Anime Expo 2014: 7 Highlights, Lowlights, and a Tour of the Dealer’s Room!
Once again, the Los Angeles Convention Center in the heart of downtown LA was turned into a cornucopia of mass Japanese Otaku nerdery, and much like last year, I was around to see and hear it all.
Rather than rehash last year’s theme, I thought I’d share a little bit more of the specifics that make this particular different than your Comic-Cons and other general-interest conventions. Anime Expo has its own specific vibe; part trade-show for the Anime industry, part Japanese pop-culture convention, Anime Expo is a very much like a niche version of San Diego Comic-Con, except it’s actually possible to attend it without either a) spending a million dollars a year in advance, or b) representing some million-dollar movie franchise.
So, let’s begin! Here’s a look at some of the best, worst and weirdest moments from Anime Expo 2014!
7) Ninja Slayer From Acclaimed Studio Trigger Announced
I was a pretty big fan of Studio Trigger’s Kill La Kill last year, as were a lot of other folks (holy crap was there a lot of Kill La Kill cosplay this year!), so it goes without saying that whatever Studio Trigger cooks up next, I’m down as Hell to see it.
Ninja Slayer looks like yet another super-stylish homage to the silly 70’s and 80’s cartoons and anime that the Studio Trigger staff grew up with, so it looks like they might have another winner.
6) That Robotech Kickstarter
Another bombshell dropped at Anime Expo this year comes from everybody’s favorite Macross-hating, Robotech-loving nostalgia mine, Harmony Gold. Rather than do something Macross fans in the US actually want, like, say, allowing Macross 7 to get localized, or bringing over Macross: Do You Remember Love or Macross Frontier or anything else good with the Macross name, Harmony Gold is attempting to crowdfund a new 24-minute Robotech “pilot” to entice potential distributors and broadcasters.
In charge of the whole thing are the main staff behind the utterly dreadful Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, which I’m sure inspires confidence in precisely no one.
(Joke’s on me right now, though: as of this writing, they’ve nearly amassed 70 grand on their way to a goal of 500 thousand.)
5) Satoshi Kon’s Dream Fossil is Being Localized
While it’s still up in the air whether or not we’ll ever see Satoshi Kon’s unfinished film Dream Factory, at the very least we’ll soon be able to read – in English – Kon’s short story that inspired it. This all comes to us from the fine folks at Vertical, who’ve yet to make a bad call when it comes to localizing anything as far as I’m concerned.
4) Long, Dumb Lines Prevented Me From Seeing the Short Peace Dub
What used to be one of the benefits of Anime Expo compared to the likes of San Diego Comic-Con was that, for 90% of the panels and premiers, you didn’t need to either wait around in a long line for two hours before the panel starts, or “camp” through several panels you had no intention of seeing before getting to the one you actually wanted to attend. Especially if you were armed with a Press Badge, like myself.
Not so this year! After stuffing the English dub of quite possibly my most anticipated premiere of the whole event into the tiniest out of all the video rooms, the convention folks told me there was no “press priority seating” despite my arriving 30 minutes early. Of course, like every panel at Anime Expo this year, the premiere was delayed by at least 25 minutes while I waited around like an eagerly disappointed blogger with a chip on his shoulder.
I still didn’t make it in, so I can’t tell you anything new about Short Peace except that I still really want to see it and that one of the segments was nominated for an Oscar. Oh well. At least I wasn’t as livid as the thousands of upset girls who were turned away from the various Sailor Moon panels. I overheard them grousing their various complaints throughout the entire convention.
3) Stupidly Long Registration Lines in the Blazing Heat
This is a general problem that plagues any convention that takes place in the summer, but it’s always been an issue with Anime Expo; needlessly labyrinthine lines for registration. That’s par for the course for any large convention, but for some reason Anime Expo has always, for the 10 years I’ve been attending, forced people to wait outside in the sweltering heat while standing around for their badge. One would hope that during those 10 years they’ve learned some lessons on how to fix this issue, but nope! This year was just as bad.
And it’s not just bad for general attendees; Press and Industry folks have to sweat it out in the sun as well. How this keeps happening year after year is a puzzle, considering that Otakon – which takes place in the humid, moist hellhole that is Baltimore in the summer – achieves similar attendance and yet doesn’t force people to slowly sweat themselves to death by allowing them the pleasure of an air-conditioned wait.
2) The Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Dub Was Great
Enough griping, though – one of the things I was desperate to check out that didn’t end up a crushing disappointment was the dub for the latest adaptation of the utterly insane manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a hyper-violent, completely surreal shonen manga derived from a complete lunatic. A group of super-buff manga stereotypes wind up with spiritual alter-egos called “Stands” that allow them to manipulate time and fire and photographs and other nonsense, and they all travel to Egypt to kill a time-stopping vampire named Dio. Along the way they punch things a million times a second and fight an orangutan in a sailor suit.
In other words it is the most entertaining thing ever, and the dub nails the tone of the series perfectly. The actors take their characters seriously enough to be convincing through all this madness, while also being perfectly aware that this show is Goddamn Weird as Hell. Best of all, it looks like they managed to finagle the rights to use the Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian during the end credits like in the Japanese release. Huzzah!
1) Mega Man Designer Keiji Inafune Signed My Game
It’s no secret that I’m quite fond of retro video games, so I of course leapt with joy once I found out that former Mega Man leader Keiji Inafune would be a guest at Anime Expo.
That there is yours truly, rockin’ my sweet Fangamer Mega Man shirt with the man in question. Course, Inafune-san wasn’t there to simply mire himself in the nostalgia of a bunch of nerds: he was busy promoting his Kickstarter success story Mighty No. 9 and the new Crowdfunding campaign to add English voices to the game and other goodies.
Not that that stopped me from getting him to sign a copy of Mega Man 3.
Much thanks, Inafune-san!
Turn to the next page for a photo walkthrough of the insanity that is the Anime Expo dealers’ room!
Of course the biggest draw of Anime Expo, outside of all the great cosplay (look for a future TR feature on that), is the dealers’ room! So here’s a little photo tour through the anime sturm und drang.
First up is the enormous booth for Viz Media, promoting Ranma ? of all things.
What is this, Anime Expo 1994? Still, it’s cute to see Ranma ? mentioned at all in midst of all the hype for the latest anime fad that’ll disappear after six months.
I took this picture because it looks like Naruto is trying to munch on this dude’s head.
Following that is the sweet, sexy allure of the Bandai booth, which is chock full of awesome toys of cool things I could never afford unless I sold most of my organs, vital or otherwise.
Speaking of toys, it always brings me a small amount of joy to see some guy hawking action figures of forgotten anime series of the 90’s. And here’s All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku! Not exactly worth 25 bucks of my hard-earned money, but definitely worth a picture.
And what else is there to do with said hard-earned money than to waste it on anime cels? That Nausicaa cel in the bottom-right will set you back only 4 grand. Still worth it.
Grr! Damned cels and toys are too expensive! It creates a desire within me to stab everybody! Good thing there are a plethora of sword vendors.
If I’m going to go out in a blaze of stabbing glory, might as well make it convention appropriate by using Dark Link’s Master Sword. This picture comes with a free Bonus Fedora in the bottom left corner!
Not a fan of killing people in cold blood with metal? How about wood? Yessir, a wooden Master Sword should fit the bill! Or just give you a bunch of splinters.
Sweet! Porno! Hentai by the boatload! Thank goodness they censored the naughty bits with little hearts, for the sake of snarky blogs like this one.
Not a fan of Hentai, but still want that warm n’ fuzzy feeling on the inside? Try some Harry Potter Snuggies!
OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS BIG HAIR GIRL THING DOING
Oh, she’s just texting. Probably something like “My hair is huge, LOL. Also this weirdo with a phone just took a picture of me for the purpose of jocular insight, should I sue?”
And now we move on to the Artist’s Alley, where fan artists and everyone else who couldn’t afford space on the main show floor rents a booth to hawk their wares.
It’s where you’ll find some cool stuff like this neato fanart for the obscure Nintendo DS game Ghost Trick!
Or these cool Evangelion-themed prints!
Or handmade dakimakura, or “hug pillows,” featuring half-naked men from popular cult TV shows!
Or handmade dakimakura with half-naked men from TV shows! Oh wait, I did that already.
Well, Anime Expo, we had some fun this year. Let’s do it again in 2015. Just, y’know, try not to make me wait outside in the heat so much. And try to get things done on time. Damn it.
Previously by Brian Hanson:
TR at E3: 7 Signs Nintendo is in Panic Mode, and Why That’s Awesome
The 10 Worst American “Anime” Ripoffs