Now that I've gotten my Anime Expo 2006 gripes out of the way, it's time to share the more enjoyable aspects of the convention. My SO and I attended all four days of the convention and had a great time.
The first major event we attended was the CLAMP panel. We got in line for the panel around noon, and (as I mentioned in my gripes post) the start of the panel was delayed by more than two hours; we ended up waiting more than four hours. Some people waited much longer than we did, as we were nowhere near the front of the line.
The line for the CLAMP panel, which ran the length of the room at least six times. I was less than 2/3 of the way down the hall for this picture.
The panel was hosted by the director of the American dub of Tsubasa, one of CLAMP's current works. The panel began with a 20-minute video summary of all of CLAMP's works, and included about 30 minutes of actual time with the four women of CLAMP. The CLAMP women talked the audience through a photo tour of their work area back in Japan, and also answered about a dozen questions that had been submitted by visitors to the Anime Expo website.
The most interesting information I learned at the panel was that the three CLAMP artists most enjoyed working on Duklyon: Clamp School Defenders. It doesn't seem to get much attention in the US, so we're now curious about it.
The CLAMP women only spoke Japanese, which led to interesting dynamics. A few scattered audience members (who understood Japanese) would laugh at the jokes as the CLAMP members were talking in Japanese, but then there would be dead silence until the translator got around to the joke, at which point the whole room would laugh.
Everyone who attended the panel was entered in a drawing for 220 tickets to get preprinted boards personally autographed by CLAMP the next day. Considering that there were at least 3,000 people attending the panel, our odds were slim. When we checked our numbers later, we found out that probability is a harsh mistress; we didn't get an autograph. Annoyingly, we discovered later (through a discussion board post) that there was a standby list people could get their names on; this was not announced at the time of the panel, or anywhere else that we saw.
Exhibit hall (dealers' hall):
We spent many hours trawling the dealers' hall, which seemed nearly twice as large this year as last year. The aisles didn't seem quite as crowded as last year (compare this 2005 to this 2006 picture), but the booths were just as busy. We had heard that the deals on the last day were not to be missed, but we didn't see too many great deals (except for 30% off any five manga volumes at one dealer).
There are tables with merchandise in there ... somewhere.
It was in the dealers' hall where I spotted my favorite T-shirt of the convention:
"I sacked Isengard, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
Many of the attendees cosplay (dress up as characters from anime or manga), which adds great flavor to the convention. It's always fun to try to identify who the cosplayers are attempting to cosplay as, and some of the costumes are outstanding. I didn't take too many pictures of cosplayers (most convention attendees take tons of pictures of them, including many pros, so pictures are easy to find), but I did take a few of my favorites:
Ginji and Ban from Getbackers; these were the only cosplayers we saw from this manga/anime.
We didn't go to the main cosplaying event (the masquerade), but did drop by one of the chibi masquerades (picture here). It wasn't very exciting; there were maybe a dozen cosplayers, and not much of an audience (maybe 50 people).
Anime Expo also has a number of workshops for attendees. We went to many, including ones on origami and frying foods. The origami workshop was a nice break between events (see what we made here), and the frying foods workshop was great fun. The demonstrating chef cooked three different dishes, all of which made us very hungry (sadly, they didn't offer the audience any of the food). We now want to buy a deep fryer.
Fried foods demonstration: from left to right are tempura, tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and tatsuta age (fried chicken baby drumstick). They smelled soooooooo good.
Anime Music Videos:
Anime music videos (AMVs) are fan-created videos that edit together clips from an anime series and play them with a song in the background. Some are extremely amateur, but others are amazingly professional. After waiting for hours in line on Saturday for CLAMP, we were too tired to wait in line again for the anime music video main event. However, on Tuesday we attended the anime music video award show, where they showed the best videos from Saturday's event. Of the ones shown, my SO's favorite was Monomachia (Duel) (based on Naruto), while mine was Signal to Noise (based on Jin-Roh). They're downloadable from animemusicvideos.org if you sign up on the website.
We went to a workshop on creating AMVs; the presenters showed the actual editing process they use, as well as how they'd created many of the effects in various videos they'd made. We were pleased to find out (later) that one of the panelists was the creator of this year's best of show video (Signal to Noise).
The last event we attended was the charity auction. We weren't sure what to expect (never having been to a live auction before), but it ended up being enjoyable. Almost all of the items up for auction had been signed by at least some of the attendees; CLAMP had signed four posters. Items ranged from signed T-shirts and DVD sets to custom-drawn sketches. We only got about 30 seconds (after waiting in line) to look at the items, but it didn't matter because the prices of the items were way out of our ballpark. The most expensive item was a signed color sketch by the character designer for the Getbackers TV show; it sold for $4,200 (the CLAMP posters went for around $500 each).
Sketch of Ginji and Ban by Atsuko Nakajima, the character designer for the television version of Getbackers.
The auctioneer had a great sense of humor, and deftly auctioned items ranging in value from less than a hundred to more than a thousand dollars. At one point he auctioned off some water bottles signed by most of the guests of honor (but not CLAMP). After the first pair sold, the auctioneer took a drink of water from his own water bottle, at which point an audience member yelled something akin to, "I'd buy that for a quarter!" The auctioneer got a kick out of that, but after more audience members chimed in with successfully higher bids, he started officially auctioning it off. During the middle of the auction he signed it (much to the audience's amusement); the water bottle eventually sold for $20.
Split-screen view of the auctioneer and his signed water bottle.