Hello! It’s ambi here. A several months ago, I attended Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles for the first time in my life. It was also my first US anime convention. Going to AX was probably one of the best experiences of my life. It has been almost six months since it happened (it’s seven now) but all the memories I still hold dear. Now, here is my long overdue report of my AX experience.
Anime Expo is a yearly event that happens from the last week of June to the first week of July. It’s one, if not the biggest anime event in the Western Hemisphere. It features guests from the industry, entertainment centers, dealers rooms and many others spanning the entirety of LA Live. Since 2016, it also holds Anisong World Matsuri in LA, a two day event of concerts (Kawaii Live and Super Live) with performances from different acts in Japan.
Initially, I was unsure if I was actually going to AX but I booked a flight with the off chance of attending and nothing else. However in the few months before AX, the possibility became more apparent. A friend from Twitter offered me his ticket because he wasn’t going anymore (he ended up going anyway because of Aqours, also thank you Ischy). I took up his offer and I began talking to the people who are going. Little did I realized back then, how great my decision was.
I found out that the reveal was only two days after I bought the ticket. I made a bold statement two days before the reveal that WUG and Walkure would not be coming.
Boy, was I wrong. They announced Aqours and Cinderella Girls soon after. Everyone was surprised with the line-up for AWM Day 1 (or AX Day 0). I never thought it was possible that four 2D idols group will be performing on the same day and on foreign soil, nonetheless. It was unprecedented and naturally as a 2D idol fan, I must go. The guests for AWM Day 1 are just a bonus for me. I got tickets for both days from another generous guy from Twitter and made the necessary preparations.
A few weeks later, I was in the US and I stayed with my relatives for a few days before I travelled to LA via bus. The first guy I met was Bogle, who I met in AFA 2016 before then met Sets (Press F to pay respects). I checked in JW Marriott, one of AX’s partner hotels with two Canadian eventers (Game8910 and Kurotsuki). Day 0 was full of preparation, meet-ups and callbook pick-ups. Kuro happened to have a limited set of Walkure callbooks. Eventually, we lined up for Day 0 in front of the theatre. First of all, the theatre is great. All the seats have a good view of the stage and the audio is the best from what I have seen so far. I was around 11 rows from the front near the center, which was not bad at all. The screen was playing various songs from the performing acts and it was fun seeing the crowd going crazy every time Onegai Cinderella or Aozora Jumping Heart showed up.
Eventually, the lights dimmed and the first performance was Cinderella Girls. I prepared for them the least but I still had a great time. Their setlist seems standard. They did a bunch of fun skits where they did voice acting for their characters. Another fun interaction was between Moyocchi (Kurosawa Tomoyo) and Rurukyan (Yoshimura Haruka) since Yoshimura’s character is a bit of a lolicon. Iidashi (Yuuko Iida) had a really cool beauty vibe around her. It was a shame that they didn’t perform that songs that I wanted but they did a good job. I still broke a bunch of UOs even to the songs I don’t know.
Next was Wake Up, Girls!. First stop, they performed Tachiagare first, which already invokes feels for me. Shoujo Kokyokyoku was next and I love it because of their hip gyrations and it’s a feelsy hype song overall. I shouted “Yoppi!!!!” to the top of my lungs every MC. 7 Girls War was next. Other staples were performed as well such as Gokujou Smile, Beyond the Bottom and their latest single as well, Koi de Ai de Boukun Desu! I broke UOs to almost all songs except Beyond the Bottom, because it should be all white. But, I was more surprised how the audience received WUG during and after the show. I think WUG made a lot of fans that night. As usual, they were amazing. The performance was great as expected of them, they were really refined and their dances were on-point. I cannot wait to see them in their home turf, live.
After WUG, there was a 15-minute break. At that point, we already know who would be next and I prepared my body and soul for it, which at that point was exhausted as hell. I took a bathroom break and rested a bit. The light began to darken and the Walkure logo appeared on the screen. I had goosebumps when I heard the intro of Koi Halation THE War, I knew it was time to blast off to space. JUNNA and Ringo were so cute on stage, I was almost crying already. Ringo is so pure and has a smile as bright as the sun. Then, they performed Ikenai Borderline. I mustered all the UOs I can get within the song and used up all of my remaining energy reserves and just when I thought it was over. They performed Bokura no Senjou next. My hype reached near earth orbit and felt I was going to reach the moon. Next they performed Ichido Dake do Koi Nara and on the last MC. When Minoringo told us to follow her steps, we all knew what song they’ll perform last, “Rune ga Pikatto Hikattara”. She was surprised when the audience knew what to respond after “WHOAH WHOAH”. The entire audience chanted in glee. The girls of Walkure walked out of the stage.
The lights went dark again then the members of Aqours began appearing one-by-one. They’re all really cute and Suwawa was right in front of me. Suwawa was the pure beauty that I expected her to be. They performed Aozora Jumping heart first then Koi ni Naritai Aquarium where a lot of people did the forbidden calls, I broke UO and UB especially on You’s part. During their MC, I broke a Ultra Blue every time Shukashuu talked. Her smile transcended heaven and earth. They performed their first single as well and the anime insert song in the finale, MIRAI Ticket. Finally, they performed Yume Yume. There was still a lot to be desired with their performance but they did good that night.
The live ended with Anchan calling all of the performers on stage except for JUNNA due to something about Japanese labor laws. After that, I met up with people for the idol hell offkai. It was amazing seeing all of these 2D idols live on their first performance in the Western Hemisphere (except for WUG) all on the same day. The atmosphere of being surrounded by other idol fags makes me feel right at home, even though I’m half-a-world away. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.
Japan Kawaii Live Set List:
THE IDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS
Yes! Party Time!!
Wake Up, Girls!
Shoujo Koukyou Kyoku
Koi? De Ai? De Boukun Desu!
Beyond the Bottom
7 Girls War
JUNNA & Minori Suzuki from Walküre
Koi! Halation THE WAR
Bokura no Senjo
Ichido dake no Koi nara
Run ga Pikatto Hikattara
Aozora Jumping Heart
Kimino Kokorowa Kagayaiterukai?
Koini Naritai AQUARIUM
Yume Kataruyori Yume Utaou
Now, it’s time to properly start Anime Expo itself, with an idol hell after-party. It was hosted at Novo near Microsoft Theatre. Before entering the party, there was a bunch of meishi exchanges and people from multiple fandoms met and did weird stuff while anisong is played by some DJs. After the party, me and Sets went back to our hotel room to take a shower then we went to LACC to line-up at 2am for WUG signkai. It was my first time lining up for autographs so early in the morning. It was so cold that I used the Walkure flag sold by Sets, as a blanket. They started to give out entries for the autograph session at around 9:30 am, I made it in time. After, I went back to the hotel and slept for a bit. We could see a massive line from our hotel room. I could see why AX was also dubbed “Line-con” by a lot of goers. I got autographs of 4/7 members (Eino, Takagi, Yamashita, Okuno). I got to talk to the members and then bought some stuff at the Avex booth including some bromides for my bros back home. We chilled in the hotel and roamed around L.A Live until we had to line up for AWM Day 2. I was at row B, around three rows away from the stage.
It started out strong with Konomin and angela’s Atsuko singing Cruel Angel’s Thesis and when atsuko left the stage, Konomin then performed her popular songs. Then Mashiro Ayano performed next, she’s a relatively new artist so I do not know any of her songs. She then performed Sorairo Days with maria of Garnidelia. Ali Project was next, which delivered a good performance but their type of music wasn’t suited to my tastes. She performed Celestial Diva with Chihara Minori. Next, was Minorin who performed Paradise Lost but the surprise of many was when she danced Hare Hare Yukai as well. After her performance, toku and maria appeared on stage. I was expecting, Niina and Miume as well but we can’t have everything I guess. She performed her anisongs. The last performance of the night was angela. Atsuko appeared with a lion suit, as if she was casted in Kemono Friends. They are really really good with interacting and carrying the crowd. Atsuko also loves trolling everyone in different ways. I felt that angela alone made Day 1 worthwhile. Like the day before, atsuko called everyone on stage and they said goodbye. I lined-up for the high touch session right after, where we each get a high-five from the guests. We chilled in Yard House for a few hours after the event. As I was walking back, I saw a bunch of people doing wotagei in front of the hotel and I joined them for a bit. There was also a Namaste Snake lesson ongoing. I went back to the hotel right after and slept for the second day of AX.
Japan Super Live Set List:
A Cruel Angel’s Thesis (with angela)
Yakusoku -Promise Code-
Sorairo Days (with Mashiro Ayano)
Boukoku Kakusei Catharsis
Rara Eve Shinseiki
Kyoukai no Kanata
Celestial Diva (with ALI PROJECT)
Hare Hare Yukai
Boku ha Boku de Atte
Asu e no brilliant road
On the second day, it was relatively chill and I stayed on the hotel most of the morning until I met with some people to go to Long Beach, where Poppin’ Party was going to perform. I even met-up with a lot of the people from AWM Day 0. The setlist was pretty good with a lot of people breaking UOs, we immediately went back to AX after the live to try to attend Miss Monochrome with Yui Horie. Sadly, I didn’t make it. I roamed around the hotel and went back to my room. Then, a bunch of people arrived and we watched Walkure 2nd Live while eating pizza, sang karaoke via someone’s PS4, drank some alcohol and shared seiyuu materials. We were up until 4 in the morning.
We checked-out of our hotel and went back to the convention area. I met up with some people in front of the Love Live display inside AX’s hall, where we did dogeza in front of the Aqours signed standees. Before, we rushed to an autograph session with the staff of Classroom of the Elite. I roamed around for some more and went to the crowd of idol fans surrounding the Lumica booth. I went to the r/LL meet-up after, where I met some members of Team Onibe and other fans. Afterwards, I actually walked from the meet-up to my AirBNB, then I slept for the next day.
Nothing much happened on the final day of AX, I checked-out from the BNB. I took an uber to LA Live and went to the auction area where I happened to meet the guy who bought my AWM tickets, acidtreat and gave him my thanks and Omo, who organized the post-idol hell offkai. I roamed the halls of AX for the last time and even did an FB live for my friends back home. To be honest, there were some things that I wasn’t able to do because of different priorities. For example, I wasn’t able to meet Gigguk and prozdkp, who are my favorite anime Youtubers. Most notably, I didn’t get to see Milky Holmes again. We did something else entirely at the time teehee.
Overall, there is so much to do at AX that you cannot really accomplish anything that you want to do in a measly four days. Bushiroad’s event in Long Beach made things even more difficult to schedule. Sometimes, autograph sessions happen at the same time so you really have to choose, which ones you want and the competition was fierce. The set-up of the whole AX area was clear but it’s really easy to get lost especially for a first time like me but I’m glad that I always had companions most of the time. I cannot stress enough, how important companions are during a convention no matter how big and small. I wouldn’t be able to do anything in AX without a lot of people’s help and they made all the experiences I had so much better. It was so fun meeting all the people you just hear about from Twitter and actually interact with them alongside some P card exchanges.
My highlights of those five days were:
- AWM Kawaii Live and Super Live
- The Post-Idol Hell Offkai
- WUG autograph session and the lining-up
- Beyond the Ba-
- Wotagei session at the LUMICA booth
- Random karaoke session with Ps and WUGners in our hotel room (with the occassional prpr and mixing)
- Dogeza in front of the Love Live standees
- Randomly meeting people you hear about on Twitter
- r/LL meetup
My final loot:
Thanks for reading! ambi out!