I’m here too! In front of the sign
You found me a few minutes after i bought my stuff haha, btw it was Sean but no problem. I couldnt show up at the meet up today got to AX alittle late.
As for experience at AX relating to key not much happened. Day one it was just Key booth opening so everyone rushed to the booth once exhibit hall opened. I got to the booth immediatly after opening exhibit hall for general public while the people who bought premium got into the exihibit hall an hour earlier than us regular vistors. I managed to see someone buy the last white clover art book and I believe two of the kakeuji were already sold on day 1.
As for Day two Itaru Inoue was doing autographs today however I was unfortunate and was unable to get autograph tickets. I went back and bought Circle of the Fifth CD and was able to get another angel beats 1st beat pin. Not surprisingly most of the items for sale were already sold out. 8/10 kakeujis were sold two microfiber towers, two pins, Kud 1 Tshir, Clannad t shirt sold out ect. Day 3 will be coming up in a couple hours and I hope I can get into the Itaru Hinoue panel on time.
Ugh I’m sorry I’m absolutely terrible with names… Anyway it’s good, I hope you had a fun day either way!
I found MDanish and Misuzu and met them for last 2 days.
We met and talked to some new Key fans too.
Meet you guys at Itaru Hinoue Panel tomorrow morning!!!
From official Key Facebook “For those of you who want to help us, work with us, from translation and publishing till merchandise, just come to our booth at Japan Expo and Anime Expo and tell us more about you!
We want to release more and more titles in the future. Please show us your support!”
Greetings from Los Angeles! This write-up has been made to provide you coverage of all the VisualArt’s/Key-related happenings at Anime Expo 2015. While I’ll provide some information on the convention itself, I’ll endeavor to focus primarily on my experiences attending said events over the course of my time there.
Day 1 - July 2, 2015 - Late Arrival
I arrived in Los Angeles at 11:15pm on Thursday without my badge, so there wasn’t much I could cover. One of the people I am rooming with at the convention had my room key and was out of touch for quite some time. Despite the main convention area being closed, I was able to convince an exposition center representative to let me look around for him a bit, and was able to take some interesting pictures of the main convention entrance in the process. If you ever wondered what Anime Expo looks like without 100,000+ people running around, you’ll like this:
I eventually got into my room at about 4:20am. I took a 45 minute nap and woke up to get in line to claim autograph tickets for Itaru Hinoue’s 1pm signing.
Day 2 - July 3, 2015
By 5:30am I was in line for the 8am ticket distribution. I was pleased that there weren’t too many people in line, and I felt reasonably confident that I would be able to get a ticket for myself along with those tagging along with me. Around 7am I took a picture of the line in front and behind of where I stayed. I was very glad I arrived when I did!
The line in front of us.
The line behind us (w/TK!)
It is a bit difficult to see in the second picture, but the line extended to the right of a picture, around a corridor, toward the left, and back towards the main entrance building where the line began to snake around for some time. Once they let us in, we were brought to a second winding area where we waited around for a brief while before being ushered into a hall with the ticket booths.
The Ticket Booth Lines
The lines were organized into three areas divided up by the time of the autograph session. Each person could claim a ticket for a single autograph before heading to the back of the line, so everyone had to choose wisely. Hinoue’s was at 1pm, making her ticket booth the second one. I would say that booth had the longest line overall, and was told that the convention’s interest in her autograph was only met by voice actress Ayako Kawasumi (Saber, Fate/stay night UBW). Very few people went to the third booth which actually made me feel a little sad. But no matter; Hinoue’s booth awaits! My friend that arrived at 5:30 with me and I were able to get ticket numbers 34 and 35 out of a total of 75 guaranteed tickets. Naturally, we were quite excited!
As I was up for 30 hours at this point with virtually no sleep, I headed back to the room and rested for awhile. When I woke up I got dressed and gathered some items for myself and my friends (the others with me were able to claim ticket numbers 69, 70, and reserve [non-guaranteed] #10). I put on my Sunday best to make as good an impression as possible, to which my roommate said, “Strike your best Bond pose!” I don’t think I got it right, since he laughed quite a bit afterwards. ^^;
I got on the bus to head over when I searched my pocket and realized I left my ticket in my jeans from earlier! So after arriving at the convention, I headed back to my hotel, found my ticket, and went back to the bus stop. Unfortunately, the bus line was long… way too long for me to get back to the convention before the signing in 30 minutes. So I decided that, considering all the effort I put in to get to this point, I had to sprint the 1.6 miles to get to the convention on time. In a suit and dress shoes, this was not an easy task. Fortunately, I arrived back with time to spare so I could clean myself up. As you can see here, the main entrance was a lot busier than overnight!
The line consisted of a variety of Key fans, some of whom in cosplay. VisualArt’s already snapped pictures of them, so please take a look. As some of you may know, Itaru Hinoue does not not like having her picture taken, so I never made an attempt to do so. I will mention that she was very gracious and accommodating to those in line and was a joy to be around. Ultimately, three of my accompanying friends and I were able to get items signed (as well as @cloud668, who is always a pleasure). While many of those in line brought items purchased from the VisualArt’s booth, I brought some special items for my friends and I to have signed, three of which prompted Hinoue to react to them. I will mention her comments as I can best remember them below:
CLANNAD Rough Note (Friend 1): Ms. Hinoue seemed very surprised to see the book (released in 2001 featuring CLANNAD concept art), exclaiming “How nostalgic!” I was told that she also commented on the art style she used at that time.
White Clover ~Itaru Hinoue Art Works~ 1st Ed. (Myself): An audible, rising ‘Eeeeee’ could be heard from Hinoue and the others behind her. I was asked where I wanted it signed and I replied that my preference would be on the front cover, though I would be fine with wherever she felt comfortable signing it. (White Clover’s first edition has a white, felt-like textured cover which is very soft to the touch. There is a risk for a sharpie to cling to this texture and smear.) She felt the cover for a few moments, looked at me, smiled and said, “I’ll give it a shot!” I thanked her, and the signature she provided was nothing short of beautiful. My impression is that she is very personable and showed sincere interest when interacting with everyone.
CLANNAD 1st Ed. (@fatblackninja): This game was still in its original shrink wrap until arriving at the autograph table. A look of shock (‘Oh no…!’) came across her face before smiling and taking the visual novel. As such, she and her assistant were the first people to touch the game box.
Itaru Hinoue continued to sign autographs well after the guaranteed tickets were processed, much to the pleasure of those who had anxiously been standing by. By the end of the signing, an assistant mentioned her hand was quite tired. She really went above and beyond for her fans! She waved to the handful of us watching in the distance, which we returned before she went behind the black curtain.
Post-Signing Autograph Line
It was around 3pm at this time, so i decided to head over to the VisualArt’s booth to see it in person. The booth was staffed by several people, and it was clear a wide variety of items had already been purchased. By that time only two of Hinoue/Na-Ga’s autographed wall scrolls remained and Planetarian had already sold out! There were a small number of Na-Ga’s AX-numbered art books remaining, so I purchased one while my friend came away with various Key apparel. We both received a bonus for our purchase, an Angel Beats! -first beat- pin featuring a character of our choice. As it so happens, we both chose Kanade (though my friend still insists TK is best girl!).
They Sold a LOT!
I spent some time speaking with staff members from VisualArt’s. One among them mentioned that I should stop by tomorrow morning to meet someone. I wasn’t going to miss it! I took some additional pictures of the booth area and continued on.
To finish off the day, I sought out the Kazamatsuri members at the convention for an impromptu meet. Only two others were able to attend: @Glenn_Irish and @kenshin_77. We chatted for awhile, briefly joined up with a Touhou group, and eventually made our way over to Subway. By that point, I was pretty much exhausted from lack of sleep and food, so I called it a night.
From Left to Right: kenshin_77, Glenn_Irish, Clannad_Man
Day 3 - July 4, 2015
I started America’s Independence Day with a visit to Itaru Hinoue’s live drawing panel scheduled for 9:45am. I was a good hour early in front of the panel room but soon learned that the line actually started outside and was a little backed up. We were brought up to the presentation area around 10am which included a large projector screen as well as a traditional table setup.
Really Poor Photo of Table Setup
The Projector Setup. (Can you spot the famous people in this picture?)
The presenters included Tomotaka Fujii (Scenario Assistance, AIR), a translator, Itaru Hinoue (behind the projector screen), and as a last minute unplanned addition, Ryukishi07, the famous scenario writer from Rewrite who was at the convention for a separate panel to be given Sunday. The panel started with Fujii and Ryukishi talking to one another with Fujii explaining the rules of the panel. In a nutshell, limited photography and video could be taken of the panelists and projector screen while Itaru Hinoue was drawing. When she finished and joined the panelists, however, no more video or photography could be taken.
We were soon given a glimpse into what Hinoue would draw, but were told not to say anything. The picture was an image of Nagisa holding several dango! Hinoue mentioned that she was not used to drawing live, though as the presentation commenced, she skillfully illustrated Nagisa with ease. When asked how she was able to draw so skillfully without making mistakes, she simply stated, “Trade secret!” This did not satisfy Ryukishi07, however, as he swore she made use of a physical ‘CTRL-ALT-DELETE’ button to quickly correct her mistakes.
Nagisa Being Illustrated Live!
With Ms. Hinoue occupied with drawing, Fujii briefly talked about CLANNAD and was pleased to see the large majority of the audience were familiar with the story. He ended up asking Ryukishi07 a number of questions, some of which resulted in rather insightful answers. For instance, he described how he was introduced to Key. Years ago, his brother mentioned that he should play a game named AIR. His brother was forceful, eventually installing the game on Ryukishi07’s computer. Ryukishi07 ended up really enjoying the game and as puzzled by why such tragedy would befall the main character. Before he could recover, his brother introduced him to Kanon. Next on the list was CLANNAD. He mentioned that by playing these games he became a true Kagikko (which, as an FYI, was the word Fujii wanted us to leave the panel remembering).
Ryukishi07 also revealed something which he said he probably shouldn’t say, as fans in Japan would attack him for admitting. He mentioned that he was really looking forward to CLANNAD’s 2002 release. (Brief history lesson: CLANNAD was set to be released in 2002 but for various reasons was delayed until spring of 2004. Part of this was due to the story being rewritten, another part due to staff illness/injury, a third being that Key President Takahiro Baba forced himself to take a hands off approach to running the company because of perceived over-reliance by VisualArt’s staff, etc.) Ryukishi07 said he felt ‘betrayed’ by the delays. During this time, his brother mentioned that instead of waiting for the game’s release, they should create their own game. And they did! Ryukishi07’s big reveal was that if CLANNAD had been released on schedule, then Higurashi When They Cry would never have been finished. He also credited the delay with aligning his schedule with that of Key so that he could write scenarios for Rewrite.
Nagisa Being Shaded
During the presentation, I noticed someone walking off to the side of the room towards the back of the projection screen. This person happens to be in the photo of the projector screen from earlier, though I didn’t notice him at that time. Did you find him? It is Takahiro Baba, donning his classic goatee and open suit! Despite practically jumping out of my seat, no one else seemed to notice except for the person sitting next to me who asked, “Is that somebody famous?” Mr. Baba soon walked back and out of sight, and wasn’t seen for the rest of the panel.
At some point during the presentation Fujii mentioned that no other game translations had been planned by VisualArt’s. Fujii has assorted duties at VisualArt’s, one of which being in sales & marketing, so I didn’t expect any major Key news to emerge from the Sekai Project panel later in the day. That being said, he did request fan support. He mentioned that VisualArt’s would be open to having more games officially localized, specifically mentioning Rewrite. He mentioned that we could potentially make it possible by exclaiming ‘Rewrite!’ full of passion. I shouted as loud as I could, as did many other members of the audience.
By the time Itaru Hinoue completed her illustration, time was running short. When she emerged from the projector area, she was wearing the Kazamatsuri high school uniform from Rewrite! It was very ornate, and is well worth mentioning here. Originally a Q&A period was scheduled, though with limited time the convention attendees only allowed for two questions to be asked. One pertained to Hinoue’s progression of art styles, though I believe she answered it a few times previously so it didn’t make much of an impression with me. The second person asked how the panelists reacted to the Kickstarter funds for CLANNAD being collected so quickly. Fujii remarked somewhat sheepishly that he didn’t think the campaign would earn the necessary money. Hinoue mentioned that she was surprised because the rate at which they collected the necessary finding was staggering. Ryukishi07 didn’t think the word ‘kick’ did any justice to the speed at which the money was earned.
As the presentation ended, a mention was made that those going through the east exit would have an opportunity to receive something. I filed towards the back and waited in line, though convention personnel were directing people to quickly exit through alternate exits. The reward for those exiting through the east exit was a replica Nagisa shikishi in the style drawn live by Hinoue!
The Nagisa Shikishi. Bliss!
After the presentation I headed back over to the VisualArt’s booth and asked about Takahiro Baba. The staff member told me that he was at the panel but would be here in about an hour. I walked around for said time and returned to find Fujii, Hinoue (still in her Rewrite uniform!) and Baba entering the booth. After he settled, the staff member I talked to previously introduced us and we talked for several minutes. Like Hinoue, he was quite cordial and seemed full of energy! Mr. Fujii even came over and took our picture at the conclusion of our conversation. It was an experience I’ll never forget!
VisualArt’s President Takahiro Baba & I
Knowing nothing could top my experiences from the past day, I spent some time writing this post. I also looked around the exhibition area for some friends as well as to check out the Kyoto Animation and CAPCOM booths. On my journey, I passed by the Key booth again and came across @s0ewhat! We talked for a bit and took a picture to commemorate the occasion.
At about 5:45, I started heading over to the line for the Sekai Project panel just in case there happened to be some Key information. As with the Hinoue panel, the line didn’t start moving to the room location until about 15 minutes after the scheduled start time. Even so, there was an issue where separate lines were created for the same panel which was never really corrected. The panel hit the attendance cap a short ways ahead of me, and several Key fans I noticed throughout the convention left looking disappointed. I went to the room location anyways to attempt to enter as a reserve, though everyone that attempted that was turned away because a convention staff member ‘wanted the hallway cleared to prevent a fire hazard’. It was clear there would be no convincing her otherwise, so I headed down to the Project Anime Networking Reception and waited there reading live stream updates from the Sekai Project panel. While interesting in its own right (they announced a slew of VNs to be localized), from what I read no Key information was reported that wasn’t previously revealed. November 2015 should continue to be the expected release date until otherwise revised. Furthermore, as Fujii stated, Key is open to having additional VNs translated, though I wouldn’t expect any progress on that front until real data is collected and analyzed after CLANNAD’s English release.
I finished up the day watching some Fourth of July fireworks and wrote this post through Day 3.
Day 4 - July 5, 2015
The final day of the convention featured Ryukishi07’s panel. It was simple, consisting of himself and a translator answering questions proposed ahead of time by fans at the convention and online. There were several humorous tidbits spread throughout the Q&A, such as his enthusiastic assertion that he may no longer be able to eat Japanese burgers after seeing the massive burgers sold in America.
As expected, there was minimal Key-centric content, though one question was asked about Key’s influence in his works. Ryukisi07 described how Key stories start on an upper level of depth, (paraphrasing: ‘Everyone is happy, fun… hentai…’) but then ‘drops down to a very low depth’ where the characters and backstory are described in detail. He appreciates that Key stories are fleshed out and considers that when writing his own stories.
After the panel’s conclusion, I began heading out to the exhibit hall again when I heard the sound of a viola. I stopped midstep and turned to find xclassicalcatx, a well known anime / video game cover artist who worked on the REBIRTH fan album. She was playing in the hallway in front of a small crowd, prompting a convention guard to direct everyone away to give her room. As she finished her song, she caught a glimpse of me, smiled, and began playing ‘My Soul, Your Beats!’ Beautiful as always, the gathering offered her a hearty round of applause at the conclusion.
By the time I arrived at the exhibit hall, many of the vendors were already beginning to clean up and pack away their goods. Just minutes before closing, I made my way over to VisualArt’s booth one last time. A sign was placed on the one of their tables with a handwritten message ‘Last One!’. It appeared everything was sold out except for four pieces: an Angel Beats! wallet, an Angel Beats! card case, and two Charlotte tapestries (one of each version). As I was looking, I was surprised by Takahiro Baba appearing at my side and offering a greeting. We only spoke for a few moments, though I appreciated that he approached me and wished me well as I departed.
With nothing else left to do, I considered that a perfect end to what was an incredible holiday weekend at Anime Expo. After a few minutes, the lights began to shut off in the exhibit hall, and I left the premises.
This concludes my report on Anime Expo 2015. I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences with each of you and hope you’ve found it insightful!
Thanks for the coverage, @Clannad_Man! Maaan sprinting all that distance. That’s true dedication right there. Though I’m sure I would have done the same
Baba is a super cool guy and I was pretty surprised to see him posting on twitter suddenly that he flew all the way from Paris to Los Angeles just for this event… And how he ended up just going around taking pictures of cosplayers!
Anyways, good to see AX is a success, and while there isn’t anything I’m looking forward to on the last day, it’ll be nice to see your report on it!
I do have a full video of the Itaru Inoue panel though it is very shoddy recording because of my lack of energy to hold up my phone for half an hour straight. Im sad I missed out on getting Itaru Hinoue’s autograph and not being able to get a copy of that shikishi, I did see the booth have a big stack of those shikishi so they might be giving it out or selling them.
Oh now I know who are you…
Too bad we didn’t meet and have a talk together. Hope to see you guys next time!
P.S. First time ever attended this huge event, so many people that makes me lost. xD
I met my twitter friends MDanish, Misuzu & CetraMagic. And met some new key fans too. Great stuff.
wow, a perfect coverage.
so excited to visit and meet you guys one day
Thank you so much for this excellent coverage of the event, Clannad_Man! You’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.
You are so unbelievably lucky. I don’t know what I would do if I met Hinoue Itaru IRL. Probably bow down to her like in Wayne’s World and shout “WE’RE NOT WORTHY!!! WE’RE NOT WORTHY!!!”
Did you get to chat with her much?
Great coverage @Clannad_Man , thanks for sharing the experience.
Yeah, drink and food prices are funny at conventions. Aren’t they?
So many things to talk about but: Is it me or she’s drawing Nagisa cuter? Her skills seems to have improved in all this time imho.
I do have one question, though. You seem so sure that November was always the scheduled release time, but this is news to everyone else I’ve talked to. The Estimated Delivery on the Kickstarter was October 2015. Was a November release announced elsewhere?
As someone asked & Itaru sensei answered, she does continue learning the new trends and put it to her art style.
@Aspirety I’ve found this retweeted by Sekai Project@AX2015
Sekai Project@AX2015 retweeted:
Carly B @catgirl147
Free stuff/swag from Sekai proj panel. So like, Clannad question answered. nov 2015, steam too
I know, we wrote an article about it.
I’m asking if it was announced before now, because CM is claiming that it’s always been November.
I see. Well, the estimated date was always October.
This is from an email sent to me (as a backer) on January 9th:
(…) Thanks for your support! You receive our undying gratitude here at Sekai Project and VisualArt’s/Key! Estimated delivery Oct 2015 (…)
Besides that “official” retweet (re November), I couldn’t find any reliable source or announcement yet.
I’ll ask them…
Expanding a little bit: “The precious date was always October, an estimation of course.”
I had a few minutes so I figured I’d respond to the comments here.
@Pepe: No problem! I’ve done similar sprints before, so it wasn’t too bad… but it isn’t something I ever look forward to. I had a hunch Baba might stop by, so I’m glad my intuition was correct. As I mentioned, Key’s staff really seems to have a legitimate interest in the people they encountered!
@s0ewhat: I doubt Key will sell the shikishi, but there is a person at Key’s booth who was responsible for passing them out. She may be willing to give you one if you explain why you weren’t able to claim one.
@JimRaynor_2001: Hi Jim! If you happen to be at Ruykishi07’s panel today, perhaps we could meet up and say hi! Lots of Key fans around. Always a joy to see!
@RyuuTamotsu: Thanks for the compliment Ryuu! I’m happy you think highly of it.
@Aspirety: You’re quite welcome! I always try to do my very best.
@supercoobie: There was lots of bowing from people in line. I had a little more time than most people, but only had about 90 to 120 seconds in total. I offered my sincere admiration for her work and wished her well.
@zetaFairlight: I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ll tell you what, the food and drink prices aren’t making me laugh! -.- And you are correct, Itaru Hinoue has been drawing all of the CLANNAD characters cuter over the past few years. This is simply a result of her evolving style and not something done to change the character’s personalities.
@Aspirety / @zetaFairlight: To be perfectly honest, I don’t pay too much attention to preliminary release dates because more often than not they get changed, especially for Key titles. I’ve always associated the release with Q4 2015, so I probably just screwed up and substituted the months in my mind. Sorry!
I’m glad to have been a part of all this! Looking forward to Sunday’s update =D