X Games 2011 photo by Brian Raimondi
Who’s more Xtreme? Shaun White or Shin Chan? Pulling a blank on either one of those names? One pulls back-to-back double corks. The other pulls down his pants.
For 2012, the X Games comes earlier in the year, causing fret amongst the Mech and Manga crowd. While the Anime Expo (AX) is holding to its traditional July 4th weekend slot (June 29-July 2), X Games will rip it up June 28-July 1.
Yes — you read right — the two events will be held at the same time. That’s a lot of activity down at the Convention Center/Staples Center/L.A. Live. Last year I almost didn’t recognize the transformation of the Staples Center and its surrounding area during the X Games. Gargantuan metal gateways led attendees criss-crossing above the speedway and the X Games carnival outside. Oh yes, downtown gets down with Rally Car Racing, BMX, and Skateboarding outside — and Moto X and BMX inside.
Like last year, a Japanese contingent is on the invited list of athletes for the X Games. Taka Higashino made it to the finals last year in both Moto X Best Trick and Freestyle, but placed just short of a medal. He is slated to return this year. Also among the invited are Taichi Tanaka and Sayaka Kaneshiro. If competing, Moto X racer Kaneshiro will mark her return to the X Games since her first appearance in 2009. Now living in Torrance, the Osaka-born 20 year old has been racing since she was three years old.
Sayaka Kaneshiro photo courtesy of Supercross.com
One of the most dangerous things about the Anime Expo are the screechy, high-pitched imitations of favorite anime characters. And of course, the homemade weapons. But Anime aficionados won’t recoil from the thought of being crowded out by Xtremers. They’ll stand proud with their pink hair and plastic shirukens. But really the most frightful part of AX is competing for swag tossed into the audience during panels. That’s Xtreme. That — or competing in a Gundam trivia contest.
Japanese pop culture is too huge in the United States to be called underground, and even though I overheard a mother say to her kid that the Cosplayers were “freaks”, everyone at AX is out for a good time. Short of the recently-founded Comikaze, there are few Los Angeles events for fanboys and fangirls to dress up for. They’d have to wait a couple weeks and venture down to San Diego’s Comic-Con for that.
AX features panels, many of which are company infomercials, films, a Cosplay contest, and a voice acting competition. There’s also AX Idol, in which contestants sing to popular anime songs. That could be more painful than any “fail” happening over at the X Games.
Be warned. Attendees to both events have to be careful which world they’re stepping into: skateboarders blasé about a Gay Twist might have to stoke their machismo as they venture into Yaoi or Bara (Boy Love). Yeah, Dude. There, a Semi-Pike would not entirely be the same as a seme piking. BMXers wanting to pull a Hitchhiker in anime might find themselves facing the Black Rider who zooms around Ikeburo searching for her stolen head. Instead of a complicated Motocross contortion, anime characters use Canadian Saran Wrap as a cheaper way to dispose of corpses. And Xtreme sportsters expecting a kickflip with a body varial commonly called a Sex Change might have found themselves venturing into the world of hentai.
Then again, both worlds are familiar with Liu Kang, whether it’s the Mortal Kombat character or the skateboarding move named after him.
Stay tuned for my post-X Games and AX recaps.