Right. Leia picked us up a couple hours after I posted that post I made about a week ago. She had finished watching Pretear, so she returned our DVDs, and we spent most of the ride to the train station talking about the series. But most of that involved spoilers, so I guess I won't go into details. The train ride itself was fairly uneventful... until! dun-dun-DUN!!!
We made it to Bakersfield with no problems, and boarded the bus to Los Angeles. We were right around the Pyramid Lake area when we noticed that those clouds in the distance? They really were smoke. We kept driving closer and closer to it, until eventually, bam! the fire was right there! We were driving south, to our left was the highway leading north, and right next to it (right next to it!) was a brush fire. It was actually kinda cool, because it looked like they had it pretty much under control, so there wasn't any real sense of danger. It was kind of like riding an attraction at Disneyland. Like, "Oh, there's a big dangerous thing! Neat!"
Unfortunately, I did think to get a picture, but then I thought it might be too morbid, like taking a picture of a car wreck, so I opted not to. I decided later that it wouldn't have been too morbid, just like a record of the big event! from our bus ride to Los Angeles, but by then it was too late. We felt really sorry for all the people going north, though. They were literally parked for miles. People had even gotten out of their cars to chat with each other.
We made it to Union Station without further incident, and as we were walking toward the taxi place, we spotted an Asian woman taking pictures. The thought flashed across my mind, "I wonder if that's, like, Yun Kouga or someone," but I always tend to think people might be some random incredibly famous person who I just don't know what they look like, so I didn't dwell on it. Come to find out at the opening ceremonies the next day, Yun Kouga did look remarkably like the woman we saw taking pictures, but I'm not sure I trust the camera of my memory enough to say for sure that it was her.
We got to our hotel just a little tiny bit after seven. We had an e-mail telling us that industry registration would only be happening between six and seven, but normal preregistration was going on until eight, so we thought we'd try our luck. We also weren't sure if the shuttles were running regularly yet, so we started to walk to the convention center (eight blocks), but just as we were crossing the first street, a shuttle drove by with a sign indicating it was an AX shuttle, so we raced back to the shuttle stop and were able to enjoy a nice, air-conditioned ride to the convention center. Not that we needed the air-conditioning. It was already like twenty degrees cooler there than it tends to be here.
Unfortunately, industry registration was, in fact, closed. We thought about asking if they'd make an exception, but somebody else beat us to the industry reg people, and we heard them tell him tomorrow at eight, so we decided we might as well head back. It's possible we could have had more success, what with our cute feminine charms (oy), but we decided not to try pushing it. There weren't any cosplayers that caught our attention (except for a Tuxedo Mask we saw on the way in, but we were in a hurry at that point), and we didn't want to wander around, so we got on a shuttle back to the hotel and played Kingdom Hearts for the rest of the night.
We got up early the next day and put on our Saiyuki costumes, then set off to get our registration taken care of. It was so hard riding the shuttle with all these people who had their program guides and badges and not have any of that ourselves. We were so jealous. Athena also tended to think, "I want a costume, too!" despite already wearing one. "I guess I'm just that used to it," she says. But after waiting in line and eavesdropping on the conversation between a Rightstuf! employee and her friend (we chimed in occasionally, so I guess it wasn't entirely eavesdropping; also, it was pretty everyday stuff, nothing really "behind-the-scenes"), we finally got our registration! Yay! And we even made it in time for the opening ceremonies! (which for some reason were starting an hour earlier than usual).
The opening ceremonies were pretty much the same as always. There was a different MC, but she gave the same speech they give every year, listing all the cool stuff AX has to do and concluding with, "Pretty much everything to keep you entertained for an entire month. You have four days. Good luck!" They introduced the charity AX would be supporting this year, Children's Hospital of Orange County, and then we had something completely new! They introduced the Japanese Consul-General, who happens to be a big anime fan! He started out by acting just like the average fan, listing all his favorites from when he was a kid, which of course very few of us recognized. He also told us his theory that manga originated with the kami-shibai (paper play), and that the idea for Transformers actually started from origami. He concluded by saying he hopes that through anime, people will become more interested in Japanese culture. It was pretty awesome.
Next it was time to introduce the guests, starting with American voice actress Kari Wahlgren. She said she had been told by a bunch of people that she needed to go to Anime Expo, so she was pretty excited. Next was Morning Musume, about whose intro we remember nothing (except that it was cute, but that's more deductive reasoning than memory), and then Moi dix Mois. Moi dix Mois made us laugh a lot (to ourselves). They just got on stage and Mana kind of glared and nodded his head, and his henchman said, "Mana-sama says..." Sometimes he'd start with, "Okay, I got it." (Actually in English.) And the way they looked at everyone like they think they're better... it just seemed so pretendy that we couldn't help but giggle.
When Yasuhiro Nightow (creator of Trigun, and it's actually a fancy spelling of Naitou (for pronunciation's sake)) got up, he said, "I'm honored to be on the same stage as Morning Musume after having failed their audition." And when Toshiyuki Morikawa got on stage, he said he had been told to say a line as one of his characters, so he went into his Sephiroth laugh and said, "Cloud... Zetsubou o yarou (I give you despair)." And everybody cheered. And then they had him draw the first eye in the daruma, and we all went off to do other things. The NEEC wasn't here this year, we suspect because of swine flu.
Our first order of business was to get our tickets to the Meet the Guests Reception. Despite getting our registration late and opening ceremonies starting early, we had lots of time to work out a general idea of our schedule before things actually began. All the Gurren-Lagann stuff was going to start at like... seven? and go on until midnight, but that was okay! because there wasn't anything that we really needed to do the next morning. Or so we thought until we saw the Meet the Guests Reception tickets, with the time printed on them. Once again, they made it a breakfast. Why oh why did they make it a breakfast? Ah well, at least this time it was in our hotel, and we had Risa & Riku, cute girly costumes that don't take much time to put on. But that's for when we get to Friday.
The Yun Kouga panel was still going on, so we got some lunch, and while we wandered back to Live Programming 1, we ran into an old college friend. That was kind of trippy, but pretty cool. He had completely changed his look! So we did a little catching up and then he went off to find his friend who hates us. Seriously, it's pretty ridiculous. One day, we had just discovered that Kenji Nojima, a voice actor who was in a couple of obscure serieseses that we really liked, had a brother who was also just getting into voice acting (or so we assumed because his credits list was so much shorter at the time), and he was in Boogiepop Phantom. We were talking to Friend about this, and he said, "Oh [my friend] has that on DVD," and we were like, "Oh! Maybe we can borrow it!" and he was like, "I doubt that." "Wha?" "[My friend] doesn't like you." Upon further inquiry, we discovered that his friend has hated us ever since we watched the first episode of Fruits Basket and we were talking through it. How dare we. (Incidentally, the talking was our typical listing of potential voice actors until we figure out who all plays whom, and never at any time had anybody stated that there was to be no talking during the viewing. Apparently it's an unwritten rule.) We were actually really really irked that Friend didn't show any sign of thinking that it might be unreasonable or even a bad thing that his friend hates us (he just stated it so matter-of-factly), but what are we gonna do, right?
Also incidentally, the voice actor we were trying to hear has now been in a bunch of stuff we've seen, including Gakuen Alice, Romeo x Juliet, and the exceedingly adorable Nanatsu-Iro Drops. Plus he and his brother are in Shakugan no Shana. Neat!
Anyway, the reunion actually revived a little bit of trauma from bad memories (most of which actually didn't involve him directly).
Soon it was time for Morikawa-san's panel, but I've been typing long enough, so I will save that for tomorrow.
In other news, we're debating amongst ourselves whether or not to give Sarah the toffee we bought her. We originally got it as a thank you gift for feeding our cats, and then we saw she did the bare minimum and we were like, "What? That deserves no toffee!" But she did go out of her way to feed our cats at all, and it's thanks to her that they're both still alive right now. We did have a bunch of chocolate on the counter while we were gone, and we told her in our instructions to feel free to eat it, and I also discovered that she and Mom are having a diet race, so she might not want any extra candy... Maybe we should just ask her if she wants it. Hmm...
Today I'm thankful for meeting up with old friends, getting back to a relatively normal schedule, making it safely past the brush fire, having lots of leftover chocolate, and all the guests of honor who came to AX this year.