This is my 3rd year back to Anime Expo and I can say that it was really overwhelming in a lot of different ways. I knew earlier this year that I was going to go back, but I had decided that I would take the dive and purchase the 4-day pass, but I only really lasted 2 days. However, while there were disappointments along the way, there was also small achievements that made it an overall good experience. Thus, I decided to write myself a little recap on my experience the 2 days I was there.
To be honest, my experience was mostly centered around Persona 5 this year, but I tried my hardest to get anything related to otome and mobile games. I even made it a point this year to go to the Askys and Idea Factory International panels! However, it should be noted that while Voltage Inc. wasn’t present this year, both Cybird and NTT Solmare did their best to shine!
Idea Factory International Booth.
Unlike this year, IFI was showing off both Hakuoki and Hyperdimension Neptunia within their booth! Both the limited and standard editions were on display and were available to buy within their store. There were also some remaining items from the Festival Cafe being sold and given with certain purchases. All the standees had their time to shine during each day of the event and there was even a silent auction for each of them, so they could be taken home by 3 lucky fans! The display was just so different from last year and it was really nice to see it compared to the coverage that they had given Amnesia.
However, IFI seems to have had a panel set up for the 3rd day of Anime Expo, though it was cancelled in the early morning of that same day, and while some fans were excited to see what they were going to announce, it is understandable with how chaotic things can get during this time.
This year I started playing Ikemen Sengoku and when Cybird announced that they were going to be promoting the game at Anime Expo, I knew I had to check them out! However, not only did their space grow, but their fanbase also came out in full force for both Midnight Cinderella and Ikemen Sengoku merchandise. Personally, I waited an hour to buy one of the pouches, but they ended up getting sold out before I could reach the cashier, so I ended up settling for a Mitsunari Ishida keychain. I think Cybird wasn’t really prepared for all the women (and men) that came to their booth, but they did their best to inform everyone about what merchandise they no longer had and keeping the line as orderly as possible.
At the same time, they had various activities to do, such as downloading the game to get free bag, princess’s lessons with Nico, and taking pictures with the various stand ins. There was also two popularity contests going on! However, the staff didn’t lose how nice and hospitable they were from last year, even with how crowded the booth got at times. There was always someone ready to answer questions to those that were curious about their game and Nico (plus the staff) was always deeply engaged in conversation with someone.
While, it was a long wait, I really enjoyed their booth and hope they come back next year!
Shall We Date Series (NTT Solmare) Booth.
NTT Solmare came back to Anime Expo after a short absence to show their Shall We Date series and Moe! Ninja Girls. Their booth shows off both of these different games, but at the same time they knew which had the stronger fanbase since SWD had both a survey, photo booth, and VR interaction with some of the guys from Ninja Shadow. They also had a popularity contest for some guys from across all their games and another for the girls of Moe! However, it was good to see that they were selling things for both of these series. While the staff was nice, it was also about getting the visitors in and out of the activities, especially since they were also overwhelmed with how many visitors they got throughout the day. At the same time, all of the booth seemed to have a little bit of their games, there wasn’t a singular focus like with the Cybird booth, which made it seemed like it was more aimed towards people that already play their games, though there were still some staff that was answering questions about what NTT Solmare is.
Aksys Booth + Panel
While, I didn’t pay attention to Aksys last year, they came out fighting this year! In their booth, they had all their current otome games on sale and they were giving away posters of Collar x Malice, in order to promote it since it is coming out later this month. However, it was during their panel that Aksys really decided to shine. While, it was somewhat of a hassle to get there and wait in line for an hour, especially with so many people out in the California heat, the Aksys’ staff easy going nature quickly made me forget about all that. At the same time, the #OtomeArmada could be seen in front and showing their support, which was nice to see!
All 3 three games that were announced were a real surprise and it is great to see that they are still supporting brining otome games stateside, especially with how much attention they are now putting on Code:Realize since they are bringing both the FD and the PS4 version now!
Misc. (+ Final Thoughts)
While, there weren’t any new otome announcements from Mangagamer this time around, it was nice to see that Ozmafia! merch was being sold in their booth! They were also very nice when I talked and thanked them for bringing the game stateside. Otome games and their various forms of media seem to be growing more prominent within Anime Expo and various companies, as shown with Cybird promoting their upcoming Ikemen Sengoku anime and Viz Media continuing their tradition of getting the rights to otome-related manga, such as with Kenka Bancho Otome: Girl Beats Boys! this time around. Even Kotobukiya got in the action in a small way by showing a map of the otome section within Ikebukuro (as shown below). Cheritz also shined in its own way since there was a lot of 707 cosplayers and various others, though I didn’t see them all personally.
Like always, AX grows each year and while it seems somethings get better, the convention also takes some steps back. This time there was just a lot of lines (dubbed #Linecon on Day 1) to get into everything, which really raises the question as to whether the convention will stop selling above the Los Angeles Convention Center’s capacity or whether it will move to a bigger venue, though that doesn’t seem like it will be happening anytime soon. It was just very tiring to wait in line for hours for an event or to buy merchandise and just end up being disappointed when they are capped, or just giving up along the way.
On the other side, it was great to see that the situation with the Artist Alley was fixed this year with larger walking spaces and air conditioning throughout the day. At the same time, they are working really hard in getting stuff that will bring tons of people from world premieres, unique panels, and popular seiyuu (such as Miyu Irino and Daisuke Hirakawa this time around). It is good to enjoy some things, but what happens if everything you want to see has long lines for hours before you can even get there? While, I enjoyed this year, I am still uncertain if I will go next year — at least not for the 4-day pass ever again.