of the day was the Ninja Slayer panel. We were super excited for the upcoming violent series about a Ninja hunting other Ninjas. The panel started with a brief video about what Ninja Slayer is and even introduced us to the two translaters, Honda Yu and Sugi Leika. After the video, we were in for a treat as Honda Yu and Sugi Leika came out in their ridiculous getup wearing some LED goggles and acted the part for an hour.



Day 4:


Since Day 4 was the slowest day for many, we didn’t stay at the convention for long. There weren’t very many activities and we were all tired from walking around and eating too much delicious LA Korean BBQ. We ended up doing a bit of traveling around LA for a good time.





Anime Expo is the largest Anime Con in North America and rightfully so.  AX broke records this year by having over 80,000 attendees, a much greater amount than the 60,000 from last year.  All the panels and events were fun and well organized.  However, we are worried that AX is going to outgrow the L.A convention center and move out of the bustling city of L.A.


Full AX 2014 Album can be found here

Posted by Riotblade on July 20th, 2014 | No Comments

Anime Expo 2014

San Jose, California

San Jose McEnery Convention Center

May 23rd-26th

By Riotblade and Excelion

Day 1:

Knowing last year, I need to prepare for the worst.  I brought enough food and water to last me 6-8 hours in line.  Last year I was caught off guard with Line-con 2013.  I was dehydrated, hungry, and tired as the pre-reg line went waaaay past my bedtime.  This time, I will try at-con registration.  I was ready for a battle of endurance.  A battle against some 20,00 people.  A battle against my own sanity.  A battle against my own natural bodily functions.


I rode the VTA Winchester-Mountain View light rail line that was wrapped with Fanime decor.  I arrived at San Jose’s newly renovated McEnery Convention Center.  It was filled with con-goers and cosplayers.  Everything seems status quo.  Time to participate in the annual 2014 FANIME LINECON!!


I arrived at the LINECON staging area.  There was definitely a long maze of velvet rope, but there was something that did not seem right… WHERE THE @&$@ IS THE LINE?????  NOT STATUS QUO!!!  The rush of emotions… I can hear my psyche exploding.  I prepared for this??  All that food… And the empty bottle for… *Ahem*


So… Linecon 2014… Did not exist? I stood in line for a grand total of 2 minutes… With only me in line… Rounding around the maze of velvet rope.  A part of me was happy.  The rest of me wanted to kill myself.


The actual Fanimecon went off without a hitch.  There were absolutely no freebies, aside from the free plastic convention bag (they now cost $0.10 in San Jose).  I definitely enjoyed the new badges  which now feature cute characters.  Mines was a penguin !!


Suggestions for next year:  needs longer lines.

Posted by Riotblade on June 1st, 2014 | No Comments

With the first impact of Japan Expo down in the history books, lets discuss the experience that is JX.  No VIP/ Press badges here, I bring you the experience straight from the eyes and tired legs of the normal attendee.  I bring you: THE LINE-CON REPORT!


On all days, the at con registration was a breeze, short line, in and out, not much to say.  No two or one hour long wait lines (I’m looking at you AX and especially Fanime).  


Friday Report:


Since I bought the premium pass at 0830, there was a small line, but nothing major and we were in very quickly.  Many of the attendees, once inside, promptly went to the autograph ticket line.  Most of the convention booths were setting up, which was a bummer since that pretty much negates the whole purpose of the premium badge and entering early.  Once 0900 rolls around there was a slightly longer line for the autograph line, but not much longer.  People got their autograph tickets.  Autograph line was as efficient as the autograph ticket line, and didn’t take that long to get autographs.  Panel and concert wise, no complaints here.   The rooms were never more than half way full, and people filed in efficiently.  


Saturday report:

Same as in Friday, but now with 3X as much people, and one days worth of prior experience.  The lucky premium badge holders got a no stress autograph ticket line.  By the time the regular attendees came in, the line to get Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s autograph ticket line took a total of 2.5 hours to claim all the tickets.  At the actual autograph signing, it took 1.5 hours for each of the two signings to sign all the autographs for Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.  Sadamoto-sensei was not the only crazy line for the day– Iwamoto and Kozake both had intensely long lines.  However, Sadamoto takes the trophy for the longest line of the Line-Con.  His line was the only one that got cut short due to the sheer number of people.  Likewise, there were many disappointed fans.  There were still rampant cutting between lines, as one dedicated granny otaku has shown me (she brought her own chair; now that’s dedication!).  Panels and concerts were all barely half full.  


Sunday Report

Sunday saw crowds on the scale of Friday’s attendance.  Easy to walk the aisles, and barely saw anyone there.  Sadamoto-sensei’s autograph sessions were still the longest, but most of the tickets were given out to mainly the premium badge holders as the line for the tickets closed down around 0930.  Otherwise a pleasant day today.  




Overall, Line-Con, First Impact, was a walk in the park.  Not bad for a major anime convention, transplanted onto US soil.  Being the first of many years of great Japan Expos in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area, CA region, I can only assume it will only get worse from this point on.  Longer lines, and more complaints of unfairness will be in JX’s future.  But for this First Impact, I give it an above average, (awesome!) rating.  This convention is a demonstration to AX and Fanime on how to effectively manage their lines, and how to efficiently move people around.  I await the Second Impact.



Posted by Excelion on August 28th, 2013 | 1 Comment

Fans of Usagi Yojimbo, this is your dream. So far, the first two cartoons of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a brief crossover with the character, Miyamoto Usagi. However, it is still not certain whether or not our favorite samurai rabbit will appear in the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is where Felipe Smith comes in. Felipe Smith, creator of Peepo Choo and the first non-Japanese manga-ka, is one of the storyboard artists of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He is also a really nice guy, and drew the lovable turtles for his fans. Although this is not an official drawing, but rather a commission, I asked him what our favorite samurai rabbit would look like if he was included in the new series. The result is as follow:



Posted by calpico on August 27th, 2013 | No Comments

Japan Expo 1st impact can be described with two words: Awesome concerts!


I had the chance of obtaining press badges which allowed me to be in the front row reserved press area.  I was stoked with the idea of being up close to You Kikkawa, Dempagumi.inc, and 1000say.  However, something very unfortunate happened right before the convention started on Thursday night.  Something that can only be described in nightmares that wake you up in the middle of the night– our only DSLR camera wasn’t functioning correctly.  As we did not have the technical know-how to debug camera issues, we decided to just let it go and use our trusty smart phones for pictures.  New technology is amazing right!? Wrong!  Even though smart phones boast the ability to shoot at “THIRTEEN MEGAPIXELS”, they do not fair very well in almost all situations we’ve encountered.  The incorrect lighting would absolutely destroy any pictures that were taken and any type of movement would yield a blurred picture.  With that being said, I would like to apologize to our readers and to the Japan Expo staff for providing the following low quality images presented in our articles.


You Kikkawa – First Showing


You Kikkawa is a former idol of “Hello Project!” and is performing in the US for the second time.  Upon entering the spacious auditorium that Santa Clara Convention Center provides, I was treated with You Kikkawa’s beautiful tunes.  The crowd in the auditorium was not very large, but it sure was rowdy.  Upon gazing around, I noticed that there were  various people who looked like they were a part of her official fanclub, as they wore her t-shirts and carried around glow sticks.  One fan even brought a bag filled with glow sticks and gave one to everyone who was attending.


When the tunes finally went silent and background music started blaring, the crowd went wild.  Out came Ms. Kikkawa in her cute little dress doing very interesting dance routines.  She performed for about 45 minutes before finalizing her set and thanking her fans.  It was a very nice performance.



Dempagumi.inc – First Showing


Dempagumi.inc is a fairly new group formed in 2008, which performs regularly in Akihabara, Japan.  There are 6 members in total, each assigned a unique color.  Their performances are full of energy and are full of theatrics, much like a musical play.


Upon  entering the premium line, there were tons of Dempagumi.inc fans screaming and shouting lyrics to their favorite songs.  Some of their fans came all the way from Japan to promote these artists and even passed out their CD albums for free.  These fans also passed out birthday cards which we can personalize for Mirin-chan, who happens to have a birthday on September 9th.


The performance and energy from this crowd was nothing but spectacular.  It felt as though I was actually in Japan attending an idol show as everybody had glow sticks and were performing wotagei and calls/chants.  I’ve personally never attended a idol group concert before, and my mind was blown at how exciting it was.  I was very disappointed at not being able to take any good photographs :( .






1000say is an 4 membered electro-rock band that formed in 2005 while all of their members were attending college.  Other than that, there’s not much information available online.


This band is a complete mystery.  I’ve tried the googles and the internets and can’t find any juicy information about the members.  I went into the concert without knowing what to expect, and was not disappointed.  The band all dressed in very interesting outfits and always worked the crowd.  There were two females, and two males, which is a nice balance of testosterone.  During some of the performances, the frontman even jumped off of the stage just to run through the crowd!



Overall, the concerts were definitely interesting.  I really like how the organizers planned two showings for a lot of the events just so everyone has a chance to attend.  Thumbs up to you, JX!

Posted by Riotblade on August 27th, 2013 | No Comments

Osu!! Spreading good fortunes throughout the Japan Expo convention is the cheering squad, Gamushara Onedan. The squad was formed by the leader Takahiro Muto, whose high school cheer group disbanded. Since then, he established his own cheer squad, and has been the first group that is not associated with a school.

The members of the Gamasushara spent the whole convention, spreading their positive energy to everybody in the convention whether it is the honor guests, the fans, the exhibitors, and even Paro, the animatronic seal. The group has the same ecstatic energy from the very beginning of the convention to the very end for all three days, never seeming to show signs of slowing down. From that positive energy, they electrify the convention with their performance.

Posted by calpico on August 27th, 2013 | No Comments

Today, we will delve into the concept of the premium badges.  At this year’s Japan Expo, they introduced the concept of the premium badge, where for twice the regular weekend pass price, you get special gifts, and special treatment.  


Those with the premium badges get to go into the convention a half hour earlier than the regular passes.  So instead of getting in at 0900, premiums get to come in at 0830.  Is it worth it?  At 0830, there’s really nothing to do.  All the exhibit booths are just setting up, in anticipation for the second wave at 0900, so no free swag this early.  So no free swag, then what do people do this early??  They get first dibs on the autograph tickets.  This is especially important since the Yoshiyuki Sadamoto autograph line was cut short early, with many disappointed regular attendees.  


With every premium badge comes free swag just for entering.  What is in the swag bag…? Not much, unfortunately.  You get one bottle of Ramune regular flavor, chocolate Pocky box, a couple of color  lithographs courtesy of the guests of honors, a blank sheet like the lithograph sheet for autographs (I guess…), free bag/coat check tickets, extra draws tickets for additional autograph chances, and a half set of pins they were selling at the JX merchandise booth.  


For panels and concerts, premiums get to line up in a special line, amongst the VIPs and Press, so they get to grab seats early.  This means getting up close,  face to face, with You Kikkawa!… or Yoshiyuki Sadamoto…


Was this all worth it?  For a small convention like JX, the premium badge was only necessary to get autographs.  Otherwise it was not worth it due to the low attendance at this convention.  If there were more people, than this may be worthwhile.  Since many of the panels were less than half full, there is no reason to line up early at all as there are more seats there than there are interested people.  Entering early has no perks as the booths are all still setting up, and could care less about the people trickling in early.  Also the swag bags are nice, but if you’re me and bought the tickets so that you can get the so called “exclusive swag,” then you would be sorely disappointed.  If next year brings better perks, or larger crowds, then I will pay extra for he premium.  Otherwise the premium badges doesn’t seem like a smart buy.

Posted by Excelion on August 26th, 2013 | No Comments

Japan Expo convention cannot be complete without a panel from the great Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, one of the founders of Gainax. Sadamoto is known for such great animation such as Nadia, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Gunbuster. Sadamoto started off with a short video of his various works, including a Mercedes Benz commericial he was involved with. It has been known from the beginning of the panel that videos and pictures were prohibited during the panel.


He revealed that he enjoys working on science fiction genres that takes place in the not too long future. He discussed that while having a creator’s block that he would often try to do something else that would inspire him. His favorite scene in evangelion was the end of the movie where Shinji was choking Asuka because of the music and the serene scene. The hardest character to design the was Mari because he found it difficult to create a character with a more evolved technology; however, the easiest character to design was Gendo.


The panel ended with a live drawing of Asuka riding a Cobra car. This is significant because of the fact that Mr. Sadamoto does not like drawing in public; however, at the last minute, he decided to finish a piece for this panel. As a result, this is the first time, according to the Translator, that Mr. Sadamoto has ever drawn in public. In addition, Mr. Sadamoto revealed his second drawing of epic proportions. It is so amazing that you would’ve needed to be there to see it.


Posted by calpico on August 26th, 2013 | No Comments

A former member of Hello! Project, gone solo, comes to Japan Expo USA, as a guest of honor.  Besides mixing up Santa Clara, CA as San Francisco, CA (that’s a no-no my friend), You Kikkawa’s performance was a great treat, offering the masses her high fructose, bubbly attitude.   That’s a great treat, especially after walking around/ standing in line at a convention for 6+ hours.  This was the idol’s second time touring in the USA. 


At the You Kikkawa panel, she offers up her “current life experiences.”  This includes how she came up with Hello! Project, and going solo.  Then she explains how in Japan, she admits she is not as slim as most other idols, and her struggle to get slim.  She states how she jogs as physical activity, and how she struggles with dieting.  She tries to eat mostly a vegetable diet, but now that she is in the USA she went to the audience for advice on what kinds of places, or food to eat.  She then quipped how she will go back to Japan fatter than how she left. 


The whole panel was vapid, and devoid of any substance, which goes to show that You Kikkawa is a private person who does not share much about her private life; mainly sharing just her public caricature.  What I did find from the panel was that she worked the crowd effectively.  She was funny, and played around with the crowd.  For that, I commend her.  She is a true entertainer.  

Posted by Excelion on August 25th, 2013 | No Comments

Phoenix Wright fans get your “objection” fingers ready, as the good people of Japan Expo has not one, but two guests appearing at their convention August 23-25 at the Santa Clara convention.


Noriyuki Iwadare is the composer to the beloved Ace Attorney music. He will be holding a live concert as well as signing on Friday and Sunday. He is also known for composing other video game music such as lunar and grandia.


Tatsuro Iwamoto is the art director for the Ace Attorney series. He also provides the voice to Miles Edgeworth in the Japanese version of the games. He will also be signing autographs and doing some public drawings during the comvention.

Posted by Riotblade on August 19th, 2013 | No Comments
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