The previous AX15 post showed the highlights (you can now watch a few moments in the video above!) during my time at the convention. Here, I will share a few photos I took and some observations at this year’s con.
The exhibit hall at AX always felt like a three ring circus at its busiest times. I don’t just mean with all the bright, colorful wigs trifling up and down the aisles. From major anime publishers to promoters and independent shops, there’s always something going on for attendees to take part in with the exhibitors.
One exhibitor event I took part in was NISA’s #DoodQuest. Basically, a scavenger hunt around the exhibit hall. If that sounds like a lot of walking that’s because it is! There were two parts to it; first round prize you get a pencil board thing that’s Prinny themed, and in the second you get the gold Prinny medal! The first part was fun in that you had to spot Prinny plushies; on top of a shelf of art books, hanging on the back of dudes hat, etc. After completion of that hunt you go to the next round where you have answer questions, play a demo of Disgara 5 and leave a suggestion in a fish bowl (“Please publish anything idolm@ster!”). It’s a quite a bit of work, but worth it for the gold. It’s events like this that make walking through crowded hall a little bit more interesting going through after the nth time. More than that, I am now the Prinny Quest Master. Ask me anything.
Speaking of quests, I’ve put an end to my Danbo collection once I’ve gotten wise to how they release a figure with just about any Japanese brand you can think of just to slap a logo on his head. Then mobile accessory company Cheero got a hold of him, and they’re at least practical about how to brand a cardboard box robot. Since I had a trip planned for Japan a week after AX I figured I use a battery charger. …Alright, I can still be charmed by character made of boxes and be cool, dammit.
## Game Booths
I’m glad video game companies are having a bigger and more influential presence at AX. A month prior you had E3 at the same spot, and a few game folks there stuck around for the anime crowd. Aksys, Natsume, and, my pick for BADDEST DOODS, NIS America. Keiji Inafune also returned this year — along with the controversy. There were a few new faces that showed up. Degica Games brought over Muv-Luv along with news of a Kickstarter campaign to give the visual novel series a proper localization — keep posted on the launch that’s expected to go live in a matter of days on Twitter! While I didn’t get the autographs I wanted to get this year, I was also to nab a shikishi from the illustrator and writer of the manga series; Azusa Maxima! Pretty, ain’t it?
PQube Games also showcased Steins;Gate at their booth. The visual novel was already released in Europe since June for PS3 and PSVita, but this was a treat for U.S. fans who enjoyed the anime series. As a matter of fact, as of today, you can buy the game right now in the PSN store. If you enjoyed the anime series, you owe it to yourself to experience the visual novel. You can hear me and my eroge buddy Greg talk at length about it on his podcast Eroge Bus (just mind my Kermit the Frog voice. Please…).
It’s interesting seeing game companies expand the scene at AX. How far it’ll expand is hard to tell as that depends on what publishers and developers bring to the table each year and how they’ll connect to the anime fanbase. A few found an overlap of anime and game fans, and judging by the panels I was locked out of, there’s plenty of potential for growth.
I didn’t get too many shots of cosplay this year, but that’s to be expected when there weren’t too many noticeable cosplayers. It felt like there was less of it this year, but then again last year we had a blitzkrieg of Sailor Moon cosplayers among other recent series that fans geared up for. 2015 didn’t have too many anime series that gained attention the same way Kill La Kill or Attack on Titan did, so that’s my best guess as to way participants seemed so few this year. To make up for that was a much more noticeable presence of furries for some reason. Also, animegao kigurumi, which I feel slightly more comfortable with — just don’t ask me why.
A Good, Little Exhibit
This was a nice edition to AX. Good Smile Company displayed 500 of their Nendoroids for display as well as boards going through the steps of how they create them. Creating little cuties of your favorite characters is a lengthy process!
Behind GC’s exhibit was Trigger’s small, but pleasant gallery of Little Witch Academia. Sketches were available for fans to observe as well as outfits designed based on the little witchiepoo’s uniforms. As an admire of architecture and scenery, the background artwork was a feast for the eyes. They were beautiful artworks in their own right. Lastly, there was a section of the gallery with life-sized (or close enough) cut-outs of the characters in sketch form. Trigger has been pretty active in the American anime con scene, but this was a fantastic and fun glimpse of one of their work’s world that AX attendees could get the chance to get intimate with.
Less lamas this year than last. I’m not sure what that says about… anything. There were these fluffy turd-like creatures around, though. I hope those don’t take off. I’ve already mentioned about the hall at length earlier, so there isn’t too much to add here. I did chat with many nice folks there this year. I’ll make an effort to focus more on that next year.
This was the earliest I lined up to enter the exhibit hall. About 5:30 AM early. That’s not as bad as the hundreds of people who lined up to get autograph tickets. If any awesome guests are offering signing then now I know I need to step my game up.
You belong to the city~
After a full day of walking around dakis, I like to take a walk around the city and check out the night lights. Downtown L.A. is a place I can’t wrap my finger around. You’ll see what I mean if you ever visit. If you can’t, watch the documentary Lost Angles: Skid Row is My Home. At the very least, it is nice to see fireworks coming from the distance in all directions from a hotel view. It’s sort of like that one scene in Fight Club, but at lot more colorful!
I have to give my man Luna Tsukigami’s panel a highlight. An Idolm@ster fan AND an awesome artist? Hell yeah! He did a demonstration of how to illustrate his waifu Ranko Kanzaki. It was open for the audience to ask him questions. I asked if he was going to the 10th, and the face he had before even said his answer was priceless! I didn’t get much loot from this year’s AX (saving up for the Idolm@ster 10th anniversary concert in just over a week), but I did get a few of his merch at the Sekai Project booth, including his autograph on one of his doujin they were selling. One of these years I’ll get him to sketch Makoto on a shikishi!
Artist Alley became pretty eclectic since last year. I really wished I had more time, since I saw only half of the artists there and there were quite a few unique ideas displayed. Well, perhaps not totally unique. You can see pinata Pokemons at party stores, but I never thought I’d see someone selling them at an anime con. Balloon Pokemons, too! If this one booth that had Nintendo character shot glasses offered one of Jigglypuff you can bet your life I would have bought it. Pokemons aside, there were fantastic artists there and I felt like mentioning here for this post, but… I didn’t catch many of their names. Whoops! As I said, it wasn’t in the cards this year and I was lucky enough to have time to see what was there, as much as I was rushing. I don’t believe you can got wrong in taking an hour or two to see some very talented people in artist alley.
As I said in Part 1., this year’s AX was a turnaround. A smooth transition on the staff’s part (mostly) and plenty to see and do. It perked up my interest just enough to possibly attend next year’s event, pretty much changing my sour attitude from last year’s experience. I mean, I damn near broke my hand and still left with plenty of good memories. That has to count for something, right? I actually wonder if the failure of Japan Expo USA was the reason AX appeared to be so jam packed, but I’ll save those thoughts for another time. If you have been holding out on going to AX, now is the time to go; it hasn’t been put together so well since, well, probably ever. Perhaps you’ll see me, too. Just go easy on sharing the drinks.