PopLurker Convention Coverage: Anime Expo 2019

PopLurker would like to thank Anime Expo for providing press passes in exchange for event coverage.

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While we already provided Anime Expo toy coverage on PopLurker’s sister site, Toy Wizards, it’s time to dive in a little deeper. For me personally, this year’s Anime Expo was a little bit special because it’s my personal 20th Anniversary of the very first convention I ever went to. My first show was Anime Expo 1999 at the Anaheim Convention Center. That’s a huge milestone– so, we can discuss how the show has clearly grown, what merchandise and the anime community is like currently, and what the show did (for the most part better) compared to last year’s show. 

Remember, Anime Expo always has a fantastic array of special guests, events, and parties happening onsite. There is always something to do and I have no doubt that the planning staff are doing their best at all times to create an amazing experience. But there are some things that once the horses and soldiers start stampeding toward you that are just out of your control.

To this very day, I just miss AX in Anaheim. I love that convention center and its sprawling size. The LA convention center just can’t hold AX anymore. To me, it’s just never really felt like home. Anime Expo 1999 had this option that would never work today. If you didn’t want to purchase a day pass for $25, you could buy a ticket to just the Expo Hall for $10, do your shopping, and go home.

Build me a time machine, please. I want all the 90s anime merchandise.

But you know what? Not for 90s prices. Do you remember when a subtitled VHS tape with 2-3 episodes of a show was $30-$40 dollars? Yeah, no to that. It’s no wonder so many of us couldn’t afford to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion all the way through.

Speaking of Evangelion, it was fun to see the resurgence of costumes due to the series revival on Netflix. I definitely appreciated seeing classic costumes.

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As far as registration and badge gettin’, it was a million times more streamlined than the last two years. Especially for press and industry, where there was basically no line and registration was back together with all of the other lines. It was off-site last year and that was terrible.

But what Anime Expo hasn’t fixed is that horrid bag check. Look guys– I think safety is as important as anyone else does, but if San Diego Comic-Con manages not to bag check, then Anime Expo can stop as well. There is absolutely no reason for this. It can take several hours to get through that line at peak hours and it’s a waste of staff and volunteer who I’m sure could very well be utilized somewhere else at the show.

Another side of Anime Expo that continues to be broken is the fact that my press badge continues to do nothing. I had a meeting with Bandai and I wasn’t able to go inside the Expo Hall early to conduct that interview. Additionally, there are some big-deal guests that standard press can’t get in contact with. This year at Anime Expo, the creator of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo, was one of the guests of honor. By the time his panel information, etc. went out, there was no way to access him. I wonder if this is because PopLurker isn’t a visible enough of an outlet to qualify for that interview, or if those are the terms of his contract, but I found it odd. Maybe a lottery system for big-deal guest interviews, and if you win, someone at AX can pre-screen your questions to make sure they’re strong enough? I don’t know, that’s how I would do it if I had a couple hundred press outlets fighting over the mega-star guests.

Overall, I thought AX 2019 was better than 2018. However, I think that bag check thing is going to continue to bog them down. If their attendee numbers really are 350,000 as the website touts, I think they need to get their focus on keeping those crowds moving. Which means to stop shutting down random doors, keep people off pillars and in the middle of the show floor, and let the flow of traffic carry forward. Much in the way that SDCC moves with urgency and those staff members are on it, AX could benefit from a similar treatment.

AX highlight: That photo ops area was bonkers. Honestly, the whole Entertainment Hall crushed it.

Because of the nature of my outlet and the toy-centered focus, I did not attend programming or snap too many cosplay photos. 

PopLurker’s Anime Expo 2019 Image Gallery:

 

 

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