Greetings from L.A. people. It was an uneventful day at first. I had arrived at Calgary International airport around 06:00 to see a large line-up of holiday travelers. Luckily I was taking Air Canada so I was able to bypass the long lines & get into customs right away. I connected to wotachat for a short time while I waited for my plane. When the time came to leave I said my goodbyes & boarded around 7:30.
I had a decent seat on the plane. A little closer to the front & in the aisle. The flight was about 3 hours long so I attempted to sleep for the 1st hour (I didn’t sleep at all before I left for L.A.) which was somewhat successful. The other 2 hours I spent watching Perfume’s Budokaaaaaaaan concert. I had almost finished the concert when my laptop battery died. What I saw was great & I hope to finish it on the way home Monday, after which time I’ll be writing a review.
Anyway… I arrived in L.A. somewhat earlier than expected and once I picked my bag headed out to take a shuttle bus to my hotel. I texted a few people to let them know I was in town & to find out the plans for the day. Normally I don’t talk about shuttle rides from the airport but it was notable for a couple of things. First, there were two hot asian chick sitting in front of me which made for some nice viewing. Second, watching bus drivers navigate their way out of the aiport was funny. Very interesting driving skills on display which nearly resulted in several collisions & such.
Having survived the exit from the airport it was a long drive down a series of freeways to downtown L.A. The bus had passed the LACC on the way to my hotel. That place looked huge from the outside so I had a feeling that this was going to be different from Sakura-con in many ways. Eventually I was dropped off at my hotel (The Wilshire Grand Downtown) where I was immediately greeted by a sight of pure awesomeness. A group of Korean flight attendants were checking in at the same time as me.
The lobby of the Wilshire Grand is nice. Getting to the check in counter kind of sucks since it requires you to go up one level to get there. I should have taken the elevator but instead I followed all the Korean flight attendants & dragged my luggage up the escalator. Worth it just to admire the view I think. It was hard to not stare at all of them while waiting in line to check in. It’s not every day you see that many hot chicks in uniform. I even took in the view while I was checking in. Kind of half listening to what the desk clerk was telling me.
All I got from her was here’s your hotel wristband, don’t lose it because I won’t get another one & there’s a package waiting for you in our mail room. I made my way to my room, dropped off my luggage & emptied my back pack of all non-essential con items and promptly made my way back to pick up my package. It was my jacket that I had ordered before the con. I took it and went out to the Staples Center for some quick recon and some picture taking.
I was going to into the LACC but it was already 12:00 & I decided to make my way to the Westin Bonaventure to sign up for the press junket. I kind of walked part way to the Westin but realized I would never make it there on time by foot. So I hailed at cab at the Holiday Inn & asked him to get me to the Westin quick. Dude took what I said literally because he was weaving in & out of traffic & almost drove on the sidewalk to get me there. It reminded me a lot of Crazy Taxi & I got to my destination safe & sound.
It was 12:20 when I arrived at the Westin. It’s a nice looking hotel.
According the information I put in my phone the registration for the junket was somewhere on the 3rd floor. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the room easily so I had to call the concierge for assistance. I guess I had actually passed the room I was looking for once already & just wasn’t paying attention. So I went back to the same place again & looked for who was available for an interview. There was no Tsunku and no Yossy. Disappointing but understandable. Only guests of honor were available for interviews. I looked at the Morning Musume sheet & saw that it was close to full already. I put my name down on the list and took a seat.
I noticed that lots of people were wearing press badges already. I went back to the registration table & picked mine up too. There were lots of people in the room. Some were dressed in street clothes, others in cosplay outfits & some looked like they were attending a meeting or something. I was dressed in a nice pair of khaki’s, one of my t-shirts & my recently arrived hoodie. I knew that my fellow IW people maiZe & johpan were supposed to be at this thing as well. Eventually I saw 2 people who appeared to be them show up. I watched them go to the front & I could hear joh say “Ops is here.” Yes people, my hearing is actually that good when I pay attention. =)
Eventually we recognized eachother & got to talking. It was nice to meet more of my fellow bloggers, especially ones that I talk to on a regular basis. It was also nice to be around some of my fellow Canadians as well. The room kept filling up after & there were so many people that some of us were moved over to another waiting area. It was hot in both rooms, either because of the numerous bodies in the room or because there was no air con. It was just hot. We took a table close to the entrance & started talking about what we would ask Morning Musume, how nervous we were & other various topics.
It was too hot in the room though so we moved out to the hallway and continued our conversation out there. While we chatted we saw AX press reps walking back & forth between the waiting rooms calling out peoples names from the sign up lists. Unfortunately no Morning Musume call outs for a long time. Maize, Joh & I hung out on the 3rd floor for a long time. Eventually we found out that Morning Musume’s plane had arrived at a later time than expected. Eventually we ran into one of the Anime Expo head honchos (Chase Wang) at around I believe 1:15 or so & were informed that Momosu interviews would start shortly.
Nervous energy returned & we patiently waited for our names to be called. Everyone from the secondary room we were slowly filing out to do their interviews. The JPH!P crew arrived from the airport where they said they greeted Momosu at the terminal. The video of it was pretty sweet with all the people screaming their heads off & the girls waving at them in bewilderment. More time passed & Maize & Joh were called up to represent IW. The rest of us left to rot in the waiting room with no AC. During my time waiting in the hot room I met Paul from Hello! Blog & had a long chat with him. He’s a good dude.
More people were called up for interviews & the room slowly cleared out. Eventually some of us were wondering why we weren’t being called as our estimated time to go up had come & gone. We asked the press liason what was going on & he informed us that UFA had decided to deny some outlets interviews & were picking & choosing who they wanted to go in. I saw that Hello!Online (who were first on the list) had been crossed out along with a few others. He said they were basing their choices on outlets they had not done before like radio & magazines (some obscure ones I had never heard of) instead of some of the more familiar (& not so familiar) fan sites that cover H!P.
Around 17:00 the interviews were stopped & Maize & Joh came down with disappointed looks on their faces. They had made it up to the secret room where Momosu were but were denied an interview for some strange, unknown reason. Now I could go on a childish rant like Hello! Online did when they were told to go away by UFA but I won’t. I’ve had some time to think about this & I guess UFA is entitled to decide who talks to their acts (as misguided as it may seem at times). I won’t say how I have lost respect for UFA as a company or anything like that because that’s how the business works. You’re going to get shafted eventually along the way. It just sucks that it had to be this time that I got shafted instead of some other time when I wouldn’t have cared so much.
I don’t see what bitching & whining accompishes besides making you look like one who isn’t grateful that they were even considered for getting a press pass. I considered myself one lucky bastard & the fact that I was able to even sign up for an interview was awesome. Even if I had to waste most of my day in a hot room (5 hours) only to realize that I was getting nothing to show for my efforts. That kind of put a damper on my day so I left with Paul to head to the convention center to finish our registrations.
Since we had received badges for press earlier in the day we wanted to find out if we could just get our ticket vouchers printed. We ran around the entire convention center until we found a guy in convention operations who fast tracked us through the registration process so we could get our concert tickets. We got some prettty damn good seats out of that excursion, like really good. That was much better than standing in line for hours on end. After all, there’s much more of that to come in the days ahead.
Eventually the groups of people disbanded and we all went our separate ways for the night. That’s it for the actual convention coverage for day 0. For what happened after the debacle of day 0 at Anime Expo 2009 you can check out my personal blog.