Crunchyroll Expo Con Report

…and now for something different.

I hinted to Scott this was a while coming:

This is my first in-person con after waking up at 6 am for Ex-Arm (…we all know how that went…) – it made me so excited, I got jittery and couldn’t sleep the night before. It really didn’t help I got work on Friday night and Sunday, so even with a bottle of water on hand, I got a bit dehydrated and a bit of a headache around 4 pm on the day of the expo or so.

Sidenote: In the past, I’ve gone to great lengths to protect my privacy, but I can’t talk about my experience without mentioning things that reveal my location this time (you kinda have to reveal the location when local stuff affects the con experience…). Dollar amounts are in AUD.

I mean, I’d been hearing about cons since at least 2015, if not before, through Anime News Network‘s con reports and the like – that year, I was invited to PAX but turned it down because I thought I couldn’t afford it (turns out that $30 entry fee was cheap, compared to $45 for this one…), while I could’ve gone to Animaga in June (as mentioned in the reply tweet above) but I decided not to go.

That said, I’ve been detached from most of the wider anime community since the pandemic began by being stuck in Hypnosis Mic hell, so even though it felt like I was truly amongst peers while I was there, occasionally I would feel a bit alienated at exactly how niche some of my interests within anime’s auspices really are – there were a lot of prints and artist merch, but only one artist selling Hypnosis Mic merch, for one thing. Despite being an anime fan for years now and even dedicating my studies to the topic, I also occasionally get embarrassed at myself for going out of my way to celebrate my hobbies so extravagantly like this. The sheer number of attendees does make you realise, however, so many people have been brought together by anime – even some in wheelchairs.

Cosplay

Amongst the cosplayers, there was a lot of Genshin Impact, Demon Slayer, Boku no Hero Academia and Spy x Family. There were family cosplays and group cosplays, plus a lot of people wearing anime apparel. Personally, I was cosplaying as El Melloi II from Fate/ (or alternatively, Zhuge Liang from Fate/Grand Order). I’d done a test run of his outfit with the red jacket/yellow scarf during the anime club’s cosplay cafe earlier this year and knew already the trousers from the charity store weren’t comfortable for long periods of time, but I hadn’t really tested the version with the leather jacket/red scarf which I wore to the expo, so all the people wearing anime shirts made me occasionally regret just wearing my Boku no Hero Academia shirt and jeans instead…not to mention in both instances, I wore a lanyard that wasn’t part of my outfit and then forgot to take it off when I wanted to be recognised as the character.

Getting In

So after asking around in my anime club’s Discord, I went to Saturday of CRX. The commute was the usual …until I got on the train and sat near a guy in a puffer jacket and his friend, dressed up as a Naruto character, who were talking about what they needed to enter the con (thank goodness I’d downloaded my ticket to my Google Drive in advance!). From that point on, I followed the crowd of cosplayers/people decked out in anime apparel to the venue.

The entry line was huge – even though I showed up at around 10 am (the specified start time), the volunteers had to make 3 separate lines for wristbands! I was on my own and typically on the side of the line, so I moved up a few times without noticing. That said, it took about 40 minutes to enter the venue and I was one of the lucky ones. I could’ve gotten a media pass, but I’d already shelled out for a guest pass under my real name and because I blog under an alias, I figured the people who were meant to give me the pass wouldn’t recognise it was mine anyway.

I was surprised Crunchyroll was advertising on a big screen outside the venue The Witch from Mercury (or was it Cucuruz Doan’s Island…?), alongside Spy x Family and an ad for a gaming chair (one of the sponsors sold those), among other content.

Once inside, I was greeted by the YouTuber version of Crunchyroll Hime, while smoke rolled in from a machine on the right of the Hime screen. Hololive was really big at this con – not only did I see a cosplayer of Graw Gura and they played Mori Calliope’s song Make ‘Em Afraid on the big screen prior to screenings, there was an entire section of Hololive screens…This was good for having a place to sit down, at least.

Screenings

These were the most memorable to me, but they asked for no filming to take place during these.

I saw in full the I’m the Villainess, so I’m Taming the Final Boss and Mob Psycho 100 III screenings.

  • I’m the Vilainess… (world premiere): Episode 1. I got into this screening 15 minutes early because I was so excited about it and did that for Mob Psycho as well. Central premise is a terminally ill girl who’s a fan of a game gets reincarnated into another world as the villainess Aileen and has to stop herself and her world from befalling a bad end due to the last boss becoming a dragon. Some people might find this a little standard for the genre, but I fell head-over-heels with it (because Ume’s voice + bishonen overload + determined female protagonist = yay!, plus if you take a look at the last boss, you’ll see he’s exactly my type, tee hee). The last boss’s name is Claude and the ostensible romantic interest’s name is Cedric, so in my fervour, I didn’t quite get the names straight in my head…oops. It’s funny, but overall, it didn’t get a lot of reaction from the crowd (maybe because not everyone was part of the target audience for it…?). Definitely going to try it out once it airs.
  • Mob Psycho (Australian premiere with cast messages): First 2 episodes. (SPOILERS!) You’ll need to have seen seasons 1 and 2 for this, because the giant broccoli and Serizawa show up in both episodes, as does Sho in 1 episode. End messages say ep. 3 will go in a new direction and thank you for watching/it’s finally coming to an end. OP (called “1”) by Mob Choir is very memorable as always. Ep. 1 is about Mob filling in a career pathways form except Mob decides to part with the agency at the end and the agency goes youkai hunting/Mob helps make a haunted house in ep. 2 (the intro about psychics changes to be about youkai hunters). Dimple is up to something with the broccoli and Mezato brings up the Psycho Helmet religion again. Now I’m almost done with my Master’s degree, the bits about careers really hit home (although Reigen asks what’s up with Serizawa and Mob when they’re affected emotionally by it). The crowd had huge reaction to it. After having seen a few anime with changeovers in cast/staff (most notably One Punch Man season 2’s change in director), I was surprised for a second they brought Yuzuru Tachikawa back. There was a Reigen cosplayer in the crowd (you could tell who it was because they had a pink badge saying something to the effect of “Tumblr’s no. 1 sexiest man”) and the emcee who introduced the screening pointed him out to everyone. There was also someone dressed in black with a Dimple headband and I believe there was a Mob to match those as well, although I didn’t see them as much.

I also saw part of the Kaina of the Great Snow Sea and Blue Lock screenings.

  • Kaina: Eps 1 – 4. A sci-fi with hermetic suits, large bugs being eaten, a lot of worldbuilding, Snow Seahorses and Celestial Membranes. It looks a lot like Drifting Dragons or Knights of Sidonia because of Polygon Pictures (I would say it’s most like the former). (SPOILERS!) The main storyline follows the title character and a princess of one of the kingdoms called Ririha as they try to avoid capture by the Valgians. Ririha eventually fails and becomes a bargaining chip between her kingdom and Valgia, which have started to lose water to support themselves.
  • Blue Lock: Episode 1. A psychological anime about soccer, meaning it has all the trappings of a Sports! anime (as Irina would call it) and the seriousness of Death Note. There was a director message (supposedly over the credits like in the Mob Psycho screening), but I skipped it because I was viewing it from the entrance of the stage after getting out of the Mob Psycho screening.

Merch

I couldn’t help thinking hundreds or thousands of dollars must be changing hands at this expo alone – the food trucks were hugely busy and the boba ice cream truck ran slightly behind on orders. I got some strawberry and matcha ice cream (slightly more expensive than the liquid nitrogen ice cream) because I thought I’d never get the chance to see a truck like that again, but it was really sweet and syrupy.

They were selling cosplay lenses and I was somewhat tempted to buy some, since I do have a mostly-set-up Saburo (from Hypnosis Mic) outfit…but obviously not his heterochromia. The lenses were half price (down from $70), but since I dunno if I’ll ever go to a con again (according to local news reports and anime club gossip, apparently this was a very badly managed con) plus I have no experience with contact lenses anyway, I figured it wasn’t worth it.

There was representation of most series around in some form…except Boueibu (which I had a keychain of after buying it from eBay – much to my dismay, it seemed to be the real deal, but lost a white section on the train). Having only ever been exposed to either really cheap gachapon figures (about $2 – $6 each) or really expensive figures (about $85 – $100 for a Nendoroid or $300 or so for a scale figure) that I didn’t quite expect Popup Parade figures to sit in a fairly reasonable ballpark of about $30 – $40. That said, a lot of merch I didn’t care enough about the relevant series to warrant buying, so I held on to about half my budget.

My haul in the end was smaller than expected, but consisted of:

  • a $15 mystery bag (cheapest one around, but I couldn’t find where the huge Crunchyroll mystery bags were being sold) – this held a pixel Mudkip badge, a small heart ring, some Eeveelution stickers, a Slowpoke in a gacha Pokeball, a fluffy bow on a ribbon, a Sailor Moon bookmark (fanmade), a Shizuo uchiwa sticker (Durarara!!, likely fanmade) and a small keychain plush of Patches from Neko Atsume (the staples used to close the bag are dangerous – don’t hurt yourself on them!),
  • a Stella star pin (from the rally described below),
  • a Jakurai charm from Yueppi (linked in the intro) and
  • a keychain of Sakunosuke Oda from Bungou Stray Dogs.

Other

  • There was a Spy x Family stamp rally – where the clues were really obvious (Yoru was near the Chainsaw Man screen, Loid was near the manga-reading section and Anya was by the Spy x Family booth). The stamps were all the same (passport stamp, “arrival Down Under” style) but different colours. There was also Spy x Family and Jujutsu Kaisen settings (the former was the living room, the latter was the chair you see at the start of that series when Itadori is restrained). The Spy x Family living room queue was long (went around two sides of the booth), but the Crunchyroll booth’s queue was about a third as big as the entry line (went around 2 and a half sides of the booth and was that long almost all day).
  • There was a Taiko no Tatsujin section in the arcade, where I had an attempt at Senbonzakura…even though I won my round against a random congoer, I think I need more practice. There was also other games, including Dance Dance Revolution, Smash Bros and Street Fighter which I didn’t try.
  • There was a Gundam display as well as figures on display (for series like Persona and Lupin III, as well as the more popular series like Jujutsu Kaisen).
  • There was promotion for a Switch game called Loop8 including a bike, cardboard stands and a fishing minigame. I got a Hi-Chew lolly from getting one of the magnetic fish with the fishing pole.
  • I sat down at the streaming booth at one point when they had a Shoot! Goal to the Future pre-recorded stream happening. Three of the voice actors (Shimba Tsuchiya, Chiaki Kobayashi and…I think it was Shunichi Toki) were being quizzed on soccer. I thought one of the people was Ume, but…Ume’s in that anime, but he wasn’t on screen.
  • People queued up for signing and I wasn’t sure if they were around for the Mob Psycho screening, so I wasted a good 10 – 20 minutes in line for something I hadn’t paid for (signing tokens were $35 and I wasn’t interested in the English dub guests that were around that day, outside maybe Kaiji Tang’s role as Dazai in Bungou Stray Dogs).
  • There was a wall at Anime Dori with shikishi from some creators:
One of the least blurry pictures I got. My shots of the Spy x Family stands are slightly blurry.

This doesn’t cover everything about my day, so ask away if you have questions.

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