Frenchie’s Finds – Anime Expo 2011
It is safe to say that this year’s Anime Expo had a slight decrease in the number of attendees. But nothing could ever take away the amount of fun anybody can have at the largest convention on this side of the country! With a large itinerary of events such as the Kalafina concert and Mikunopolis, there was something to please everybody. I’d like to highlight certain aspects of the convention that really bring out the pride and joy of Japanese Pop Culture.
Highlight #1: Danny Choo & Culture Japan
In my 2nd year of going to his panel, Danny Choo really made a mark on cosplayers and Japanese Pop Culture fans alike. For those of you who don’t know, Danny Choo is the son of Jimmy Choo (yes, the shoe designer). He grew up in London, which explains his British accent, but also spent a good amount of time in Japan. At this panel, he shares his interests in anything involving Japan (such as anime) and how it grew into a big enterprise that launches the career of his dreams. His panel last year introduced his website and television show “Culture Japan”. This year, he revealed a new character, named Mirai, who will hopefully be in an upcoming anime. Most of us probably wonder how somebody can get to a very successful point in their life. Well, that’s where most of his explanations come in. Danny Choo has led such a busy life, he shared a few tips and tricks that he has undergone in order to better his life. He was very elaborate with every aspect of his daily life; I only wanted to highlight a few that struck me as particularly interesting: 1) Time management: A lot of people complain about not having time to do this and that, when in reality, you have all the time in the world. The trick is to organize your time and perhaps invest in things that save you time in the long run, such as a smartphone. When it comes to cosplay, lots of time can be wasted by just disorganization with the approach. By taking some time to plan it out, making cosplays may not be as bad. When you’re stuck, his famous quote goes by saying “Something leads to something. Nothing leads to nothing.” That is what distinguishes people who truly want to get to their goal and people who “want” to get to their goal!
2) Trollism: We’ve faced at least one case of a troll by now, but are they really people that we should hate? Although trolls are known to bring people down by their art, it could be encouraging in some ways. For one, it reassures you that you have a lot going for you than those who troll. In another way, trolls can be looked at as a tiny obstacle that could be easily looked over. Reality says that no one can ever get to a goal without having to face trolls, because that’s how life naturally works. All of this amounts to my 3rd highlight.
3) Passion: You have to keep in mind the reason that you pursue what you love. Above all, you also have to rethink if you love what you do. Looking at things as “Live to work” instead of “Work to live” kind of situation. Danny Choo comments that when you find what you want to do in life for a very long time, you will eventually love those Mondays, because you simply can’t get enough of your career. But the process to get there requires a lot of focus, to think of the circumstances and to choose carefully whether or not doing one thing may jeopardize something larger.
Although I noticed a handful of people snoozing during his lecture, I actually found it really refreshing. He definitely brought a lot of attention to everybody else and made them think of the bigger picture, regardless if it is anime-related or not. He started off by working at a Japanese restaurant and now he owns a website that launches hundreds of thousands of hits per month! Of course it was inspiring for everybody!
Highlight #2: The significance of Angry Birds at the convention
(Yes, the Dragonballs look awesome from the angle I took the photo). For the past year, Angry Birds have become exponentially popular among everybody, young and old. The concept of the game is genius, using birds as stones to throw themselves at pigs who have stolen their eggs. Their popularity has gone wild to the point where every other store at the Exhibitor’s Hall sells Angry Bird plushies for as little as a few dollars. However, these items stood out above them all: Angry Birds with the slingshot! You can still throw the plushies around and play like your arms are the slingshot, but it’s better to have the actual thing! There was also a man walk around the convention wearing a tuxedo and a helmet that sports the main red angry bird, which caught like wildfire for the media to take a picture of. Although these birds aren’t technically a part of anime, there are many other things just like them. But for some reason, they show up at anime conventions. Maybe because they sell a lot or perhaps people just simply love these cute and cuddly creatures? All we know for a fact is that the game is terribly addicting and the convention scene welcomes anything that catches the attention of our fellow otaku!
Highlight #3: The Death Note intertwined with reality
What better way to tie in reality to anime than the Death Note? If you have seen this guy walking around, you have probably seen names in there such as Justin Bieber and Edward Cullen. But if you haven’t, now you know! Death Note has been a series that has a lot of hardcore fans. I have actually seen a handful of Light and L cosplayers that still walk the convention grounds. And I thought that this cosplay was pretty clever in that there have been news stories where otaku have accused the Death Note for a real person’s tragic death. In a world where a lot of people have very extreme opinions, this guy’s cosplay was one that never failed to make every otaku amused. Plus, the better part was eavesdropping on the conversations among lovers and haters and taking it out on each other. Let’s not blame the Death Note though, he’s neutral territory.
Highlight #4: Bandai and the Gundam 00 Movie
Waiting in line to get into the Gundam 00 movie was thrilling enough as it is, talking with fellow Gundam lovers while they play Angry Birds. Speaking of angry, there was a roomful of angry attendees that found out they had to wait another hour for the representative of Bandai to come in with the official DVD. Apparently, there was a miscommunication about the start time of the movie. Then, I’ve been hearing comments among everybody such as “Pirate it!” or “I can download this in less than an hour!” This led to more Angry Birds with the anticipation that we could start no later than 8. But the wait was worth it!
Overall, it was without a doubt that Gundam 00 was a very successful series in the line of Gundam-based anime, along with Gundam Seed and Gundam Wing. The series became very popular to the point where it has to have its own movie. If you haven’t watched the anime though, don’t expect the movie to summarize it for you. The movie is actually a supplement to the main plot, picking up from where it left off in the 2nd season. The movie experience was so thrilling, because you’re not only in a room full of people; you’re in a room full of otaku. Big difference! This reminded me of the time Transformers (one) was released at Anime Expo 2007 in Long Beach. Many couldn’t sit down in their seats and be quiet, because the movie was just that epic. But for the Gundam 00 movie, spectators pointed out things that were more obvious rather than be annoying for the heck of it. It was still quite an experience!
Highlight #5: Cosplays from the classics
Among the numerous cosplayers out there, you can’t help but notice the all-time classics! Many who have been into Japanese Pop Culture from back in the day know how to bring those memories back. Some cosplays have always been gold, such as the Mario Bros. But there have been a handful of cosplays that stood out from the rest, whether the series is very old or that the cosplay is rather tricky to conquer. It was hard to catch a glimpse of them all, but these are my top finds. The Death Note deserved his own highlight, because if I don’t, my name will most likely be on there. Anyhow, I decided to highlight classic cosplays, because you don’t find many of these too often, especially in a convention as gigantic as Anime Expo! Let’s not rule out the common cosplays, though. Regardless of the rarity of a cosplay, we’re all together in a melting pot to simply celebrate anything Japanese Pop Culture.
If you have been to conventions as long as I have or even longer, you really can see the changes both on a surface level and on a personal level. No matter how long you have been to conventions, the kinds of cosplays you can do vary between old and new. Yet, there may be some people that could recognize familiar faces in passing. For some people, cosplay seems to be a way of life or something more than just a hobby. But for others, we eventually have to come back down to reality, that moment when you first come home from the convention, looking around and thinking that everything seemed to have happened in a flash. The nicer thing is that you come home with a ton of memories, put them on Twitter or Facebook, and talk about it until the next convention.
Anime Expo 2011 Cosplay Video