Sunday, July 10, 2011

Anime Expo 2011 Day 2 Convention Report

Sailor Neptune from my photo shoot
Saturday of any anime convention is the craziest, and Anime Expo 2011 was no exception. The reason why the Saturday is always the craziest day for any anime convention is that the number of people who would attend the convention for one day would typically choose the Saturday to attend the convention. My day started off in a meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. In the meeting I learned that we broke records for Day 1 and that Anime Expo 2011 is on track on beating all attendance records ever. With the great news I headed off to the Los Angeles Convention Center for my insane day.

I go out to the Registration line and it was HUGE, I just couldn’t believe just how many people were waiting in line to pick up their badge. As long as the line was, it moved very fast, so I could see that people in general were very happy. I couldn’t help but be sucked by the crazy atmosphere of a Saturday Anime Expo. One of the first cosplayers I seen in the hall was my friend Thuc and his girlfriend Shiela, who were cosplaying from Gurren Lagaan again for AX 2011. As always, they got stopped like crazy since they both do the cosplay very well from the series. I stopped by Registration to get a report on how crazy Friday’s sales were and how things are going for Saturday, then I headed off to West Hall to check out the departments. I saw some Cardcaptor Sakura cosplayers, who were a perfect Sakura and Tomoyo pair. The Tomoyo cosplayer has the character down perfectly, I wanted to do a photo shoot with them since they were so great.

Mami!!
After going to various departments and getting updates on their thoughts of Anime Expo, I ventured again to the dealer hall to buy some anime and manga. My first stop was the Nippon Ichi Software America booth so I could buy a copy of Hyperdimension Neptunia. The game is impossible to find, so I was hoping that they would have many copies of the game. Thankfully they had plenty of copies so I happily bought a copy and headed off to go west, only to be stopped by my favorite sight, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Cosplayers. Aniplex USA has just announced the license for Madoka Magica and they had a booth gathering of cosplayers from the series. There were a lot of photographers and I did my best to position myself in the front to get some great shots. I had the pleasure of talking with a Mami cosplayer who had a very intricate Mami outfit. She was quite shy seeing all the photographers, and I can sympathize, there were enough photographers to make paparazzi blush. Thankfully she was great in hiding her shyness and she was great in front of the huge crowd.

I left the gathering after some time to walk around the convention center some more and I stumbled on the Final Fantasy cosplay gathering. They just started and I had a horrible position that was left of center. The gathering went well, but there was a rude photographer who would jump in front of everyone and set his camera on burst mode and take shots of everyone. I envied his amazing camera (which was a Nikon D3s), but I did not envy the shouting he got by the other photographers in the shoot. He relented after the raucous crowd shouted at him, so the shoot went well in the end.

Kat and Tawny
The next big gathering I did was the K-On gathering, which was organized by my friend Angie Woo. I had several friends who were in the gathering, so I had to photograph the gathering. Kat cosplayed in her wonderful Azusa cosplay that I have been seeing for quite a while. My buddy Justin did a genderbent Yui and did a great job of it. Tawny cosplayed as Mugi and Carlo cosplayed as the genderbent version of Mugi. The shoot went well, but there were some rude cosplay photographers I had to shush who were making horrible comments about the gathering. After that, Carlo led Tawny, Kat, and a bunch of others for a musical performance of K-On songs, which was quite a treat. How many cosplay gatherings had a live show after the gathering? Not many.

Lots of Madokas
The day could not be crazier because right after the K-On gathering, I walked around a bit and talked to some more AX staffers and attendees about this year’s convention, only to be reminded by one of my friends that the Unofficial Puella Magi Madoka Magica gathering was starting soon. Like the wind I walked very fast from South Hall to the gathering spot. The gathering was in a great spot, outside of the sun so I got some amazing pictures of the cosplayers. One of my friends was there, she was cosplaying as Sayaka, and so I cheered her on from behind the lens. I cheered her on the best way I could, by taking great pictures of her during the unofficial gathering.

Gendo is back!!!
As the gathering ended, we were talking about doing a Madoka Magica photo shoot before AX ended. As we were talking I got a text from the person I was scheduled to do my next photo shoot with. I never met this person, nor do I know what they look like, so we seemed to be doing tag texts. I see a group of cosplayers dressed up as the outer senshi from Sailor Moon and geeked out being the Sailor Moon fan I am. I notice that the Sailor Neptune was doing text messages, just for giggles I send a text to a person I was doing a photo shoot with, and she picked up her phone a second later. I put two and two together and figured out that these girls are the people I was doing the shoot with. Kind of funny how life works, the group I took pictures of earlier happened to be the ones I was scheduled to photograph. The guys and girls in the Sailor Moon cosplay were a joy to photograph, they were as fun as I imagined. After the shoot I left for the Kalafina concert.

I headed to the Kalafina concert and I arrived late, they started singing their first song when I arrived. I headed up to the press section and let’s just say I tripped a couple of times in complete darkness. I braced my expensive cameras so they wouldn’t hit the ground first. As I took my seat, I noticed that photographers could take pictures for the first three songs. Being the Kalafina fan I am, I took advantage of that and snapped some awesome shots of them doing the show. The girls of Kalafina are amazing to say the least. They had incredible stage presence and their singing ability was incredible. They dominated the stage with their powerful stage presence. In between songs they share cute stories of how much they always wanted to visit Los Angeles. They were as incredible in their live show as I expected, and they got the whole audience into the show. My favorite song was their live rendition of Magia and Lacrimosa. In a day of strange concidences, the person sitting in front of me happened to be one of my favorite cosplayers Mikari Takeriya. Mikari and her husband are two incredible cosplayers that I met at PMX last year, and ever since then we have gotten pretty close.

Alicia and Welks
In a busy day of days, I head off to the Exhibitor’s Meet and Greet, where I had a chance to meet the people behind some of my favorite places in the exhibit hall. After the Meet and Greet I head off to what was without a doubt my favorite photo shoot of Anime Expo, my Valkyria Chronicles shoot with “Meli” (whose real name will be withheld due to the fact that she is quite a beauty, I don’t want any crazy stalkers going after her). She cosplayed as Alicia from Valkyria Chronicles, and her boyfriend/friend/not too sure cosplayed as Welkin. They both did a bang up job as the characters and got much of the poses right. It was my one and only “Golden Hour” photo shoot during Anime Expo and was an incredible photo shoot. Those two worked well with the camera and it made the shoot quite a great experience. Without a doubt, it was my best shoot in Anime Expo because those two had great chemistry and they worked very well with my directions.

I ran off after the shoot was done because it was the start of the Miku concert, Mikunopolis. The concert was my personal highlight of Anime Expo. The supporting band was incredible, on one side you had guitar, drums, and bass, on the other side of the screen was 6 violins. I have to stress this; the supporting band turned a great concert into one of the best Anime Expo concerts ever. Here is a recap video that SEGA has put up for mikunopolis. It was probably the most energetic concert I have seen (and I have seen many Anime Expo concerts). The entire time the audience was dancing, moving the glowsticks around like it was a Japanese concert. The audience’s movements were so perfectly in synch it was scary. The song by Miku was charming and very catchy, and when she moved on screen it felt like you could just go out and touch her. The only downside is that they only had one Luka song (which is my favorite vocaloid) and two songs by Ren and Len. I had seen vocaloid videos and I know much about vocaloid, but the concert turned me into a vocaloid fan for life. I look forward to the inevitable blu-ray of Miku’s American debut.

Still overcome by the incredible concert I hung around the convention center for a while before heading back. Day two of Anime Expo 2011 will be remembered for many things, it gave me two incredible concert experiences that will last me a lifetime, it gave me quite possibly one of the best photo shoots I have ever done, and it gave me some time to relax and reconnect with old friends, while making many new ones.

Links
Anime Expo 2011 Day 1 Convention Report
Anime Expo 2011 Day 3 Convention Report 
SEGA's video of the MIKUNOPOLIS concert 

1 comment:

MegaNegi said...

I hope Just Be Friends never drops off the setlist, never mind the disconnect between style and substance.