It all started on Wednesday, when we left. We took the bus to the convention center, got our registration, and checked into the hotel without incident. Well, the registration part wasn't exactly smooth, but it was just a matter of figuring out where to go. That was only hard because the staffers we asked didn't all know, and then when we found someone who knew with detailed certainty, we weren't sure how to find the place he'd indicated. But that was our fault, not his. The point is, it wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't that much of an ordeal, either. It did feel like an ordeal, though, because we had just carried all of our stuff to the bus stop, then on the bus, and then all around the convention center. We packed fairly light as far as Anime Expos go, but the laptop was heavy.
Anyway. We thought about hanging around the convention center for a while, because we remembered how much we just like to sit and look at all the cosplay. But we also wanted to check in to our hotel, and we suspected once that started the momentum would just keep us there. And then it did.
But that's okay, because it wasn't long before we were back at the convention center and surrounded by cosplay once more! And this time, we had costumes of our own! We decided to start with Donald and Goofy, a set of costumes that has yet to go out of fashion. There were a lot of people who were really excited to see us, and some of them told us how unique our costumes were, which is a little surprising considering how long Kingdom Hearts has been around, and how long ago we made those costumes (ten years!), which would give people plenty of time to come up with the idea themselves, or at least copy ours. (We have seen pictures of other Donald and Goofy cosplayers...actually just one set, and they were really good. But it is pretty rare.)
As for our plans, there were a couple of panels we were mildly interested in going to (Japanese voice actresses), but most importantly, we had arranged to meet up with Krista and Karie Shipley, another set of twins who translate. So until it was time to meet up with them, we wandered around the dealers' hall. We had arranged to meet at Yen Press's booth, and since we got there a little early (my phone was dead, so we didn't have a time piece) and our editor from Yen Press wasn't there at the time, we killed time by buying a Daisy plush from the booth across the way (to go with the Donald costume), and then by going to the next booth and trying to solve one of the sample puzzle boxes they were selling. Unfortunately, there were a couple of guys already working on the puzzle box, and they managed to solve it before too long, so we ended up waiting again.
But finally the Shipleys showed up, and we all said hi and talked about stuff we work on and this and that and the other thing. Eventually our Yen Press editor came along, so we talked with her, too. And then, emboldened by all the encounters, we finally got around to introducing ourselves to the editors at the Kodansha booth. And so I think the main accomplishment of the event was that we actually said hi to people and spent time, like, socializing and stuff. And yet, I still worry that we may have gone a little overboard rambling on about our own personal interests. People asked questions that led to us talking about costumes. So that was fun for us, but...
Anyway. When we got to the convention, we discovered that Disney was sending some animation supervisors to talk about Big Hero 6, so that was the main thing we went out of our way to do. (It wasn't far out of our way--they scheduled it specifically after just about everything else that day.) It was an interesting panel, with all kinds of clips of the different things they animated just in preparation of animating the final product. For example, they showed some character exploration tests, where they had each of the main characters walk into the Lucky Cat Cafe and sit at a table. They also showed the progression of the scene where Hiro sneaks Baymax back into the cafe after jumping out a window. The animators would animate it, and then they'd show it to Mark Henn, who would draw over certain frames ways to enhance the action. It was pretty cool.
That panel happened at the end of day one, and even though we enjoyed it, we were feeling sad and blah afterward. The prevailing theory is that Disney makes us feel insignificant, and we have a lot of mixed emotions that go along with being at Anime Expo, and there was still some church responsibility stuff we had to worry about. But anyway, we were sad and saying to each other that we could really use a friend right now, and just then, someone came up to us and excitedly complimented our costumes. Anime Expo is a little magical like that.
The next day, we decided to try our Polar Bear and Grizzly costumes, which, also not surprisingly, nobody recognized. It was another day spent wandering around. We considered going to panels, but we were already too late for the only one we were mildly interested in, which reminds me of another person we introduced ourselves to on Thursday. Our project manager for UQ Holder! said she would be helping out at AX, so we made sure to stop by her booth and introduce ourselves. She had sent us emails that morning (or was it the night before?) about chapters of UQ Holder! and Persona Q that were due on Friday. She apologized and said she hoped she didn't ruin our weekend. We assured her that we love our job, and it's also true that our main plans for this convention were to wander around anyway, so going back to our room to work wasn't really a problem. One can only wander for so long before needing to sit down and do something for a while. The Shipleys asked us if we had brought work with us, too, and we said, "No, it followed us here!"
So we translated UQ Holder! on Thursday, and when we got home from the Big Hero 6 panel, we got something to eat and then started on Persona Q. It was almost eleven by the time this happened, so we were very tired. And then this chapter turned out to be extremely talkative, and not short, either. So by the time we finished our first draft, we were too exhausted to go on. It didn't help that the computer started acting funny and we weren't sure if we'd even saved it at all, because the apparent trigger for the wonkiness was an attempt to save the file.
Fortunately, when we opened it up the next morning, everything was there. So we decided to just finish it and be done with it, and that's why we didn't make it to the other Japanese voice actress's panel. (We would have made more of an effort if she'd been in anything we'd seen.)
Anyway, Friday was when we decided to wander the other side of the dealers' hall (on Thursday we somehow always left before ever checking it out). We discovered a booth that was giving away sour gummies. They told us they were really sour, so we were afraid to try them, but they turned out to be okay...until the next day when we decided to get some more, and for some reason they tasted a lot more sour. They're called Pure (with an accent on the E), and it seems like the manufacturer is looking into selling them Stateside, so keep an eye out! Their inaugural flavors will be peach, grape, and strawberry (or maybe just one of the three).
We also found an ocarina vendor that was tempting to Athena even though we bought an ocarina last year. But! they also had low-budget replicas of the pendants from Ocarina of Time, so we bought one of each. Of course, Athena will wear the water one because it's the one associated with wisdom.
And finally, we found a place that sells really cool steampunk accessories, and we were able to buy some finger armor for our steampunk Siamese cat costumes. This time, we only bought one for each of us, because we were too intimidated to buy armor for every finger.
I don't remember what triggered it, but Friday is also the day we decided to bring the DS to the convention center and try out StreetPass. We found it ridiculously addictive, but probably only because we were at AX, which is probably the best place to get lots of StreetPasses all at once. Because, in the course of our wanderings, it was pretty easy to walk from one end of the convention center to the other and already have ten tags. By the end of the day, Athena had 77 encounters, and she would have had more if she had realized sooner that, once you meet 10 people, you have to go greet people at your Mii Plaza Gate before they let you meet more. By the end of Saturday, she had 235 or thereabouts. And she has people from 23 States, 3 provinces of Canada, one person from Mexico, and one person from Japan. Most of them were from California.
But despite all that, we didn't find enough heroes to rescue her from the Ultimate Ghost in Find Mii.
Friday was also when we had arranged to meet Justin Stroman of Antisocial Geniuses for dinner. We went to the California Pizza Kitchen, which had peach lemonade!, and we talked about translating and various other things and had a lovely time.
Then we went back to the convention center to wander some more, and meet more people with StreetPass, and look at cosplay. Also, we had changed back into our Donald and Goofy costumes because we were tired of not being recognized. See, we first started cosplaying purely out of love for the characters. Then we started doing it as a cry for attention. I think what it is is that, as introverts, we don't want to go demand attention from people. But if we wear really cool costumes, we can get it without demanding! So there you have it.
Saturday was our last day at Anime Expo. Because Ryukishi07, the creator of Higurashi: When They Cry, was coming (and, in all honesty, because we knew we'd be meeting with another set of Higurashi fan twins), we pulled together a set of Mion and Shion costumes. It was kind of a rush thing, but they turned out pretty well, we felt. Ryukishi07's panel was today, so we didn't get to go to it, but in our perhaps delusionally optimistic way, we hoped that maybe we would run into him wandering the convention. (It's not like there's not a precedent for that--we've run into many AX guests of honor in our various wanderings at the convention.) And so we wore those costumes on the day he was most likely to be there if he didn't have time to be at the whole convention. Well, that, and they would be the easiest to travel home in. The plan was to hop on the bus straight from the convention.
So we put on the costumes...and the Shion sweater turned out to be just a little thinner than I was comfortable with. But fortunately, right next to the CPK was an H&M store, which happened to be the same brand we ordered all the other Shion items from online, and we were able to stop in and buy a tank top to wear under the sweater, and all the items in the Shion costume are still the same brand. Except for the shoes (bought for Siamese cat costumes Halloween 2013), the hair clip (a souvenir from Mom's Baltic cruise), and the necklace (purchased from Target last week). Okay, all the articles of clothing are the same brand.
Saturday was also the one day we had plans--the Kodansha panel was that day. And there was a photo scavenger hunt we wanted to go to, but it overlapped with the Kodansha panel, which was a bummer. But anyway, neither of them started for a while, so we had time for more of what we did best this convention: wandering. In the course of our wanderings, we wandered by a food court where we spotted the Shipleys. They're our friends now, so we went over to say hi and maybe tag along with them for a while. As we made our way through the crowd, we noticed they were talking to a Japanese gentleman who looked somewhat familiar, like we'd seen his picture on the Anime Expo website.
Sure enough, when we got to them, they introduced us to Ryukishi07. What. And! there were two other members of 07th Expansion! And they were all very nice, but I think all of us were a little awkward, either because of natural awkwardness (on our part) or the language barrier. I feel like the language barrier shouldn't have been a thing, what with all of us being translators, but one thing we were reminded of at this convention is that someone who has a lot of book learning in Japanese is likely to have a deer-in-the-headlights reaction when faced with the prospect of real communication. It was tough, but I think everyone was pretty understanding. Ryukishi07 said that they will continue writing stories, and they may not be written very well, but he hopes we continue to enjoy them. We tried to tell him that yes of course we will! And now we've made an official mental note to check Hulu and Netflix for Umineko.
Ryukishi07 also said he wished he knew more English--all he knows are "thank you" and "sorry", and when he's traveling he wishes he could say things more specifically applicable to situations.
...And those are the main things I wanted to say about that encounter with Ryukishi07. They were all getting ready to eat, so it was nice of them to talk to us for as long as they did. We wanted to give them our freshly printed business cards...but we had forgotten to bring any. We each remembered to pocket some on Thursday and Friday, so Athena was reviewing the event later and lamenting, "If we had worn any other costumes...!" And then she remembered that, because Mion has a light-colored button-down shirt tied around her waist, she was wearing her Polar Bear top around her waist. The same top with a breast pocket, where she had put her cards on Friday. D'oh.
But that reminds me of another significant part of that encounter: Ryukishi07 acknowledged our costumes. He was the only person all day to have recognized our costumes, but if we could only have one person comment to us about our costumes, I'll happily take the creator of the series.
We didn't mean to only talk to the Shipleys as a way of taking advantage of their meeting with 07th Expansion, but somehow we ended up parting there anyway. We wanted to go squee about it with somebody, so we headed for the Yen Press booth to talk to our editor about it. She was just the audience we needed, and we love her for it. I mentioned the language problem, and she said, "Don't worry about it; I'm the same way." (This is where I wonder if I should just say her name so people will know how great this person is, or if I continue to worry about privacy issues and not reveal it. The people who know her will already know...I'm not sure if that's an argument for one side or the other.)
We stopped by the Kodansha booth to say hi again, then we headed off to make sure we knew where all we wanted to go for the scavenger hunt, which we were going to try to finish superfast so we could get to the Kodansha panel in time. Well, it got started late, and by the time they revealed the list of items to photograph, it was the time we were hoping to be finished by (or as finished as we were going to be). So we took a picture of the list for future reference, and then we headed over to the Kodansha panel.
The staffer manning the door told us we were going to have to wait in the general line (as opposed to the Premiere badge priority line), so we pulled rank on him. One of the Kodansha editors said to text him if we had any trouble getting into the panel, but we just told the staffer we work for Kodansha so it's all good. He said if anybody inside vouched for us, he'd let us in, and that was that. I'm pretty sure most of the important information from the panel was posted online already (speaking of which, we're wondering if lyschan has reason to be extra excited about Princess Jellyfish...), so I'll only talk about the stuff that was relevant to us. First, they announced that Noragami will be going to a monthly release schedule, which is super awesome and exciting! Working on Noragami is one of the things that reminds me how much I really do love my job, which is good for times after we've spent long hours working on titles we care about somewhat less. But it's also really hard and time-consuming, so...our schedule is going to be interesting.
Second, the way they talked up A Silent Voice has us interested in checking it out ourselves. We'll probably get the Japanese version, which won't help Kodansha at all...but maybe if we like it, we can get it for a friend. And speaking of such things, they're really hoping people will buy Vinland Saga, because if sales don't remain steady, the license will expire and they won't be able to release any more. This is one we're really torn about, because we like Kodansha, and we like to support people in doing things they really like doing, but those Vinland Saga books are pretty pricey for something we'd really rather read in Japanese. But they have runes on them, and that's cool!
Anyway, the point is, if you have any interest in reading Vinland Saga, buy it or they'll never be able to finish it!
Finally, the most exciting thing for us, since the Kodansha editors were kind enough to point us out to the rest of the audience, at the Q&A portion, someone specifically asked us a question! It was about how we deal with puns. The simple answer was with thesauruses and luck. I thought about it a little more after that and was able to articulate the process better, but those thoughts have been lost in reminiscences over meeting 07th Expansion. I may remember it later and post about it, though. But anyway, I got talkative again and went into the cry-der example from Noragami, and afterward I worried that I hogged the spotlight too long, but there's no point worrying about it now.
After the panel, Daniella Orihuela-Gruber introduced herself to us and we spent some time chatting and hanging out in the dealers' hall. Then we attempted to find enough heroes to rescue Athena's Mii in Find Mii, but then we got antsy about catching our bus, so we gave up and went home.
Or TRIED to go home, anyway. The bus was an hour late, which led to quite a bit of concern about whether or not the bus would really be running on Independence Day, even though it totally was last year. It did eventually show up, and then we had a long bus ride back to Disneyland, from whence we walked home amidst fireworks going off all around us. It would have been kind of neat, but we were tired and stressed out, and there were so many crowds! We get fed up with the crowds around Disneyland enough as it is, but they usually peter out about a third of the way home. Not last night--everybody was trying to get to the parks to see the fireworks. And it smelled like gunpowder everywhere, which would have been more amusing than anything if I wasn't already somewhat enraged for no real good reason. And we didn't know how Page was handling all the extra explosions after we'd been gone for so long, and we just wanted to get back to our kitty and our soft beds.
But we did, and we had a pizza and watched My Little Pony, and managed to feel better about life in general.
Today I'm thankful for having a lovely time at Anime Expo, getting to meet 07th Expansion, being back home with our kitty, getting to socialize with people who are familiar with the stuff we like, and getting to have lots of fun with StreetPass.