During Labor Day weekend of 2019, Crunchyroll Expo held their third convention at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in Downtown San Jose, California on August 30 to September 1. There were lots of improvements on the event.
This time, there was no Northern California competition as SacAnime decided to hold their summer event in June this year which meant attendees weren’t conflicted on which event to attend or weren’t crunching to try to attend both events.
This year, there was a theme to the entire con. It was as if Crunchyroll Expo became a city and its own community. Each section of the con felt like a different part of the city. Maps of the con were created to make it seem like a map of a subway system. They even had the subway sound like the ones in Japan. Before attending this con, I thought they would just have a similar layout to what Fanime Con has, but boy was I wrong. They literally flipped it on everyone.
One of the highest selling points was the inclusion of the FLOW concert. FLOW is a JRock band that is very popular with the otaku community. Not only did they have a concert, but they sold out their concert with very affordable ticket prices. FLOW also didn’t just have a concert and bounced, but they also had an autograph signing for those that had tickets for those that wanted to meet the band.
The other selling point was the possibility of meeting creators and voice actors of many of the anime series that Crunchyroll was promoting like Junji Ito. It didn’t cost a dime. It only required a badge, patience, and a ticket for waiting for the distributions. Many people did wait overnight for the chance to meet many of these guests of honor.
The dealers hall and artists’ alley was amazing. They went all out in making it look very impressive and had them split the hall 50-50 instead of having them each in separate rooms. Both areas were pretty deep with diverse sellers. Many things were available not seen at other cons.
I appreciated the Crunchyroll Expo staff making sure to do their best to keep everyone safe. They did so with the tap in and out system with badges and employing a lot of security that did thorough bag checks throughout the various checkpoints at the entrances to the convention center,
This year, there was an extensive gaming room with free to play cabinets. There were updated rhythm games for all the music game fans. Unfortunately, the fighting game selections were lacking as many of the top present titles were not available. Many of the machines had swapped buttons or had buttons that didn’t work. This year, they also eliminated the console gaming room which would have been huge for many fighting game enthusiasts as 2019 has been a hot year for fighting games. It also would have been huge for Nintendo Switch players since Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as it has been one of the hottest titles in recent memory. Since there wasn’t any official console gaming, that meant that there wasn’t any tournaments as well. The console gaming would have been important for casual gamers too as retro gaming is as high in demand as ever. For the TCG player and tabletop gamer, one would have to venture a bit further away from the con activities to play.
Speaking about TCG games, the only available offerings officially was the various Yu-Gi-Oh games as they were a sponsor of the event and were the only ones that had tournaments for the game. However, it too was far away from the majority of the con events.
The cosplay gatherings were lacking in a way as it’s not the main focus of the con. As opposed to other cons, CRX only had three cosplay gathering sites inside the con area with two of them being inside the convention center. It also meant you needed a badge to be able to participate in the cosplay gatherings. One of the gathering sites was in an area where there was a lot of foot traffic. How is that bad? Well, it would have and did create fire hazards. The cosplay gatherings themselves felt more intimate but less people by the numbers. There weren’t a lot of diverse offerings for gatherings as well.
If you haven’t watched any of the anime series that they were promoting, it’s hard to enjoy their programming like their panels and autograph signings. Crunchyroll does have a vast list of different series you can watch, but they only focused on a few of their anime titles in their arsonal.
Although they had some concerts and screenings, they really didn’t offer much to their programming as the con usually ended at 10pm on Friday and Saturday. They did have a “nightclub” but it was unbearable as it was often a quarter full of people, and the strong stench of body odor filled up that area which became hard to breathe. I hope they decide to up the late night programming for adults down the road.
Although there were some hiccups and complaints about the con, it ran pretty smoothly. I think they’re finding their niche. I’m sure by year four, they’ll make some major adjustments.
Written by: Timtastic