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Anime Expo 2012, Day 3: It’s cosplay, deal with it!

Anime Expo 2012, Day 3Not a whole lot to report today. We didn’t really go to any panels. The day was spent mostly wandering around the (Xbox huge) dealer’s hall and artist’s alley, and attending Masquerade. So today’s post will consist of mostly miscallany.

I’m sure I’ve missed tons of industry announcements, even at the panels that we went to (it’s hard to keep up sometimes). I’ll be going over the news coming out of AX later this week when I’ve had a chance to recover and decompress, and I’ll certainly post about it and/or talk about it during our inevitable wrap-up podcast, which we’ll most likely be recording sometime this coming weekend. So you can look forward to that.

Something we’ve noticed each and every year is that more and more disabled attendees are coming to Anime Expo. We’ve got to give props to AX’s disabled services staff – they’ve done a bang-up job, and they keep on making improvements every year. With our disabled passes, we were not only able to bypass lines and get preferential seating, but we were also able to pass through many of the staff-only corridors. All of which really helps those with physical disabilities get around. Their willingness to provide disabled passes to companions is also admirable, since many disabled, especially those with physical disabilities, often require help from one or more “handlers.”

We weren’t able to eat at any of the fine LA Live facilities thanks to the X Games. After our near-disastrous experience yesterday, we just didn’t want to face that again. We were not the only ones upset by this. Every person we talked to expressed extreme irritation at their presence; and when the MC’s mentioned the X Games while vamping at Masquerade, the room was filled with boos. Every person we spoke to felt that they, as well as Anime Expo, were really being treated like second class citizens next to the X Games. And here we thought that the City of Los Angeles had “adopted” Anime Expo, much like how Comic-Con has been “adopted” in a sense by San Diego. Every hotel employee and local businessperson we talk to looks forward to the time of year when the streets of downtown LA are filled with throngs of happy cosplayers and con attendees.

Today we finally ventured into the dealer’s room. The Anime Expo dealer’s hall is, in a word, epic. It definitely felt bigger this year than last year, which is a good sign for the health of the industry. True, there aren’t as many physical media vendors as there have been in the past; but there are still a few, and the big licensors are there too, as well as the streaming providers. I definitely agree that streaming media is the wave of the future. If only we can get this pesky net neutrality/bandwidth/ubiquitous net access issue straightened out. But I digress. Besides the cosplay accessories and character goods shops, I noticed more figure vendors (which is good) — but sadly no doll vendors. Obitsu (who made their first North American con appearance at last year’s AX) sadly did not return this year. There were also some other interesting booths, including a steampunk accessory vendor, several Japanese snack vendors (besides of course J-List, which always brings a ton of Japanese snacks and drinks); and an interesting vendor selling robotic cat ears (no, not cat ears for your robot; rather, cat ears that purportedly move based on your brain impulses). Anime Expo makes a concerted effort to keep their dealer’s room “clean” (free of bootlegs and other unlicensed merchandise), and this is appreciated. Bootleggers and counterfeiters deserve their own special level of Hell.

Artist’s Alley was quite active, even though it was located in a rather odd location (all the way at the back of the dealer’s hall). The creativity of the artists continues to amaze, and the tacit approval on the part of the licensors is understood and appreciated.

We were able to catch up with Peter Payne of J-list as well as Ejen Chuang of Cosplay in America and chat about what they’ve been up to recently; those interviews will be coming out in the podcast feed soon.

Masquerade went off mostly trouble-free; it started probably about a half an hour late, and there were one or two technical glitches (all par for the course really). The hosts kept things moving without being annoying, and the acts were as awesome as always. They split walk-ons and skits; all of the walk-ons got to go first, followed by the skits. There was some awesome mecha cosplay, as well as some cosplay from classic anime, including Super Dimension Fortress Macross (that’s Robotech to you young’n’s). It’s nice to see the old school titles represented. All of the cosplayers did a bang-up job, as evidenced by the difficulty the judges had in coming to a decision. The half-time show (the time when the judges were off deciding) consisted of Japaneese voice actor Ryo Horikawa singing a few anime songs (he is a superb singer), followed by an announcement (and a showing) of the winning AMVs. After that, they introduced something new that they hope to bring to the halftime show starting next year. This can best be described as anime meets live action cosplay meets AMVs. Live-action cosplayers acting out scenes from various anime, recorded and set to music just like an AMV. They showed three examples; one with various Naruto characters, another with Evangelion cosplayers, and a third which I don’t remember. (If these are posted online somewhere, please let me know, I’d love to see them again and also link to them) I’m sure there are some aspiring filmmakers and cosplayers that are going to have fun with this.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the announcement of the masquerade winners; I’ll have to post about those when I learn of them. Here, however, are the AMV winners:

Drama: Friends Forever
Action: Naruto Ball Z (also Best of Show)
Random/Fun: Safety Dance
Comedy: Ballad of the Nice Guy
AMTV Pro: Save the World

I can’t comment on drama, as I don’t recall any of the other videos. “Naruto Ball Z” definitely deserves to win both Action and Best of Show. Putting Naruto and DBZ together is brilliant, and the creator had the chops to make it flow and look as if they really go together. Comedy was also spot on, I totally agree with their choice. I also have no quarrel with “Safety Dance” winning in random/fun; it would have fit in perfectly in Comedy, but I’m ok with it being in Random/Fun, and the lip synch looked pretty much spot-on. However I did take issue with their choice for the AMTV Pro category. “Save the World” is certainly well put together technically; however one important aspect of an AMV (IMHO) is a cohesive story, and I didn’t really sense anything like that. (Maybe if I was familiar with the anime used I’d have a different opinion. I’ll have to research this) My choice, “Fate Matrix,” is not only very well put together from a technical standpoint; it also told a really neat story. I liked the concept behind it, of a “fairy” of sorts (played brilliantly by Alice from Heaven’s Memo Pad) orchestrating the fateful encounters of various anime characters. It spoke from the heart.

(I’ll be posting a full list of finalists, as well as links to as many videos I can find, later this week when I’ve had a chance to recover a bit.)

It’s now past 1:30 in the morning, and while AX definitely feels like it’s in the wrap-up phase, there are still quite a few people out and about – there were quite a few people waiting to get on the shuttle bus that we took leaving the convention center. Ultimately, something I’ve learned in all my years of con-going is, the sign of a successful con is when, rather than someone being pleased at what they were able to see, a person is instead bummed out at what he or she missed. This is a sign that a con is definitely doing something right, and providing a bevy of interesting and cool events and things to do. And I would say that Anime Expo is succeeding in this respect.

Tomorrow is going to be even more low key than today. We’ll be seeing friends again, we might make another pass through the dealer’s room and artist’s alley, we’ll probably wander around taking more cosplay photos, and we’ll probably catch some of the infamous SPJA charity auction, which is always fun. Then it’s time to hit the road and head on home. Back to life, back to reality…

1 comment to Anime Expo 2012, Day 3: It’s cosplay, deal with it!

  • Troy Williams

    I’m delighted that the AMV portions of our event were so well received. An immense degree of effort went into making our AMV presentations as professional and polished as possible.

    As for the Cosplay CMVs played during Masquerade halftime, here’s their YouTube links in order of playback:

    Epic Anime Time – by GakAttack:

    I (Don’t) Need You – by The Optional Studios

    Let me Entertain You – By CosplayFever

    -Troy Williams AX AMV Events Manager

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