I am here to report on what happened at Anime Expo 2006 from my view. Overall, this was a successful event, with a record-breaking attendance of over 41,000 attendees. As a staff member of Registration, I had to learn how to get badges printed, refer attendees to where they had to go for group issues, comp badges, etc. The curve was steep, but I was able to get a full understanding of everything. Of course, I ran into my own set of issues along the way, in which most were eventually resolved.
Day 0 – Friday, 30 June 2006
Fresh and ready for staffing my first AX, I checked into the Hilton, getting a room on the 12th floor, Room 421. With a great view of the Anaheim Convention Center, I set myself up, getting my badge the 4th floor, before taking off for the ACC. No sooner had I checked into the Exhibit Hall C (which was were Reg was located), that I was pulled into taking care of those who pre-registered, thereby getting ahead of the bedlam on Day 1. There was a line that stayed long for about 2 or 3 hours, moving quickly before dying. Since the convention didn’t start until tomorrow, I took the time to look around me, getting familiar with the members of my department, and later in the evening I took part in an all-staff meeting. The people from AX Human Resources debriefed us on what to do and what not to do during the convention. I couldn’t stay for the film afterwards, because I had to get some rest for tomorrow.
Day 1 – Saturday, 1 July 2006
Canada Day! And the most grueling of days has arrived. Technically I didn’t have to work until 10:00 a.m. but I was on standby until then. The lines snaked, even going out of Hall C. I would work nonstop here, from 10:00 a.m. up until 5 p.m. I was able to manage getting my share of attendees’ badges taken care of. Sometimes I would joke around, singing to announce that I would take the next person in line. While all the others had bored looks, I seemed to be a bit perky. Blame it on the Starbucks Doubleshot that I drank early in the morning. Without that, I wouldn’t have survived. After I was finished with my long shift, I refueled at a bar called the pulse, where staff members can get food and drink with a card that needed to be stamped (I picked mine’s up yesterday), before looking for an event I liked. There was this event called “Anime Singled Out.” Even heard of the ABS-CBN game show Wowowee? One of the events, “Pera o Bayong”, vaguely resembled this event. One of the contestants asks a question to a group of people in the audience who participate, and if they get it right, those who do advance, those who don’t stay, and it continues until there are about 5 or less people. And then a special individual question is given to them. The audience can also play a key factor in determining who the winner is. One round had it reduced to one contestant from the audience, who was declared the winner, other times somebody would be eliminated personally by the contestant with the “Golden Ticket.” I did get to meet up with my friends from the CSULB Anime Club, including Mora Moth, and “DJ” Eric Le Du, the latter holding up a two-sided emoticon sign, something I would copy later in the convention.
Interesting footnote: Before attending Anime Singled Out, I attended a panel for this company called Mega64. Basically, they are a company that combines elements from Jackass into popular anime and Japanese video games. They were embraced more at San Diego’s Comic-con, primarily because the SPJA saw their AMV unsuitable for being bestowed any honors whatsoever.
Another footnote: this was the day CLAMP was having a panel. Unfortunately, I could not make it to the panel due to my shift taking place at that time. And I did not win a CLAMP signature from the staff raffle. Que sera, sera.
Day 2 – Sunday, 2 July 2006
Reduced lines meant a supposedly easier day, right? Wrong. I suffered frequent lapses of concentration, making small mistakes here and there. Of course, they turned into non-issues in a hurry. In between shifts, I checked out goods from the exhibit halls. Eventually, from there, I would buy a Rin Tohsaka keychain, a Tomo Takino plush, a Sakura plush, and the first volume of Full Moon on DVD. After my shift, and several shots of cosplay in between, I went over to the Newtype USA panel. I learned a few things from there: first, there was a 5-7 year window of what they can choose for their issue; secondly, they took what was popular in the USA, and then took what was popular in Japan, and blended them together; third, the reader population of Newtype USA turned from 70 male 30 female to 50-50; fourth, they had a lot of autonomy, meaning for the most part, they could do what they want, save for occasional advice from Kadokawa and Newtype Japan as to how to pronounce something this way, and what not. It’s a networking process that gives the magazine a consistency unlike any other. Afterwards, I was able to get an issue from the head honchos of the company, personally autographed too; albeit the ink ran off later in the convention. A photographer also took photos of those cosplaying. Those photos would be added in the September and October editions of Newtype USA.
Afterwards, it was off to the Yozuca* and Rino concert on the third floor. After taking a few video shots, I was told by the volunteers not to take any videos, so for the rest of the convention, I took photos with my cell phone (there was no flash on my phone, which was kosher). The two of them sand classic tunes from Da Capo, an anime series and also a popular video game series from a company called Circus.
Footnote: While taking care of the attendees, I was given a couple of balloon swords, however, a person from Viz Media (who created the swords, by the way) attached something to it. I later removed it, and stomped on the piece, to the dismay of one of the top people there. Later, an attendee who wanted any busted balloon took the stomped piece (actually some of it was still inflated, but then it was stretched out), and decided to have use for it, taking off. After which, I went back to the usual work without a hitch. One of the ACC staff members commented that the pink balloon sword looked like a dildo. His mind must have been in the gutter since he first arrived here, but that’s a given.
Day 3 – Monday, 3 July 2006
Aside from going back and forth to get my money from my cash box to send to the Finance Department, and nearly losing my badge and even my cell phone, this was another smooth day. I had to go to HR to get a replacement, but one of the top people in registration recovered my badge, but I forgot to get my cell phone. So, I asked one of the people from AX Access Control (of whom I have high praise for), to contact convention security to open up Hall C. After I had finally recovered my mobile, I went over to the Masquerade, which was a variety show. Many cosplay companies from all over the nation participated in providing a skit. The winner of the competition was a performance called “The True Power of the Clow,” in which Clow Reed revealed his true identity: Captain Planet.
I did run into a few rounds of hooliganry during the intermission, when a taiko ensemble from UCI played. I informed the volunteers to watch for any objects being thrown into the audience. I’m sure there is a zero-tolerance policy for objects being thrown during an event like this. I don’t know if they were caught and sent off, but I did tell this to my squad leader.
Day 4 – Tuesday, 4 July 2006
My last shift was about 2 hours long. After the shift, I brought an emoticon sign (of which I would have to return the stick back to Convention Operations) that would use for the rest of the convention. At the “Whose Line Is It? Anime” event, a group of people played out some far-fetched scenes a la “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” starring Drew Carey. Of course, someone tried to sabotage my experience, and I had to shoot them. I was ready to cane him with my sign, but he left just in time. I personally don’t think he wanted to be owned by a staff member. Not worth it, big guy. If you don’t like it, leave.
Next, was an auction of goods at the Main Events Ballroom on the third floor. Some of the merchandise for auction were sold in the thousands. Rich bastards, all of them, to quote Haruhi Fujioka of Ouran High School Host Club. Even a water bottle drunk by the person hosting the auction was sold, for 20 bucks! Insane. I would have to win the lottery first before diving in.
And then the closing ceremonies came. As all of the GoH’s were given praise and applause, I went over and threw myself down at their feet. Some others did as well. Hiroshi Nagahama, of whom I would win an autograph from, brought work with him during the convention. Two other GoH’s brought work with them as well. Uh oh. There is a chance that I would not receive anything at all. If that’s the case, there shouldn’t have been a raffle in the first place. Stay tuned for an announcement from HR if those folks gave us our sigs….
At the end of the convention, I went off to the Pulse one last time, for the Dead Dog event. In this event, which is staff-only, unlimited food and drink is on the house, the games are set to free-play, and my folks just party all through the night, Trouble is, I couldn’t stay due to my sister picking me up at 8:00. After munching on span musubi for the first time, and discussing my future with Anime Expo with the director of registration, I took off for home, thus concluding my journey through Anime Expo 2006.
Pictures to come.