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The Great Anime Expo-dition ~ A Journal
By Holly Kolodziejczak
Wednesday 03 Jul 2002 - Day 0
It's 10pm, and I am sitting by myself in the back seat of Jack's car. We're on I-5 in Oregon, mere miles from my apartment, just beginning our journey to Anime Expo. Opening Ceremonies are a short 12 hours from now, and since we're about 18 hours of driving from Long Beach, I have this feeling we're not going to make it. Ah well... I never have been one to be on time for... er... anything.
Thursday 04 Jul 2002 - Day 1
10:15am - I can't believe we made it here in just over 12 hours. I think that is possibly against the laws of physics. Or maybe just against the laws of speeding. Be that as it may, we're still in Long Beach while opening ceremonies are going on. Does it really matter that we're still in the Westin parking garage, trying to find a parking hole? I think no. We may not be in the same room, but we're within a two-mile radius of Opening Ceremonies. Therefore, I say it still counts. Driving up to the hotel, we saw an incredibly long line of people in what appeared to be brightly colored costumes. I have never seen anything like this before in my life. My jaw literally dropped and I pressed my nose against the window to get a closer look. That doesn't make me a freak, does it? Even if it does, am I not a freak amongst freaks? I can't wait to check into our room and take a shower before I hit the con. I think I have time to do it before the Puffy AmiYumi panel. Hey look, we found a parking hole!
10:40am - Okay... so here I am, in my grungy t-shirt and pajama pants and trashy sandals that I've been wearing in the car since last night, standing in the pre-registration line. Can someone please tell me why the con starts at 10am but the hotel won't let us check in until noon? All I wanted to do was take a shower and change into my snazzy clothes, but no. Instead, I am standing in a huge line by myself in my trashy driving clothes. If some mean person takes a picture of me like this, I don't think I'll ever live it down. Why don't I have a giant cardboard box to hide in when I need one?
10:55am - This is really weird. I am trying to keep myself scrunched down low to be inconspicuous, but I keep catching myself standing on my tiptoes, peering at all of the interesting people in the uber-cute costumes. Way to be unnoticeable, Holly. I think that not only makes me easier to spot, but also labels me as a blatant n00b.
11:15am - I would just like to point out that I am *still* standing in the pre-registration line, waiting for my badge. Why can't they just have a press registration table? -_-;;
4:17pm - Wow. So I (by complete accident) meet up with Adam and Jake (boy, are they easy to spot in a crowd) and reunite with Jack and we all went to go eat Mexican food. While this was going on, the Puffy AmiYumi panel that we so wanted to attend was going on... somewhere else. Ah, well. We got back to the hotel and after a massive amount of being screwed around by the Westin staff, we eventually got our room. I finally got my shower and change of clothes, and I'm heading out to the convention center to go to the SeraMyu panel. Oops, I think I'm going to be late. I wonder where the convention center is?
5-6pm - SeraMyu panel - Tristan Citrine is on this panel. I've heard of her costumes. I'm sitting in the front row right next to a whole troupe of Ranma cosplayers, how cool is that!? Note to self: when you get up to leave, do NOT trip over Ukyo's spatula.
panel notes: current Uranus and Neptune leaving at the end of this year's run // comparison to Utena musical (was the Utena musical really that bad? wait, they are showing video - yes it was) // new SeraMyu run begins 20 July // videos impossible to get outside of Japan, hard to get even in Japan // cast members have gone on to do live action TV (ex. Power Rangers)
Everyone else in the room is singing every word to every song on the videos they are showing. I don't think I have ever seen such rabid fans of anything in my life. I think I will duck and cover on the way out afterwards.
End of Day 1 - I don't think I have ever had so much fun in my life. I've already used like half of my film, just walking around. The Bandai/Love Hina dance was soooooo cool, they played so much anime music and every single person knew the words. When the DJ started playing "Cruel Angel's Thesis," everyone on the dance floor just stopped moving and sang along with the very beginning part. It was totally eerie. Then as soon as the music kicked in after the intro, we all started bouncing/thrashing/writhing about simultaneously. That was a totally cool community experience. There were some people there with glow sticks that were just doing some totally amazing things. Definitely have to say the dance was the highlight of my whole first day. I convinced Jake and Jack to come to the dance with me, and I think they both had a decent time too. After a couple hours we went down to the video game room and played some Bemani games (I had been up for about 36 hours, so I mostly just watched) and I eventually left them there and came back to the room. Adam is sleeping on the floor, don't ask me why. Have I eaten anything recently? I can't remember. I'm so tired. Oh yeah, I guess I'd better call home and let them know I'm alive before I fall asleep.
Friday 05 Jul 2002 - Day 2
1pm - Got to bed late last night, woke up late today. I feel a lot better though, I really needed the sleep. I have an action-packed day today, so I'd better get ready. Mini-Masquerade, here I come!
2-2:45pm - Mini-Masquerade - There are so many awesome cosplayers sitting in the audience! I took pictures of a lot of them. I can't wait to get these pictures developed. Is it bad that I am almost out of film and I still have 2 days to go? I am sitting next to a very nice girl in a kickass Fuu Hououji (Magic Knight Rayearth) costume. I took her picture, too. She really does look like Fuu! I am so amazed! Her mom helped her make the costume, so I got to talking with her also, and before I knew it, I became her adopted daughter. That seems to happen to me a lot, I'm not quite sure why. ^_^ Anyway, I know I said that I would never be able to be the kind of person who would cosplay, but I am finding that my views are rapidly changing. Exhibitionist that I am, cosplaying seems like far too much fun to resist. Is it too early to start planning for next year? Naaaah.
Mini-Masquerade notes: acts - Tetsuo and voices (Akira); Slayerstroupe and Gendo Ikari (Evangelion); Wacky Susan Group (MOP!~); crazy Angelic Layer skit; little CCS girls; Iori (King of Fighters); Sakura Taisen troupe; Giant Robo NoNo Jan Ken Pyon (HA HA!); Vincent (shake it, baby!); Titus & Yuna (FFX); little girl Mini Moni troupe (kawaii~~!)
Wow, I had no idea that this was the first Mini-Masquerade ever...! It was too much fun. I hope they keep it up next year. And screw the chair, bring the mop on stage!!
4pm - Dealer's Room, Press Room, hotel room, la la la. Why do they have to be so far apart!?
5-6pm - Youko Ishido concert - Wow. This is in a really big theater. We even had to get tickets for this event, because there's assigned seating... I guess because it's so huge in here. There are 3 levels of seats in the lovely LBCC Terrace Theater... and there are so many people here! Once again, I am amazed. You know what totally floored me? Guess who I am sitting next to? I was talking to the guy next to me, and it turns out that he's a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine. How utterly cool is that!? I hope they run his story.
concert notes: song #1 is from Pretear, #2 is from Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar, #3 is from Ai Yori Aoshi (and wow, it gave me chills!). They brought out Para Para girls for the next part of concert. Oh wow...
Evangelion's Cruel Angel's Thesis, Gundam's Just Communication, whatever the Japanese name is for that song from Tenchi that is something like "I'll Get The Guy" in English, Catch You Catch Me from CCS, some other Gundam song I don't know, Nadesico's You Get To Burning... all in one, long, techno-y mix! How cool is that! Para Para dancers are cool. Encore - Evangelion's Fly Me to the Moon! (also techno-y)
That concert was totally cool. Like, wow. Guess I have some time to kill before the Music Video contest now!
Music Video Contest
9pm - Seating began 2 hours late. At 9pm, people are still seating. We are back in the LBCC Terrace Theater. I'm told the capacity is about 3,000 people. There sure are.. a lot of people here. I want to take a picture for my article, but they said cameras were strictly forbidden and would be confiscated if we had them. I wonder why... Anyway, at this point, the fans are pretty rabid. Even outside while we were waiting to get in, people were pretty worked up. There was a lot of chanting, a lot of yelling, and even a little stripping. Before the contest begins, I'm thinking to myself, why go through this just to see anime music videos? Some will be good, some will suck, all of them will be available for download online by the end of the month. Every time I asked someone that question outside, they all responded the same way. They looked puzzled for a moment, and then said, "You know,... I really don't know."
Someone outside the anime fan community would have a hard time comprehending this.
From the staff, admonitions came intermittently through our 2-hour wait outside; Don't touch the orange tape! No food or drinks! Absolutely no cameras of any kind at any time! The crowd was immense though, and their unamplified voices were difficult for those of us lucky enough to be in the very front to hear and totally lost to any farther back. You would think that all of the staffers just sitting inside on the steps would have had the time to go get a megaphone or hook up a microphone or something during our 2-hour wait, but this did not happen.
9:30pm - It still hasn't started. Seating began nearly 40 minutes ago. Every seat is full and this place is packed to the brim.
9:45pm - Same story. The Guests of Honor are leaving; I think they are being escorted out. I don't know why. People were throwing paper airplanes from the balconies, but had to stop when one of them actually managed to fly all the way up to the stage and get stuck in the screen. I would try to relate the hilarious scene of the ladder behind the screen that we just saw, but I think you just would have had to be here to understand.
9:48pm - Okay, now someone got up on stage, and we all thought it was about to begin, and instead they told us that the contest will be delayed until tomorrow morning because of tech snags... some kind of render problem. The 1-day congoers are pissed. Wait a minute...
8 AM !???!?!
The people who need to be in the Masquerade ticket line tomorrow morning are now also pissed. Can you say... snafu? Guess we don't have a choice. I'm going back to the hotel.
End of Day 2 - Unbelievable. They actually had security, police, and EMS on site when we were leaving the Terrace Theater after the contest that didn't happen. I don't blame them, they just about had a riot on their hands. It's not a good idea to piss off rabid fangirls and fanboys, and it's an even worse idea to piss off thousands of them all at once after you've made them wait for 3 hours. Luckily though, none of those personnel were needed to my knowledge. I'm pretty sure everyone left peacefully. I grabbed all the guys from the hotel room and we all went to the dance instead. Unfortunately, all they were playing tonight was some trancy music, and there was a crappy DJ there, so the transitions between songs were way too long. There were like 30-second intervals with no beat. That pretty much killed the dance that night, we didn't stay too horribly long. Pity, because I finally got Adam to come out with us. Ah, well. Thus ends another day... gotta be up early for that AMV contest tomorrow. Don't ask me why I am still going.
Saturday 06 Jul 2002 - Day 3
8:15am - Music Video Contest (again) - so here I am. There's not as many people here today, but there's still a lot - I'd say about 1,000. They're playing various anime op sequences on the screen while we wait. Excel Saga and Dragon Half got the biggest cheers from the crowd. 8:45am, it finally begins.
notes: (omitted, contestants and results can be elsewhere on the web easily by the time of this publication)
My favorite video was in the Drama category. It was called "Devotion". The anime was Escaflowne (which I haven't even seen yet...!) and the song was #1 Crush by Garbage. It was just a really good video. It didn't win in any of the categories, but it did win the Otaku's Choice award. The "Total Waste of 6:35" video was exactly that. Most other people seemed to like it, but I thought it was stupid. I was glad it didn't win overall. I have my opinions about it, but I think I will keep them to myself. ^_~ I'm going back to the hotel and taking a nap.
End of Day 3 - Uwaaaaa~~! The Masquerade was so very super cool! It was awesome to be able to sit up in the front with other members of the press. I sat next to Zac Bertschy ("Answerman" of Anime News Network fame) and some of the guys from Anime on DVD. I thought we had a pretty cool conversation, but since everything was so new to me and I was such a wide-eyed newbie about everything around me, I probably annoyed the living hell out of them. I hope not! It was really cool meeting those guys! They were all so cool~~! Anyway, I was supposed to meet these new friends I made at the dance last night again at the dance tonight, but I was just too wiped out to go. Luckily though, we ran into them in the elevator on our way back up from the lobby with our pizza delivery. Oddly enough, they were staying just across the hall from us, so they came over to our room a little while later and hung out with Jack and I. I'm not sure where Jake and Adam are, I think they're probably off playing DDR though. Is it bad that my journal seems to be getting shorter and shorter every day? *sigh* Oh well.
Tomorrow I'm going to spend the last of my measly funds in the dealer's room before we have to take off. We have to leave at like, noon tomorrow, because both Jack and I need to be at work on Monday. So sad, we missed the opening ceremonies and now we'll miss the closing ceremonies. Well, all in all, I had an AWESOME time. Somehow, I don't think I would have had as much fun at all if I hadn't been able to go as press; the lines that the general admission con-goers had to stand in for EVERYTHING were awful. I didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to, and I didn't even have to wait in line for very many things. Maybe Anime Expo is ... just too big? I heard a lot of people calling it Anime Line Con. Apparently it hasn't always been like this.
Anyway, I'm thinking next year, the big con trip should be to A-Kon in Dallas. I dunno though, don't quote me on that. But boy... at least now I can say I'm not a con virgin anymore. I think the con cherry has been popped in a major way. Having Anime Expo as my first con was definitely a dive into the deep end. No dipping toes in the water for me, I guess. Ah, well. Fun was had and money was spent by all. I'm falling asleep while I'm writing this, so maybe I should get up and pack my stuff so I won't have to do it in the morning. P.S. - I think I have heard "Cruel Angel's Thesis" about 9 times in the course of this weekend. Gah.
Sunday 07 Jul 2002 - Day Last
2pm - Finally on the road. I have a while before it's my turn to drive, so me and my new Inuyasha plushie are going to take a nap.