“Can we have an event on the Iowa?” I sheepishly asked at Anime Expo 2019 at the Azur Lane panel as the developers asked us if we wanted to see fan events in the Los Angeles area. Low and behold, a week or two after the largest anime convention, Azur Lane announced their one year anniversary event on the USS Iowa. The event was going to give away free 100 or so “commanders” who played the game at random. I missed out on this, so I had to go on the standby line. There would be a limited about of standby tickets available on the day of.
On a sunny and breezy day in San Pedro, a half hour south of Los Angeles, commanders lined up at the USS Iowa hyped to find out what the one year party was all about. Commanders from Texas, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Northern California, and locals attended this event. About 200 commanders rolled up to the party.
I didn’t wear my Enterprise, Yorktown, or Illustrious cosplay. I ended up wearing my custom build US Navy WAVES uniform. While cosplay was encouraged this event, I wanted to wear my replica of the WAVES uniform on the historical site. I got quite a few compliments from people who worked on the USS Iowa and commanders. (Hey Intern-kun? Can we has WAVES skins for Eagle Union ship waifus?)
I was very happy to spot a handful of cosplayers at the event.
The event was hosted by Intern-kun, the lovely social media face of Yostar. We had issues getting tech set up. There was a lot of jokes that turned into memes at the expense of IT not having everything together. Commanders were seated in a shaded staging area. People were predicting if there would be an announcement for a new ship (USS Iowa? Mighty Mo?), a preview of the upcoming anime, or a special guest.
What followed as a performance by members of the Azur Lane jazz band, a dance performance by cosplay volunteers to Enterprise’s “Phantom 9,” and a gaming competition for prizes. The first game was a bracket match against other commanders’ ships. The next was two teams up against each other to see who can draw the most Super Rare (SR) ships. There were many prayers sent to RNJesus.
There were also merchandise sold. This included soft, fuzzy blankets featuring a few shipgirls (I ended up taking home a Belfast), cds, and mousepads. Speaking of merch, there were also raffles being held throughout the day. Giveaways included shirts, Manjuu plushes, a model of an Azur Lane itasha lambo, etc.
Finally, the day came to a close when the one year anniversary cake was being cut. The cake not only had a nautical theme, but it featured “sweet” versions of Laffey, Javelin, and Z23. People loved the raffles so much that they also raffled off Laffey, Javelin, Z23, and the Anchor piece!
Overall, while there were points where I didn’t feel too engaged, I appreciated that Yostar took time and effort to put this event on the USS Iowa. The USS Iowa is a Southern California landmark that is oftentimes taken for granted. What better way than to celebrate a game about World War 2 boats than to have it on a floating museum? While there was no announcement for new ship girls or the anime, it was nice talking to people involved in the development of Azur Lane as well as the fans in attendance. The pull for the Anime Expo panel was huge, but this event felt very intimate and you could really get to know and talk to people. Also, taking photos on the USS Iowa in my WAVES uniform was icing on the cake.
Many thanks to Yostar for putting on this event. I can only hope we have events like this, not just on the USS Iowa, but also the Hornet and Midway as well. It’s sad that these ships don’t get as much love from locals, but leave it to the gaming community to revive interest in classic warships.
Also, it’s very interesting to have someone from the WW2 collectors community find a photo of you that someone on the Iowa randomly snapped.