But believe me, I tried to pass it up. At $35 a head (just for Saturday), it was pricey for a newbie con. Japan Expo is a popular French convention that they brought over to the Bay Area last year, to very mixed reviews. My initial thoughts were that it seemed very forced - something worked very well in France, so they picked it up and moved it here. They didn't start with a local fanbase, meaning a small con and a small entrance fee. Instead they planned for many people, charged an established-con price, and expected the otaku to show up.
However, with some coaxing from my friend, and the appeal of a great guest list, I parted with my money and Sak, Sis and I were in the gates right at the 10 am opening on Saturday.
In the morning, it was pretty empty. We sat at a shady table and ate breakfast, and then went to check out the exhibit hall (dealers/artist alley).
|My sister's choices. As you can see she likes the bishounen.|
|Noragami (squee Yato!) for me and Rail Wars for Sak. I don't understand that show at all. Why do all the women have shiny bums? Are their uniforms made of plastic?|
|Hunter x Hunter character art|
|Yusuke Nakamura exhibit. Such amazing art (most recognizable from the Asian Kung Fu Generation album cover?)|
San Jose Japan Town.
The cute Eevee card is from Lorraine Yee, who also did that pretty mermaid card I sent my sister at camp this year. And the otter was a random beanie thing I just couldnt pass up. I think originally it was a gachapon toy or something.
Anyway, so I was fairly impressed by the variety in the exhibit hall. Let's go back outdoors.
|Sword art online car|
But it was cool, I admit. I didn't know the Bay Area had so many Japanese culture/martial arts clubs.
Anyway, moving on now to the more standard con-fair - panels and video rooms were few. There were two rooms of each, and none of the stuff I love the most - AMVs or fan-made videos. Bummer. We did go to one game show panel though, which was great! We all loved it, and the trivia was just the right amount of difficult to make it interesting.
|Kind of reminded me of the "scene it" franchise. Unscramble the anagrams to guess the anime!|
|Sak was very mildly dressed as Switch-kun from Sket Dance. :P Lol.|
|I'm not sure if this is a cross of the Sailor scouts somehow? But I LOVE that accordion folded orange skirt, so cool!|
|The cutest! Swimsuit Taiga from Toradora! AHH makes me want to watch it all over again!|
|I think it's awesome that her ear looks like an eyeball. HA.|
|Cubone and her friend L!|
|Poor baby! I just want to give him a hug :/|
After autographs, we were famished, so we ate at a combination of the four food trucks in the center.
We found our friends, M and S (unfortunately they had already changed out of costume at this point).
|See? I took my hat off and have bad hair. :P|
Though his music was mostly like, 80's hard rock, so we weren't scared once he took the mask off. haha!
|Not scary looking normally.|
So, pros and cons!
Pros: A lot of variety in the dealers hall, interesting cultural exhibits, no crowds, good food trucks, and relatively good chance of getting guests' signatures.
Cons: Pricey, too much outdoors, no sound isolation, limited fan panels, and no fan-made video programming.
And to add to the negative, just a general lack of convention vibe. Maybe owing to the lack of sleep-deprived otaku running around in cosplay? Maybe because there were too many normal people there for the cultural exhibits? Maybe because the location wasn't "exotic" enough for me to relax? I mean, it's practically next door to my house :P
However, if it's held in San Mateo again next year, I will attend. I do think it's worth the one-day ticket price if you are interested in the guests attending.