Saturday, July 9, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 Day 1 Convention Report

Anime Expo GOH: Maon Kurosaki
In the beginning of July thousands of anime fans converge on the Los Angeles Convention Center for one of the great events over the course of the year, Anime Expo. To me, Anime Expo is not just a convention, but it is an ideal that we all should aim for. Over the course of four days we create a convention where people don't judge each other on their social status, looks, age, ethnicity, or what religion they adhere to, because we are here together for the common love of anime and manga. In Anime Expo I wear two hats, the first hat is being a cosplay photographer, and the second hat is being on the Board of Directors for the parent organization behind Anime Expo. Due to the nature of the work I do behind the scenes of Anime Expo, this blog will go through my experiences as a cosplay photographer.

My Day starts off very early in the morning, eating breakfast with Anime Expo staffers and recounting stories from the preparation day of Anime Expo, better known as Day 0. I had a chance to meet my friend Richard Phon who has assumed my old role as the manager of Manga Lounge. Set up for the department ended up running long due to the late arrival of the department inventory. Regardless of how long it took them to set up, they were in good spirits for Anime Expo. I also had the pleasure of meeting up with the guys and girls of Maid Café, and the first thing that popped in my mind is just how nice they all are. I had a nice chat with them and wished them the best of luck for Anime Expo.

At the convention center I started doing work as a photographer on the red carpet. I missed the first couple of minutes, so I did miss the first couple of Guest of Honors. As soon as I arrived, Fred Gallagher was on the red carpet, so I snapped a couple of shots before I tried to get into "paparazzi mode." The photographers were already finely situated, so it was difficult finding a nice little spot I could claim my own. After Fred Gallagher came the Gonzo executives and then the band members of Nirgilis. The Crypton future media executives came afterwards and they smiled at the crowd. The cameras flashed like crazy when Maon Kurosaki arrived at the red carpet. She wore a cute pink dress with a front ribbon. She smiled at the crowd and started to wave at the crowd. After Maon Kurosaki were the three Anime Expo executives who wanted to walk on the red carpet (for your information I was offered the option, but I declined since I wanted to take pictures). The three executives were Marc Perez, the Chairman and CEO of the SPJA, Matthew Thomas, Director of Operations, and Kim Groomes, the Director of Marketing. Last but not least were the girls of Kalafina, arriving in their gorgeous gothic Lolita outfits. As a huge Kalafina fan, I was worried that I missed their arrival, thankfully it wasn’t the case.

I headed off into Petree Hall where opening ceremonies was located and got a great seat behind Kalafina’s manager. I was taking some pictures and then one of the guys I took a picture of waved me down. I looked down on his badge and it was none other than Danny Choo. He was a pleasure to talk to, he inquired about Digital SLR’s (which I was glad to oblige). I talked to him a little bit about my position in Anime Expo and my long cosplay photography history. He had to go off to prepare for opening ceremonies. It was the first time I attended opening Ceremonies since Anime Expo 2006, so I don’t remember much. It went well and then BAM, I realized I had to run to workshop 2 for my cosplay photography panel.

The first thing I noticed when I headed to the panel was the line in front of it. The panel was the first panel in the morning and I thought that they couldn’t possibly be there for my panel, so I started asking around. After asking two or three people it did sink in that this HUGE line was for my panel. I headed into the room and started to get the computer set up, only to realize that there were display issues. The crowd started getting in and my co-panelist Bryan Yang arrived. While the issue was being resolved we go into our introduction and talk a little about ourselves. I had to emphasize that I also run Anime Expo, just for kicks. Once our technical issues were resolved, we had a great panel. Halfway through the panel, my friend Kat went up in her Xiaoyu cosplay (from Tekken) and did a great job demonstrating. She was a total pro and I made a mental note to have her be a panelist in the future since she is a very good photographer herself. The room was packed and the audience enjoyed the panel. For my first panel ever it went well without a hitch.

After that I headed down and hung out with Kat and her boyfriend David. We waited a little bit for my Filipino twin brother (we aren’t actually twins; we just have so much in common it is SCARY). While waiting, I ran around a bit and did some shots of Madoka Magica, Umineko, and some Princess Tutu cosplayers, giving out my Cosplay Photography Card when I had the chance. After Frances did his thing we did a Tekken photoshoot with him, Kat, and David. While Frances and David were not used to doing a photoshoot, I will admit that they got the hang of it pretty fast and started to run with it.

After my Tekken shoot with them, I did some hallway cosplay photography and started talking to members and staff about this year’s Anime Expo. I got the responses and made mental notes all over on what we can do to make next year’s Anime Expo. I did my Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan photo shoot, which was a total blast. The girls were fun and energetic, and it showed in my pictures. After that, my brother arrived at Anime Expo. It was his first time since 2007. He pointed out that AX has gotten much bigger than he remembered. We hung out and eaten at the ESPN zone (which was so darn expensive). I left shortly afterwards to do another photo shoot and talk to some more Anime Expo staffers and members.

Before the day was done I headed off to the Anime Expo forum Meet and Greet. I arrived fashionably late, like 45 minutes late. My friend Bernard was on the stage, monitoring the panel. I haven’t seen him since he stopped by to visit my cosplay photography panel in the morning. Kisuka was the MC, giving away the forum awards with silly little prizes. We still had a mountain of prizes left, so we decided to do a little dance competition. As one of the global moderators of the Anime Expo forums, it was determined by the panelists that I would be a judge. The dance competition was quite fun, with my buddy Kuan winning the award.

I headed back to my room but was waved over by Kyle. I decide to sit down and then it happened, I was working in the information desk. It had a steep learning curve but it was a lot of fun. A majority of the questions were about Maon Kurosaki’s mini concert. I personally kept on screwing up and kept on calling “High School of the Dead” as “House of the Dead.” I am so sorry everyone!!

After a totally exhausting day, I went back to my room and just relaxed. After thinking about it for a while it occurred to me that this will be an Anime Expo like no other.

Anime Expo 2011 Day 2 report 
Anime Expo 2011 Day 3 report 
SEGA's Video of the MIKUNOPOLIS Concert 

1 comment:

Rich$Con said...

and Richard Phon, Director of Sexiness