Journey Into Anime Expo

In All, Anime, Conventions by David

July is upon us, and the month might as will be known as Convention Central. Not only San Diego Comic-Con coming at the end of the month (and once again we will offer full coverage of our time there), but also Anime Expo, which starts tomorrow (well, today, sort of, as I got to do my favorite thing, wait in line for a badge: Day Zero For The Win). This has usually been Keskel’s domain, but this year I too will venture into the Los Angeles Convention Center for loads of anime fun. I have been an anime and manga fan for a long time, but just never really have been able to attend any such conventions. This year finally seemed like the right year to go. Just like with SDCC, I will bring coverage of all my new experiences at Anime Expo. Exactly how much will depend on how each day goes, but I will endeavor to deliver as much insight as possible. There is a lot to do at AX, and part of the fun will be exploring as much as possible, but there a few things I am looking forward to.

Anime Premieres and Screenings: One of the more fun things to do at Wondercon and SDCC is go to premieres or screenings for shows. It is always loads of fun to experience watching a show with other fans. It’s a feeling unlike any other. Watching Doctor Who and Orphan Black premieres were the highlights of both my years at Wondercon, and pilot screenings at SDCC are always a lot of fun to go to. So what do I have to potentially look forward to at AX? First, there is A Letter to Momo in 35mm. A Letter to Momo is a fantastic Japanese film from 2011 (2013 in America) about a girl dealing with her father’s recent death. What makes it special, though, is that it brings magical elements to the story with the introduction of a group of imps. The story slowly builds until everything comes together for an emotionally satisfying ending. Watching it again would be a lot of fun, especially considering the first time I saw it I was just about the only person in the theater. That’s not all, however, as AX will also have the premieres of a number of new animes from the soon to start summer anime season. The two that are the most interesting are Sword Art Online II and Terror in Resonance (or Terror in Tokyo).

When Sword Art Online first premiered it was a fascinating dark take on the MMORPG genre. Though somewhat inconsistent, its first arc built to a wonderful ending and left people wanting more. Well, there was more, and the second arc was… much, much worse. A number of reasons contributed to this (a terrible villain, taking away the agency from the main female protagonist, a MMORPG world that felt like nothing more than a retread), but primarily it just wasn’t written or executed very well. This series is based on light novels, and fan rumblings suggest that the second arc is necessary to set up the next arc, known as the ‘Gun Arc.’ Whether that is true remains to be seen, but it should be lots of fun finding out if this show can get back on track. Meanwhile, Terror in Resonance has the promise to be something really creepy, as it follows an alternate-present Japan that is under attack by a group known as Sphinx, comprised of two teenagers. It’s the kind of show that could never happen in America, something that could really only be done well through anime. If nothing else, it is a bold concept that has the potential to be something special.

Exhibit Hall: Pretty broad, I know, but one thing I really want to see is how the hall compares and differs to SDCC’s. For one thing, it will be a bit more focused than SDCC, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less intense. SDCC’s purpose is to offer as much variety and as many exclusives as possible, but AX is all about anime, anime, and more anime. Plus, considering the relationship anime has with fan art, the Artist Alley should truly be something special to behold.

Late Scheduling and Connectivity: SDCC has grown to be a mammoth event. One of the problems with that is that it limits some of what it can do. Programming ends a bit earlier than I would like, and it’s difficult to make official events where all the attendees gather together late at night to mingle and get to know each other. (To be fair, off-site events are there to pick up the slack.) AX has no such problem. AX’s programming lasts until midnight, and the con offers a variety of ways to converse with other attendees (late-night group board gaming, convention-sponsored dances, and loads more). How much I will be able to join in remains to be seen, but the mere option is very exciting.

Above all, AX promises to be unpredictable, which is what I am most amped for. I have no doubt what I will enjoy most is something I have not even thought about yet. AX should prove to be a great start to July, and an awesome precursor for what is to come. So keep checking in, because Drunken Thieves is going to AX, and the fun has just begun.