Anime Expo 2016 (AX 2016) was amazing! I would say that this con has been my absolute favorite one that I have ever attended!
You have two options, you can either watch video version of my wrap up with included vlogging footage and pictures, or read my more detailed write up. Both are below! (Why not both??)
Ordinal Scale Cosplay + Food
@Celtyfarron and I (mostly her!) had made cosplays for the newest variations of Kirito and Asuna back in March for Sakura Con 2016. They were made to look like the designs from the upcoming SAO Movie entitled “Ordinal Scale”.
We were pretty happy with how they looked, but Celty wanted to make them better. We got to work on doing what we could for the con. We ultimately were unable to complete version 2 of our Ordinal Scale cosplays and decided to put it on hold until next time so that it would not be rushed!
While Celty was working on the Ordinal Scale cosplays the night before Day 0, I compulsively decided that I would cook a lot food so that we would not have to worry about buying breakfast in the morning (or starving during the con). I ended up making egg fried rice along with bacon and spam! (Healthy, right?)
We eventually fell asleep around 6am (technically on Day 0 at this point!)
Picking Up Badges
After waking up late in the afternoon, we headed straight to our hotel, checked in, and then took the shuttle to the convention center from our hotel.
After grabbing our exhibitor badges, we were all set to go!
While picking up our badges, we ran into Chris Sabat! Chris Sabat is the English Voice actor for several roles (most notable in Dragon Ball Z as Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, and more). I have been listening to his voice since I was a kid!
After chatting with him for a bit, we took a selfie with him. He insisted he take the selfie since he has “mad selfie game” haha.
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs
If you have read any of my previous articles or watched any of my con wrap up videos, you will know that I LOVE the bacon wrapped hotdogs that are sold on the streets of LA! Celty and I had at least one of these per day.
Day 1 finally arrived and I was pumped! Celty and I were cosplaying from the Aincrad Arc (first half of Season 1 of SAO). We got dressed and ready early and then hopped on the shuttle that took us from our hotel to the Convention Center!
When you find the one, you just know it. I know that nobody likes to be "forever alone" but don't try to rush into relationships to cure the "lonely" feeling. When you find the right person, you just know. In the past, I've been called a "player" or have been accused of "leading on" people. To me, if you're seeing someone and you can't see it lasting forever, you're wasting time and should just stop right there. The idea of "casual dating" never interested me. Don't settle for the first person to give you the time of day. Don't settle for the first person that is attracted to you. I know you might say "yeah, it's easy for you to say that..." but I really mean it! When you least expect it, love hits you and just know that it's the person you want to be with the rest of your life. Be with the person who likes you for who you really are (even on your worst days). Find the person who finds your quirks funny. Someone who will be with you through thick and thin. Don't be with someone that is only around when it is convenient. I can happily say that my life's journey has been totally worthwhile, because I know how it feels to have found my "other half" and my "soul mate". We all have the "red string of fate" attached to someone else. I've seen a lot of "forever alone" posts and it makes me sad. It's easier said than done, but don't look for it and don't wait for it. Just live life and let love find you naturally!
Aniplex 2016 Booth Duty – SAO Character Election
I have worked at the Aniplex Booth a few times in the past but I was NOT ready for what was going to be happening at the Booth this year.
As stated earlier, Anime Expo 2016 was holding an election for the fans of SAO to decide which character would be most fitting to be a leader!
This was how it was expected to work:
- A few people stop by the Aniplex Booth now and then
- An SAO Cosplayer or other Aniplex staff member hands the attendee a character ballot
- The attendee fills out the ballot and hands it back to the SAO Cosplayer
- The SAO Cosplayer hands the attendee a button with the character that they voted for on it.
What happened was SORT OF similar to that but a lot crazier.
Instead, this election was a great hit! We were all completely swamped at the booth nearly the entire time. People were excited to cast their votes and grab a free button.
I enjoyed campaigning for Kirito by speaking up on the mic using the slogan “No longer a beater, now a leader”.
I also enjoyed trolling people that voted for characters that were not Kirito.
After our shift at the Aniplex Booth, we were extremely tired! We took the shuttle from the Convention Center back to the hotel to change out of cosplay. We returned to the con as “Filthy Casuals”.
Our first order of business was to get in line for the English Dub premiere of Erased. We unfortunately had some trouble finding the line. (Anime Expo attendees know how it is). After receiving several different directions from different staff members, we found the correct line.
After waiting in line for quite a while, we were sadly cut off. Yay #LineCon2016
What lifted my spirits was someone cosplaying as Dat Boi!
We stopped by the PA Works area in the Entertainment Hall and I had way too much fun with the Cardboard Cutouts:
After we finished this up, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big day.
I woke up extremely excited on Day 2! This was the day that I had been looking forward to the past month. Today was the main “SAO Day”.
We headed over to the con pretty early and sat near LP1 and hung out. Since we had a little bit of free time, I was able to make a little promotional video telling people to get in line for the SAO Festival!
The entire main english voice cast of Sword Art Online 2 was present! This included:
Bryce Papenbrook – Kirito
Cherami Leigh – Asuna
Cassandra Lee Morris – Leafa
Stephanie Sheh – Yui
Michelle Ruff – Sinon
Ben Diskin – Death Gun (in-game)
Sarah Williams – Lisbeth
Patrick Seitz – Agil
Kirk Thorton – Klein
Erica Mendez – Yuuki
Alex Von David – ADR Director
We headed into the room as soon as the previous panel was completed. Note: LP1 was NOT being cleared this year (sort of like a Comic Con-like move?). So SAO fans had gone into LP1 several panels before this to score a great spot in the panel!
After hanging out backstage with the other cosplayers and the English Voice actors, we were tasked with handing out the exclusive posters. Rather than hand out raffle tickets, a few of the exclusive posters were marked with a star on the back. Those with stars on the back were going to be winners of the raffle!
Some cosplayers were tasked with handing out posters at the door entering while others were asked to hand the posters out to the people that were already in the room from previous panels. I was apart of the group that was handing posters out to the people that were already comfortably seated.
Perhaps I brought this upon myself, but I was mobbed by several attendees! Let me explain a bit more…
I walked up to the front and center of the room and held up a stack of exclusive SAO Ordinal Scale posters. People in front of me cheered. I expected to one by one hand out the posters to people sitting in the room but they had other plans. Instead, they all rushed at me asking for posters.
Joanna, the marketing director of Aniplex, jokingly had to tell people “please do not rush Kirito! I need him later to escort a guest!”
I eventually jumped on the stage and started handing out posters to the excited attendees.
At the SAO Festival, I was quite literally SWARMED by people when I handed out exclusive Ordinal Scale posters! (And it was awesome!) I walked to the front of LP1 holding up a stack of posters. I expected to slowly but surely hand out the posters to the people sitting down already. Instead, I guess I made it seem like I was saying "if you want one, come get it!" Because they all ran at me 😂. I jumped onto the stage (I'm not very tall) so it was easier to fairly hand out the posters to everyone! Joanna from @aniplexusa nicely asked them to not mob me 😂 (PC: Everon)
I unfortunately am stupid and failed to take a selfie video. I pulled my phone out to grab a selfie video and accidentally hit the “Record” button twice… so I didn’t capture anything LOL.
After pulling my phone out to do a video, people starting chanting “S-A-O! S-A-O!” I REALLY wish that I had captured it! I hope that somebody else on the internet grabbed some footage from this.
After handing posters out, I posed for some pictures and then headed back stage to meet up with the cosplayers.
We discussed what would be happening at the panel.
First – The Cosplayers would be “escorting” the English Voice actor of the character they were cosplaying as.
Second – A few cosplayers would be escorting the surprise Japanese Guests.
Interestingly, we had FOUR surprise Japanese guests. We only expected to have one, but we had four!
The guests were:
Haruka Tomatsu – Asuna
Ayahi Takagaki – Lisbeth
Luna Haruna – Singer of “Overfly” (SAO, Second Ending)
Aoi Eir – Singer of “Innocence” (SAO, Second Opening) and “Ignite” (SAO II, First Opening)
Celty got to escort Haruka Tomatsu onto the stage!
Out of respect for the guests, no pictures/videos were permitted (even by the press).
The SAO Movie twitter did upload a photo on their website featuring Celty in it...sorta. (Click the link below, and you’ll see what I mean. She definitely didn’t “see” this one coming.)
After chatting with Bryce Papenbrook a bit, I offered for him to walk onto the stage with my two swords. He excitedly accepted and then offered for me to walk up with his box of cereal, carton of milk, bowl, and two spoons. Cherami Leigh asked why he had two spoons and Bryce explained that it was for “Duel Wielding” (one spoon was black and the other was light blue) xD. Cherami also accepted to walk up with Celty’s sword!
I eventually walked up Bryce Papenbrook onto the stage! After we posed a little bit, we “traded”. He handed me back my swords and I handed him his box of cereal.
Here is a picture of me escorting @brycepapenbrook onto the stage at @animeexpo for the Sword Art Online Festival! He walked up with my Swords, and I walked up with his box of cereal LOL! I'll explain if anyone needs an explanation 😂. The entire panel doesn't appear to be on YouTube yet, but I can post a link as soon as it's up!
Watch the video of the panel and you will see why he did that!
Games & Bloopers
I filed off the stage with the rest of the cosplayers and enjoyed the panel!
The panel featured a few different games with the voice cast along with the long awaited SAO-bloopers!
The panel was so incredible! It was great being able to talk to the voice cast! As stated earlier, I had already met a large chunk of them in the past but a few are hard to get! I especially looked forward to meeting Alex Von David, the ADR director. I believe that he has a “touch of gold”. Every anime he works on is fantastic! (SAO, Blue Exorcist, Toradora, Madoka, etc. just to name a few).
My biggest regret was not getting selfies with all of the cast.
Right after the panel was finished, there was a ticketed autograph session featuring the entire English Cast.
This autograph session was held in the Exhibit Hall so it was crowded! As a result, part of the Cosplayers’ jobs was to create a human shield to prevent people without tickets from breaking into the line. This job was actually pretty fun! The English Cast was so gracious because they stayed far later than they were originally scheduled to. They did not want to turn down any of the fans that had obtained tickets.
I Got Autographs!
After our hard work as human shields, we were able to grab autographs from the cast as well!
The last autograph I need is from Michelle Ruff!
My current autograph collection. This is my favorite poster! It is of course on my "SAO Wall" in my living room along with the other SAO posters, artwork, etc. - This artwork is from the Caliber light novel. - I have A LOT of autographs on this (A total of 28). Staff and Voice Actors for both Major AND Minor characters. I'll try to remember and list them all here: - Japanese Autographs (5): ▶️ Reki Kawahara - Author ▶️ Abec - Original character designer for SAO ▶️ Kazuma Miki - Editor for SAO Light Novels ▶️ Shinichiro Kashiwada - Aniplex Japan Producer ▶️ Yoshitsugu Matsuoka - Kirito's Japanese Voice Actor - English Cast Autographs (1): ▶️ Alex Von David - ADR Director - English Voice Actors (22): ▶️ Bryce Papenbrook - Kirito ▶️ Cherami Leigh - Asuna ▶️ Cassandra Lee Morris - Leafa ▶️ Michelle Ruff - Sinon ▶️ Stephanie Sheh - Yui ▶️ Christine Marie Cabanos - Silica ▶️ Sarah Ann Williams - Lisbeth ▶️ Kirk Thorton - Klein ▶️ Patrick Seitz - Agil ▶️ Erica Mendez - Yuuki ▶️ Ben Diskin - Death Gun (In Game) ▶️ Johnny Yong Bosch - Death Gun (Real Life) ▶️ Xanthe Huynh - Sachi ▶️ Lucien Dodge - Keita (Season 1, Episode 3) ▶️ Laura Post - Rosalia (Season 1, Episode 4) ▶️ Kyle Hebert - Caynz (Season 1, Episodes 5 & 6) and Godfrey (Season 1, Episode 10) ▶️ Todd Haberkorn - Sugou/Oberon ▶️ Vic Mignogna - Tentacle Monster (Season 1, Episode 21) ▶️ Tony Oliver - Sigurd and Tentacle Monster (Season 1, Episode 21) ▶️ Cristina Vee -Alicia Rue (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 23) ▶️ Lauren Landa - Sakuya (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 23) ▶️ Richard Epcar - Thor (Season 2, Episode 17) - I plan to get even more! And then I can get it laminated haha. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– I do my best to respond to EVERY comment, so don't be shy! - Twitter: @ABlackSwordsman Facebook/Instagram/YouTube/Tumblr: AndrewBlackSwordsman Website: AndrewBlackSwordsman.com ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
After our shift at the Autograph Session, we grabbed some bacon wrapped hot dogs and headed to the Microsoft Theater to watch Luna Haruna, Eir Aoi and more!
By the concert, I was already extremely exhausted and had trouble standing during the concert so I ended up sitting down through most of it.
Following that, we took the shuttle back to the hotel and slept hard.
On Day 3, we definitely did not get enough sleep LOL! But we were surprised with some good news!
Luna Haruna Autographs
We were originally scheduled to work at the Bandai Namco booth but we were instead asked to work at a surprise autograph session with Luna Haruna and the producer of the new SAO game “Hollow Realization”. Not that I wasn’t excited to work at the Bandai booth, but I was super excited to work at an autograph session with Luna Haruna!
This event was NOT ticketed so it was first come first serve.
This was how it worked:
The two guests sat on the stage
I handed Luna Haruna a poster (!!! that was exciting!)
Luna Haruna signed the poster, handed it to the producer
The producer signed it and handed it to Celty
Celty handed the poster to the attendee
Throwback to when we worked at Luna Haruna's autograph session for @bandainamcous! - I miss AX pretty badly these days. I also miss cosplaying BUT @celtyfarron and I just received some new circle lenses, so look out for some new photos of those soon! - I'm finding myself counting down the days until the Yuki Kajiura concert, ALA, and of course the Ordinal Scale premiere... I hope to see you guys at at least one of those events! –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Twitter: @ABlackSwordsman Facebook/YouTube/Tumblr: AndrewBlackSwordsman Website: AndrewBlackSwordsman.com ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Thankfully we were able to score an autographed poster!
After getting off our shift, we noticed an Asuna Car (designed and created by @HeyDevyn).
I thought this was one of the coolest things in the world.
I didn't get to make a post yesterday since my Instagram App wasn't working 😭. But yesterday was my beautiful @celtyfarron's birthday! So please greet her a happy belated birthday if you haven't already 👍. We spent the evening eating Korean BBQ and hunting for Pokemon and then later got Ice Cream! I am the most grateful person in the world for having her around. If she wasn't born, I can't imagine what life would be like if she wasn't around. I love you ❤️💍 (This pic was taken by @heydevyn's car at AX)
After we finished our shift, we went to meet Xanthe Huynh at her unofficial autograph session in the entertainment hall!
She was actually the first Voice Actor I ever met back at my first con, Anime Expo 2014, while in line for the SAO 2 premiere so it was cool to talk to her again.
I met Sachi's English voice actor while waiting in line for the SAO ii premiere at AX! Xanthe Huynh was so cool! #SAO #SwordArtOnline #Aincrad #Kirito #beater #blackswordsman #kazuto #kirigaya #sachi #Cosplay #AX #AnimeExpo #AnimeExpo2014 #AX2014 #SAOCosplay #SwordArtOnlineCosplay #ALO #ALfeimOnline #FairyDance #GGO #GunGaleOnline #PhantomBullet
Vampy Bit Me
After meeting Xanthe, we stopped to eat a little snack and then got in line to meet Vampy Bit Me!
It was a long wait and there was a rude person in line that kept swinging his backpack into me...but it was well worth the wait!
We were excited to meet her because she was debuting her Monster Hunter (armor!) cosplay! She was super incredibly nice!
It was great seeing @vampybitme again at AX after @andrewblackswordsman and I worked the Luna Haruna autograph session! She debut her Monster Hunter cosplay on Day 3 (Sunday)! It was good but also unfortunate that the table was in the way. This photo doesn't do justice to her cosplay. We hope to see her again at another con!
While in line to meet Vampy, we saw a giant Snoarlax… We had a hunch that it may be the one and only D Piddy but we were still uncertain! We then saw a man with a deadpool mask on so we were 90% sure it was him.
After we were out of line, we saw a TON of people surrounding him so that pretty much confirmed it was him! We of course wished to be in a video of his, but we were tired and wanted to find our daughter!
Search for our Daughter
Before you get alarmed, we don’t really have a daughter! @saizen.jpg cosplays as Yui, so we call her our “daughter”!
We search all over for her but got distracted by bacon wrapped hot dogs at one point.
Eventually we found her!
Oh gosh! @animeexpo was crazier this year! @andrewblackswordsman and I had so much fun volunteering again with @aniplexusa! The SAO elections was a big hit and the SAO panel was so great! It was my first SAO panel and first time meeting the director and English voice cast! It was a bonus to work with @bandainamcous too! We got to see more info on the SAO: Hollow Realization game and meet the guests! So much happened this AX! Thank you @acosplayparadise for giving us and all of the ACP team the opportunity to experience so many great things! It was so worth it! Thank you all who took the time to find us and hangout even if it was just for a brief moment! We did our best to find our friends too. There was just so many people as always lol I think Andrew and I are ready to hibernate until it's time to prepare for another con hahaha We hope to see you all again!
After finally catching her, we headed back to Little Tokyo.
Little Tokyo Crime
As we headed back to Little Tokyo, our Uber Driver informed us that there was a potential hostage situation in the plaza.
We REALLY wanted to get some boba, so despite the warning...we went shopping for it in LT. (Don’t try this at home, kids!)
After we got our Boba, we rushed back to the hotel just in case!
The final day arrived and it was bittersweet. To be honest, I was super tired and ready to go home and sleep forever. On the other hand, there was the dreaded “post-con depression” and the fact that I would be returning to every day life as soon as the day was over.
We quickly packed up everything, checked in our luggage, and then headed to the con.
Bandai Booth – JRPG Panel
This was the first time Celty and I would be working at the Bandai Namco Booth since our shift from the previous day was cancelled in favor of us working Luna Haruna’s autograph session!
Working at the Bandai Booth was pretty cool! Rather than working character elections, we had the opportunity to watch people play the new SAO game, Hollow Realization, and chat with fans and friends that stopped by.
After only briefly working at the Bandai booth, we were asked to help out at the JRPG panel. It was really cool since they debuted some gameplay of Hollow Realization!
After that panel was done, our final shift was completed for the weekend!
Last Minute Shopping
By the time this happened, it hit us that we hadn’t made ANY time to go shopping at the con at all the whole weekend. We also realized that the exhibit hall was closing in just a few minutes.
Thankfully, Celty knew exactly which booth we wanted to go to! We headed over to the [Loki fashion name?] booth to find a couple shirt with corgis on them!
Aniplex Booth – Final Stop
We met up with our friends at the Aniplex Booth one final time a bit before the Exhibit Hall closed.
Though I wasn’t on duty, for old times’ sake, I helped hand out a few more exclusive SAO buttons.
My friends and I decided that we wanted to go to Little Tokyo. We decided to head to the shuttle that was going from the Convention Center to Little Tokyo.
The line was EXTREMELY long. A couple friends suggested that we take the Metro (public transportation in Los Angeles if you are unfamiliar with it).
With most of us having no experience with taking it before, we jumped at the chance and started walking over to the nearest station.
Thankfully, two of our friends (@angelywencosplay and @lymin119) knew where they were going and we were lead to our destination! Without them, I am absolutely certain that we would have gotten lost and ended up in some other city.
Funny enough, we ended up walking a lot more and getting there later than we would have if we took the shuttle! Regardless, the experience was fun! We’re such weebs. We were pretending that we were in Japan while taking the Metro.
After arriving in Little Tokyo, we immediately headed to Curry House and put in our names. It became our “Last Supper” because after this, we began parting ways. @angelywencosplay and @lymin119 had to leave but the rest of us went to get boba.
Following that, the rest of us parted ways!
I returned home and slept hard. I went into work the next day feeling like a zombie! Next time, I’m taking an extra vacation day off after AX weekend.
I am typically HUGELY obsessed with getting a good night rest (I don’t do caffeine at all) but I wouldn’t have traded my AX experience for the world.
Just two years ago, in 2014, I went to AX for the first time as a new anime fan. Since then, it was crazy to believe that I have gotten to where I am now. I now have so many great friends that share the same passion for cosplay, SAO, and anime. I even had the privilege of helping promote my favorite Anime that pulled me into this craziness in the beginning.
I want to thank you all for reading all of this! This reached 11 pages in my Word Processor… Kudos to you that read this all or at least skimmed it!