As I left the Marriott, bound for the convention center for the final day, a deep sadness hit me.
Day 4 already?!
Everything had gone by so fast, a blur of halls, panels, queues, and screenings. Months of anticipation and excitement had yielded an intense anime and manga experience over the previous three days, which would soon be over. Five hours left. That’s all. I kept reminding myself to appreciate each moment.
On the way to the convention center, you could already tell that Anime Expo 2018 was waning. On Thursday thru Saturday, street traffic was blocked on the north side of the convention center, allowing the crowds to cross freely. Now, large bunches of con goers waited for the crosswalk signal as the downtown traffic zipped by.
Inside, the convention was nearly as busy as Friday. If you didn’t know better you would think that things were still in full swing. Realizing that the next panel of my AX2018 experience would likely cap out, I queued up early for “The Music of Yuki Kajiura.” If you don’t recognize this composer, only one word is necessary. Puella.
Spearheaded by John Marr, a music professor at Santa Ana College, we dove deep into the work of a phenomenal compositionist and performer. Kajiura, who scripted her first piece at age seven, continues to impress to this day with edgy electro rock in multiple languages, encompassing many theories of music, some dating all the way back to the medieval period.
John was one cool cat. You could sense the breath of his passion for both music and Kajiura’s work in how he spoke, an infectiousness that spread readily through an already primed audience. For those of you who worry that you will age out of anime, John is living proof that silver hair is just as cool as all the other primary colors. In no time the hour was up, leaving one yearning for more.
Exiting the room, I checked my schedule. Only one panel remaining. Suddenly, a notification came in from AX, a rarity during the convention. ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, the Puella Magi Madoka panel has been cancelled.’ Dang.
Just like that, my schedule was over.
Taking lunch off-site one last time, I returned to South Hall with three hours remaining. The crowds seemed on par with Thursday now, which meant things would be easier for another pass through Artist Alley? Not the case. With similarly intense crowds as Saturday, I aborted and went up to the Exhibit Hall instead. Finally, for the first time in the entire convention, you could move around freely to take in all the exhibits, a few of which had already shut down.
If you were in search of a convention exclusive, tough luck. Sold out signs and stickers were posted throughout many of the big name spaces such as Aniplex, Good Smile Company, and Pony Canyon. The most startling of all was the Seven Seas Entertainment island, which appeared as if hit by Biblical locust, tables stripped clean. Only a few odds and ends remained on a single forlorn table.
With the diminished crowds, I snapped many pictures without having to contend with a mass of peeps in the way. One favorite caught the ladies of Sound! Euphonium by their lonesome. Like the band playing on the Titanic, there seemed to be an emotional finality to the image, Anime Expo 2018 was slipping under the water and into history.
If you enjoy hunting down deals, during the final hour, a number of exhibitors offered blow out prices. Japanime Games offered a huge, last minute drawing with a “must be present to win” requirement that eliminated a lot of potential winners. Many walked away with something nice. TokyoPop was more than generous and offered a number of manga titles to me at a deep discount to pass along to Tangles fans. It took quite a while to load everything up and I walked away with a backpack of full of books strapped to my front and another full of swag hanging off my back. (Stay turned for more details about how to get a cut of this haul once the summer convention scene is over.)
Essentially a manga mule by this point, the final minutes of Anime Expo were spent trying to avoid knocking into anyone as bags hung off every part of my body accept for my left hand, while the weight of the Japanime Games tote cut off all sensation in my right fingers. Got merch? Need swag? Mission successful. A few more exhibitors tossed things my way as I staggered out the door.
3 pm. Anime Expo was over.
And I savored every minute of it.