With Crunchyroll growing in its share of and prominence in the North American anime industry (case in point: news of CR’s acquisition of Right Stuf dropped during the convention), it’s no surprise that Crunchyroll Expo has become one of the country’s preeminent anime conventions. Big guests and big announcements marked this past weekend’s 2022 event. Our man Joseph was there, and found the entire event quite extravagant (in a good way), while also getting to indulge his primary interest—the vtuber events.
The effort put into creating a branded look and feel of Crunchyroll Expo is quite unlike most anime conventions. Everything from the decorations to the convention center itself was made to transport attendees into “New Crunchy City.” When walking into the exhibit hall, attendees were greeted by Crunchyroll Hime who welcomed everyone to a cityscape dotted with futuristic decorative elements and Japanese-styled skyscrapers.
Mascots directed visitors toward a variety of districts, from the arts district to the shopping district. The crew members’ uniforms were easily recognizable and quite memorable, so lost souls could get help if needed. I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but even the convention center was colored orange and white, which further immersed visitors in the Crunchyroll experience. The amount of detail the team put into making this city come to life was immense.
There was a lot to do, but I was primarily there for Crunchyroll Expo’s big exhibit, designed for vtuber fans and including one-of-a-kind experiences and meet and greets. I have to say: Crunchyroll shattered my expectations with everything they brought.
VTubers Appear at the Expo
The Hololive experience zone and theater featured exclusive videos and messages from their talents playing throughout the day, and the fans loved popping in and out to see what was going on. Cover Corp even brought some super special overseas guests! A fan favorite was smol Ame, a chibi version of vtuber Amelia Watson. It was fun watching her wobble around and seeing how excited fans were to see her.
And to everyone’s surprise, the CEO of Cover Corp, Motoaki Tanigo (also known as Yagoo to the fans), made an appearance as well. He has been a meme in the vtuber community for the most part, so it was fun seeing how happy everyone was to see him and get their pictures taken with him (myself included), which he was more than willing to do. Needless to say, I think Chrunchyroll and Cover Corp will look back on this as a successful event and continue to bring in vtuber guests and experiences to future conventions.
But for being heavily geared towards vtubers, I thought it was a shame that Crunchyroll didn’t bring their own vtuber, Crunchyroll Hime. While there were tons of pre-recorded videos playing that featured her, meaning that she could be seen everywhere, she still did not have as much of a presence at the convention as I thought she would. As far as I know, she had one panel, but aside from that, she didn’t make too many live appearances. I felt like it would have been perfect for her to have her own meet and greets or host her own panels. But from what I heard from the attendees, the panel she was part of was very fun, and they were hoping to see more from her.
Music, Announcements, and More!
Despite having this main target audience of vtuber fans, I don’t mean to imply that the con lacked variety—quite the opposite, in fact. The convention featured a wide variety of content suited for a wide variety of interests. There were some big updates announced and anime mentioned that brought fans into an uproar, with the one I was most excited about being Tower of God Season 2.
Specific fan groups received their own panels as well, like for Genshin Impact and The Rising of the Shield Hero. And all the premieres and screenings had their lines capped. Watching Mob Psycho 100 season 3, was definitely special (everyone is in for a treat come October if you plan on watching). Fans were also excited about Blue Lock, a new soccer anime that will likewise be airing in October. I, for one, was more interested in Do it Yourself!, a slice-of-life anime that focuses on DIY projects, also to be found in the Fall anime catalog. Needless to say, this convention had enough variety to hit most major fan bases—you were definitely going to find something you watched or enjoyed.
Another big point of praise was the New Crunchy City Music Fest. This was the first of its kind, and for me, it was one of the highlights of the convention and something that I hope they will continue in the future. The lineup was strong and the groups they had playing were well-known to attendees. With acts like Atarashii Gakko!, MADKID, Burnout Syndromes, Shihori, and SiM, Crunchyroll Expo was really trying to make the music festival one for the memories.
video clip: Atarashii Gakko!
The only thing I worry about for the future is how they can possibly top this lineup! Well, that and the venues being a bit small. For someone like me who loves to be front and center, that really was not a problem, but for others who attend to enjoy the live music in a more relaxed fashion, it didn’t seem like a big enough venue to hold everyone comfortably, particularly for big name artists such as these. But the performances were amazing and blew away my expectations. Nothing beats the adrenaline of seeing your favorite music artists mere feet away from you and rocking out to their music with tons of other fans!
video clip: MADKID
Logistics-wise, the staff and organizers were superb. Apart from a few hiccups, the lines were very well organized and rarely posed a safety hazard. The security and crew members were very good at corralling people and leaving room for passersby to move past comfortably. Even with last-minute surprise guest King Vader, the way the staff and volunteers organized the crowd in all their excitement was impressive.
If there was anything that I felt let down by, it would have to be the cosplay contest, unfortunately. For any convention, the cosplay contest is a fan favorite due to the magic of seeing the cosplayers live with their performances. But, as with Anime Expo, entrants pretaped their performances, and video was shown during the event. We are still suffering from the aftermaths of the pandemic, and this was the first in-person convention Crunchyroll hosted since 2019, so it’s understandable if this is how things need to be for now.
But for their first convention in two years, I was very impressed with how well-organized everything was and the work and content Crunchyroll brought in. Hopefully, with time and healing, we can return to the glory of pre-pandemic conventions. Until then, this still remains one of the best conventions I’ve attended, and I hope everyone who went had just as great a time as me!