Jul 26 / Momoca Sturdivant

Anime Expo 2023 Report

Hello Sozoroo students and readers, this is Momo from the Sozoroo team! If you're hearing about us for the first time, Sozoroo is an online school for those who are interested in learning how to draw Japanese manga and anime! This year, we were fortunate to have our own booth at Anime Expo. We would like to share with you all our behind-the-scenes experiences from Day 0 to Day 4 at Anime Expo 2023! I hope you all enjoy this experience as much as we did!

Day 0 (June 30th)
Sozoroo manager Masaah and staff member Yuya flew all the way from Japan to Los Angeles a few days before Anime Expo. Staff members, Misa and I came from a 2-hour drive to Los Angeles to meet up with the rest of the team for preparations. We all headed to the Convention Center to set up our "Illustration Critique Event" booth in the Annex!
The only person that was left was Iruka Umeda sensei. For newcomers, Iruka sensei is one of our teachers at Sozoroo! She is a professional illustrator and animator who worked on a lot of famous anime titles in Japan. She will also be the one critiquing illustrations at Anime Expo from Day 1 through Day 4. Sensei arrived in Los Angeles on the 30th, so the team went to pick her up at the airport. This was Iruka sensei's first trip abroad! We had to make it a wonderful and special experience for her. The weather was nice that day as we went to “In-n-Out” for lunch. We then went to the Convention Center again, this time with Iruka sensei to set other things up.

Day 1 (July 1st)

Sozoroo’s Anime Expo debut has finally started! The team had a hard time getting into the convention center because of the massive crowds. However, we were able to make it to our booth safely and on time. At our booth, we have one of our other teachers, Shoji Goshichi sensei’s works displayed. We also have displayed KawaiiSensei's new book along with worksheets that will be released in English later this year.
For our illustration critique event, we had people sign up for time slots beforehand for appointments. However, we had an overwhelming number of visitors at our booth on this first day! Iruka sensei critiqued many artworks, and I was given the opportunity to interpret and translate sensei's advice and tips to the clients from Japanese to English as a translator, which was something new and challenging for me. Staff members, Misa and Yuya, went around handing out papers promoting Sozoroo. We had about 14 people come in for the critique, so Iruka sensei and I were very exhausted, but it was a fulfilling first day.

Day 2 (July 2nd)

For Day 2, we printed additional artwork to hang below our banner and our booth became even more beautiful than what we had on the first day! Iruka Sensei also wore her yellow kimono on this day. Doesn't she look beautiful? We had so many talented young artists come in and ask for critiques from Iruka sensei! As an artist myself, I was amazed and impressed at how sensei was able to find the little flaws in these clients' artwork that I thought were already perfect.
The feedback and advice she gave to these artists made their artwork look even better than it was before! We also had planned a 2-day livestream drawing session by Shoji Goshichi sensei. On his first day, he streamed his process in lineart while also talking to the audience. We had a few technical mishaps, but in the end everything went well. Thank you, Shoji sensei! After the livestream, we finished the day by continuing to critique the rest of the illustrations that people brought in.

Day 3 (July 3rd)

A lot of people who signed up for the illustration critique appointments showed up on time this day and everything went really smoothly. We were also able to take breaks evenly in between to look around other places such as the Exhibit Hall. During the day we had planned for Shoji sensei’s 2nd livestream session, but due to some circumstances he had to cancel his drawing session. Instead, we decided to start a livestream on our instagram page of Iruka sensei critiquing Day 3 clients. We hope to have an archive of the livestream on our instagram page soon for those who weren’t able to go to Anime Expo or missed it!
After the Annex closed at 6:00 pm, the team went to the Entertainment Hall since it was still open. It was our first time going there since we did not have time on the first two days. We also walked around the Ichiban market where the food trucks and vendors were. We were all amazed at how much there was in this convention center, especially sensei! We all geeked out on our favorite fandoms as we walked around the different areas. Personally, I think we had a lot of time to look around Anime Expo that day and it was very fun and enjoyable.

Day 4 (July 4th)

The last day! Since the hours are usually shorter on this day, there were obviously fewer people, and it was much more relaxed compared to the previous days. What surprised us was that there was an unexpected number of people who could speak Japanese! To the point where I did not really feel the need to translate for Iruka sensei! Sensei and I were amazed at how some people were able to express their concerns in their artwork in Japanese.
And that concludes our report on Anime Expo 2023! Thank you for visiting the Sozoroo booth at AX! We appreciate all of you for taking the time to stop by our booth and have your illustrations critiqued! We hope that those who stopped by gained some insight from the feedback and career advice that Umeda Iruka sensei has provided. We also hope you look forward to what we have in store for the future! If you are interested and want to further strengthen your art skills, we are planning to release Sozoroo’s professional course as well as live streams and hold an online illustration critique event, so please stay tuned for more updates on our website, Instagram,and DiscordUntil then, we hope to see you all next year at Anime Expo 2024!