We had the privilege of covering Anime Expo once again this year. Our video man, Ryan, recorded an Instagram reel of our experiences, while our Instagram admin, Joseph, dropped photos of incredible cosplayers each day of the convention. Today, we present the first of a two-part series from one of our benefactors, T.R. Racki, who has graciously volunteered to cover Anime Expo for us on an annual basis. He’s quite a charming character—I know you’ll enjoy his rundown of the events below!
“One of our writers/YouTubers has asked her community if someone can pick up a Haikyuu Nendo from AX.”
“Would you be able to grab it for her?”
/// Your mission, should you choose to accept it… ///
<cue theme music>
MISSION: ANIME EXPO
Los Angeles, CA
As each minute ticked by, the mass of attendees continued to swell outside the Entertainment Hall, slowly building into a rumbling cacophony, uniformly honed in upon immediately invading the miHoYo space within. It was a jumbled mix of humanity and cosplay, many with smartphones lifted high, trying to grab a snapshot of the chaos impending.
Had I made the right choice?
In 2022, the queue outside the Entertainment Hall prior to Day One was neat and orderly, a single-file affair stretched a short distance down one of the adjacent hallways. Navigating it was quick and easy, taking at most a few minutes to get in.
AX2023…things were noticeably different.
Any attempts at some sort of semblance of organization? Newp. It was every undercover spy and magical girl for themselves. AX staff near the entry tried shouting stuff, though entirely unintelligible above the ever-increasing roar. Some of the crowd started cheering. Those of us in the back exchanged confused looks while others started cheering at random intervals just for laughs. This was going to be mayhem.
Had I made the right choice?
In planning for Anime Expos in years prior, my focus was entirely on the programming. This year, however, I had accepted several missions to acquire some much-sought-after items. While none of the items were unique to Anime Expo, getting them outside of the event would be extremely difficult. So essentially this was a one-shot. What were the missions?
- Acquire one Nendoroid in Exhibit Hall. Specifically ‘Shoyo Hinata: The Way of the Ace Version’. (Codename: Orange.)
- Locate and obtain Collector Super Rare ‘Triskit’ angel card in Entertainment Hall.
- Rendezvous with Agent ‘HC’ in Artist Alley. Upload secret gold signature onto limited edition promos. Transport promos to Budapest, Hungary to await further dissemination.
Unfortunately not being able to be in two places at once, I had to make the difficult decision of whether to go after ‘Orange’ or ‘Triskit’ first. With Triskit limited to only 160 total in the world, undoubtedly she would be much harder to obtain. That said, planning is key to a successful mission, so leading up to AX, I reached out to Good Smile Company to try to get a better read on the Orange situation. Good Smile did eventually reply, but offered no clarification on the number of Oranges that would be available.
Hopefully Orange would hold out long enough for me to get to him in time.
At 09:57, the doors to the Entertainment Hall flung open and the crowd surged with a mighty shuffle, immediately overwhelming the miHoYo space. Averting my eyes from the powerful allure of top-tier Geshin cosplay, I tried to reach the Grand Archive TCG space as quickly as possible without mowing anyone over, bobbing and weaving through the throng.
On Day 1 of AX2022, I was the first attendee to arrive at the Grand Archive TCG space, a special memory I will forever cherish. The space was quiet and I was able to take dozens of pictures unimpeded. For AX2023, I was expecting the same, again, more or less. This time. however, hundreds were already queuing up when I finally arrived. 10:05. I had just twenty-five minutes to get through the line and make it to the AX Welcome Ceremony.
Unfortunately, the Grand Archive space was not prepared for the masses and as new arrivals started piling up one behind another, we quickly jammed the hallways, impeding all flow. AX staff were not amused. Someone finally managed to wrangle everyone into a wiggly line and the great wait began. Over the next twenty-five minutes, I averaged about one inch per minute of forward progression, while constantly checking the time on my phone. So much for attending the Welcome Ceremony.
Eventually, I reached the cashier and put down my money for a limit of eight mini-boxes of their Supporter Pack 1, which equated to just an 8% chance of a Triskit. Not good odds. Hopefully, I could connect later with other Beneath the Tangles members to secure additional mini-boxes. I then high-tailed it for the Welcome Ceremony located in the adjacent event room where security was kind enough to let me in despite a very late entry.
Bright lights swept the room as electric guitars riffed out “Cruel Angel’s Thesis.” In the darkness, it was difficult to find an empty seat. Everything appeared full. A kind AX staffer approached. I flashed my Press badge and asked if anything was still available. The staffer directed me to follow her to where she found me a spot. She then promptly disappeared.
Sitting down and getting out my notepad to jot down notes, the staffer reappeared and asked if I wanted to get closer. Of course, I would! She then led me all the way down to the front row! WOW. Somehow, she managed to find the one remaining empty seat, willing to take the time to go above and beyond for me.
Heavy metal blasted the front row compliments of ASTERISM as the crowd rocked out. The biggest fans had waited the longest to get the best seats and you could see their enthusiasm as their heads throbbed somewhat violently to the sick beats. Stage lights repeatedly swept the front row in a blinding beam of magenta, cranking the energy level to an eleven.
The ceremony then transitioned to the arrival of Sanrio’s ‘Kuromi’ where she did a “The Masked Singer” styled performance, singing, “Greedy, Greedy”. This ended up being the most awkward moment in the entirety of AX as it sounded like the phrase, “glitter shower porn,” was part of the lyrics. For a convention usually all about positivity and inclusivity, a song dedicated to narcissism and selfishness became increasingly uncomfortable, reminding me of the type of world in which we reside and the sort of temptations we need to overcome daily.
The highlight of the ceremony came at the very end with the arrival of Yoshitaka Amano, of Final Fantasy series fame, filling in the first eye of the Daruma doll, signaling the start of Anime Expo. Having played Final Fantasy VI for hundreds of hours as a youth, seeing him in person was a special treat. At age 71, he certainly didn’t look it as the crowd cheered him on with intense fervor, his unique art style seemingly transcending all ages.
With the ceremony’s conclusion, it was time to make a beeline for Orange. Had he held out against overwhelming numbers? Would he be recovered in time?
Come back this Thursday when T.R. concludes his coverage of AX 2023!