Entertainment Hall by Eri Kagami
West Hall is dominated by Anime Expo’s Entertainment Hall. The Entertainment Hall changes up every year. A few people have nicknamed West Hall to a mini E3. Blizzard, Fate, and Kingdom Hearts had huge presences in the Entertainment Hall. There were photo ops at Blizzard for the Overwatch Payload tour. There were people dying to get a glimpse of Kingdom Hearts 3, lines were open intermittently. Fans of the Fate series can try out the virtual reality experience. In addition to video game booths, you can also enter video game tournaments and try out their console e-gaming section which has expanded through the years. They also moved tabletop gaming to the Entertainment Hall if you wanted to try some collectable card games from Anime Gamers.
This is also the home of the cosplay set pieces, cosplay senpai, and cosplay repair. The set pieces had much more lighting and are always popular even with regular attendees. Cospix was also offering photoshoots to cosplayers – 5 high resolution photos for the price of $20 on a flash drive. I was able to mingle with a few of the noteable cosplay senpais – Amber Arden, Amber Kohaku, and Steff Von Schweetz. All three of them were approachable and it was nice to share ideas with them. Cosplay repair was there for repair and costume change only. This used to be a place where cosplayers can take a breather and recharge where they would not be bothered. However, they were quick to shoo cosplayers who needed a breather.
Guest Spotlight – Shinji Higuchi by Jared the Greek
This interview was held in a small press conference style and each reporter asked questions of the famed anime creator. The first question was from our team and we asked about his childhood connections to mecha and kaiju. He grew up a fan of monster movies and worked on Gundam model kits before it was the popular thing to do. He stumbled across the early members of Gainax at a film showing at his school and was talked into joining the team in Osaka by Hideki Anno. The questions then moved into his recent projects. His effects work on Shin Godzilla was a big achievement for him and Dragon Pilot was something on a passion project. He worked on varations of the project over the years and it was rejected multiple times. It took hard work to bring together the staff and move forward with the project.
The interview moved toward his approach to production. First he discussed his way of working as a director. He enjoys directing movement and action, but lets his actors preformances influence the expressions of the characters. He puts great effort into his storyboarding work. Even when he gets stuck on a panel he goes through different methods like working with models or moving things around his desk to solve the issue. Most of his current drawing work is done with an iPad which he likes more than paper since you can’t see the eraser lines. His goal with Dragon Pilot was to bring back a classic style in terms of design and feel. He likes the older anime style and really wants to bring it back and produce a quality project.
There was also some questions about his daily life such as the video games he plays and how he relaxes. He liked Nioh, a game he actually worked on and playing VR games as well. He also had thoughts on Anime Expo and how it brought different types of people together. He really likes being in the US and seeing the sights. The interview ended with Shinji Higuchi talking about his hopes that his work can help other countries get a positive view of Japan. He had a very positive attitude and really likes the idea of people working together and art bringing people together.
Fate/Grand Order Fan Panel – A Financial & Mythological Wonder by Jared the Greek
This panel began with the announcement that the western version of the game has brought in a huge audience and made over a billion dollars. The discussion raged from the ‘rate up’ issues to the problematic early days of the game. The panel included translations of interviews with the writing and development team of the game to show how things changed and why some thing will not change. The panel shifted into audience questions It was a fun panel that brought fans together as they cheered for their waifus and husbandos as well as stressed over draw rates and saint quartz. Overall, this was a fun panel and a nice companion to the official panel on day three.
GUNPLA Beginners Workshop by Bandai Hobby by Jared the Greek
This panel was designed for those who have some interest in starting to work with Gundam model kits. The panel began with the people in the first two rows getting a kit and personal assistance from the staff. Everyone else watched as the representatives talked about tools and methods to make your model look its best. The panel also briefly covered advanced techniques like adding battle damage and personal modifications. It was really interesting learning about the process of building a kit and the advanced techniques to add the stickers and sand down the edges. At the end of the panel all attendees were given a kit to build at home. This panel was a fun experience and it motivated me to begin building Gunpla kits.
Women Who Write Shounen and Seinen Manga by Jared the Greek
This was a good concept for a panel, but sadly it had terrible execution. The host was lacking in any form of charisma and despite claiming to run a manga podcast clearly had no idea what he was talking about. While he did bring up several popular series like Full Metal Alchemist and Ramna ½ yet failed to bring up series like D.Grey-Man and Hitman Reborn. There wasn’t much of anything in the Seinen category with the exception of Drops of God and one other title. Most of the titles were simple slice of life stories that don’t really fit into the traditional Shounen or Seinen category. It was a difficult task to stay put and sit until the end of the panel as the boring host and weak selection of titles made this a horrid chore. The worst part about this panel was that nearly anyone could do a better job if they had an hour or so of preparation time.