An Anime Expo Introspective

Written by biefall

Created 25 July, 2023

Last updated 28 July, 2023

This article is written by Biefall, a active member of the Grand Archive community, and reported by AndyK. Biefall was a volunteer working at the Grand Archive booth at Anime Expo this year. The following is his firsthand account of the event. All photos have been provided by memoriesofpast aka Leo.

Anime Expo 2023 was about to start, and unlike last year I was ready for the things to come. The Grand Archive team had been kind enough to let me join their ranks for the weekend once more, and whilst walking down Figeroa street (the street the convention center is located), even blocks away I could see the lines forming with hundreds of enthusiastic faces ready for the gates to open since the early break of dawn.

On the way there I exchanged messages with other volunteers and finally managed to reach our meeting point. I was feeling a bit awkward when finally being face-to-face with everyone.  Like going blind on a first date.

We made it inside the Entertainment Hall and were greeted by the full team. They had been working non-stop since the day before just trying to finish the booth, which was a sight to behold even when empty.

Booth before the storm

Booth before the storm

A few tables were set up for demo play for any person interested in learning the game as well as a small garapon setup for the giveaways and a merchandising station with a variety of product already in display, ready for when the initial wave of insiders/exhibitors would make the rounds that would mark the calm before the storm.

When the announcement was made and people started racing through the main doors, no one was ready for what would take place on every single day of the convention. The merch line was so long that a dedicated team had to be formed to control the waves of people and maintain the order. If the GA team had made any misplays so far, it would be the underestimation of the hunger for product in the community. On the first day alone, all the playmats were gone.  Second day, all deck boxes, booster boxes and even starter decks were gone. It took some mitigation to limit the amount of product that was available daily, and every day within a couple of hours all allocations were depleted.

Lorraine and Silvie merch bags

Lorraine and Silvie merch bags

At first it was a general concern that the main interest was only the limited product, and that no new players would be trying to learn the game; but little by little those doubts were dissipated. Dozens of new faces were coming back and forth, trying to find a spot to play the demo, and learning how to acquire more product.

Most people trying the game had little experience with trading card games, maybe only a few games here and there, but every single one of them showed eagerness to learn the game, and every single time it was a delight to see their faces light up when using Floating Memory or preventing damage. You could see their gears turning when reading a card or figuring out an effect, like solving a puzzle or seeing the final reveal of a magic trick.

As time went by a lot of familiar faces kept returning: last year attendees, community leaders, store owners, discord players. With everyone exchanging user tags and putting faces to the names, it felt more like a big friend gathering than just an expo booth.

The GA team was constantly engaging with volunteers and attendees, making sure everyone was having a good time and taking care of each other. It never felt like a job, and it no longer felt like strangers sharing the same piece of carpet, but true friends having fun and enjoying the same hobby.

Demo game at the GA booth

Demo game at the GA booth

All things come to an end. Everything was eventually sold out, and while it may seem like people wouldn't have an incentive to return, the booth was always filled with crowds. Some of them just having friendly banter, others cracking their packs and rooting for each other to open those sweet foils, but overall excitement never left the building, even into the late hours of the night.

The days were long and started early, and with each day you could see the toll it took on the team. Even with barely any sleep or food they were back on the saddle again, doing their best and showing true resilience through it all.

Crowd at the GA booth

Crowd at the GA booth

When it was all said and done, all that was left was to pack and say goodbye to all the new people. If I had any regrets, it was to not have taken any photos of all the amazing people I met, but it doesn’t sadden me much. I am sure I would be back again to do it all over if I get another chance, because maybe the Grand Archive were the friends we made along the way.

Luxera's Map is a fan-made website. Grand Archive and all official assets are owned by Weebs of the Shore.