Last time…Chengyi and co. were stuck in line for 3 hours and the convention hasn’t even started yet! What’s going to happen when Anime Expo finally starts!?Day 1The first day of Anime Expo! The Exibition Hall and Artist Alley open today! As expected, there was a long line. It was a good thing we arrived two hours early, because the long line soon grew into a very, very long line.
We finally made it inside the hall a little before noon. Lunch was abandoned as all of us made a beeline for whatever we’re here for–a group split off to look at the official merchandise and free swag in the Exhibition Hall, but my fellow Tekkonkinkreet cosplayers and I headed off to the Artist Alley instead. To quote the official AX website, “The Artist Alley at Anime Expo is a venue for amateur and semi-professional artists to celebrate Japanese pop culture through fantastic works of art. Artists come from all over the country and beyond to share their original artwork, prints, crafts, clothing, comics and ‘zines” aka a place to spend all of your money. Because I was a cheapo, I planned on seeing every single artist booth first before spending my hard-earned SURF salary on all of the pretty things. However, I soon lost when I saw an artist selling a print of Kino’s Journey. Kino’s Journey is one of my favorite anime and light novel series, but it’s also quite obscure. Nobody draws Kino’s Journey. My wallet might’ve been spared if the print was below my (pretty high) quality standards, but, no, it was of my favorite show and it was pretty and it was large.
The rest of Artist Alley went by like this:
The Astist Alley was huge. It was endless. It was ridiculous. You can’t even see the other end of the hall when standing at one end. When we finally made it out of the Artist Alley, it was 6pm and we were kicked out of the hall because it was closing.
And so Day 1 ended in a whirl. Checking on the schedule back at the hotel, it was decided that Day 2 is going to be “go to ALL the panels” day.
I’m cramming Day 2 in the same post because I don’t actually want my food blog to turn into an anime blog…
First action item of the day was to attend the Kick-Heart screening (of course, by this I mean “sit in line for the Kick-Heart screening). Kick-Heart is a 12-minute short film about pro-wrestlers and the first-and-only anime to be funded by Kickstarter. We had the honor of being the first people in North America to watch this short!
I had great expectations for this film because of the director Masaaki Yuasa’s track record – before Kick-Heart, he made Tatami Galaxy and Kaiba, both excellent (and, sadly, terribly obscure) shows. It’s good to say that Kick-Heart definitely lived up to my expectations. It really was quite nice to see everybody in the room being super excited for the film! I managed to snag a free Kick-Heart poster after the panel was over and shook hands with with the director himself! Then, two of my friends managed to win the lottery for attending an autograph session!
The day started off pretty well.
Right after the Kick-Heart screening, we rushed off to wait in line for Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia panel. Little Witch Academia is a one-episode short made for the Young Animator Training Project (yes, the Japanese government has a fund for training young people for a life of starvation and 20-hour work days). Instead of explaining what Little Witch Academia is about, you should just watch it here:
Trigger is a small fledgling studio made by the top animators, writers, and directors behind famous shows like FLCL and Tegan Toppa Gurren Lagann. These people are actually the best 2D animators in Japan. They animate with a certain flair that makes everything they draw a joy to watch. I severly dislike the CGI (“fake 2D”) that’s been plagueing animation everywhere (even in the west! Where are my hand-drawn cartoons ahhhh) because it lacks movement and flow.
Besides being able to animate, I also have great confidence in the ability of these people to write. To give you a sense of what kind of studio Trigger is, here’s an excerpt from a NewType Magazine interview with Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima on Kill la Kill, Trigger’s first anime series planned to air this fall:
Q: So while it took time, did the script-writing progress well?N:
Not at all. After we’d decided on a 2-cour series, I submitted the
script for Episodes 1-4 … and Imaishi said “THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF WORK I
WANT TO DO!” and ripped it apart.Q: This sounds familiar. Did that happen during TTGL, too?N:
During the show (leo). Six years ago, Imaishi ripped up the finished
script for Episode 1 while screaming “The drill in my heart won’t spin
with crap like this!” I: Did I really say that? It’s like my words are getting blown out of proportion (lel)N:
This time, it ended up with “I can’t wear sailor uniforms with this
kind of story!” while ripping up 4 episodes’ worth of script.
…I’ll stop rambling now.
After the showing, Studio Trigger made the announcement that, due to unexpected demands from Western fans, they’re planning to make Little Witch Academia 2, and it will be partially funded by Kickstarter!
For a split second, I could feel the dawn of a new era coming. Maybe, if the Kickstarter movement kicks off, the entertainment industry will finally stop making things they think the consumers want and actually start making things the consumers actually want!
After the LWA panel, we went back and strolled around the Exhibition Hall for a bit (my friends and I were trapped in Artist’s Alley all day yesterday and didn’t have time to view all the merch) before deciding to grab dinner at the many many food trucks surrounding AX, ready to take money from hungry congoers.
We actually went to the foodtruck camp across the street. There were about 10 foodtrucks parked in the same lot–it was a foodtruck convention! I bought a curry taco and it was delicious.
To be continued…
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.