My Day at Anime Expo

Let me write down before I forget to do so in the morning.

Today was the 3rd time I’d ever been at Anime Expo.  Yet it was the first time I traveled around the convention center by myself.  No Mom and Dad with me, just my bag, my phone, my money, and myself.  And even though I had a dream about my friend being kidnapped the night before, nothing terrible happened to me.  In fact, I had a wonderful time, and even met up with a few friends from school.  Flying solo felt amazing.

I arrived around 9 Am in the morning to explore the Exhibit Halls, only to find that they were closed.  With nothing better to do, I visited the Manga Lounge for the first time, and was stunned to find how loud this place of solace could get.  But, what do was I supposed to expect? It’s a convention center, not a library.  Still, once I started reading the second volume of Rurouni Kenshin, I just got sucked in and everything went away.  I couldn’t finish it, though.

I needed to head over to the Vocaloid Panel, where I met with a couple who spoke Japanese and were happy to let me practice my Japnese with them.  As it turns out, I’d spoken to Vocaloid-P and the illustrator for his works, Kyosuke before the show had started.  I also had my program book signed by Agoaniki-P, who wrote the famous Vocaloid song “Double Lariat”.  Hearing all the reasons they wrote their music (or even didn’t) was at times enlightening, heartbreaking, informative, and uplifting.  As a fellow composer, I respect them all very much.

Afterwards I went toInside the Voice Actors Studio.  This panel was sponsored by BangZoom! Entertainment and had Michelle Ruff as a guest, who gave a small interview with the host Tony Oliver.  Afterwards, three boys and three girls got to try their hand at voice acting–some of whom were really good, while others just haven’t reached that part of their hearts yet.  I wish I could’ve gotten up on stage and done a few lines.  I’m a voice acting enthusiast, and apparently sound quite entertaining when I read aloud or act out roles.  But I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing for now and wait like a frog before it jumps into the pond.

Once the panel was done, I talked with a few strangers such as a girl who wanted to become an RN and another girl who was thinking of majoring in computer science.  I also ate the most expensive lunch I ever had inside the Compass Cafe: a giant smoked turkey sandwich with bacon slices in a chipotle spread, a 16oz Coca-Cola, and a bag of chips (which I didn’t eat).  Luckily, I was walking the entire day so I could’ve have burned some of those calories off along with a $16-hole in my wallet, right? And yet the most ironic thing was if I had shopped around a little more, I could’ve gotten ramen around the corner for five bucks instead.

I tried the Exhibit Halls again, and found they were open and full of patrons.  (I’m glad I got in there at least once, because it closed at 6:00, or at least that’s what I heard.)  Seeing all the shops and anime-related stuff nearly put me in a daze.  I didn’t feel like I was at Treasure Island because of all the anime-related stuff that was there.  I felt like I was in this island because I was by myself, walking around, like I was in my subconscious opening doors to the past, present, and future.  And while I was tempted to buy manga at 20% off, it was still too expensive in my book.  (Amazon had approached me earlier with a much more appealing deal).  Instead, most of the money and my heart I spent I know went to good causes: artists I watch on deviantART.

At Anime Expo, I had the pleasure of meeting DarkKenjie, PurpleKecleon, and Yuumei (Wenqing Yan).  DarkKenjie was a very nice and casual person, answering any questions we had at the table while doing his sketches.  As a storyboarder  himself, I was able to learn what a story-boarder finally is through his explanation.  I look forward to more of his cell-shaded/rendering style, as he may call it (though when I asked what he would describe his style, he said he didn’t know).

PurpleKecleon was very busy at her table.  A Pokemon-themed artist, I only got to talk with her in bits and pieces as patron after patron bought a poster or a pin or something else she had.  I told he how much I admired her ability to mimic traditional media in digital outlets, and she also told me that she liked working the Paint Tool SAI, an increasingly popular digital art program [that I have yet to master] among certain parts of the Japanese community as well as here.  I bought a Totodile pin she created that now hangs on my red anime-themed bag, and as I did with all the other artists I visited, I told her to keep up the good work.

And then I met Yuumei.  In my opinion, she’s one of the best artists on deviantART.  Her level of detail and ability to creating pieces that have powerful messages inspire me and maybe even millions of others.  And she’s the sweetest woman in person.  Maybe it’s because she and I are so close in age (I think she’s 19 or 20, but I could be wrong.  I know that she’s in college, and that I’ll be going to college soon, though).  The print I bought from her, signed on the back right corner, is taped to my wall next to my computer and called “Inner Sanctuary”.  To quote her description under the picture, she writes,

Whenever I feel stressed out, I try to think about nature with all of it’s power and beauty. It makes me feel so small and humble, which somehow calms me down.

Just… She’s just beautiful.  Everything in what she does just speaks to me, and I’m glad I met her.

I’m also glad I got be in a panel with Steve Blum as the guest.  Fun was had by him and all his fans; I had no idea he was such a funny guy! He’s great.  Sadly, I won’t get an autograph with him.  But it was nice to meet the first voice actor I’d ever come to love by name in the flesh.

And that was my day at Anime Expo.  On to next year, where I tackle watching anime in the movie room and making sure I get to the Open Mic Karaoke booths this time!


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