We didn't want to get up early, and we didn't want the make the shuttle drivers work on Sunday on our account, and thus ended up walking from our hotel to the convention center. It was actually a really nice walk, and since we'd forgotten all our nice shoes, we were wearing sneakers, despite being dressed as Lacus and Meer in their fancy outfits. But the waking up late and the walking resulted in us only catching the very end of the artists (manga artists and character designers) panel, and thus missing our final chance to ask how involved editors are in the manga creation process. I think the line would have made it pretty intimidating anyway, but we might have actually pushed ourselves. Now we'll never know.
But! when we sat down, I thought I saw Nightow-sensei nod in acknowledgment. I might have been imagining it (we do like to have our delusions of grandeur/fame among anime creators), but I think Satoshi Nishimura noticed us, too, when he came out for the next panel--animation (and this year game) directors. When Yun Kouga left the panel, she actually came and sat down right in the row behind us! But we didn't talk or anything.
Now let me explain how Anime Expo panels work. An attendee will ask a question in English, and it will then be repeated in Japanese. The guest will answer the question in Japanese, and the answer will be repeated in English. Sometimes, as an exception, the attendee will know Japanese, and they'll ask their question in that language, at which point the interpreter will usually make them then translate it for the audience, unless they seem to have come from Japan, in which case the interpreter will do it for them. But the point is, everything is said twice. And when you understand both languages, and you're tired from four days of convention, it gets really easy to zone out. Of course, once you get into the zoning out habit, it also gets easy to zone out for both languages, and so it's easy to miss things. So we kind of missed a lot of that panel, but I think we managed to remember the same amount as we did for the panels we were fully alert during.
One thing that really stood out is that they made Yosuke Kuroda sit on the panel despite being a writer and not a director, and he was like, "I'm not a director; should I really be up here?" and Seiji Mizushima was like, "Sure, why not?" And then Kuroda-sensei was like, "Nnnnnnngh..." in response to all the questions. It was kind of cute.
There was one question, we don't remember what it was, but the game director guy was like, "I think all these other directors will have better answers for you, so I'll just tell you what you need to make an anime/game." (This next part was half in English.) "First, staff. Second, time. Third, money!" And then all the other directors were like, "Yeah, pretty much."
Someone pointed out that with the internet and everything, it's a lot easier to get feedback on your work, and asked if the feedback had any effect on the final product. As an example, do they make the costumes a little bit simpler for the sake of cosplayers? Most of the directors agreed that they like getting feedback, good or bad, and that hearing nothing is even worse than negative feedback (I think one of them said, "No, I actually only like getting good feedback." Athena: Four out of five directors agree...). Mizushima-san said he likes to see people cosplay the series he's worked on, so he does keep that in mind a little, as he directs the costume design. Most of the other directors say they just do what they want anyway, but the Blazblue guy said that he's fully aware of the cosplayers and has the costumes designed accordingly, in a, "See if you can cosplay this!" kind of way. Way to present a challenge!
Okay, so maybe I actually didn't remember as much of that panel as I did the others. Ah well. Next was the voice actors panel, but since Toshiyuki Morikawa had already flown back to Japan, Kari Wahlgren was the only voice acting GoH left. But as it just so happened, the English dub voice of one of the characters in Blazblue was on her day off (she said it was her day off anyway, but it was Sunday. Maybe she was working at the convention?) and if we all didn't mind, she could join the panel, too. The most memorable parts of the panel were when first, a guy said his friend and his friend's girlfriend had ditched AX because they had "something better to do" (even the guy didn't know what it was), but his friend was a huge FLCL fan, and since Ms. Wahlgren was the dub voice of Haruko, he asked if she would call him and tell him what he was missing out on. So she actually borrowed the guy's cell phone and called his friend. They put it on speaker, but they got voice mail, so that was kind of a bummer, but it was still fun. She left a message with her favorite Haruko line (Kitty kitty meow), and afterward she gestured to someone sitting towards the front and said, "You're actually right, I do just like saying that."
Incidentally, it wasn't until that panel that we discovered that the woman we had chatted with at the Meet the Guests Reception was actually the English dub voice of Ashe from Final Fantasy XII. Go figure.
One person asked if the two of them would give us a taste of the audition process by each giving a voice to the nearest inanimate object to them, so they pulled out the second actress's credit card (I don't remember her name! but she played Noelle in Blazblue), and she did a little monologue about how, "I'm a credit card, she uses me to buy stuff, etc." She had kind of a manly voice. Then Ms. Wahlgren took the card and said, "Now see, if this was my card, it would say this: Maxed ooouutt! Maxed oouutt!! Please cut me up! I am not a god." She used a cute girly voice, which was also slightly reminiscent of when they'd do impressions of the Fly on old cartoons like Tiny Toons and not-so-old ones like The Emperor's New Groove.
Someone asked about the most awkward moment either of them had had in the recording booth. Noelle is still fairly new so she hadn't had many, but she did sometimes burp while recording, and Ms. Wahlgren's story was about how one time she was really hungry and her stomach was grumbling, so the sound guy decided to be funny and recorded the grumbling, then mixed it in so that the grumbling came from the monster her character was fighting. But what was really funny about the question was when the guy asked, she said, "Now I see all these cameras pop up. You say, 'Sure, we'll turn the cameras off! *red light* *red light* *red light*'." So she refused to answer for a while, but when Noelle told her story about burping, she was like, "Oh! Now I remember a PG one!" then she noticed the guy in the back (who may or may not have been imaginary) and put on her fake pouty voice, "Aww, red light away..." (as in "being put away"). I guess it was better if you actually heard it, but we'll always think it was funny.
There was a pretty big chunk of time before the charity auction started, so we found a place to sit down and sat there. Then we got bored, so I pulled out the program guide to get an idea of what time it was (based on the fact that we knew the Robot Chicken panel was going on). It didn't help much as far as figuring out the time (I really should have just taken a picture and checked the time stamp), but we did discover that Nippon Ichi Software America was having a panel "walking us through the localization process." We thought it might be a good opportunity to hand out business cards, so off we went to wait for it to start.
But it wasn't starting and we didn't know if it was safe to go in the room yet, so we were still bored and found ourselves heading over to the Production I.G. panel. We hadn't been to their panel since 2006, but the girl who gives it every year is still every bit as adorable. She was really worried that no one would show up, because the day had been so very unlucky for her, and two really bad things happened (I forgot what they were), and since bad things happen in threes, she was sure she would be all alone at her panel. But then she was in the bathroom and accidentally bumped into the wall, knocking down a picture that fell on her, and she almost died. So all her bad luck was over and there were plenty of people at her panel. And she told the whole story in this adorable Japanese accent; it was amazing. She pretty much told us what all Production I.G. is working on these days, and she was so cute because anytime anybody made any comment, she was like, "Come up here, you can have this DVD box set," or something like that. It was especially funny because the first time it happened, it was a guy with a negative comment.
We left the panel a little early because we wanted to make it to the NISA panel, so off we went. When we got to the room, they had changed the signs on the door to indicate the panel, and the very signs said "Job Opportunity!" We thought that seemed promising, so we were a little excited. First they introduced some of the new stuff they're bringing to the states (including Sakura Wars 5, which is exciting because NISA always leaves the Japanese language track on there), and then they introduced their two editors and two of their translator/localization specialists. They asked them about what they do, what they liked about their job, and what they liked about working with the company. And then they were like, "You all might be wondering why we're talking about what's so great about working for us! Well, actually, one of our editors will be leaving us to teach English in Japan, so we're looking for someone to fill his position! So if you're interested, come down here and give us your name and e-mail address, and we'll send you a test kit, and..."
Unfortunately, editors all need to be able to go into the office, which is kind of far from where we live. But we didn't want to edit, anyway. So we went to the front and talked to... the guy who seemed to be in charge-ish... and asked if translators had to come in to the office. And lo and behold, they don't always! So we gave him our card and he said we might hear from him if something opens up. And then we took a picture of their cosplayer of the main character from Witch's Tale, which is a DS game coming out this autumn that looks super adorable and we really want to play it, and we made it back to Live Programming 1 in time to see all the items for the charity auction! Yay! (We were a little worried, because the program guide said the NISA panel would overlap the auction. We also knew that the auction tends to start late, but we never know how late, so we were a little worried.)
The charity auction was pretty average this year. They didn't have any silly things like they did last year or the year before, but the audience managed to make some fun out of it anyway. The water bottle incident got brought up, and the auctioneer said, "We already did that. We're done with it," so someone else suggested he auction off his hat. He was reluctant at first, but he gave in anyway, probably because he was thinking of the children. Someone asked a question that we didn't hear, but he responded, "Heck yeah, I'll sign it." It went for $77, but I don't know how much it originally cost. He then had to ask permission from the buyer if he could keep wearing it to keep the lights out of his eyes for the rest of the auction.
Finally it was time for the closing ceremonies. The most memorable closing remarks were made by Nightow-sensei, who reported that, during the convention, he was allowed to audition for Morning Musume again, but they told him, "You're no musume!" and he was rejected. He also said, "Morning Musume is gone, Morikawa-san is gone, but I'M still here!!" (I don't know if it was at the closing ceremonies or at his panel that he confessed to having nightmares that, since it had been so long since Trigun ended, he would show up at an empty panel, and then he'd wake up half-crying.) Mizushima-san said he was happy to come to AX the same year as Morning Musume, because he's a big fan, too. Moi dix Mois was just as funny as they were at the opening ceremonies, only this time the little one had a hard time keeping his straight face. I caught him smiling at least twice. Fan excitement is contagious. And pretty much everyone was really happy they got to come and share in the excitement of the American fans. Yun Kouga drew the second eye in the daruma. It was all very happy and nice, except for the fact that it meant the end of AX for another year. There was booing, like every year. And then they said, "And we'll see you again next year!" And everyone cheered again.
And that's all for AX. But not all for the reporting! I'll talk about Disneyland tomorrow.
Today I'm thankful for having a good time at Han & Leia's reception last night (maybe I'll get a chance to talk about it after we're done reporting about Disneyland), getting to eat chocolate chip muffins today, getting to hand our card to one more company than we expected, happy fan excitement, and it being a good day for ice cream.