Anime Expo 2018: Days 3 & 4

The second half of our 2018 Anime Expo revolved very heavily around the Masquerade show on Day 3. The big show is our first experience in a cosplay contest, despite over four years of building Gundam armors and taking them to ‘con. As per tradition, Day 4 was reserved for shopping around the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley.

The Wing suit is proving to be the most physically exhausting armor to wear – this isn’t helped by our overall lack of sleep putting it together and fixing it every night.

So, after some very brief time walking the halls in suit, we were headed to Masquerade rehearsal. We didn’t get nearly as much time as previous years to roam the halls of the Expo in armor for this reason, but the tradeoff of putting on a sick stage performance will be worth it.

Meeting a few fellow Masquerade contestants in their outfits for the first time as we wait to enter Hall B for our dry rehearsal runs.

I had no idea we had a bloody Guardian as a competing act. I hadn’t seen it around the Expo before this, and I’m honestly taken aback that anyone would even attempt it – it’s scary enough going up against these things in Breath of the Wild – spare us from having to go up against one in real life during a cosplay contest.

Trying to keep him out of the suit for as long as possible before the contest prep begins – we’ll need all our reserve strength to pull off the show.

In backstage for a few hours as everyone got one run through their acts, to get an idea for the stage and lighting/music/video with their performance. We had barely practiced our performance for the first time the night before, and had to find a quiet hallway in the convention center before this to really put our act together.

Showtime underway at around 8pm. We were originally slated to be the sixth act, but were moved to Lucky Seven at the last minute. I’ll take that as good luck.

I wasn’t even the one performing in the suit, but I was low-key nervous as the lights dimmed, our music came on, and the Gundam walked on stage.

Our performance range is limited by only having one subject – most of the other competitors had 2 or more cosplayers on stage whom could interact with each other – we had no such luxury. We studied and watched previous Gundam and mecha cosplayers who had performed at Masquerade in years previous, and noted that they commonly never did much – understandable, given how limited armor movement usually is. However, we wanted to break that mold and maximize the variety of movements and “sequences” that could be had within the performance, which ultimately spawned the idea of putting in all the essentials of what made Gundam Wing what it was, condensed into a minute thirty second live act.

The idea behind the original skit as my partner and I imagined it mandated the inclusion of as much variety in the performance as we could muster given our very limited resources of a single performer and limited articulation. As such, the show was split into intro, narration, beam rifle, damage, and beam saber sequences.  We deliberately used all of the classic sound clips and music from the series to play at those who are familiar with the series growing up – we know if we saw this performance from the audience perspective we’d get a hard nostalgia hit.

My view of the performance from stage right. We practiced for hours to get the rifle timing down with the music, and thankfully it all went off without a hitch when it mattered most. I don’t think we anticipated such a strong crowd reaction to the beam saber being drawn, but it’s good to see that we seemingly achieved our desired hype levels from the audience.

The rest of the Masquerade performances are available online, though unfortunately it looks like some have already been blocked on copyright grounds (good thing we went through the trouble to make all our graphics from scratch).

We didn’t actually expect to win the contest, of course – not for lack of motivation, but we know our limits well enough to realize that there are those who put much more work and refinement into their costumes and show than we have the experience to do. We get to say we’ve competed in a cosplay show with our Gundam now though – milestones.

We’re, uh, actually really surprised the armor more or less survived to even be put into bird mode. We talked about needing to do this from the get-go, but were also half-expecting the wings to just snap and fall off during Masquerade making this impossible, but hey – happy surprises.

It’s a bit of a partsformer. With Day 3 wrapped up, that concludes this suit’s round of service – into retirement it goes.

Day 4 is about just relaxing and enjoying the ‘con as a normal attendee and not a Gundam or Gundam handler.

The number of cosplayers (along with overall attendees) is always at its low on the fourth day.

Stopped by Artist Alley for a quick look since we had the time. I’ve never been one for prints, but I was deathly close to spending an unhealthy amount on a sick Initial D poster. Good thing it was so good that the artist sold out on the first day, denying me from throwing money at him.

We spent most of our time in the Exhibit Hall – it’s hard to shop and look at wares in a Gundam suit, so today’s when we check out if there’s anything cool we’d like to pick up. Ironically a lot of the desirable stuff is normally sold out by now; Day 4 is notorious for being primarily leftovers in the Exhibit Hall.

Me from a year ago probably would’ve irresponsibly impulse bought this on the spot. I like to think I’ve matured – I look at that $120 as an infinitely more useful tire for the car instead of a premium action figure.

Kind of regret leaving the Masterpiece Transformers game all those years ago – Takara and Hasbro have been churning out so many iconic releases in the time since I’ve left. Shockwave in particular looks gorgeous.

My buddy and I were on the hunt for some nice prize figures for most of our run – in the end he ended up picking up a duo set from Monogatari.

The only piece of merch I was after this year was a Good Smile Racing Miku statue (specifically her Sepang incarnation), but unfortunately was unable to locate one – for another time, then.

Surprised we didn’t find this booth and display on earlier days when we explored Exhibit Hall. I’m very sad there were no Itasha cars on display at the Entertainment Hall this year – apparently Blizzard bought the space out, so all we get is this lonely driver on the Exhibit Hall floor (barring the NSX we encountered during the previous days).

The booth that Rocket Bunny FR-S is displayed with is apparently geared towards the unique car and anime culture mix though, which I adore. I would’ve bought a boba tanktop if I had the curves to rock it.

The only shop I actually bought anything from on our last day was this other car culture/street style shop that had a large selection of tags, slaps, stickers, peeks, the works. I’m not ready for slaps yet, but I’ve always loved peeks and was glad to see that they had waifu material on sale.

Azusa is best girl in K-ON. Change my mind.

Nice memes.

This year’s AX felt weirdly short – we didn’t attend nearly as many panels as before, but got to participate in a big cosplay contest, so the event trade-offs make the whole experience feel more alien than previous years. The biggest takeaway for me this time around is that we seriously need more sleep for these kinds of events – I feel like I lost years from my lifespan after going through all of Day 1 with only 2 hours the night before.

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