Chara Expo took place on November 10 – 11, 2018 in Anaheim at the Anaheim Convention Center. This was the last major anime event of the year. Chara Expo was sponsored by Bushiroad best known for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Cardfight Vanguard, and various idol games including Love Live and Bandori. This event brought in thousands of guests eager to see idols perform on stage. Otaku lined up at 2AM to ensure their tickets to see bands like Roselia and Poppin’ Party, both from Bandori. Our team only covered Sunday, November 11, 2018.
Chara Expo took up one exhibit hall space of the Anaheim Convention Center. There was a lot of walk around space. There were a handful of dealers and a section where people can play Cardfight Vanguard with one another. The main staple of this event were the concerts and meeting wrestlers from NJPW. Our team stood in line once the doors opened. There was a line to get into Chara Expo. It wasn’t line con bad, but people were headed to the Bushiroad sales booth first to get tickets.
To get tickets for autographs and concerts, you had to spend $30 at the Bushiroad booth. This is where the line con began! Our group waited an hour once we were inside to get tickets for our favorite wrestlers, priority seating for NJPW, and the Roselia concert. By the time we got in, we found out that all autographs for the wrestlers had sold out. Roselia had sold out. Most merchandise were running scarce. All Revue Starlight merchandise was sold out. I got my hands on whatever Roselia merch I can find including the last Black Shout keychain. It was really intense waiting to get in because you didn’t know what could be sold out once you got in.
Our group managed to get tickets for New Japan Pro Wrestling. We got our priority seats and stood in line once the line opened up. We were lucky to get front row seats wherein you can see the wrestler’s sweat, bruises, and scratches up close. We were close to the ring wherein anytime a wrestler passed by, you could get a high five. We got to see ACH vs Karl Fredericks, Jushin Thunder Liger vs Clark Connors, a tag team match with Hirooki Goto / Rocky Romero vs Jeff Cobb / Ryusuke Taguchi, and finally, the main event, Kenny Omega vs David Finlay. I’ve never been to a wrestling match before, and I was all up in the hype! It was really fun to watch and easy to follow along with the chants, the boos, the hisses, etc. It was a treat seeing this up close.
While waiting in line, I also got to see a little bit of the Revue Starlight panel. Revue Starlight is a new anime that came out this year that is Utena meets High School Musical. We got to hear clips of the English dub. However, I was more interested in hearing the voice actresses who were present talk about their role in the show. There was so many things going on at Chara Expo all at once! In the dealers hall, you could also see the costumes that were used in the live musicals of Revue Starlight. Cosplayers were already taking notes as they were viewing the costumes up close and personal.
One of the things that got overlooked at Chara Expo is the Japanese culture. We had a butler cafe perform live, a few kendo demonstrations, etc on a smaller stage. You could also buy decently priced Japanese food without succumbing to the Anaheim Resort food prices. I got a good size of yaki soba for about $7 – that kept me full for most of Chara Expo. There were some tea demonstrations and live painting as well.
The other main event of Sunday was Roselia. This was the hot ticket event. People lined up as early as 2AM that same day to guarantee themselves at seat to see the concert. I had no idea Roselia was this popular among otaku. Unlike most idol bands I have seen live, this group plays their instruments. The concert let people with tickets get to their seats. Those without tickets were able to stand on the sides. It was a very small performance area, but the sound filled the entire exhibit hall! Roselia was phenomenal live. Aina Aiba, the performer for Yukina, had some of the best facial expressions while being on stage. Ako had a ton of energy. We also got a surprise during the show – Roselia has a new keyboardist! The new keyboardist was announced on November 7th. Kanon Shikzaki is the new Rinko and she is amazing! It was a very exciting event that I’m glad to have seen as press. What a way to end the night!
Overall, I’m glad our team was able to attend Chara Expo. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. I wasn’t expecting much out of it. I just showed up in a Vixen dress – no cosplay – and I had a ton of fun being there. I was really surprised to see my New York friends come out for Chara Expo to see their idols. Such dedication! Even so, I found people sleeping in their cars to arrive early enough to get the tickets and then sleep in their cars. The only complaint I had was the amount of scalping that was going down. I hope Chara Expo finds a way to limit scalpers selling concert tickets and autograph for as much as $380. It’s unfair to real fans who want to see live and may not get an opportunity to do so.
I don’t attend much anime oriented cons these days, but Chara Expo had everything I enjoy from an anime con. Good downtime to catch up with friends, concerts from musical acts that don’t come out often to the states, Japanese culture, and more. I’m very excited for Chara Expo to make a return. We hope to see you next year, Chara Expo!