Anime Expo 2009
Trapped at Anime Expo 2009

by Zac Bertschy,

So it's 4th of July weekend, and I'm stuck at Anime Expo again.

I say “stuck” not because it's a bad convention or I'm not having a decent time, but because this feels like an off year. There's hardly any industry presence here at all – Funimation and Crunchyroll are the only two big industry booths, and the panel schedule is pretty sparse. I suppose the overall shrinking of the anime market has something to do with that, but even the halls feel a little emptier than usual.

Regardless of all that, there are still plenty of rowdy teenagers in silly costumes packing the halls, and I did bring my camera, so I figured I'd walk around and make fun of stuff. Join me, won't you?

I'll start with an exclusive behind the scenes peek at the “Day Zero” press room!

Glamorous, isn't it? They generally do all the guest interviews on the day before the con, and they herd us press cattle into this warm little room to wait our turn to chat up the con's visiting stars. At least they provided water, which is, let's face it, more than we deserve.

The shuttle buses are back and running fine, which means every morning I get to watch maids and Super Marios and Master Chiefs haul themselves into a bus seat, which remains one of the more surreal images I've ever been privy to.

Good lord, why would you name your restaurant “Pastagina”? That's disgusting.

Good thinking, Square Enix. You put this ridiculous ad for your game up for E3 last month and just left it up until your target demographic came through again a month later for another nerd convention. I applaud your efficient marketing team.

This is Thursday. There are already too many goddamn people here.

Here's Bamboo, playing Carlo Santos' awesome electric violin in our hidden booth space. Just another reminder of how hard your ANN team works at these conventions.

I come to anime conventions for all my Garfield tee-shirt needs.

Guess who had money to spend on a big booth this year!

Guess who else had money!

Guess who didn't!

This horror show was located in the back of the dealer's hall next to Artist's Alley. It's called “Num Num Kawaii” and they sell, in one place, everything you'd need to look exactly like Rainbow Brite, if Rainbow Brite were a porn star who did all her shopping in thrift stores.

Witness the amazing spread at the Industry Reception!

One thing I absolutely love about AX being in downtown LA is watching the cosplayers who dress in ludicrous “gothic aristocrat” getups interact with the local vagrants. Poetry.

This is Saturday. Like I said, it's a little slow this year.

Hey everyone, look at this guy! Isn't he wacky! He's the life of the party! You just can't help but want to smack the plate of food out of his hands and shove him into the soda machines!

Anime conventions are the only places left in the known universe where anyone plays or gives a crap at all about Para Para Paradise. Incidentally, I watched this guy play a round, and I have never seen anyone look so bored while doing choreographed dance moves.

This is the giant enclosed porno video game booth. Inside they have more eroge than you can shake your stick at (HYUK HYUK) including a whole bunch of really unsettling sex toys that plug into your PC via USB. It's only a matter of time before this is the largest booth at any given anime convention.

Welp, that's about it for this year. Pretty slow for an AX, but Saturday was the 4th of July (which usually falls on one of the weekdays) and the economy sucks, so maybe that's why it felt so sedate. At any rate, catch all of our Otakon coverage in 2 weeks, and I'll be “reporting” from San Diego Comic-Con at the end of the month.

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