Otaku in the Shell: My Personal AX Experience| Part I: There’s A First Time For Everything…

Entering the Los Angeles Convention Center on Independence Day at 10 am, I was wondering if I would fit into the world of anime. My range of anime knowledge is mostly through exposure to Studio Ghibli films, hours of Toonami with Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z & Mobile Suit Gundam and trying to dive more into the features of Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Hosoda. It seems like a lot, but that is limited in the mind of a die hard Otaku. Even worse in my mind, this was my first true major press event. It was not a Hollywood premiere trying to lure celebs for an interview, but an entire expo filled with events and panels. AX 2013 for the first big press job of my life seemed like a daunting task. Then me and my friend/employer, Jesus Figueroa of Thisfunktional.com, opened the door into a world yet unexplored.

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My Press Badge for Anime Expo 2013. The first true step into my journey.

At first, it seems filled to the brim with fans cosplaying as their favorite characters and ready to enter the Exhibit Hall to browse the booths for products that appeal to them. The entrance was only the beginning. It seemed sprawling and massive for such a confined space. It was surprsingly to see a collective group of people together to support their love of not just anime, but anything in the nerd culture and otaku mindset.

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Aya Ikeda delighting the crowd (Photo by Jesus Figueroa)

 

We entered the press lounge for a bit to get the work around about things. Of course, upon arrival, we already had to head to a press conference for J-Pop stars Aya Ikeda and CARAT. This presser started with a bang with a fellow journalist (who I will not name) asking the question of how they are percieve as dumb and idiotic. Never have I seen a room of journalist stare at her with a ‘Dear God, what have you done?’ written of their faces as she pleaded to save herself from the question with pretentious statements to back it up. The first press conference and already controversy as I sit thinking Aww crap, what did I get myself into?. Luckily, we all pretty much agreed that she put herself in a corner she could not get out of. This did not reflect or destroy the rest of my AX experience because it was just getting warmed up as we entered the Exhibit Hall.

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Seeing this bad boy above the Hall made me smile like when I watched Gundam for the first time

Holy shit! was my first thought. Tons of booths to go through and explore ranging from classic anime, modern animes and even hentai for those deviants out there in the crowd. Behind was the Artist’s Alley with gorgeous and unique artwork based on anime and even live action shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural. I was disappointed as I did not have enough money to buy anything, but seeing the art was unbelievable.

And the rest of the day went on, though short, was a blast. Covering the FUNimation panels and typing away on my tablet was delight, taking notes and having to announce awesome updates direct from them was a pure joy with Jesus and I recapping the days event after attending the day. Trying to quell my excitement for the latest Mormoru Hosoda film, Wolf Children, coming stateside with a full dub cast was a hard task, but I did it with a professional mind and a small “SQUEE!” of excitement.

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Michelle Lee, social media manager, and Justin Rojas, son of a doctor, lost his mom, and once stabbed a man and got hard (at least, that’s what he said)

One major highlight of the first day was the press conference with Ghost in the Shell producer and President of Production I.G., Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, as having loved the Ghost in the Shell franchise for a good while now. Hearing his thoughts on the current state of anime and what children should be exposed to in the media mindset was fascinating to hear as despite probably making a fortune from his company, to know how humble and passionate he is to make a great project come to life.

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Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, Personal Hero of Mine, Badass Producer (Photo by Sergio Berrueta)

At the end of the first day, I could not wait to come back for the next three days. Taking the Metro back home as the fireworks celebrating the country’s independence blasted across the sky, I knew that this was a test to see if I could do what I am majoring in, to see if I can handle a great task. Jesus opened the door to a golden opportunity and I needed to take advantage of it.

There is more to this experience, so stick around for more first time account of my Anime Expo 2013 experience. Next time, meeting a childhood hero, the serious nature of cosplay harassment, and sometimes the one you are making flirty eyes with may not seem like the one you usually make flirty eyes with.

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