Anime Expo 2005 website
It was something I always kept in the back of my mind. Through the encouragement of my school friends, I finally committed myself to the idea of attending the Anime Expo this year held in Anaheim, California from July 1 through July 4. Every anime fan at least once in his or her lifetime has to take a trip to an anime convention similar to how every believer of Islam must make a pilgrimage to Mecca. I pre-registered for all four days (all-con) sending the check for $45 by mail during the last week of May. What’s more is I decided to go for the full experience and signed up online to be one of the expo volunteers. Weeks went by and I didn’t get a confirmation until two weeks before the start of the expo. Already I was getting pre-con worries -
> As a volunteer I requested ‘Crash Space’ as part of my application. They tell you to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Then they warn that no one is guaranteed crash space, and crash space will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Crash space is not necessarily your own hotel room. You may not even have access to a shower for the extent that you are there (*gasp*).
> Where would I park? To valet park at a hotel you must already have a room. So where could I keep my car until I find out for sure whether or not I will receive crash space? Is there overnight parking? My greatest fear was getting my car towed away.
> For the main events (Anime Music Video Contest, AX Idol, Masquerade, Kotoko and Maaya Sakamoto Concert), tickets are required in order to gain entrance due to the high attendee interest. To obtain your ticket, you have to line-up in Hall E at 1 pm on the day of the event. Do volunteers still need to acquire tickets or if we work the event will we be able to automatically gain free access?
> How much money should I bring? Should I cosplay and if so what character from which anime? On the expo website it gives you a list of programming and the events scheduled for any particular day. Which events should I see?
I got an e-mail from Jeannie Kim the Volunteer Services Manager ten days before the start of the Anime Expo. It read that they are sponsoring pre-con beginning at 10 AM Thursday June 30th. There would also be a mandatory orientation meeting at the Veranda Room of the Marriott Hotel the same day at 7 PM. June 30th is what I like to call Day 0. Even though the expo doesn’t officially start until July 1st, people could line up and pick up their name tags / badges from 4 PM until 10 PM. It would be an easy way for me to knock out some hours before the start of the convention. All-con volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 22 hours in order to receive a refund of their registration cost.
So June 30th finally arrives. I wake up at 6 AM, shower, eat breakfast, and at 7 AM take the 91 freeway to the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC). I only live like 45 minutes away. About 8 o’ clock I find myself on Katella Ave and drive around the whole block looking for parking. I go in on Convention Way and see the whole string of hotels: the Hilton, Quality Inn, the Marriott, and the convention center itself. I see a Hilton public parking and figure that this must be the place. I read the sign. $50/day maximum parking fee!! WTF!! I ain’t going here. I wanted to back out but couldn’t since there was a car behind me. I took the ticket and went to the exit. Good thing there was a grace period so I didn’t have to pay anything. So I’m back on Convention Way and I go around and behind the convention center to find parking lot 5. $8/day, not bad but no overnight parking. I drove around the surrounding neighborhoods. No parking without permit unless resident. An hour goes by and somehow I end up at Downtown Disney. I backtracked to Katella Ave and from there entered parking lot 1. I paid my $8, was satisfied, and headed for the Marriott, volunteer headquarters. I would have to move the car someplace else if I was to stay for crash space.
I arrived at 9:30 AM and entered the Veranda room of the Marriott. They told me to wait outside next to the grand piano because they weren’t going to open until 10 AM. I saw half of the volunteers in the office asleep on a couch. Is this how the crash space is going to be like? I waited with ten other people, and some were minors. At 10 AM we all checked in then to our dismay we were told to get the heck out. Yup, absolutely no work for us to do. I had to kill time before the 7 PM mandatory meeting. I contemplated leaving but didn’t want to pay $8 for parking again. I met some new friends Jason, Tom who is a chatterbox but was always talking about something interesting, and ‘DJ-Lain’ who has his own equipment. We lingered around for two hours aimlessly searching for the arcade which was either not set up yet of the doors were closed. We had lunch at the Pizza Hut at the hotel (Tom pointed out that it would have been cheaper if we just ordered from someplace outside and had it delivered to the hotel lobby). At 2 PM we made our way back to volunteer headquarters. They finally had some work for us to do. Evidently the supplier with all the packets was late. Our volunteer 2005 T-shirts were not ready either. They apologized and gave us two hours of work credit.
We were escorted to the ACC 1st floor Hall D, past the exhibition hall where construction workers were still setting up and vendors were readying their wares. My job was to guard the doors making sure that pre-con registrants coming to pick up their tickets early would go around to the main entrance and wait in Hall E. It didn’t really get busy until 4 PM when we started lining up people. There were three lines - one for industry (always the shortest), at-con (those paying $50 for entrance at the door), and those who pre-registered (longest line). Later, they started merging the at-con and pre-con lines. As a volunteer you’re only supposed to sign up for two-hour shifts. I started at 2 PM and didn’t get out of there until 6:30 PM, just in time to make it to the meeting. They were short on volunteer staff it seemed. Not that I minded guarding the door and keeping all the people from peeking into the exhibit hall. It was easier than frantically bag stuffing ^^. That was one of the primary jobs of the minors. Minors are restricted to four public areas including the manga library for safety reasons and can only work a maximum of four hours per day. I did see one of the coolest cosplayers in line and wish I could have taken a picture. It was someone in an Alien costume, you know as in Alien versus Predator, all black with the long head piece and carrying some vial containing blue liquid (Gatorade?).
The registration line, before…
…and after. Now imagine that line spanning 20 times in length and lasting for 4 hours.
At 7 PM was the mandatory meeting where Jeannie the volunteer coordinator explained that all-con volunteers were eligible for two free meals a day, lunch and dinner. On the last day of the expo they would reimburse you for the registration fee. At this point I opted not for crash space and gave up my spot for someone else. We then went back to registration at the fast track industry line (lucky us). I picked up my badge and goodie bag filled with the program list, Shojo Beat magazine, Animerica magazine, Tokyopop Takuhai magazine, and some posters. I left the ACC and drove to Fullerton and ate at my favorite resturant there The Tea Zone (I was really, really hungry. The Time was 9:30 PM). I got myself a mango boba for the ride home and that was the end of Day 0.
Plasma TVs, Oh My~!
My second day was officially launch day of the anime expo, Day 1. Parking was $9 (curse them, raising the price during the event). From 8 AM-12 PM (*sigh* I missed the opening ceremonies) I was helping to transport Geneon’s wide-screen (48 to 52 inch), plasma television sets from the basement of the Marriott to the 2nd floor of the Hilton, California rooms and Workshop 1. Drop them and you will pay dearly :/ It was fun that we were able to use the maintenance elevators, not available to the public but only to hotel staff. It was a little unorganized though. We were tightening bolts by hand and there was only one ratchet. We used a quarter as a screwdriver. But, we got the job done. At 12 PM I went back to volunteer HQ. Lunch was late. We got it around 1 PM. Tom told me that they were Vietnamese sandwiches. They were made with mint leaves, onions, shredded carrots, and tasted tangy. In the meantime we were watching the English dub of Princess Mononoke. At 2 PM I went towards the Hilton California C for the Kotoko Focus Panel.
Kotoko Focus Panel
There were over 200 fans that sat down, I among them. It was requested by the jpop star that there were to be no photos and this was strictly enforced. Kotoko arrived through the back (the elevator chute where I was moving TVs earlier). Kotoko had on a white dress, her hair tied in two ponytails. She was wearing a beaded necklace and had a shawl around her shoulders. She came with her own interpreter because she didn’t understand English. After a short introduction, it opened up to two hours of Question and Answer.
Kotoko is a female jpop singer and popular vocalist for I’ve Sound. I’ve Sound is a sound creators team based in Hokkaido, Japan made up of several composers such as Kazuya Takase, Tomoyuki Nakazawa, and C. G. Mix. The group provides the tunes to many video games and anime series. In 2004, she released her first major album label ‘Hane’. Her September concert last year in Tokyo sold out within the first five minutes of ticket sales. Kotoko is not only a vocalist but composes her own lyrics. Her style varies from slow heart felt tones to upbeat techno and high-tension rock songs. In my opinion, she’s a mix of Every Little Thing, Ayumi Hamasaki, and Utada Hikaru. Some of Kotoko’s well known anime songs are: Shooting Star - the opening theme of Onegai Sensei (Please Teacher), Second Flight - the opening theme of Onegai Twins (Please Twins), Re-sublimity and Agony - the opening theme and ending theme to Kannaduki no Miko respectively, and Suppuration -core- the insert song to Kannaduki no Miko. Kotoko’s song ‘Wing My Way’ is the official theme song for Anime Expo 2005.
Birthday: January 19
Blood type: A
First Appearance: Pure Heart (lyrics), Close to me (vocals)
Likes: rabbits, turtles, maple syrup, cherries, strawberries, the sea, Snoopy (Knotts Berry Farm)
Dislikes: dark places, ghosts, food with vinegar
On to the questions. The first went along the lines of what Kotoko would like to convey to her listeners with her music. ‘A difficult question,’ she responded. Whatever goes on in her mind, the images that she sees, those are what she tries to convey. Someone asked the differences between writing a song for a video game or anime as opposed to an album. In a game or anime she values the view of the world presented in the game scenario or anime. For her own music, she thinks of her own worldview. Kotoko called the next guy a stalker, hehe.
Another question was how Kotoko became associated with I’ve Sound. At the Haura music school, she was introduced to I’ve Sound by an associate Eiko Shimamiya. Does she miss the good old days of being part of a smaller studio? Kotoko modestly admits that she is not a big star yet. For her it still feels the same. She can continue to make music with friends.
The next might be a spoiler for Kannaduki no Miko. In the opening theme song Re-sublimity, from whose point of view is the song being sung from? Whenever Kotoko does a song for an anime it is important that she read through the script first. At first glace it seems as if the song is done by Chikane-chan. But if you look closely, the lyrics fit any of the characters.
Do you play your own games and watch the animes that you have been a part of? About the games…(laughter)…Kotoko has a Macintosh computer so she can’t play most of them. However, other people she works like her director with play them for her. But she does watch all the animes on TV.
As to what one song she cares about the most, it would have to be ‘Chi ni Kaeru’ - On the Earth, the opening song for Starship Operators. Of course, Kotoko loves all her songs. Her single was released before the anime series but the director liked it so it was used in Starship Operators. But, the song for the anime series has a slightly different arrangement. The version for the anime featured a full orchestra and is more astounding.
For the song Re-sublimity the person’s friend couldn’t believe that it was all done by Kotoko. Her response was that ‘No I’m not two people.’
In her free time when she is not at work, aside from watching movies, Kotoko enjoys idling on the home shopping network on TV :P.
Couple of the fans asked their questions in Japanese. One made Kotoko say Kyun-Kyun~! in reference to her appreciate of Dempa songs. Dempa music is electro tuned with magnetic waves radiating and is said to be the music of crazy people. It may in fact make people turn crazy.
There was a general question as to where Kotoko gets the inspiration for her music. If it is an anime or game then from the original source. For her own songs, mostly from nature, the scenery of Hokkaido from where she lives. Verses with just come to her mind sometimes while in the bathtub.
An interesting question was if Kotoko would consider being a voice actress for an anime. During the opening ceremonies she said the professionals were going at it. Kotoko has no formal voice actor training so she didn’t want to intrude. If she were to become a voice actress she would want to go through the same rigorous training.
Will Kotoko have a US tour? ‘Thank you very much.’ But sadly she has no plans for US concerts. But she would love to. Marriage proposals…. ‘none yet….yet…’ said her interpreter (he told his friends jokingly how he wanted to pop the question to Kotoko himself, not likely).
My overall impression of her is that she seemed ordinary just like you and I. Yet when I saw her on stage the next day she seemed far from ordinary. She was a whole different person, remote, distant, regal, a star. She was Kotoko the performer in all her glory.
Anime Music Video (AMV) Contest
At 4:30 PM I was once again doing my volunteer duties. I was stationed at the 3rd floor of the ACC and had to be the bearer of bad news :( My partner and I had to shoo people away that had already begun lining up for the AMVs, which were to begin seating at 6 PM. We had to tell everybody to go back down the escalators to the 1st floor to Hall E, back to that dreaded registration line. There were two lines, one for those people who picked up tickets earlier and the other for standby. The color of the ticket designated where you were to sit (red = front, yellow = middle front, green = middle back, blue = back). At 7 PM there was a third line, which was more of a crowd that included those with and without tickets that huddled outside the 3rd floor ballroom. We formed a perimeter out of pink tape. Once everyone who waited at Hall E was inside we would allow those standing around the perimeter access, those with tickets first then everyone else. To my amazement, there was more than enough seating for everyone. Next to each of the designated colored doors we were stamping your wrists and handing out voting ballots and those mini pencils without an eraser you get for doing standardized tests at school. You were to vote for your favorite music video for each category ranging from drama to comedy. The AMVs didn’t kick off until 8:30 PM. Before showing any of the contenders’ videos, they first showed the music video that malfunctioned and could not be shown last year.
In the drama category what got my vote was ‘Tear Stained Hearts’ done to the song Hear You Me which featured all the love relationships from various anime series. Some examples are Kenshin and Tomoe, Hatori and Kana-chan in Fruits Basket, and both Shuji and Akemi and Shuji and Chise in Saikano. ‘Full Circle,’ done to the Evanescence song Haunted, is an Inuyasha tribute to Kikyo. ‘Run’ with the song Run (keeping it simple) emphasized Claude and Lavi’s relationship in Last Exile. At the end of each category was a recap of all the entrants. Each video was 3-5 minutes in length and there were eight videos per category. The winners were to be announced at the anime expo website. While watching the videos I was eating dinner - BBQ beef with rice and salad (no dressing).
Everyone will probably hate me for this but personally I’m not that much of an anime music video fan. They just seemed to be clips from favorite anime series played to different music backgrounds. I liked Euphoria done to RahXephon, Kotoko’s Suppuration -core- music video for Kannaduki no Miko, and the opening videos to the Studio-E.go! PC H-games because they include spectacular special effects, putting clips in different layers and intermixing them, and varying the shades of colors. Those are how music videos should be! Of course that would mean spending more time and effort. I guess my expectations are too high. I imagine anime music videos to be the equivalent to the opening animation sequences of anime series like Chrno Crusade. The clips for Bleach had to have been taken from either the fansubs or simply the Japanese raws minus the dialogue. In Naruto, the battle between Rock Lee and Gaara was probably ripped from HK DVDs. I left the ACC after the drama category, sorry. They saved the best category, comedy, for last and I didn’t want to stick around past midnight for it to finish. I figured traffic would be heavy at the end anyways seeing that everyone would be rushing to leave the expo afterwards.
At night outside you can see people pretending to battle one another with their Star Wars light sabers. In the distance, fireworks were igniting at Disneyland.
The morning of July 2 I decided to check out the arcade at the Marriott Solon E. Let me just say that it’s the best arcade in town. It had all the hottest games. There were two Dance Dance Revolution Extreme machines set up although the price was expensive ($1 for only 3 songs, at my school it’s 50 cents for 4 songs). There were plenty of tables and chairs to rest on. It had all the fighting games - Street Fighter: 3rd Strike, Marvel versus Capcom 2, Guilty Gear XX, racing games like Initial D and Max Tune 2, Time Crisis 3, Metal Slug 5, and my personal favorite Puzzle Fighter. There was also air hockey. At 10 AM I headed towards the Hilton, Workshop 1 (one of the rooms I helped to station TVs in) for the Kimono Demonstration.
Starting at 10 AM and ending at 11 AM, Osako Tanaka-sensei first demonstrated the process in dressing a male model, not nude ^^, in ‘Montsuki’ (formal men’s attire). Afterwards, one of her students dressed a female model, actually her own daughter, in a dazzling ‘Furisode’ (kimono for single women). You have to put on socks (’tabi’) first because once you have the kimono on you can’t bend over. While dressing, every component has to be the right length and must be adjusted to the height of the individual person. Kimonos are not something that can be put on in a rush. Only with tremendous skill can one put on a kimono by themselves. Like a foreign language you have to practice the process or else you will forget it.
Some Hina’s history cultural information about kimonos for you. Kimono translates literally to ‘clothing’ and refers to traditional native Japanese wrap-around garment worn by both men and women bound by a sash called ‘obi’. Kimonos lack buttons and have to be tied with fabric and strings. A kimono can be divided into parts: ’sode’ (sleeve), ‘eri’ (collar), ‘ushiromigoro’ (main back section), ‘doura’ (inner lining of the kimono body), and ‘maemigoro’ (main front section), Today, kimonos are worn primarily for social and ceremonial events and in the performing arts. The type of kimono worn reflects the occasion, the season, the setting, and the time of day. It was mentioned during the demonstration that long sleeve kimonos denoted singles while short sleeve meant married status. It is said that the kimono’s most enduring virtue is to reveal the wearer’s inner nature.
At the end Tanaka-sensei dressed two of the audience members, one male and one female, in a ‘yukata’ (an unlined summer kimono). Yukatas were originally worn before and after bathing by members of the upper class. By the Edo period, they became a standard of warm weather attire for the common people. It was funny, when they asked for a female volunteer from the audience one girl immediately ran on stage despite not being picked yet even though others were still eagerly raising their hands. She got her wish. For the male, it had to be someone small in stature.
Tanaka-sensei teaches from her home in Los Alimitos. Her store is located in Fountain Valley where you can rent or buy kimonos. For more information please visit her homepage Maruhachi-usa.com
Geneon Kotoko Concert
At 1 PM I volunteered for the Kotoko live-concert. I along with seven other volunteers went up to the main events halls of the ACC, 3rd floor. There seemed to have been some mishap. It was questionable whether or not it would be a ticketed event like the AMVs. People just gathered and lined up at the rear entrance. AX staffers were communicating with one another and the eight of us were stranded with nothing to do for 30 minutes. We were hungry, no lunch yet, and the only thing we can do to pass the time was to tell each other our favorite anime series. For a while, we were assigned to make a barricade around LP-2, room 304 and cleared out the elevators. No one was able to pass us be they AX Staff or restroom cleaners. Supposedly the guest of honor Kotoko was going to enter through there. She didn’t. She must have entered through an employee chute on the other side. At 3 PM we were all released from our duties, given our lunches, and were able to do as we pleased. The other volunteers weren’t at all interested in Kotoko nor did they know who she was. I went into the hall alone, stuffing my lunch a sandwich again in my bag for later, and enjoyed the show. Again there was no photography allowed although there were people who still brought in their camcorders and were filming during the concert.
The hall was almost completely dark with the only trace of light coming from the large TV screens (nope, didn’t set those up, they were extending from the ceiling). I couldn’t tell when exactly Kotoko appeared on stage. All of a sudden the music started and she was there wearing a cloak, some sort monk outfit or a Jedi Knight gown. It suited her first song ‘Suppuration -core-’.
Kotoko was wearing something similar to what the group Move was wearing above in their music video of ‘Blast My Desire.’ Must be a jpop or rock thing. All you could see was Kotoko’s face and hands.
When the song finished Kotoko striped off her cloak (it tears in two) and began singing ‘Re-sublimity’, the OP theme to Kannaduki no Miko. Kotoko had on a punk outfit wearing a skirt and tie. She had on a white wig. Kotoko didn’t lip sing like Britney Spears but sang alongside her recording. She was off sync at some points.
Cover of Kotoko’s Re-sublimity CD. She really did have white hair on stage. T_T
Kotoko is more of a singer than a dancer. But she does get into her music. I wish there were more lights to fill the entire hall. At instances you can see the red, blue, purple, and white colors flowing from the stage across the hall. After the song, there was a piano accompaniment while Kotoko went off-stage to change. It was pitch black and people were swaying their glowing cell phones. I saw one person waving his Nintendo DS system. LOL Kotoko came out in a purple kimono looking like a miko (shrine maiden). Her hair had streamers in it. She proceeded to sing ‘Chi ni Kaeru’ while the fans were still waving their cell phones. At the end Kotoko bows to an outstanding applause. ‘Thank you for coming,’ Kotoko says. Then she reaches into her kimono sleeve and takes out a piece of paper. ‘Cheat sheet!’ The crowd bursts out laughing. Kotoko sent out her appreciations to everyone and said that the first two songs were to be released by Geneon on CD for the series Kannaduki no Miko. ‘I’m very happy.’ It is her dream to move to Los Angeles someday. Next Kotoko sang Shooting Star, the OP to Onegai Sensei (Please Teacher) followed by the EN song to Kannaduki ‘Agony’.
Kotoko then took the time to introduce her drummers, guitarist, and the sexy dancers (they danced they same way I play DDR teehee). ‘Let’s rock! HEY!! HEY!!’ ‘Lean on the right!’ ‘Lean on the left!’ Kotoko briefly introduces one of her friends Stephanie, the Anime Expo idol that won last year’s contest. She contracted to sing ‘Ningo Hime’ (EN2 to Chobits) for Geneon. One of the audience members screams to Kotoko ‘I LIKE UUUU!!!’ Kotoko replies ‘I LOV AMERICA!’ Kotoko’s final song is ‘Wing My Way,’ the official theme song for Anime Expo 2005. *Clap* *Clap*
My biggest concern about the concert was the people who kept entering and exiting the hall while it was still going on. Secondly, the people who ignored all the warnings and continued to take pictures and record their own videos. We were expelling attendees who didn’t comply with the rules. Some said that it didn’t feel like a real concert because the front row was distanced from the stage. Fans wanted to be up close next to the stage and touch her.
Inside the ACC Exhibit Hall
Our proud sponsor ADV Films.
A special showcase dedicated to the anime series Samurai 7. Check out our Watcher Column for details.
The artist alley located at the lower lobby. Hey, it’s our site artist MJ-Battle hard at work
What may be the highlight of any anime convention is the cosplay. Outside the convention center on Convention Drive was the exclusive cosplay line up with photographers. But you will see cosplayers everywhere on the streets, at the hotels, in and around the ACC itself. There are women dressed up as male leads, and unfortunately men dressed up as women characters. There are people of all sizes both big and small showing cleavage. Some come with homemade weapons and accessories. There were a number of cosplay gatherings for their respective favorite anime and game series - the cast of Bleach and tons of Shinigamis, Naruto ninjas primarily Naruto and Sasuke, Inuyasha, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, Full Metal Alchemist, Kenshin, Xenosaga, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts.
Misato and one of the Love Hina girls (Naru) wearing a Christmas costume holding Tama-chan.
Tsukasa from .hack//Sign with another character from .hack//Sign and the .hack video games.
He told me that it took him a month to make his outfit.
Sesshoumaru-sama from Inuyasha and Android 17 from DragonBall Z.
The cast of Naruto.
Bleach Shinigamis and Rukia. Not a Love Hina Gathering despite claims.
Also from Bleach, Urahara Kisuke and Company. Boo-hoo.
And let us not forget the greatest, most famous, and even controversial cosplayer of the anime expo - Man-Faye! Sadly or maybe a blessing, I didn’t get to see him, only impersonators. Man-Faye was evidently kicked out of the anime expo last year for selling his own merchandise without a permit right outside of the convention center (although he was giving away T-shirts for free if you touched his ass). Some call him brave, some say it’s gross. My friend Tom said he must be some perfectly normal guy maybe even a rich businessman or doctor in real life that just flipped for this occasion to relieve stress. The guests of honor laugh about the whole concept. Who knows what happened at this year’s anime expo. Reports say that he was there Friday. For those people that saw him he was ‘Hawt!’
Here is last years AX2004 interview Man-Faye by Orion, one of my college classmates and member of our anime club http://www.flippersmack.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=41
The official Man-Faye website can be found at http://site.man-faye.com/
His Myspace URL is http://www.myspace.com/man_faye but he doesn’t seem to respond to any of the comments.
He said bring back Man-Faye!~
Behold- the One, the Only - Man-Faye!! (last year’s pic).
Main Idea of this Rant?! -
My first anime convention ever attended, the Anime Expo in Anaheim, California in the year 2005
Closing Statement(s) -
Biggest complaint people had about the expo was that they were missing the latest episodes of Naruto and Bleach for that week. They would have to download the fansubs as soon as they get home :/ Many were also agonizing waiting in the pre-con registration lines on day 0.
(“Worst registration EVER?”)One of my friends said it wasn’t bad when she picked up her badge the following day, lines were shorter then. My personal comment is that sometimes my favorite events were scheduled at the same time like the ADV Release Panel and the Geneon Anime Festival; Anime Singled Out and the Chibi Masquerade; and the World Cosplay Summit and AX Idol. It was hard to choose one or the other. Another issue was…well this should explain everything “Ticked Attendee Whose Name Was Messed With”