Interstate 5 is a long piece of road. The US part is almost 1400 miles, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. If we added the extra parts (when it crosses into Mexico, it becomes Mexican Federal Highway 1; for Canada, British Columbia Highway 99), that extends things another 1300 miles. Lots of time to think about things as the same scenery passes by.
You never go into these things, thinking “I’m going to be miserable”. I enjoy coming to these events, potentially less for the offerings (I mean, I can get Pop! figures at Hot Topic) and more for the spectacle. Cosplay was scattered, in that there was no dramatic winner in things, but “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” was a narrow winner. Someone came as a Gundam and that was a feat in and of itself. How much time and effort did they invest in this? And think about the transportation logistics. The weather was amenable as it never got too hot, but the crowds were off the hook.
It did allow me to confront the Question. Years back, someone made the comment “Why watch anime at an anime convention?” and I agreed with the notion at the time. Certainly of the 100 regular showings that were offered, I had seen 85 of them (and you will NEVER get a review of “Initial D” out of me!) and one could equally argue that you can wait for the new showings that were given. I can buy “Evangelion 3.33” right now as we speak (not that I ever would; a review of that to follow) or see it somewhere on the internet…but that’s not the point.
There are two very compelling reasons TO watch anime at an anime convention. The first is selfish for me: I want to see it on the big screen. A 15-inch monitor sucks wind behind a 50-foot screen with surround sound. You really get immersed in the sensation of the show. But the second is the more important one: the camaraderie. I never hear people react in movie theaters to what they see on the screen like I do at an anime viewing. There was a showing of the live-action “Tokyo Ghoul” movie and the scene where Kaneki is attacked at the worksite, I could hear the audience gasp and groan at it. (I was outside, keeping the family company before the “One-Piece” movie).
Every venue I took in, even those early morning showings, there was always a reaction from the audience, even if it was just me. There is a caliber of connectivity that binds us all together, even when we are getting shut out of a viewing or coming up upon a capped line. We share the joys, we experience the frustrations, we puzzle over the seemingly thoughtlessness of the folks in charge.
Yes, I did not have the good time overall as I had hoped for, as it did not run as smoothly as I had wanted (and potentially even worse for the AX crew) and having to schlep between the LACC and the JW was the workout for the day. Well, I do have to include the walk from the site to the hotel, especially after the drop off/pick up location move. I assume my initial frustration came from the fact that I was denied a press pass that I felt I should have earned. Perhaps it was a general depression that I outwitted myself at practically every turn for this convention. Maybe I wasn’t eating well enough, sleeping well enough, taking care of myself well enough.
We all have off times. This may have been the one for me. But, please, do not let my fizzle deter you from going to or going back. The one thing I am going to stress is PLAN AHEAD. Forget the Fairy Tail tattoo; put this one on instead. I do not know if they will do this next year, or if they have done it in the past and I never noticed, but if you want to go to AX, they sell the following year’s tickets at a special session after 3 pm of Day Three at the website only. You can get a four-day pass for $56 and not have to stew working Black Friday. And the Premium Fan pass is merely $400.
Since this is a quadrennial event for me (every four years, like the Olympics or a presidential election), I will pass for next year. But I keep these things in mind so when 2021 comes around, I will be better prepared. I am entering into a dialogue with the AX Press Staff to see how I can improve my standing to get that press pass. I will pack smarter and not over-reach (I thought I could keep up my anime-watching schedule amid all of this. Silly boy). I will consider my food choices better (although that Ralph’s saved me several times). As long as you learn, you can always improve.
I will be seeing you there. And I may be a better dancer by then as well.