Anime Expo 2011 Made My Legs Explode Part the First
I guess there’s another important Day 0 thing I didn’t talk about: The roomies. I booked a room at the Westin Bonaventure that ended up being a bit smaller than expected (to say the least lol), so there were six of us — me, Kylaran, Mystlord, calaggie, ToastCrust and his friend, Darren — all crammed into a room with one bed that had space for two people. Lots of floor sleeping and near spooning going on here, folks. But these guys made my experience fantastic (the spooning had only a little bit to do with that), especially after I collapsed from exhaustion every day and we stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. shooting the shit even though we all had to get up early and do stuff. For me, the best conversation was our almost nostalgic reminiscing on Rio: Rainbow Gate! even though it aired like two seasons ago. Actually, never mind, the best was Kylaran getting annoyed at everyone trashing Sister Princess LOL. Man, Sister Princess was responsible for so much gold over the weekend; that’s probably the most joy it has ever brought anyone.
Oh yeah! There was also a meet-up thrown by Alex Leavitt at Little Tokyo. Even though I am an anime fan, I really do not eat Japanese food very often, so this was a fun experience for me. Nice getting to know some new people and walking back to the Westin from Little Tokyo (!!!) and running across streets like idiots with several people years younger than me lulz. I’d say more, but I went back and added this in after writing about everything else, and this post is already a god damn monster at this point.
I got up super early because we never had time to get our press badges (seeing as the Westin is obscenely far from the convention center), but then I got distracted because I got to the convention center early enough to partake in the red carpet arrival ceremony. Basically it’s an excuse for people to get pictures of the guests of honor. Not tremendously important, but I figured people would want shots of some people. If you want to see the shots I took, here they are. I got everyone who showed up except for Nirgilis (they kind of walked on through just because) and the Gonzo folks (who would have thought Gonzo would make a splashy entrance and then go on to disappoint everyone). Unfortunately, Miyuki Sawashiro was not there, presumably because this was the first hint of the strict no pictures/video policy put on her events throughout the convention. Not sure what the deal was, but I doubt it was Sawashiro’s doing, and it was out of Anime Expo’s hands, unfortunately.
From there I went to the mythical press room, which was kind of disappointing because it was really bare. I did chat with the Anime Diet crew and zzeroparticle a bit before heading to my first actual destination of the day: The Toshio Furukawa panel. Because my older anime power level is so hopelessly low, I was familiar with Furukawa only through a few anime: Dragon Ball Z (where he plays Piccolo), the Patlabor franchise (where he plays Asuma, and I wish I had remembered this at the con so that I could as a Patlabor-related question), and Gundam (where he plays Kai Shiden, who is awesome in Zeta Gundam).
There’s the man at the panel, which was greatly entertaining. It was mostly an hour of Furukawa spinning stories from his days recording Dragon Ball Z, Fist of the North Star, and other series. I went into a bit of the details in this post, but I’ll probably share the panel video that Jeremy of Anime Diet took because it really needs to be heard to be believed. The man is nearly 65, and yet his voice is a bajillion times more powerful than mine. Some of those battle noises are balls out nuts, guys. This is also by far the closest I have ever sat to the front at any panel. Being press is kind of awesome!
After that fun stuff I went to the Miyuki Sawashiro panel, which saw some delays because everything in general had been delayed by the opening ceremonies (which apparently ran long). So there was a bit of a wait while the NIS America panel went on. There was some confusion, too, because the actual stance on press was still getting worked out. It didn’t seem to have been ironed out before the Furukawa panel, but the people running the show there were willing to work with us and get us good seats after the disabled folks and the attendees with premier passes took their seats.
But the Sawashiro panel was just a clusterfuck. Nobody seemed to have much idea what was going on, and we heard a million different things — press wouldn’t get priority seats, then they would be, then they wouldn’t be, then they would, then photos and video weren’t allowed, then they were, and on and on and on. Just a horrible mess. I don’t want to blame Anime Expo too much, but it really is something people should have a handle on before these events. At least people weren’t turned away at the doors for having cameras . . .
I spent most of my time with these two folks before the panel: Takeriya_Hagi on the left and Mikarin on the right. They run a cosplay site, and they do convention reports, and they couldn’t have been nicer as we shared in the utter confusion of what was happening. Rome, Anime Diet’s interpreter extraordinaire, joined us later on after hoofing it from the Kalafina panel, ready to take pictures at the Sawashiro panel. Poor guy. If only there had been clarification beforehand . . .
The actual panel itself was pretty good, though. Sawashiro is a total pro: High energy without seeming forced or contrived, and she just has this cool aura about her that makes her interesting. Kind of interesting to learn that she had spent a two-week home stay in Pennsylvania in light of her winning the Overseas Fan Choice Award at the Seiyuu Awards a while back. America just cannot get enough of Miyuki Sawashiro. She also did the requisite voice work, which was fine by me; Sawashiro has one of my favorite voices in anime because it has a sharp, assertive quality to it that I really enjoy. (That’s a big reason why Satsuki Yukino is one of my favorites.) And Maria in Arakawa Under the Bridge is built on that assertive quality, which makes that voice omega hot. (But I seem to be the only one who thinks this.)
So the Sawashiro panel took a while longer than expected, and honestly I’m not absolutely certain what I did afterward (I might have gone back to the press room to get my ticket for the Nirgilis concert from Kylaran), but eventually I ended up outside where I spied zzeroparticle hanging out with kevo’ (with canon off in another area). Not gonna lie, kevo’ was one of my favorite people from the con. The guy just seemed happy as hell to be there (which makes sense considering his past convention experiences), and he was a blast to hang out with. Wish I had the time/energy to hang out a bit more during the convention. You know you’re dealing with a quality dude when he sees Pico Boulevard and immediately makes a Boku no Pico reference.
So, yeah, I enjoyed the Kevo’ Experience. A+, 10/10, would do again, etc.
Here, have a pic from the Nirgilis concert on me!
Anyway, after I ate like a starving child (because I hadn’t eaten all day LOL) and hung out in Eternal’s hotel room with kevo’ and canon (who splayed like a schoolgirl much of the time), zzeroparticle and I took off for Club Nokia for the Nirgilis concert, whereupon we ran into the second press-related clusterfuck of the day. Basically, it seems Club Nokia has a no cameras/video policy of its own, even though the Anime Expo press outlines OK video for the first three Nirgilis songs and photographs throughout the concert (I think). Zzeroparticle made sure to bring the press guidelines in case we ran into trouble, because he is experienced with this sort of thing.
So we and the Anime Diet crew and a few other people I’d seen throughout the day ended up waiting until just before the beginning of the concert, and then everyone had to scramble to the designated press area (because we couldn’t take video from the balcony like we were told we could), and it was just a huge mess all around. Sigh. The concert itself was pretty damn fun, though, if a bit strange. I wrote about it in detail for Behind the Nihon Review, and that post should go up relatively soon. Probably shows how good the concert was that I was in a particularly grumpy mood after Club Nokia’s dickery and still had a good time.
ANYWAY, this is like 2,000 words at this point, and I am barely getting through with Day 1. Other than collapsing back at the hotel room, the main thing that happened was me and zzeroparticle going to the Name That Anime Tune game panel, where we arrived just a bit too late to enter the preliminary round and join in the main game (WHERE WE WOULD HAVE CLEANED UP, I MIGHT ADD). So we did armchair guessing from there until we both got tired and went out separate ways. Also, damn, not to be an elitist dick, but people were missing some pretty damn obvious openings. Escaflowne is fairly iconic, isn’t it? Insanity. I should stop right now before I go crazy. Good bye until tomorrow or some other time.
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