Thursday, July 08, 2010

Anime Expo 2010 Recap: Day 1 & 2

Day 1: I started my AX 2010 early riding on the Blue Line to the Pico Station and walking over to Nokia Theater for the red carpet event before Opening Ceremonies. The sides were already crowded with fans and photographers, but I got my shot of J-rock band Sophia (excited fan moment #2!) plus I was thoroughly impressed with Beni's fashion-sense. Oh wait! She has her own fashion show in Japan! Beni was born and raised for 8 years in southern California before moving to Japan and this was her first time back. She opened for Sophia on Saturday (Day 3) with her own Jpop hits topping the Oricon chart in Japan.

Afterwards, I headed on to my first AX Opening Ceremonies, and was pleasantly surprised by the entertainment and humor from the Guests of Honor. While waiting for everyone to sit, we were treated to a break-dancing Stormtrooper (and so begins the genre-crossing). The special AX Ambassadors of Jpop/theatre troupe AKB48 all came out and introduced themselves in (broken, but A for Effort!) English - each with their age and what "Team" they are a part of. Then, director Shinichi Watanabe came out with a primary-color suit, afro and red-lit sunglasses introduced himself from "Team Nabeshin".

After a short break checking out some anime (School Rumble and Mushi-shi), I headed over to the Sophia Panel to find a few American Sophia fans - most who like the band from anime, stumbling upon them on the internet or J-rock fans in general.  The panel was small, but intimate and the answers were deep, heart-warming and, at times,hilarious. It was a special treat to see the members interact with each other. The day ended with massive photo-taking of cosplayers and then off to see "The Lieutenant of Inishimore"(not anime, but crazy close) at the Mark Taper Forum.

Day 2: I recovered from most of the excitment on Day 1, and started in the afternoon with some anime-watching (Trinity Blood) and cosplay photography before heading to the American premiere of the popular Japanese play Kisaragi. The play revolves around the concept of "Otaku", a semi-derogatory term in Japan, but a much loved one in America for "extreme fan", usually for fans of anime or "idols", cute girls who sing, dance, take photos and maybe even act.  Kisaragi takes place at the memorial of "idol" Miki Kisaragi, a year after her mysterious death. The five "otaku" fans, who have never met before and only know each others' screen names, come together to celebrate Miki Kisaragi's career, but when a rumor comes out that her suicide may have been a murder, each fan reveals his identity and his own details of her last night.  The twists are surprising, the characters are endearing and the audience is taken on a journey of laughter, suspense, and bittersweet memories. The show ends with the fans (and a few Kisaragi fans in the audience) donning pink jackets and dancing to Miki's hit song.

(Insert another break with anime-watching and cosplay photography here!)

Friday ended with a visit to Nokia Plaza for the Anime Expo Laser Show Extravaganza, in which the audience participated in learning a few dance moves (like "The Snake" and "Stacking Boxes") and then dancing to Jpop electronica while watching quick clips of various anime (insert cheers for your favorite!) and laser anime on-screen and overhead.  While most people went on to party some more, I headed home for a good night's rest to be ready for another exciting day at Anime Expo 2010! Check out more photos at the ExperienceLA flickr pool and my Anime Expo 2010 flickr set.


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