Anime Expo 15 Cosplay 2006

Conventions Huntington Beach Arrival Opening Event Saturday Cosplay Kimono Demo CLAMP Panel Sunday Cosplay Dealer's Room Movie Premieres Monday Cosplay Events

There was a food vendor right between the Hilton and the convention center where we ended up getting many of our meals. As we normally do at cons, we eat on the run, grabbing a bite here and a drink there. This time we were able to take a break and eat our burgers at our leisure as we waited in line for the live-action Azumi which would be premiering at 1:30 PM.

A representative from Urban Vision Entertainment introduced us to the film and then announced that Ryuhei Kitamura himself, the director of Azumi, would be sitting in the audience with us (photo below). Along with Kitamura-sensei was Minoru Matsumoto (in the yellow shirt) who played the monkey-faced ninja Saru in the film.

Azumi flat out rocked! What could be better then a sword-wielding woman assassin with a 200+ body count ;)? No question I will be getting the DVD when it comes out in November.

That afternoon, following the movie, Ryuhei Kitamura and Minoru Matsumoto were in the dealer's room to sign Azumi movie posters for the fans (Josh and me included).

Later that evening, Josh and I checked out the Patlabor 2 movie premiere. Yutaka Izubuchi, the mecha designer for the Patlabor robots, introduced the movie and gave some insights about the current production.

I have to say that we went into the movie having no idea about what it might be about except, hey, maybe the Patlabor robots would play a part. The beginning was quite engaging, with the battle in Southeast Asia resulting in a lone survivor looking out over these jungle ruins. I loved the scene with the gunnery instructor showing the young bucks how they need to depend on their own skills and not count on automatic controls. The fact that the new labors were just bristling with these same automated controls had me intrigued.

I was eagerly anticipating a situation where we would see that just because there is always some new and amazing technology around the corner, there is still something to be said about the old tried and true. Boy was I wrong. After such a promising start, the entire movie became just a backdrop to an endless narration about Japan settling for an unjust peace vs. a just war, of how the government was sitting back and allowing the rest of the world to fight their battles for them. Maybe if I had gone in with the expectation that this was NOT an action film, but rather an opportunity to explore Japan's role in world politics I could have enjoyed it more. But going into it cold like we did, all I wanted was for it to end.

I had always been very grateful to director Mamoru Oshii. He is responsible for one of my most favorite movies ever, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, a movie that must be watched many times to be fully understood in its many subtleties. However, his message simply didn't click with me this time.

I'd like to think that I'm capable of enjoying a movie based on political intrigue with deep complexities. However, it just seems that this movie was going in way too many directions for me. First we have that suspicious car with a bomb on the bridge. Then the bridge explodes and it appears that it was fired on by a rouge F-16 from the SDF, but wait, see those tiny differences in the fuselage, maybe it's really a special American unit. But wait! Now they are being attacked by Japanese planes so maybe it *is* the Japanese. But wait, those planes suddenly disappear from the radar screen and in fact, never existed because Japan's defense system was hacked, so maybe it was the Americans after all. Hey, I'm even thinking, maybe the first F-16 didn't exist either. There was that mysterious car on the bridge that could easily explain the explosion. So maybe we have a case of cyber-terrorists at work here and everything to this point had been illusionary. Except that's all old news now and we never really go back to any of that. Once I had been tricked into following several false lines of reasoning, it just lost my interest. The battle scenes were few and far between and not nearly often enough to keep me working at unraveling this very convoluted plot of a man inflating a country's fear of terrorism to impose his own version of martial law.

On Monday, we attended our final movie premiere for AX, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie, Conqueror of Shamballa. Of the three, I was anticipating this one the most as I had just finished watching the series on Cartoon Network. The movie picks up where the series left off.

FUNimation had a full roster of stars to highlight the premiere. Present were the English voice actors; Vic Mignogna (Edward Elric), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Riza Hawkeye) and Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang). We also had the original director Seiji Mizushima as well as the English version director, Mike McFarland.

I was not disappointed. The movie was fantastic and I enjoyed myself immensely. You know, otaku fangirls should be a requirement for all anime movie premieres :). As the various characters showed up on screen for the first time, Edward, Roy Mustang, etc., the crowd would burst into enthusiastic shouts and applause. It really made this movie experience more like a huge party and we were all invited.

Conventions Huntington Beach Arrival Opening Event Saturday Cosplay Kimono Demo CLAMP Panel Sunday Cosplay Dealer's Room Movie Premieres Monday Cosplay Events