It didn’t take me very long into my congoing to realize how quickly the main events get booked, especially the ones that aren’t ticketed. Amongst several other premieres that were happening on-site, the one for Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade was by far the one people were keen on seeing. I, who did very much greatly enjoy watching the first Little Witch Academis, was no exception. And with a bunch of friends who were also interested in seeing the film, I made it my number one priority for Anime Expo 2015 to make it into that premiere. That meant being in line several hours early, perhaps camping out as early as the morning, to ensure that you actually got in.
The reason for this uncertainty is because there’s no effective way for the expo staff to count how many people are in line. And with venues that can house hundreds of people at a time, counting everyone becomes a task that takes too much time to be worth it. Sure, there’s masking tape on the floor to direct line traffic, but no one’s estimating the body count using that. So, if the staff feel that they’re hitting the upper limit of the venue, they start deterring people by saying that the event is full. At first, when you hear them say that it’s no big deal and you can just sidle into the line without a problem. However, if you’re just arriving and you don’t know how long the staff have been deterring newcomers, it becomes a problem. And by my own mismanagement I found myself having this exact problem.
When I wasn’t congoing at my leisure, I was helping out the Cheero company booth in the Exhibit Hall. For those of you that went to Anime Expo this year, you may have seen some guy in a Danbo cosplay at their location:
That’s me. I made the costume myself and ran into the booth by chance.
The booth’s manager, who goes by the name of Daisuke, offered to pay me according to how long I’d be able to stand at their booth for advertising. It was a sweet deal. In exchange for selling out to the corporate scum, I could more easily schedule the time I spent in and out of the costume, as well as bask in the eternal glory of having my picture taken by hundreds or even thousands of passersby. As well as all the attention, obviously. I did not make the extra effort of wiring LEDs into those eyeholes just to feel pretty inside. I was out to impress and I was given the best opportunity to do it. Of course, the deal meant that I essentially became an independent contractor working my own hours, which meant that it was time spent not effectively routing my way around AX to make it to events in time. The day of LWA2’s premiere would be one of those dire times, and I had foolishly reasoned myself into thinking that I’d still be able to get in even if it was an hour before the premiere. So I kept working. I didn’t worry.
By the time I made it to the venue, the line was already reaching critical mass. Huge swathes of people sitting outside in the Los Angeles summer heat, anxious about whether they’ll actually be able to see their precious cartoons. The AX staff were already deterring people and I didn’t know how long they’ve been doing that. Worrying thoughts swirled into my mind. How many people were in line? What’s the carrying capacity of the venue? Where are my friends located? Will they even be able to enter? I seriously entertained the thought that the one thing I was most looking forward to out of the entirety of AX 2015 was going to be a completely avoidable missed opportunity. I must have looked a bit helpless to the people who were in line.
I wonder if the staff will even let me cut in line to be with friends? I wouldn’t want to impose, though, and the staff seemed stressed out as it is…
“Mom, it’s the cardboard friend!”
I turn to see a little girl in line, who looked barely past 10 years old. I recognized her voice from when I was walking around in the Danbo costume from before. She and her mother had been walking around the Exhibit Hall at that time and the little girl just couldn’t contain her excitement when she saw my costume for the first time. The two were now in line, in a noticeably comfortable spot where they were guaranteed to make it. They were motioning for me to join them.
I turn to see if there was anyone important watching me. Feeling no one’s presence over me, I quietly slipped into the line.
It was a confusing turn of events, not to mention one of the most unlikely ones I’ve ever had. They had seen me both in and out of costume and had stuck a conversation with me about the cosplay’s construction before this, meaning that they both recognized my face and felt familiar enough to invite me into their place in line. I do remember hearing their names, but by now I’ve completely forgotten and I regret it to this day. Of all the people I ran into with my cosplay, that little girl is the one that stands out to me the most. She was wearing this beautiful purple cloak wherever she went, and still insisted on wearing it in line, in the summer heat, which was cutely fitting considering that Little Witch Academia is essentially a Japanese Harry Potter. And, out of everyone who saw me in costume, she was by far the most enthralled by my existence. I don’t think I’ve ever had any complete stranger be so excited to see me other than her, nor have I ever been graced with this kind of reaction even in my daily life. And I was so flattered by that reaction that I didn’t even bother correcting her when she started calling me the “cardboard friend”.
We talked a bit more as the line made it into the viewing room. From there, I said my goodbyes and started searching for my friends who were already inside. That would be the last time I saw them for the rest of the con. Most likely, we’ll never see each other again. However, knowing that my innocuous hobby put a wicked smile on at least one little girl’s face that day, and also managed to save me from missing out on the most important even of AX 2015… For that, I will remain grateful.
- Oh the anime was pretty good yeah 8/10 yoshinari-sensei please have mercy