Back from Anime Expo 2013 and here’s a little recap:
We had to leave late on Day 0 for our six hour drive because Justin couldn’t get the day off of work. So by the time badge pick-up ended at 9 P.M., we, well, we were somewhere between San Jose and Los Angeles, hell if I know exactly where. And by the time we got to our hotel, it was way past midnight. To make things worse, being the idiots we are, we did not sleep as soon as we possibly could have, despite needing to be awake at 7 A.M.
Needless to say, Day 1 turned out to be an exasperating day of sleep deprivation, long walks in the miserable heat, extended line waiting, and general fatigue. At various times in the day, the excitement I had from something like simply seeing the convention center was enough to jolt my body completely with energy, but not enough energy to last long. One amazing experience was a skateboard ride across this beautifully lengthy strip of land along the Staples center paved with the quite possibly the smoothest cement I have ever skated on. It was heavenly. I dare to say that was the first time I’ve felt the full euphoria of a skateboard ride. As for the rest of the day, I arrived at my Artist Alley table about two hours late, but I didn’t care about my financial success at Anime Expo far as much as I did with FanimeCon. Since it was my first time at Los Angeles and Anime Expo for a merry-making time, that’s what I wanted to experience. The Dealers Hall was a splendid experience, perfectly air conditioned and inclusive of the Artist Alley so that all shoppers could browse in the same room. Something FanimeCon could definitely take a hint off. Beyond its size and fine-tuned logistics, the Dealers Hall also hosted official booths from companies like Toei Animation, Sentai Filmworks, Funimation, Namco Bandai, and more. It was amazing, because with them, the companies brought displays that superseded the ordinary booths of independent sellers, extravagant pageantries that could compete with displays at really grand conventions like Comic-Con and E3. It was a real treat. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t able to explore the Dealers Hall in one day, especially with my own shifts, and only scouted the first one-fourth of it on Day 1. During lunch, which was actually before I even arrived at the Dealers Hall, we couldn’t find a place to eat for the life of us. Whether it was too expensive, too far, or just closed for the Independence Day period, I don’t know, but every possible restaurant was determined to make us suffer apparently. We finally decided to eat a restaurant that I don’t remember the name of. But the walk to it took so long that we decided to eat at a Popeyes we found on the way. It was a two mile walk in the scorching heat, despairing even with skateboards for the half of us. Subsequently, we discovered, or well, I discovered that food wasn’t going to cease my pain because once I took a bite out of my ~$8.00 meal, I started hurting in my head, stomach, and other various places. We spent nearly an hour at that Popeyes, trying to access its bathroom with a faulty doorknob, deafening because of its unyielding playlist of crappy showtunes, and just plain out having internal body pains. The walk back in the same weather tormented us so we finally decided to take the bus. That decision did however take much longer to reach than it sounds like it did on text. As we watched more than four buses we could have taken pass us by from the windows of the Popeyes, we somberly waited for one of us to not be lazy enough to check bus routes and times on their smartphone. Upon finally getting our itinerary, the next bus took much longer to arrive than its predecessors for whatever reason. We also had to board another bus after as a transfer. But we weren’t given transfer tickets and had to pay for twice the amount, totaling $12.00 for all of us to get back to our hotel. Yipyay. Upon getting to our hotel room, I showered, and we all knocked out for about an hour. Finally, everyone in our party was awake and recuperated, well, a little bit, and we all headed to the convention. Noteworthy is that even though I say “finally,” at this point, it was only around 11 A.M. in the day. The most eventful morning of any day I have lived this summer, barely arguably. Sure puts things into perspective though, even if it was a morning of pure suffering. After the Dealers Hall closed at 6 P.M., we were free to explore the rest of the convention. And here, again, I have to laud the convention’s decoration and theatrics, everything just looks very astonishing. In front of the convention center, there was a tank from Girls und Panzer parked right on the plaza besides the setup that was giving away stickers and pins. Superb. To end the evening right, we traveled, and I say traveled because it was indeed quite the walk, to the Gamers Hall to play our troubles away. For the most part, all we did was dabble in some classic Starcraft and Super Smash Bros Brawl. It was a pretty fun time, but the hall itself wasn’t as well prepared as FanimeCon’s. The variety of games wasn’t as abundant, and the worse part is that the hall closed at midnight. I speak for myself and every gamer when I say ending the gaming at midnight is absolutely unheard of. Heregy, heregy!! I’ll drink to that!! Afterwards, our group headed back to the hotel for some good rest and relaxation.
The next day, we were once again late. Somehow with more than three alarms every single one of us overslept. Again, I arrived at my Artist Alley table about an hour or so late, stayed there for a bit and shopped for a bit while the other half of the group went to attend some panels and nab some free goodies. I have to say, it’s only my first year doing this whole Artist Alley thing, but each experience has caught my unexpected. Both times I’ve felt the griping feeling of spiraling failure which is in turn mediated but some slight glimmer of hope. For Anime Expo, it was the honor of being commissioned by two people. It’s really nice to have people admire your artwork so much as to inquire about commissioning you when you don’t even have a sign or anything advertising such a service. Definitely a feel good moment in the city of Los Angeles. In the evening, we ventured further outside the local area of the convention center to find a sushi place called Arashi Sushi, the only restaurant that was open on the Fourth of July. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel for more relaxation shenanigans and realized that ordering delivery pizza hut to our hotel room was more convenient and less troublesome on our wallets.
The latter half of Anime Expo, we still didn’t wake up in time. We were late every single day. The first two days, we felt that things in general were proceeding pretty slow, most likely due to the lack of attending more panels, screenings, acts, and the like. As for the last two days, they breezed past. Before we realized it, we didn’t even have enough time to completely explore the Dealers Hall, the only place we were visiting every day. The last day had a very climactic end. The night before we stayed up the latest, up to around 6 A.M. myself, doing very sleepover-esque activities like beating the crap out of each other with pillow cases loaded with waterbottles and making pillow forts. When morning came, it was a rush to cover the entirety of Dealers Hall, spend lots of money on lots of goods, sell my own merchandise and artwork with Godspeed, and cease neglecting to take photographs of all the fascinating visual displays. And in the final hours, I had a very bittersweet feeling that I will try to recreate in text.
Despite many, many inconveniences and failures, I view my first Anime Expo as a success specifically because it was a learning experience. At first, FanimeCon and Anime Expo occurring nearly within a month of each other seemed hectic, but in retrospect, there’s a forlornness in me that is disappointed at how much I have to wait until the next anime convention I can go to. At Anime Expo, I didn’t go to any of the concerts. I didn’t go to any of the panels. I didn’t go to any of the screenings. I didn’t go to any of the dances. I didn’t go to any of the meet-ups. I didn’t go to the maid café. I was so uninvolved. Yet, I feel so involved. Every time I’ve gone to FanimeCon and Anime Expo, I’ve always felt this flux of inspiration within myself to do that and do that better, whether it’s triggered by walking through the alleyways filled with wonderful artwork, setting my eyes on a beautifully prepared cosplay, attending an extraordinary musical performance, hearing someone else speak of their passionate exploits, basking in the atmosphere and ambiance of tens of thousands people gathered to celebrate a culture, or skating down a long, smooth strip of land with the convention center on the horizon. I think I’m starting to get a hang of this subculture. The convention is over now, and the next one won’t come for a long while. But there’s an art in preparing for these events and I’m all fired up.