Hello and welcome to the AX2011 edition to my con report! It's been quite a while since I've made a lengthy report, nevertheless for a full 3 days! After going for a day last year, my cousin and I decided to go for broke! ....Sort of.


Funny thing that happened here was as my cousin (who I will call YGFan since YG Entertainment is her fav K-Pop music company) took this picture, a whole bunch of other people took one too O_O

This has to be my most elaborate costume yet and in all honesty, I wish I had started earlier. Time, of course, was a real pressing issue and the end result was me taking a whole bunch of shortcuts that I normally wouldn't take if I had the time to complete it. Safety pins are once again gold for cosplayers who are short on time! For your information, I was Okuda Takiko from Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden in her priestess outfit.

For the most part, nobody knew who I was, but people took pictures anyway ^^. A friend thought I was a summoner from FF Tactics.

And technically, I was about 80% complete going to AX. I also lost a whole bunch of things from this costume while walking around in this costume and slightly improved it as the days passed with quick trips back to Michaels and glue.

Now that it's all over, I can make some refinements and show off the full version sometime in the future.

.day Zero.

After I got off from work, it was about an hour and a half worth's of traffic before arriving at the LACC. Much of that time was spent singing along to a whole bunch of K-pop songs (thanks to YGFan who got me to like Big Bang and 2NE1) and talking about what we should get at Exhibit Hall including planning out some sort of itinerary for food, transportation, and events. I was afraid of not being to able to find where to turn at the LACC but the evil being called "lines" saved us. I have to admit, though, that this line - though long - was moving pretty fast thanks to the outsourcing registration system.

Some notable moments:

  • I'm sure that this cosplayer is infamous (especially among the females), but we saw the Red Power Ranger with the Zangetsu sword (odd combo, mind you) hitting on a Rinoa cosplayer. I noted him from far away but didn't really pay much attention to him until an AX staffer shouted out "AH!!! MY EYES!" and looked thoroughly tramatized. I made a mental note to avoid him at all costs.
  • AX staffers were trying to entertain us with a game, but we weren't paying attention and nobody ended up winning.
  • Was recognized by Albel (who I hadn't seen since AX08) and his girlfriend about 50 people ahead of us (since the line snaked) before they disappered

The LACC was surprisingly crowded at 8pm. A majority of the crowd, after getting badges and goodies (yay for Niconico T-Shirt!), were around taking pictures of two Toyota sponsored Hatsune Miku cars, which of course I could not resist stopping to take one too :). I don't really like Hatsune Miku much (I'm more afraid of her fans than her), but the cars were really nice.

A stop to The Habit afterwards in nearby El Segundo for dinner and we went back home to get some sleep.

.day One.

I had to wake up real early to finish off some last minute sewing and some two hours worth of figuring out how to wear my costume, YGFan and I headed over to the LACC at around 10:30, making a stop at Nijiya for bento to bring along with us since food at the LACC is super expensive. We meant to leave at 9, but as stated earlier, I hadn't worn my costume completely yet and trying to put it on while fighting off the heat took all that time to leave ^^;

It was pretty crowded by the time we got there and it took about 15 minutes to find a parking spot that we could remember. Exhibit Hall hadn't opened yet, so it was a perfect time to wander around, taking pictures of cosplayers (and having pictures taken of; there was one really good cosplayer who I later found out was from Pandora Hearts whose dad was really nice) and treading on to the Bleach gathering that was beginning to start.

I'm actually quite surprised how much smaller the Bleach gathering has become compared to years past. Although the shinigami outfits were everywhere like every year, the actual gathering itself wasn't very big as it used to be. I'm guessing it's a combination of a lot of things: 1) the fact that it's on the 1st day, 2) the location of the gathering (which I have to admit was pretty far away from the rest of the LACC), and 3) the storyline getting progressively predicatble? But then again I haven't read Bleach in a while so...

After taking some pictures at the Bleach gathering, YGFan and I headed to see what was in the Exhibit Hall. This in itself was a task to overcome because it got pretty crowded and walking around in heels is NOT comfortable when you're not used to them. Exhibit Hall was...well, pretty typical. I couldn't help but feel that it was not as crowded as I thought it was going to be (there was walking room! And carpet! Since when did THAT happen?) or Artist Alley doubled in size. Our goal was to find a few things that might be sold out and we found this awesome manga booth that was selling manga for $4 =D. There were also a lot of cosplayers that I ran around for a picture (and getting stopped myself), and there were also a LOT of good artists at Artist Alley -- so much so that I had to watch my pocket. There was a particular artist from the Japanese school in Artist Alley that was doing commissions of people who took a picture of themselves and he was using their phone as a reference -- and he was really good! We made a note to see if we could catch him the next day since there were other things to be done.

I ran into a friend who I worked with at Square when exiting Exhibit Hall, and we talked for a bit. Running back to the car to grab lunch, we found a spot to eat to the side of Exhibit Hall. It wasn't until we sat down did we realize how tired our feet were from walking around all day.

The goal for the day was to get tickets to AMV, but when I asked the info booth, tickets were completely sold out O_O. So my cousin and I decided that we would see the reshowing on Sunday and proceeded back to Exhibit Hall. FUNimation was having a promotion to call all cable companies to tell them to add the FUNimation channel to their line, and since I was cosplaying, got a picture taken as well. I wonder where that is in their archives =). FUNimation staff were also really nice, and the person who recruited me (and like 50 people afterwards) was dressed up as Goku. When he posed for pictures, it was pretty awesome =D.

Vampire Knight gathering was in the cooler areas of the LACC. Although there were less people, and you were less likely to get a picture taken if cosplaying, the fact that yes, the AC was working felt very nice. I will miss the West Hall of the LACC as it goes under construction for the new football stadium for the fact that it was one of the cooler areas of the LACC.

We took off pretty early after the Vampire Knight gathering since Square Enix had a panel for WAKFU, and I wanted to see if my old supervisors were there. Viz had a panel before Square, so we sat in for the Viz panel a bit before we were once again kicked outside for Square to set up >.< (I understand the logic, but hate it when that happens). WAKFU is not made by Square, but it's rather published by them (the maker is Ankama Games, a studio in France). Once in the panel, though, one of my old supervisors - Carl - introduced himself before handing off the mic to Franco, the NA head for WAKFU. Franco talked about some of the background behind WAFKU and showed us a bit of the gameplay that was in beta testing, which was quite amusing. Never underestimate the power of stealing someone's wheat. Afterwards, we watched a dubbed version of the anime that was released in France before listening to a Q&A panel from fans who were either interested in the game or were already in the beta test. Carl threw out a whole bunch of free gifts afterwards, and the panel had to be finished quickly for another one that was starting after them.

I had run up to the front to meet Carl and Franco (Carl took a picture ^^) and spoke with them for a bit before heading on home due to an early start-time for Day two.

.day Two.

I went to pick up more cousins for Day two, so it was an early wake up time because they needed to get their badges. One of my cousins had been really excited to go to AX (it was her first time...as a hyper 10 year old) and wanted to cosplay (my fault), so they went as Misty and a Team Rocket member from Pokemon. Parking was a lot easier to find because of the earlier start, and the crowds were just beginning, so while YGfan and I waited for our other cousins to get their badges, we wandered around to find some cosplayers to take pictures of -- and Day two had more than enough cool costumes to chase after on my part.

I had spotted some cosplayers in Samurai-esque outfits from a distance and tried to chase after them, but they couldn't hear me -_- (I'm soft spoken). What was really funny was that we ran into these particular cosplayers a couple of times but could never take a picture of them because of either people in the way or slow reaction time with the camera. Eventually, a good shot was taken when they had been stopped by other people who wanted to take their picture XD.

Anyway, the 2nd day of AX based on experience was usually the day for the Final Fantasy gathering, so there was reason for plenty of costumes to take pictures of -- including a very bad ass Lightning from her FFXIII-2 outfit (and I didn't know but YGfan was like "OMG, her heels are spray painted silver too!). Since the Exhibit Hall was not open just yet, and it was getting hot, I led my cousins over to the West Hall for some breathing room and cooler air while taking some pictures along the way. The lighting all around in the West Hall at early morning was a pretty good place for photos and if it wasn't for crowds, I probably would not have caught some of the cosplayers sitting against the glass windows.

I wanted to meet up with some of my friends who had volunteered on Day Zero and Day One, but they hadn't arrived yet. Hatsune Miku's concert was apparently going to be that night, so in preparation, there were some fans dancing to one of her songs. In the midst of watching this, I saw a Sebastian cosplayer from Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji walking by and I just HAD to stop him! He was perhaps the only Sebastion that I saw who made a Sebastian-esque pose ^^.

After a good round of more pictures of cosplayers, we all headed back to the Exhibit Hall. The crowd outside was gone but the inside of Exhibit Hall was a completely different story. Somehow in the midst of fighting a path through the crowd, we all ended up getting separated. My youngest cousin, Star, got separated from her sister but easily caught up to me because of my tallness and my hat (her explanation, not mine!). A text from YGfan said that she was in Artist Alley, but the artist she was looking for wasn't there, so we met up with her in a semi-non-crowded area and ran into Star's sister -- our other cousin K. Artist Alley was her favorite place to go around, as she liked seeing the crafts and beadwork (beadwork is her tha~ng), but only milk and cereal + lack of sleep + the heat was getting to me so I needed to find a place to eat something.

The only food we had in our bags were Panda cookies that K had brought (the rest of the food was in the car) and Gatorade. Not the healthiest combination of ingredients, but oddly enough it lasted for me and YGfan the entire day. Maybe it was the sugar...but who eats normally at AX? During this time, YGfan and I had gotten separated from K and Star since they wanted to explore more of Exhibit Hall. I wanted to go to the Final Fantasy and Katekyo Hitman Reborn gathering, so we told them to meet us at the West Hall when they were done with their shopping.

Only problem was that we couldn't get back into the convention center once we left. There was confusion on both AX staff and LACC staff as to where to exit and what was going on, but eventually we found out that whoever had left a bag in the cafeteria and never claimed it (we heard this announcement on the PA in Exhibit Hall) forced the LACC staff to quarantine the entire South Hall. On the hottest day of the convention. Yes, we were a part of this bomb scare and had to evacuate the South Hall -_-

Anyone, not just cosplayers, who stepped outside had to be dying from the heat (YG fan was...and she wasn't covered in head to toe like me!). The heat was one thing, but the humidity and a fully covered costume was a different story.

Out of amusement (and also to distract ourselves from the misrable heat), we tried to take a picture of the Samurai cosplayers from earlier (fail) who were crossing the street we were on -- I also had to text my friends who had yet to arrive about what was going on, and YGfan texted our cousins still in Exhibit Hall to not leave it until the situation was clear. All in all, we made it to the West Hall in one peace, and the AC was very much welcome.

The Final Fantasy & KHR gathering were taking place at the same time and were luckily within seconds of each other os we didn't have to walk too far. I was able to take pictures of both gatherings and a random Curious George cosplayer who was jumping around and attempting to create some mischief. Organizaiton between the two gatherings were completely different, and you could definitely tell which one had the more experience. Granted KHR is newer, and there are 13 + Final Fantasy games and Final Fantasy costumes are typically more elaborate than KHR but....oh well.... I eventually settled on the Final Fantasy gathering since that was something that YGfan was more familiar with. There was a Mog cosplayer who was in almost every shot...even with the lone FF11 cosplayer (who he/she had much fun with =D)

After the gatherings, we met up with my friends who were waiting for the Morikawa gathering -- whom I had completely forgotten was a GOH >.< We came in a bit late so our badges weren't scanned for secured tickets to his autograph signing but Morikawa-san was very amusing. He had come out with a light saber and wore a hat that looked like was eating his head during his grand entrance. Also, to gather more excitement (I quickly learned he's very good at that), he called out to the audience "?????" ("How are you?!?") about 3 or 4 times before he was satisfied that we were loud enough and sat down ^^. Morikawa-san was also kind enough -- to the surprise of host Vic Mignogna -- to have his picture taken afterwards. Any Japanese seiyuu panel is amusing to begin with, and Morikawa-san was no exception =D

When the panel finished, got a call from my friends A & E (hahaha....no, not the channel.....) who didn't know where I was and didn't recognize me until YGfan and I waved at them. Needless to say, A was very disturbed that my wig wasn't my real hair as it was super long and black (I have a short cut and brown hair). We had gone back to the Exhibit Hall afterwards (everything was back to normal since the package turned out to be nothing) since the two hadn't explored it yet and ran into a huge group of VOCALOID cosplayers making their way for their gathering session. By the time we got to Exhibit Hall, the Panda cookies + Gatorade was losing its effect so YGfan and I went to find a place to recharge. We had sat at the very edge of the Exhibit Hall near the autograph panels so when the PA announcement for the Morikawa autograph session came up, there was a crapload of people who ran to get in line. Tempting as it was to join them, I didn't think it was worth the time standing in a line that was beginning to snake around Exhibit Hall. Getting tired of staring at the line, and feeling a bit recharged, YGfan and I headed back outside to get to the Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler gathering (YGfan's main gathering to go to since there were a lot of cosplayers from that series that day). We were kind of early, but we were starting to see the cosplayers (it's not that hard to miss...with their Victorian era outfits) so we sat and waited for it to begin.

They were originally at the side against the LACC, with a nice alley behind them that looked like a pretty good spot to get some pictures taken, but they were waiting for the VOCALOID gathering (which was amusing to see them separate into colors) to end, which was on the Staples Center side. The organizer wanted the cosplayers, on a hot day and covered from head to toe, to stay in the trees while the photographers took pictures on the stairs. This in theory sounded logical, since Kuroshitsuji cosplayers are covered in many layers of clothing (if they were that hard core), and it is honestly very hot to wear in the July heat. However, it was hard to take pictures of them from above since anyone standing in front of you would be in your way and it was hard to get everyone in the picture since there were no variance of levels and way too many cosplayers. I think all of us photographers were dying in the sun, so after a while my cousin and I booked back into the West Hall and wandered for a bit until we were told from A that they were going to a Voice Actor's panel. Star and K were watching a movie, so we just texted them to head to the room where the VA panel was being held when they were done.

On the way to the room (we took the 2nd floor since it was less crowded and it was on the 2nd floor), I took a picture of the West Hall. YGfan said that I had surprised someone that was standing next to us since I took the picture with flash, but I didn't notice (sorry!).

Once again, we were late, but we made it just in time to hear some people go up and volunteer for some voice acting sessions. It reminded me of the first time I went to AX way back in 2001 when my friends and I stumbled upon the VA panel. Everyone who volunteered were pretty good! The main scenes used were from Durarara!! (say that 5 times fast), The 2nd Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Notable quotes:

  • "Hmm!!" (emphatic!)
  • "I like your voice! Just...try to sound a bit bitchy."
  • "Less creepy voice and more show-offy."

Lots of good pointers from the hosts, and you could tell that the volunteers were really trying their best =3

After the panel, I was thinking on going back home (walking in heels + lack of food + heat = tired), but we made one last trip to Exhibit Hall (since A & E still hadn't explored all of it yet). I got some stuff for my brother and sister-in-law, my cousins got some trinkets, and off to home we went. Star and K were very tired: they knocked out about 15 minutes after I was on the freeway.

But first! We went to a "????" (purikura...short for "print club" in Japanese, also known as a very interactive photo booth). Everyone looked at me weird, but I didn't care =D. Even some of the locals knew about AX:

  • "You guys just came from AX?"
  • "Yep."
  • "Damn, you go all the way to L.A. and come back to the OC to party some more? That's hardcore!"

.day Three.

Day Three was the last day for us but it was perhaps the most enjoyable day since I was free from gatherings to take pictures of and more time for panels. Also, AMVs -- which we had missed on the first day -- was going to be reshowing, so we really made it our goal to see it on that day. We actually brought real food again (since we didn't eat it yesterday) and arrived early enough for somewhat easy parking (not as close as the day before, but close enough). Exhibit Hall had not yet opened again, and we were waiting for A & E who had gone to an earlier panel. The Mizushima panel was going to begin, but it wasn't really crowded since most likely everyone who wanted to ask questions already had asked him in the Gundam 00 movie premier the night before >.<

We all went back to explore Exhibit Hall again after the panel, looking for some things to get (I got some wallscrolls and YGfan got a hat that 2NE1 was advertising in pictures). A & E were talking about an emo Hatsune Miku Hello Kitty at a booth, which unfortunately had to be in the hentai aisle -_-. Took the amusing picture quickly and got to a more legit aisle to explore =D

AX Idol was going to be on that day. It wasn't exactly planned, but YGfan and I had never been to it so we were curious and split up with A & E after our shopping was done (we tossed our merchandise in the car) to head over to the Nokia theatre after getting our tickets for the event. That place never ceases to amaze me, and to my surprise there were a lot of people inside already.

If you don't know what AX Idol is, in short it's a talent contest that has been hosted by Bang Zoom Entertainment. There are 5 finalists for the vocal category (singing) and 5 for the voice acting category, all chosen from preliminaries by the judges in the previous two days. All finalists perform their pieces live to us the audience, and the judges -- 3 from the Bang Zoom staff and 1 special guest -- convene for about 15 minutes before choosing the winners for each category.

I was warned by A, who had been to AX Idol in a previous year, that it's a hit-or-miss event, so my expectations weren't very high so I was really surprised from all the talent out there, but don't take my advice to going to it all the time since this was my first year going. The hosts were the winners from the previous year, who were highly entertaining, and the talent was really top notch -- winners and losers alike. The vocals were first, and the very first person was singing YUI's "Again" (first opening song for Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood) ...which is a really hard song to sing, in my opinion, because it's fast. She did a good job, but you could tell that she was nervous which you could hardly blame her for. The highlight of the vocals was the girl who sang Rie Tanaka's "Mizu no Akashi" (Japanese seiyuu for Lacus Clyne of Gundam SEED who sang this in the anime). Not only did she do an awesome job, you could feel the emotion from her singing and the audience, myself and my cousin included, were all in a standing ovation from her performance. Even the judges were in awe. You could definitely tell that she would win the category.

Voice acting category proved to be a bit harder to determine a winner, at least to me. But then again, I'm a novice at these things and if something's read and acted right, I've got no problems. Main scenes used were from Durarara!!, The 2nd Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann though there was one person who used Ao no Exorcist (The Blue Exorcist) which didn't have a dubbed example. There were a lot of fans for that series, myself included, even though it had just come out this year. Lots of fun was done during this category, especially since two of the judges had done voice acting for the exact same characters in Durarara!! and Gurren Lagann and were challenged by the other two judges to reprise their roles ^^.

Intermission, or rather the time where the judges had to choose who was going to win in each category, was also entertaining with the last year's vocal winner performing T.M. Revolution's "Heart of Sword" (3rd ending theme for Rurouni Kenshin). I <3 good lives ^^.

The winner of the vocal category was, not surprisingly, the girl who sang "Mizu no Akashi". The winner of the voice acting category was the girl who acted as Haruhi from The 2nd Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi....and you could tell that the president of Bang Zoom had a crush on her XD.

After AX Idol ended, we headed back to the LACC to wander around a bit before deciding to go to see if the line for AMVs had started. The AX staff at the front of the live panel room said that it hadn't started yet, but since we were there, we decided to sit at a corner near the room anyway and eat and rest up and take random pictures of ourselves with anime eye glasses that YGfan was given from someone at an Exhibit Hall booth ^^. And it was a good thing, too! The room was packed and we were very lucky to be in the front, although unfortunately there was only one huge screen (since this room was made for movies and a smaller audience than AMVs) and so we had to crane our heads to the side, but AMVs was SO worth the wait. In the past couple of years the contest wasn't very good, and I think the incentive of a cash prize ($5K if you won not only your category but best of show is a LOT of money for us not born in a financially wealthy environment) really helped boost up the quality of all the AMVs chosen for finalists in their category. I don't think there was even one video that had a crappy presentation. It was so crowded in the room with even more people waiting outside that it was decided that there would be another reshowing of AMVs on the final day for those who couldn't get in to watch.

Our host, the new head for the AMV contest, was very fun, too, and also announced that next year, the rating was going to go up from PG-13 to R (for more gore! ....Probably) Lots of people cheered about that. The AMV format was also different in the fact that a new category, called the "Fun" category, was added -- mainly for parodies like "The Wizard of Ozaka" -- though winners of that category were not going to be qualified for the Best of Show. There also seemed to be a smaller quantity in each category, which was fine since it made things a lot easier to choose a winner (if we were able to make it on the first day and voted).

The most notable moments that stood out to me:

  • "Dare to Love Again" was so freakin' sad!!
  • Lots of Neon Genesis Evangelion AMVs....was it because of all the remakes and movies?
  • No Naruto or Bleach AMVs, yay!
  • "Death Romance" proved to be a dead winner for the comedy category (and even my cousin understood it!)
  • "Calling" was awesome and deservedly won not only the AMTV category, but Best of Show as well (and the winner was so tiny! I loved the host's comment: "If you try to harrass her, we'll hunt you down!")
  • "Make It Rock" was the first time I had seen a KHR AMV that was awesome!
  • There was a K-pop song in an AMV! O_O ((I didn't know until I heard 2NE1...my cousin had known from the beginning since she had the mix))
  • The Fun/OVA category was not only very entertaining but a definite good category to add.

Originally we were going to eat with A & E at Daikokuya Ramen in Little Tokyo after AMVs, but A was really tired and had headed home first. So after AMVs, we headed home to not only recover but look at our stash.


Year of the Fan indeed. Thank you, Anime Expo, for a refreshing convention experience and see everybody next year!