Aaaaanyway. On with the AX report!
The first thing we had planned for Friday, of course, was the Opening Ceremonies. Our roommates had headed out early to get premier tickets for the SOS Brigade concert, so in effect the room was ours alone, though their stuff was still there. It made no difference, since we spent most of our time outside the room anyway. We decided it would be a good day to be Zorn and Thorn for some reason, so we put on our costumes and headed out to wait in line. There was a lot of complaining about the lines apparently, but we didn't have much of a problem with them. I think it was our Disneyland experience, and the fact that we expected them. At one point I left the line while Athena held our place because we'd left our camera in the hotel room.
Not unexpectedly, the ceremonies got started late. We don't know where the blame really lies, but we had a habit over the weekend of blaming the Long Beach Convention Center running people for a lot of the stuff that annoyed us. For some reason we really got the feeling the the Long Beach people really didn't like having us there, and I think that's probably where Halko Momoi got the impression that there was a lack of respect for anime people and fans.
The ceremonies were fun as always. The MC came out and gave the usual spiel about here's all the cool stuff we have planned and you only have four days to do it blah blah blah here's the charity we're sponsoring blah blah blah here's the SPJA chairperson with some words blah blah blah and then he finally started introducing guests. They always start with the guests who couldn't make it to the ceremonies, and this time it was the members of the SOS Brigade. Because they couldn't be there, a special video was prepared instead, and it was awesome. Basically they edited scenes from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and had the girls talk over it, explaining what was going on. They had one bit where they were talking about how Anime Expo has invited the SOS Brigade to come, and all their expenses--hotels, food, etc.--would be paid so everything would be free! But they're only paying for three people, "So we ditched Kyon and Itsuki and made our way..." They showed a picture of who we assumed to be Kyon and Itsuki sitting alone in a dim room and it was very awesome. And Haruhi was like, "We're leaving Japan on the evening of June 29th, and arriving in America on the morning of that same June 29th! It's like time travel!"
All the other guests came and introduced themselves and there was much cuteness. Afterward, the MC forgot about the Nippon Engineering College (NEEC) voice acting demonstration and asked Eisaku Inoue (a director and character designer for One Piece) to fill in the first eye of the daruma. And then someone reminded him about the NEEC, who came out for their demonstration. This year, the clip they had was of a supplementary class full of typical delinquent students, all with descriptive names. It starts out with a scene introducing the characters, and then the teacher comes in as they're misbehaving and beats the crud out of all of them. We immediately developed a crush on the guy playing Afro, because he was exceedingly cute and adorable (even though he was playing a punk).
After the opening ceremonies, we headed over to the NEEC workshop, where the audience would get to try their hand at voice acting with the Japanese students. It was a really fun clip, but we weren't really interested in trying any of the characters, so we thought we'd just sit and watch. Or we did until we realized that the group dubbing Chibi (played by a girl) was right next to the group dubbing Afro, including the boy we'd gotten a crush on. We did notice later that there were some girls in the Afro group, and we did sort of think of that, but for some reason we wanted to be girly I guess. It was all very fun, and when they had individuals volunteer to dub each character, the guy (or was it a girl?) who did Otaku was very creepy and fitting.
We had some time before the SOS Brigade panel (we haven't seen Haruhi, but we're always interested in hearing what seiyuu have to say), so we decided it was time to check out the dealers' room. We got a little lost looking for the entrance, but at some point we ran into a girl cosplaying Zidane (yay!) and talked for a bit about how awesome Zidane is and how underrated Final Fantasy IX is until Captain Jack Sparrow showed up and took a picture of the three of us fighting, and then we all dispersed.
We finally found the dealers' room and started out by just wandering around, but we soon got bored of that and decided to check the directory to see where there might be a booth manned by people we know. But while we were wandering, we passed by a small, unassuming booth with a bunch of people yelling out, "Free manga! Free manga!" This was nothing new, and I think I was distracted by something, because I don't remember how I found a manga sampler in my hands. But in my hands it was, and so I looked at it. It was from a company called Yen Press, and as I looked at the pictures representing its contents, I stopped in my tracks and said, "You've gotta be kidding me! This is Spiral!!"
We've liked Spiral for a long time, and when we got a hold of the manga, I would automatically translate it in my head and it was just so translatable and so awesome that we'd been wanting and wanting to translate it. Back when we were devastated at not being asked to translate the Kingdom Hearts manga, at the same time we were bummed out because TokyoPop was also listing Spiral on their site, and we weren't translating it. We found out later that there was something up with the licensing and TokyoPop might not have it after all, so we made sure to put a note in to our boss saying if they ever worked that out, we'd love to translate it. But now here we were at AX, a couple yards past some other company's booth, and there it was--translated!
So we backtracked a little bit and said, "Is this Spiral?" And he's like, "Yup. And Zombie Loan, which is awesome." (I'm paraphrasing.) And so we asked if they were looking for translators. Companies just starting out always are, as he confirmed when he said, "I'm always looking for translators!" We hadn't been planning on looking for more clients at AX this year, but we brought our business cards just in case... except that we had left those in the hotel room, too. Drat. So we told him we'd be back later with a business card. As we walked away, Athena took a closer look at the sampler and noticed that everything in it was translated by the same woman. The same woman, as we confirmed later, who was half of the second set of TokyoPop twinterns. She's our freakin' kouhai! But she's also very nice, so we don't begrudge her Spiral. Also, the fact that they only have on translator on everything indicates that they really do need more translators. We were still kind of weirded out, I guess, by the whole thing and developed the theory that Yen Press was started by some eccentric billionaire, who somehow jumped in on the negotiations for Spiral and stole it away.
We found the CMX booth at some point, and our editor wasn't there, so I think the two women who were there were a little confused by our behavior, as we looked through their sampler and were like, "Sekaichi's not in this!" *puts it back* They're like, "That's free. You can take it if you want." And I'm like, "Oh yeah... free stuff..." One of them caught on and asked, "Do you translate for us?" And we're like, "Yeah, we translate that one!" pointing to the print out of I Hate You More Than Anyone (ranting on the title to come in another post somewhere). So we talked for a little and found out our editor would be back in a few minutes and would love to say hi. We wandered off for a bit and came back to see him there and we all said hi, and he said, "There's your book," and we said, "Yeah it's pretty!" and we talked about the insane amount of text in it and how it drives the letterers mad too, and he's like, "How many do you work on?" and we're like, "Um... I don't know! We only have three deadlines right now..." And then we realized we're all very awkward in conversation and wandered off again.
Eventually we found ourselves in front of the Square-Enix booth! Where they were asking Final Fantasy Trivia! And we were like, "Ooooooh... Trivia......" And the cute Japanese girl in the Final Fantasy XI costume said, "If you wait around, you can be in the trivia contest!" And we're like, "Sweet!" So despite our complete (okay, maybe not complete, but nigh unto it) lack of interest in Final Fantasy XI until that point, we decided we wanted to win stuff. And we're suckers for trivia.
For the trivia game, they took people in groups of six, because when playing FF11, you play in parties of six, and the idea was to help each other answer the trivia questions. We were very disappointed that we couldn't remember FF8's Cid's last name (especially after we heard it--we were like, "Augh! I totally knew that!!!"), but fortunately that wasn't our question. First they gave a warm up question, and then they ask another trivia question, which will win you a ticket if you get it right, and then they show a clip of FF11 about which you have to answer another question for a ticket. Our warm up question was "In the Final Fantasy series, what element is especially effective against shadow monsters?" We thought about it and were like, "We're pretty sure it's holy. Yeah, definitely holy." But our party's like, "It's light, duh." And we're like, "But you use the spell Holy!" And they're like, "Yeah, Holy is a light spell!" And Athena's like, "No, it's totally holy," and I'm like, "I seem to remember looking through a Final Fantasy VII guidebook (this was before we got hooked back on the FF games) and seeing that holy was an element..." (perhaps I should have said that out loud...) but our group was like, "No, it's light, it's totally light." And we're like, "Fine, it's a warm up question, say whatever you want." And guess who was right. That's right. We were.
Our next question was from Final Fantasy III (not VI disguised as III, but actually III) and while Athena has played it, she hadn't gotten far enough, because our question was what item do you give the blacksmith to make Ultima Weapon. We totally should have guessed it, but we were thinking too much of Final Fantasy and not enough about Kingdom Hearts. So we guessed adamantite, and it was actually orichalcum. Bummer. But our FF11 question was actually a question that was related to the clip, so we all got one ticket anyway! And we took our tickets to the little spinny thing with the marbles that, as translators, we should know the name of but don't. And I spun and got a normal, non-prize-winning, white marble, but Athena spun and got a yellow marble! Yay! So we got a copy of Final Fantasy XI for X-Box! Yay!...except for our lack of an X-Box and any plans to buy one. Sad. But it was still pretty neat, and we figured we could trade it or sell it on eBay.
We finally found our way out of the dealers' room, and as we were making our way to the line to the SOS Brigade panel, we saw someone in armor, just sitting on one of the plantery type thingies in front of the Long Beach Convention Center. And Athena's like, "That armor looks familiar-ish... Is it Final Fantasy XI (we were on the lookout for FF11 cosplayers because if we got two photos of different ones, we got another prize ticket)...? Wait, that's a Nobody symbol! Xemnas!!!!" That's right, she was dressed as Xemnas from the final battle. And the rest might have KH2 spoilers, so if you haven't beaten KH2 and don't want to be spoiled, skip the next paragraph.
So of course we had to get a picture. And then! it just so happened that there was a group nearby consisting of Roxas, Namine, Sora, and Riku. So we called them over and said, "Sora! Riku! Fight Xemnas so we can get a picture!" Roxas wanted to be in the picture next to Sora, but we said it wouldn't really work and promised to get a picture with him and Namine to make up for it. We got a really cool picture, too, (or we think it's cool; haven't really looked at it yet; maybe after this we'll get our pictures onto the computer where we can see them better). Athena's directing may have been a little harsh though, when she told Sora, "Don't look like you're posing, look like you're fighting!" And he's like, "Wha...?"
Next we went and waited in what, for us, was probably the worst line at AX--the SOS Brigade panel line. (In the line, incidentally, we ran into someone who said she thinks she knows umadoshi. Didn't get her name though. We kind of suck at that. Sorry! I think she said she's an organizer or something for Anime North...?) The line only really sucked because it would move, so we're like, "Yay! Going inside!" And then it would stop. And we're like, "Not... going inside?" *lip quiver* (Only more like, *RAAAAGE*) That didn't make a whole lot of sense, because it wasn't like a ride at Disneyland, where they'd put a few people on at a time--you either let people in our you don't. We think it might have been the fault of the "Take the ADV Challenge" panel, where ADV totally stole our "Beat the Anime Geeks" idea that AX couldn't use because the fans would skewer anyone who claimed to be a geek, but ADV could use because they could just use their voice actors. Load.
The panel was really great though. We learned that Yuko Goto (Mikuru) is totally not the person you'd expect her to be based on all her characters, which she even kind of said when she said she gets type cast as all these ditzy "not-so-smart (in her own English words; she often interpreted herself, it was awesome)" girls and wishes she could play someone stronger and smarter. She was super nice and thoughtful, too, because they explained to line up if you have a question, and she noticed that there were some Japanese fans and the instructions had only been given in English, so she asked in Japanese if the Japanese fans understood to line up if you have a question.
There were some pretty interesting questions, too. One guy even asked what food they would be, though I think the interpreter translated it as "What food do you like?" Lame. Hirano-san (Haruhi) said cake, Chihara-san (Yuki) said (in English) "I am chocolate!" (Athena remembers hearing "I love chocolate"--take whichever you like), and Goto-san said she'd be an alcoholic drink. Thinking that she plays Princess Rain in FushigiBoshi no FutagoHime, that's a little scary. Someone also asked if Hirano-san has a boyfriend, to which she responded that this is where you use the, "No comment" (I actually don't remember exactly what she said, but basically I think it was along the lines of "some things are off-limits to talk about"). He looked disappointed, so as he left to sit down, she said, "I don't, I promise!"
The only other thing I really remember from the panel was that when someone asked if they had any interesting stories from behind-the-scenes, Hirano-san told the following: One day, Daisuke Ono (either Kyon or Itsuki; if we'd seen the show we'd know. She said who, but we don't remember) came in and said, "I learned the Hare Hare Yukai dance!" and performed it for all of them. And she thinks that's why they were all made to perform it at this really big concert hall where the Beatles performed once.
Remembering that Ono-san plays Mizumachi in Eyeshield21, we hear that story and think, "Yup! That's Daisuke Ono!" And then we remember that we actually don't know anything about Ono-san, just a few characters he plays, one of whom just happens to be the type to learn the Hare Hare Yukai dance.
And that reminds me that they said that that dance was a combination of dances performed by idols that the animators liked.
After that panel, we went to the Aurora Publishing panel. We figured it was kind of destiny, since we translate manga and our sister's named Aurora. They seemed pretty excited to promote their stuff--they gave out giant bags with baby tees in them. They also had a raffle throughout the panel, during which I won a couple of books for 18+! Woohoo? They asked if I was over 18, and I said, "Yes, but I'm not really into stuff for only 18+..." So they raffled it off to someone else, which was fine by me, even though the covers looked very shiny. So Friday was the day of us winning stuff we couldn't use. But it was neat anyway.
We found ourselves outside the Hyatt by the matsuri and the Rainbow Lagoon. While we were walking along, we noticed a couple of cosplayers sitting in the shade on one of the islands in the lagoon, looking out at the lake. And I looked closer and thought, "Is that Syaoran and Sakura? Because that would make the cutest picture ever!" So we made the trek across the bridges and discovered it was indeed Syaoran and Sakura, and we just had to get a picture. When we asked them, they both stood up and started posing, and we're like, "No, no, no. Stay sitting! It's so much cuter!" This was especially so after we realized they were sitting on Syaoran's cloak. And they're like, "Kay? But our stuff's in the way." "That's okay, just sit in front of it. Now pretend you're looking at the lake!" And Sakura's like, "What? Which way? Where?" But Syaoran immediately pointed in a, "Look over there, Sakura" sort of way and it was the cutest picture ever! We shall be posting it... probably. That reminds me, we promised to send them a copy. But yes, I think we'll have a picture post sometime later.
When we made it back across the bridges, we discovered a secret concert going on at the matsuri, so we went to check it out. It was a singer/songwriter named Mimika, who did the song for Dragon... Dragoneer's Aria? I think that's it, though maybe spelled differently, and it's a new game being released by Nippon Ichi Software. She was really fun and hyper, and there were a bunch of guys (one of whom was dressed as Luffy) dancing around and we all had a great time, and after the concert, they sold CDs for ten dollars each and we could get them autographed! Yay! So now we have an autographed Mimika CD!
We decided not to stick around for the picking-up-marbles-with-chopsticks contest, and somehow ended up at the manga cafe. We wanted to go there, pretty much to see how many of the titles we translate they had there. Surprisingly, they had everything except The Candidate for Goddess and, especially surprisingly, +ANIMA. And maybe Bus Gamer--we didn't check the mature titles (we think Bus Gamer might have been rated M for language...?). They even had Sengoku Nights, Shaolin Sisters: Reborn (but not the series that came before it), and My Heavenly Hockey Club! Crazy! They also had some import manga (including Spiral, interestingly enough considering that their goal was to get unlicensed import manga), and since Kinokuniya mostly only brings artbooks anymore, we thought it would be a good opportunity to check out some new stuff. So we each read for a little while, and had some cucumber/lemon water, and then went back to our hotel room, having had a lovely, but tiring, day.
That was really long. We hope you'll read it, even if not all in one sitting, because we had fun writing it, so we hope people can have fun reading it. This is why I have to only do one day at a time. Eheh.
Today I'm thankful for new autographed CDs, adorable couples pictures, winning stuff, Final Fantasy trivia, and eccentric billionaire(?) companies.