Being at the very first Crunchyroll Expo was such an experience. I've had my fair share of first time conventions over the years, but none have been anime-related. There isn't really an expectation for CRX. It doesn't have to be like Anime Expo or SacAnime or Fanime. In a way, it has to stand on it's own in order to gain traction among those events. Crunchyroll chose an interesting venue, and seemingly made it work in most aspects.
The morning crowd was sort of mellow on Saturday. It wasn't that busy at first, but by noon the convention center felt really crowded. Exhibit hall and artist alley were filled with attendees. Roaming through the exhibit hall felt rather quick compared to artist alley. Afternoon hours felt really jam-packed in most aisles, so doing a tour of it all in the morning was so much better.
Crunchyroll made their pop-up shop a grand attraction. It was one of the first booths you saw entering the exhibit hall. The basis of attending CRX is because you enjoy things relative to Crunchyroll. I guess that's what clicks with the fans, right? Even I had a little fanboy moment seeing new Yuri on Ice merch. Another main attraction in the exhibit hall were giant air-filled characters, particularly a huge Titan head from Attack on Titan.
Artist alley totally delivered. This giant, air-conditioned room was very manageable throughout the day. CRX gave them the best room at the Santa Clara convention center. Seriously. I want to say this has been the best artist alley I've seen this year. It was that good. No, it isn't because my favorite artist was there, but because most of these artists were engaging and talkative about their artwork.
I met up with a few amazing friends that also happen to be cosplayers, so I spend a solid hour in some outdoor alley taking pictures of them. That was pretty fun since their cosplays revolved around Evangelion and Persona 5. Usually I make gigantic photo galleries for anime events, but this one was pretty easy-going. I guess I was in this explorer mode inside, and wasn't exactly focused on cosplay. I really wanted to soak in the organizational skills of CRX, so there's a valid reason why I wasn't taking pictures of cosplayers all day.
A few things I would like to see improved on next year kind of depends if Crunchyroll uses the venue again. Let's say they do. Fixing the badge pick-up area for all badge types will be great. Expanding the exhibit hall with more content and wider aisles will be appreciated. That's basically all I would like to see worked on. The artist alley, again, is flawless as they had it. Have more giant inflatable anime heads in random spots. Maybe setup a giant tent for people eating at the food trucks? It was ridiculously hot outside, and I was in no mood to stand in line and burn at all. This probably isn't cost-effective for Crunchyroll, but everything else at CRX was a bit more accommodating than other events.
I hope CRX will return next year. Same venue? Sure. If not, maybe they will explore the San Jose convention center. It wouldn't hurt to consider it. However, this isolated area in Santa Clara was very easy on traffic and provided free parking. It's a trade off. Since CRX was very fun inside, I was hardly wondering what else can I do while I'm in the south bay. Good on y'all, Crunchyroll.
Check out the vlog I made to accompany the event coverage! I think the vlog footage from CRX offers a glimpse of what it's like. At first glance it can look "more of the same" but with that Crunchyroll spice. It covers the exhibit hall and artist alley. That's essentially the big two aspects of an event that matter. Also got a few friends to dish out on what they thought about CRX and their badge pricing. Obviously the vlog isn't all about CRX, but the segment is long enough just like the patty is to a hamburger. It's starts with cereal being consumed and concludes with an evening photoshoot featuring Jedi Moon Cosplay. :)