With AnimeExpo over for the 2011 calendar year, our stomachs filled with sushi and Pocky, and we get used to the jet lag after getting back to our respective time zones, reflecting on this year’s four-day event comes naturally. Without a doubt, I have to say that AX2011 was an experience in all things Vocaloid. Read what our editors and blog followers had to say about the events after the break.
THE CARS! Toyota had two Mikunopolis Corollas, each with different, gorgeous paint jobs with official art for the CorollaMiku project. They actually had two pairs of them, one for the front entrance, and a pair outside the Mikunopolis Concert. (For another pair of images, go to the Corolla Miku article.)
I spent most of my morning standing in line to get my 4-day pass, and then in the ticket line to get Mikunopolis tickets. Fortunately, and to our great surprise, there were still some seats left available for purchase at the convention, and the final person of our four-person party without a ticket managed to get one. That took us through from 8 AM to nearly 11 AM. Talk about exhausting. SeyrenLK (the famed MikuPa Concert Uploader) had a similar experience in his line-waiting video on Day 2.
At 2:30, I made my way to the Miku Keynote. Danny Choo started out with a strange and honestly childish catch phrase “Miku-san magi tenshi” or “Miku is truly an angel” justifying the phrase because LA is the City of Angels, but that didn’t really justify the silliness to me. Crypton President Itoh was there to present to us a crash course in the history of Vocaloid, and how the business model of their products work, including a brief inclusion of KarenT and Piapro. Itoh-san revealed his next big piece of the business model, Mikubook.com, which launched that same day. Itoh described it as a new way to connect to new works linked to Vocaloid. It is in its “Very Early Beta” (Alpha?) stage, however he encouraged as many people as possible to join in and add their input. He also mentioned that there would be some information about Miku’s English version during the Miku Conference. That announcement is what made me miss the Last Exile premiere. There was a Q&A session afterwards, however I didn’t stay for that, as I was late to get in line for the next panel, which was…
The MikuMikuDance Workshop. The line was insanely long, and it took forever to get in. The reason for that was the Miku Keynote had run over an hour, and they didn’t have a translator for the key speakers. Also, because it started late, I had to leave early to get to the Nirgilis concert (was great by the way), but what I stayed for was so worthwhile. The key speakers were Seppen and Brother, two of the best MMD-Ps in the industry. When I heard that Brother was sitting there, my jaw completely dropped to the floor. Brother’s melody.exe was the video that brought me into the Vocaloid craze in the first place. They introduced MMD, including the full intro video included in the software (subbed of course) and then MMD CUP VII, encouraging any and all English MMD users to submit before the deadline, before going into the basics of the program itself, and how to obtain it. This is where I had to leave, forcing me to miss a new MMD-PV by Brother for Miku’s Heart Shooter. Thanks to my good friends on Youtube for bringing it to my attention.
ZANEEDS set at the All Age Dance at Club Nokia was… when I was asleep. I was so exhausted by the day’s events that the dance just slipped away past my eyelids. For what I saw of Club Nokia during the Nirgilis concert, it was a great dance setup, however their camera and food-nazi rules, plus their $3 Popcorn and $8 Beers, sort of hinder the mood. My buddy RemiliaScarlet went, and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Later on, ZANEEDS said it was their first time doing a DJ gig in America, and had a lot of fun.
The Miku Conference was possibly more packed than the Miku Keynote on Day 1. Once again, Danny Choo did that dumb catch phrase again. Koboyashi-san revealed that he was on staff for Mikunopolis, which they said some English Miku samples would be played at. They also had a new demo of KAITO Append, which revealed that you could create a Kaiko voice much easier than the original. When asked if they were going to bring KAITO Append to the US, the answer was “Wow, that’s a scary question.” We did get some hope, however, that there may be a KAITO English edition, since he studies American jazz, and is therefore fluent in English. Sadly, the panel was cut short to avoid the fiasco that happened the day before, and we couldn’t ask questions. So much for inquiring about CV04.
The Vocaloid Cosplay meetup that happened just before the conference sort of fell flat from a V-ism standpoint. Apparently one of us… *glares at descent* doesn’t recognize an iNSaNiTY Kaito cosplay when he’s right in front of him! Anyway, I did manage to get in as a part of the KAITO set in the cosplay photos. Hopefully we’ll get a huge set of cosplay photos together on the forum. If so, I’ll link it as soon as it’s ready.
Of course, the big pull of the night was Mikunopolis. There were at least three news trucks sitting outside the theater as we lined up a half hour beforehand to go in. I was seated in the far right section, one section away from the giant boom camera that was recording for NND. That boom camera went LOW! As acoustic and jazz renditions of Vocaloid songs echoed, we took our seats, and that annoying Danny Choo showed up again trying to convince people to say “Miku magi tenshi” three times, only to bring out DANCEROID for a warmup. The two girls did a good job with First Kiss and Luka Luka Night Fever, however the real highlight of their stagetime was the surprise dance for Lots of Laugh (LoL), with of course a plug by Danny Choo of their new DVD. That was followed by another set of renditions as they finished seating, and a BS statement that Miku was camerashy, so no filming please!
The show started out with the CorollaMiku commercial that started the campaign before all awesomeness broke loose. The energy was palpable as Project Diva Desu began, followed by World is Mine. The new string section was a great addition to the band, sitting next to Jun Abe, however I felt there were too many strings, and they could have easily cut the section in half and still gotten the proper energy out of it. The glowsticks were flying in rhythm, and everyone from 20 rows back and the balcony were on their feet cheering with each track. And with every new costume, and there were 12 of them, the cheers got even louder. Though everyone was too hoarse and tired at the end to make a uniform chant for an encore, everyone voiced their opinion, and indeed she did come back for three more songs, including Ai Kotoba and The First Sound. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I realize my description hardly covers the entire event, but I wanted it to be short, because we have so many other V-ism con-goers that wanted to weigh in.
The Vocaloid Fan Phenomenon… was a giant disappointment. I don’t know who that guy was that was dressed in Reimu Touhou cosplay, or what he had to do with Vocaloid in general, but two things were obvious to me. 1. Everyone was fooled into thinking he was a girl. Pulled off the trappiest trap of trapdom. 2. This was not an official panel, and was just the opinions of one person. I didn’t last 30 seconds. Did anyone actually stay at this panel that wants to tell me what happened?
Afterwards I walked the dealer’s hall for a bit, swinging by the Mikunopolis booth again, only to find Hachi and Wowaka signing autographs. Unfortunately my timing was so bad that I found this out within two minutes of them packing up for the day, and I didn’t get a single bit of ink from them. I know some of our V-ism congoers managed to get signed. I consider them the lucky ones.
That being said, Mirai no Niero: Sounds of the Future, was the most rewarding panel of the convention by far. This three-hour panel hardly even had a line, which was a stunner to me, plus they had a door prize raffle where you scanned your badges to be entered. This was apparently the second time a Mirai no Niero was held at AnimeExpo. Last year they had a shorter one, so the first thing they did was similar. Cosplayers of Miku, Rin, and Len, came out to play the parts of the characters “defying the conventions of technology to be here today.” I learned later that they were actually congoers that fit the part, so they were asked to perform the script as the characters. I had thought they had a few too many questions about the script. That being said, they had the most gorgeous Rin I have ever seen.
The first half of the panel was showing different PVs from several artists and composers, and their messages to the fans at AnimeExpo. This included some World Premiere videos that had yet to be posted anywhere on the internet, including: A debut MMD-PV of Strobe Last by masatakaP; an internationally-safe version of kagomeP’s Innocent Girl (Working Man replaced with giant stuffed Panda, yeah it’s ok to laugh); and two unfinished Anime versions of Daughter/Servant of Evil and World is Mine (the latter being kind of raunchy).
The second half introduced the guest VocaloPs: Penguin’s Project; sunzriver; and ZANEEDS (piperP). Each one had a new video to introduce to America in their World Premiere: Galopagos (feat Ritsuka’s artistry); Boring Bowling; and The Socialist/Social Darling respectively. Each spawned a great reaction from the audience, with some funny laugh-out-loud moments, but everyone appreciating the work with great applause. Another surprise guest was the artist who drew the intro movie to the panel, who had a booth at Artist Alley, but was too shy to show her face. Finally the creator of the Vocaloid engine itself, Ideki Kenmochi, straight from Yamaha came out as the final surprise guest to give a live demonstration as to how the engine works, and even made Sweet Ann sing Happy Birthday. By far, this was the most fun I had at a panel, and I hope to see it again next year, maybe with even more VocaloPs as guests. I wrote down samfree and Deco*27 on my input card, so if others did the same, maybe they’ll invite them next year. I dunno.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience that I’m glad I participated in. Though I felt that Danny Choo’s presence at the convention was more of a detriment than a compliment, there was so much to keep a Vocaloid fan’s interest that I could have spent two extra days taking it all in. I haven’t even mentioned the massiveness Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley. I’m going back to relive a few of those moments again. To Vocaloid fans the world over, have a good night knowing that the industry we love is still going on strong.