Some people go to cons to cosplay, to meet other fans, to buy goods or to attend concerts. That’s all fine and good, but man, all that activity is stressful! I chose to relax during Anime Expo 2012, and met some fairly interesting people along the way. All in all, it was a great experience.
Day 0: The First Supper
After leaving work, I headed down to Little Tokyo where @zzeroparticle had arranged a dinner for #SCCSAV members and guests. Because I’m Asian and I’m paranoid about being late to things, I was one of the first people there. I met @marina, @alexleavitt, @icystorm, @kurotsuki and a bunch (over 30!) other cool dudes. Naturally, I made a fool of myself in front of everyone, which was alright― pretty sure everyone had fun at the dinner. It got stressful at times (with food coming late and everyone forgetting their orders) but it turned out alright in the end. Most importantly, I conducted the following poll:
QUESTION: Who is better, Yozora or Sena?
Survey Results (n=21)
So… yeah. Sena is better than Yozora. That’s the end of that debate, whew!
Day 1: The JAST Panel
Unfortunately, I work on Fridays, so I arrived just in time for the JAST panel after ferrying people around town for a little bit. They didn’t have too many interesting titles, though I was pleasantly amused at the presentation of School Days. It really made me remember just how shitty that game was, and how stupid I was for playing it all the way through. Oh God, I even have a Kiyoura Setsuna dakimakura cover sitting inside my closet. Ah, the mistakes of youth.
Afterwards, I spoke briefly with Peter Payne about the future of visual novels in America. I asked him if the anime industry was growing, and here’s 20 years of wisdom distilled into a single quotation:
We don’t talk about those things.
Which actually makes perfect sense. It’s really an uncomfortable subject for everyone― we all know it’s not good, and we all understand that current business models are absolute crap, but there’s no motivation to do anything about it. I get the sense that people are frustrated by the status quo, but it’s quite hard to act in these situations, especially when doing business internationally. Best not to think about it too much and continue selling porn.
Day 2: Meeting Tami
My Saturday began with a run to In-n-Out with @dobacco. We purchased 20 Double-Doubles and sped off to AX― where we waited for about an hour before we could get parking. Between the time we left In-n-Out to the time we got to Anime Expo, we’d managed to loop through ClariS’s CD two times. Two fucking times. It was rough.
We showed up @MangaGamer’s booth, where we delivered our payload of In-n-Out burgers. Everyone was super fucking happy until one of their staffers came back with another four boxes of burgers. He looked at us, all halfway through our double-doubles, with an absolute look of horror on his face. “FUZAKENNA!!!!” he screamed. I swear he almost broke down crying.
It was here that I met @tammy_now, the eroge voice actress Tamiyasu Tomoe. She grabbed a burger and said, “Wow, it’s so… big…” I almost died.
As the afternoon went on, I lazed around at MangaGamer’s booth, talking to the interesting assortment of people that MG had brought from Japan. They were a wacky bunch: Tamiyasu, the eroge voice actress; Bamboo, the president of OverDrive, an eroge company; and Katakura Shinji, OverDrive’s main artist. Throughout the afternoon, I had the time to talk to most of them. Some choice bits of conversation:
Akira: Man, it’s pretty hard getting eroge into North America, isn’t it?
Bamboo: Yeah. Child Pornography is a real problem here.
Akira: It’s a problem everywhere! You can’t just have that stuff being sold on shelves.
Bamboo: Yeah, but let me tell you, lolicon is part of the Japanese spirit. It’s been in our bones for well over a millenium. Go read The Tale of Genji. It’s about lolicons. To deny us lolis is to deny the Japanese spirit.
Akira; ……but… what about people like me? Onee-san-ha?
Akira: So, Mr. Katakura, do you draw doujinshi?
Katakura: No. I tried it once, but honestly, it’s such a hassle.
Akira: I thought it’d be fun, you know, drawing something you actually want to draw.
Katakura: I draw for work. Why would I ever do any more drawing on top of that? (looks out at con-goers.) Wow, those are some nice tits over there.
Akira: Eh, they’re alright. A bit on the small side.
Katakura: You don’t know. I’m from Japan… this is amazing.
After trolling around at MangaGamer, it was time for the FictionJunction concert. I had a good seat in Row K of the 200 block (good visibility, really), but that wasn’t good enough for me. I plopped down next to my friends sitting in Row A of 400 (dead center) and proceeded to goof off. It was only until the last second that they asked me to leave and go back to my own seat. Damn you, AX staff!
Anyways, I sit down, and next to me is a cosplayer. I say to him, “What’s up, man?” and he just kinda emits a troll-like squeal. Oh dear. This won’t go well.
Two minutes later, between songs, he says to me, “You know, I just love Kajiura’s music so much, I hear her music and every single hair on my body stands on end.”
To which I reply, “…yeah.”
To be fair, I was thinking the exact same thing. Kajiura’s music is amazing― especially the songs with Latin lyrics. I can’t understand Latin, so all I hear is a beautiful soundscape― harmonies floating through space, accompanied by piano and violin. It’s a very haunting, yet beautiful, sound.
But I was too busy to notice any of that. I was transfixed by Keiko. Dear lord, I thought, this girl is beautiful. Oh, and that voice… that voice! So deep, so sonorous, completely unexpected from someone with her appearance. I was in love.
After the concert, we all decided to go to karaoke, having not yet come down from our music high. I had destroyed my voice yelling “ENCORE!” during the concert, but no matter. I dashed for the karaoke machine and led my group in a rousing rendition of Only My Railgun. At this point, two of our other group members barge into the door:
“Guys. FICTIONJUNCTION IS UPSTAIRS.“
I lost it. I bolted out the door and bounded up the stairs of the desolate little mall we were in. I go up to the restaurant with two other members of my group, and we sat down. FictionJunction was having some kind of party. Naturally, it would have been a terrible idea to even approach them. I watched them interact and drink for a little bit, amused that I’d see them in a deserted mall far away from the LACC.
Apparently, as we finished karaoke, they also finished their party. I saw them, and staff members, walking down an escalator. They all looked very much drunk, and very much in good spirits. It’s always interesting to see celebrities or public figures in their private time― the discrepancies in character are fascinating to observe.
Fulfilled for the day, I went home and immediately passed out.
Day 3: More Lulz
I woke up in a panic. I thought I had overslept all of Day 3 and missed everything. Fortunately, it was only 11:30.
I got to the LACC around noon, just in time for the Fate/Zero signing. I got in line (courtesy of @c_ling) and was in and out. Koyama’s signature is seriously badass. That’s some pre-war shit, yo.
Afterwards, I bummed around again at the MangaGamer booth. Since everyone had gone to the LiSA concert (I wasn’t interested, having seen her live before), I was left behind to tend to the booth with other MG staff.
At some point in the afternoon, every who spoke English was on break. Tami was busy signing autographs for fans while I hung around and made sure no one shoplifted. Then, a large, lumbering gentleman approached us and this scene unfolded:
Large Man: Uh… kohneecheewah.
Tami: (Turns to Akira) Help me.
Akira: Is there something I can help you with, sir?
LM: I’m just… practicing my Japanese. Who’s this?
Akira: She’s Tamiyasu Tomoe. She’s a voice actress.
LM: What anime has she done?
Akira: Tami, have you done any anime? I don’t think so, right?
Tami: (Shakes head) No, only eroge.
Akira: No, she’s only done games before.
LM: What kind of games? They better not be dirty games.
Tami: He said… “dirty game?”
Akira: Yeah… I don’t think he likes eroge.
Tami: Then tell him to GTFO!
So I did.
I waited in line for Izumi Kitta’s autograph as a favor to @c_ling, to whom I owed much over the years. After standing in line for an hour and hearing much more about card games than I ever cared to, I picked up the goods and bolted straight for FictionJunction’s line. When they finally came out and started signing autographs, I became incredibly nervous. Oh God. What was I going to say to Keiko, the (newly-found) love of my life? In any case, this is what that scene looked like:
Akira walks up to Kajiura.
Akira: I really enjoyed your concert yesterday. I’m a big fan, you know. Especially of Kalafina.
Kajiura: Oh, thank you very much! There’s only two of them here, though.
Akira walks up to Wakana.
Akira: I thought you were amazing yesterday. I loved it.
Wakana: Oh, thank you! Thanks so much for coming!
Akira walks up to Yuriko.
Akira: Last night was great. I’ll be supporting you from now on, too!
Yuriko: Oh, thank you so much!
Akira nervously approaches Keiko.
Akira: Keiko, I just want to say that you’re my favorite. You’re beautiful. Perfect. I love your voice. I love you.
Keiko: (laughs) That’s so nice of you! You’re so sweet. (draws a big heart on signboard)
EXCEPT― THAT’S NOT HOW IT WENT. It was more like this:
Keiko: Thank you!
Akira: Yeah… uh, you too.
Afterwards, we went to Nihongo de OK, where I met up with @r1ck_dom and some other guys. We played mahjong, and live-streamed it on Nico. Afterwards, I had a few interesting conversations with various Japanese people:
Akira: Sir, I really like your T-shirt. (To man wearing Strike Witches T-Shirt)
Man (Who I later realize was the organizer of the event): Oh, thanks! You a fan?
Akira: The biggest.
Man: Yeah? Who’s your favorite?
Akira: Minna. Of course.
Man: Woah… that’s… different. I like Hartmann.
Man: Hey, at least neither of us said Lucchini.
Unkempt Japanese Dude (who I later find out is Ago-Aniki): Hey man, lemme have some of that fried chicken.
Dude: (eats my chicken) So, there’s otaku in America too, huh? This is my first time out of Japan, you know. I wonder what the otaku here are like. What’s your favorite anime, man?
Dude: Woah, hardcore. You damn lolicon.
Akira: I am not! Murasaki is a child, not a loli.
Dude: …man, just admit it. You’ll live easier that way.
Yasu (from J-List and JAST): So, what’s the next game you’d like to see localized?
Akira: Um… anything by Alicesoft.
Yasu: Wow, that’s a funny joke right there.
Finally, after all of that, it was time for the MangaGamer panel. After introducing all the new games that were slated to be released (including some classics like Boob Wars, Slave Witch April, Super Secret Sexy Spy and the like), it was time for Q&A. I immediately grabbed the mic and asked Tami:
“What do you say to someone who tells you they jack off to your voice a lot?”
She looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much.“
It was midnight, and the party was over. As we left the convention hall, I knew that my AX 2012 had come to an end. Before that, though, my friends had one last adventure in store. @KannaSP said to us while we were walking, “Guys, we should get rum raisin.”
Fortunately, there happened to be a 24-hour Ralphs not too far from where we were. We dashed over and raided their ice cream section, taking eight little single-serving portions of rum raisin. We couldn’t wait. We stooped outside the store and ate our rum raisin ice cream right then and there. People looked at us like we were crazy. We didn’t give a fuck. Nothing was going to stop us from eating our rum raisin. No sir.
Then a crazy hobo came up to us and started babbling about something incomprehensible. Rum raisin in hand, we ran like hell.
Thanks to all the wonderful people that made my AX 2012 unforgettable. @zzeroparticle, @alexleavitt, @animebnb, @omonomono, @amoirsp, @kannaSP (RUM RAISIN!), @blitzwingjp, @kylaranaeldin (fuck you), @kevo31415, @dobacco (thanks for all the driving!), @c_ling (seriously, I owe you big time), @kouryuu_ (thanks for letting me bum at your booth), @tammy_now (楽しかった！), @bamboo_milktub (今度こそゆっくりエロ話をしましょう), the members of FictionJunction, the staff at @MangaGamer, Paul, Kevin, and the rest of @Kouryuu_’s crazy friends, the staff of JAST (Makoto and Yasu, especially), @hevulson (thanks for playing my game!) and the countless others that made my weekend amazing. Hope to see all of you again next year.