Crunchyroll 2019: Demos, Panels, Fun, Oh My!

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This year’s Crunchyroll Expo took place during the last weekend of August in San Jose, California. Anime and manga fans from all over the world traveled to take part in this incredible event. I’ve been an anime and manga fan for well over a decade but had never been able to attend any of the previous Crunchyroll Expo events.

Despite having gone to other conventions in the past, I wasn’t quite sure what to really expect. I know how dedicated fans of shows like Demon SlayerMy Hero Academia, and Naruto are, but meeting some in person was a completely different experience. My ultimate goal while attending the convention was to make connections with others and to be able to appreciate the worlds of anime and manga.

As with any convention, one thing people tend to dread dealing with is getting into the event. There have been events in the past that don’t make clear instructions or any actual attempt to ensure that people can get inside the venue. However, the lines at this year’s Crunchyroll Expo were well organized and efficient. I was unable to pick up my badge the day before the event, which made me worried about how long I would have to wait. However, I had no real issues getting inside the venue. Most lines were moving quickly with each person taking about four minutes to get inside the convention center. There were no real difficulties throughout the three days in terms of waiting in line for too long.

One of the many things that conventions do throughout the days they take place is making sure that people feel as if they’re a part of a larger community. They all have specific ways of tackling this, which I can appreciate. However, Crunchyroll Expo takes it to another level with making sure that the convention as a safe space. It’s one thing to promote something as being a safe space but it’s completely different to ensure it’s a safe space by making sure people actually feel safe. Whether it was the panel moderators or the event staff, they all made sure the attendees feel welcome. Walking out of the final day and experiencing this degree of community convinced me to come back next year.

Another upside to the world of conventions is the many game demos and previews that are available. One such demo that I particularly enjoyed the most is the Naruto X Boruto: Ninja Tribes. I wrote a review of the demo earlier this month, but I just want to include as a main highlight of the convention. Having been a fan of the series for many years, it was great to be able to play a new game of a series that I loved so much.

The panels at this year’s Crunchyroll Expo did not disappoint. One of the panels that stood out the most was with Eric Stuart, who is mostly known for doing that English dub voices of Seto Kaiba in the Yu-Gi-Oh series, and both Brock & James in the Pokémon series. It was so fascinating hearing him talk about his journey throughout the world of voice acting and being in a rock band. He even told this incredible story of when he met Pelé, one of the world’s most successful soccer players of all time. It was such a touching and funny story.

With all of the mass shootings at events that have been happening for the past few years, one of the most important things that conventions should take is in their security measures. Part of why people were able to get in the convention quickly was that there didn’t seem to be enough security checking people’s bags. I don’t want to make any unfair assumptions but it just seemed like the security team didn’t fully inspect bags. Worrying about something happening shouldn’t keep people from going to events, but it’s always in the back of my mind because of what’s been happening. I don’t think security should overdo in checking people, but having more bag inspections and metal detectors would help.

While the panels at the conventions were incredible, there was something that didn’t particularly sit well with me. During the Eric Stuart panel, for instance, there was someone in the audience who wanted to ask a question. The person would politely raise their hand but the moderate would never call on them.

This went on for at least a few more times until the person just gave up. I had hoped that they would make time for questions at the end, but the panel wrapped up without a chance to ask questions. People could ask questions during Photo-Ops but even then things were pretty rushed. There should have been time for questions to be asked so than fans attending the panels don’t feel left out or feel as if their questions don’t matter.

Overall, even though the security and the lack of not being able to ask questions during the panels, I had a blast attending this year’s Crunchyroll Expo and I will surely come back next year.