Anime Expo 2003
Final Thoughts

by Christopher Macdonald,
2003 was my fourth year visiting Anime conventions and my third year attending the grand-daddy of them all, Anime Expo. AX is an experience unlike any other Anime Convention, with the gigantic dealers' room and trade-show-esque displays; AX is more like a mini E3 than a big Anime con. Attending Anime Expo is one thing that every Anime fan should do at least once in his or her life.

My reasons for going to a convention might be different than those of most though. The two biggest reasons are to meet with people that I do business with all year, and to cover the event for Anime News Network. I get enjoyment out of the former, and the latter is work.

While it's never as amazing a spectacle to behold as it is the first time, the AX dealer's room is still something impressive to see every year. I'm not sure what really impressed me the most this year, ADV's even bigger [than last year] 2 story booth, Bandai Entertainment's great mini theatre, or Pioneer's simple but gorgeous booth. One thing that did strike me though, was bootlegs... bootlegs everywhere. In his recent interview with ANN Mike Tatsugawa said, “No dealer would dare to sell bootlegged anime while the rights holders are in attendance.” And I would have though he was right. But not only were some stores selling bootlegs of unlicensed titles, sound tracks and Gundam models (bad move) but even licensed Anime.

Oh well, I'm pretty sure that the rights holders noticed and will be re-acting to the situation.

One thing that AX really did right this year was the “line management.” Dealers' room, registration and even masquerade lines moved smoothly and were non-existent shortly after the respective event rooms opened. Some unfortunate people assumed that the lines would be horrible and lined up hours in advance for the various events (for the masquerade they were rewarded with their choice of seating though) while people that showed up 30 minutes after the lines started moving pretty much didn't have to wait at all.

From ANN's point of view, in regards to the job we did, I'm fairly happy with our reporting. We made an interesting trade versus last year. Last year we managed to file complete, detailed reports for every panel the same evening as the panel. This year, thanks to the wonders of wi-fi, we managed to file short reports about the important aspects of the panels before they were even finished... but the complete reports followed, on average, about a day later. Obviously there's still room for improvement. Hopefully next year, and maybe even at future conventions this year, we'll be able get up to up to the minute coverage on details and timely complete reports... all the while still enjoying the convention ourselves.

Unquestionably, I need to thank ANN's crew for the great job they did Allen Divers, Bamboo Dong, George Phillips and Mikhail Koulikov were spectacular in covering all the panels and events.

ANN's first ever convention panel was a surprising success. A lot of people said that they might attend a theoretical ANN panel if one was held, but when 50 people showed up at 10pm on Thursday night, it was pretty cool. Unfortunately ANN isn't able to hold a panel at Otakon, the next major convention we'll be attending in force, but I expect that next year there will be ANN panels at several conventions. In addition to the panel drawing a respectable number of people, I was also happy with the way it went. All week prior to the panel people had been asking me what we'd talk about at the panel, and jokingly I said, “Hi, we're Anime News Network, any questions?” Fact is, right up until the day of the panel itself I hadn't really had a chance to think about what we'd say at the panel, but in the end a few things did come together and we were actually able to talk for about half an hour before opening the panel to questions. Thanks to everyone that showed up, and we'll see you at next year's panel!

My personal big disappointment of the convention was actually the closing ceremonies. This years closing ceremonies consisted of a nod to the various contest winners, final appearances and short speeches from the guests and the unveiling of an impressive $74 020 cheque to the City of Hope. But a lot of things—for example, a closing speech from the con-chair—were missing. But if a reporter's biggest complaint about a convention is the uneventful closing ceremony, then one can rightfully assume that the convention had very little to complain about.

With the closing ceremonies over, the biggest Anime convention in North America was also over, as is this report.

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