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Anime Expo 2015 in review

Anime Expo 2015
Anime Expo 2015

As fun as it is going to Anime Expo every year, it really is getting way too big. This may be great for the higher up people involved in running it, though it also seems to be having some growing pains (probably more so for the volunteers and staff who are working the event). I’ve been getting press updates since my registration for Press was approved (though it ended up as Industry when I got to registration). Here was the most recent post-AX press update:

24TH ANNUAL ANIME EXPO (AX) BREAKS ATTENDANCE RECORDS:

Over 90,500 Fans Attended, Up 12% Over 2014

Los Angeles, CA, July 6, 2015 – The just-concluded 24th Annual Anime Expo (AX), presented by The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), played host to over 90,500 lovers of Japanese animation and pop culture, July 2-5, 2015, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Sneaking up in attendance right behind Comic-Con, this year’s show marked the biggest presentation in its history, taking every inch of the Los Angeles Convention Center for the first time.

This year’s unique attendance to Anime Expo was counted at over 90,500, an increase of 10,500 attendees from last year, marking a 12% growth over 2014. Overall turnstile attendance exceeded 260,700, marking an increase from last year of 40,700, representing 18% growth over 2014.

AX 2015 presented more than 300 exhibitors for attendees, including such entertainment industry companies as HULU, Warner Bros. Japan, Crunchyroll, Sony Music, Sanrio, Aniplex, Sentai Filmworks, FUNimation, Daisuki, and many others.

Exhibiting video game companies included Capcom, SEGA, Namco Bandai, NIS America, Aksys Games, Atlus USA, Voltage, Koei Tecmo and Com2uS.

The show also hosted over 60 entertainment industry guests, including producers, directors, animators and other content creators of feature films, television and videogames, as well as performing music groups, singers and bands, including special guest appearances by Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley of KISS, and Japan’s # 1 pop music singing sensation, Momoiro Clover Z.

Marc Perez, Chief Executive Officer of SPJA, said, “Anime Expo 2015 has been our most successful event yet, and we want to thank everyone who attended. We wish to also thank all of our 1,600 volunteers for their hard work and amazing dedication to the promotion of Japanese culture. From registration improvements to entertainment programming, we produced the best AX yet. And we invite all of our fans to return next year for AX 2016 – our biggest celebration ever, which will mark our 25th event!”

This year, it was tough even getting into any panels. Maybe my Industry badge could have helped, but I never really tried to take advantage of it since I was with my boyfriend, who had a regular 4 day badge. In the past, the crowds have been a little overwhelming and I end up needing to just relax in the video rooms. This year, half of those video rooms were at the JW Marriott ballrooms a few blocks from the Convention Center. That wasn’t a bad walk and actually, there was plenty of free water for attendees to enjoy while watching anime. So that was a good thing that made the walk over worth it.

The panels themselves are pretty enjoyable when you can get into them (we’ve been calling AX Line-Con for the craziness of having to line up an hour or 2 in advance), I managed to get into panels for Skullgirls & Lab Zero Games, Naughty Figures (18+), and Viz Animation Panel Featuring Neon Alley.  There was plenty of talk about Skullgirls (yay, Robo-Fortune!), but most of the excitement was regarding a trailer for their new game, an RPG called Indivisible (this links to the YouTube page for the trailer, the game is apparently so new it doesn’t even have a website yet):

Naughty Figures was exactly what it sounded like it was about, lots of photos and discussion of naughty figures in both their clothed and unclothed states (for those who were interested) plus some giveaways at the end with the FAKKU people who were nice enough not to kick everyone out early for their panel. We weren’t originally planning to go to this one, but ended up their since the line was capped for Boobs, Butts, and Twintails (which just sounded interesting to my boyfriend).

We were also there with the girlfriend of a co-worker of my boyfriend, and we all agreed to check this panel out since the line was still open for it. She was in cosplay as Hestia from Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, which I guess is also called DanMachi (ダンまち?) for short… I actually haven’t seen it yet, I blame my boyfriend for not wanting to watch with me. Apparently, my short attention span doesn’t lend itself well to reading subtitles. Hey, that just means more work for American voice actors, right?

The 3rd day was the 4th of July and a Saturday, so probably the busiest day as far as attendance was concerned. Viz Media has always been more of a manga company to me (because I started reading their manga long ago), but they do have a lot of hugely popular anime shows. They had some interesting trailers for Sailor Moon Crystal, Naruto, One Punch Man and K. Since Neon Alley has become part of Hulu, it does make anime watching that much easier. Unfortunately, the $15 Anime Expo exclusive Sailor Moon shirt sold out at their booth in the Expo Hall.

Though we got an early start, and went through to Expo Hall a few times (once to say hi to my friend Kali Chung, who was working the Superfight booth) – we decided to also leave early to check on my cat (who was very scared of all the loud fireworks when we got home). We ended up watching some Toonami on Adult Swim, which is probably an easier way to watch DBZ than lining up for it at AX. That reminds me that Adult Swim is giving away 19 tracks on their website. I may have to do a separate music post for it, once the Swervedriver single is posted.

The last day, we ended up mostly just doing one last Expo Hall sweep before searching for the Skullgirls autograph session with many of the voice actors from the game.  There was an entire parking area converted to a table top gaming area and autograph area under the West Hall. I remembered that I had some postcards from a girl in the artist alley, who was handing out her own versions of Skullgirls art. The voice actors seemed to like them too. I posted a lot of my Anime Expo photos on Facebook, since my Flickr seems to autopost to Twitter and I should stop spamming my photos on there.

Me and @wifininja got @Skullgirls voice actors' autographs on various postcards + Kitty who wanted to sit on them! #InstaSize

Anyways, it’s another year where I’m left feeling ambivalent about Anime Expo… As much as I do enjoy it, I’m still not sure I want to keep going. Maybe if I found an actual advantage to being Industry (or I actually was Press or Industry), other than some help not being told to go back outside when you’re picking up your badge.  It did seem like Industry or Press were allowed to stay in panel rooms when everyone else was being told to leave, but that was another thing I didn’t try. For it’s 25th year next year, I’m guessing it will break the 100,000 mark and I wouldn’t really look forward to that many people!