Is CRX a smaller AX? Does it stack up to its full potential for its first year? Did it paired well with Magwest? Does it retained the same charm and spirit of other anime industry conventions? Let’s find out!
With the Hyatt connected to the con center, CRX attendees staying there were greeted with Magwest’s displays as it was held at the Hyatt Regency that weekend. Guest rooms are spacious, modernly designed and contemporary styled, and a lobby area filled with 3 restaurants, a bustling hotel bar, a 2nd floor overlooking the hotel lobby, and an outside pool area that played music and a laser light show for guests.
I was unaware of CRX mentioning any sort of shuttle services on their website. Luckily my hotel, The Aloft, had shuttle service to the Hyatt. Majority of the con block hotels were more than a mile away from the con center and con parking filled up quickly, but I’d assume these hotels offered shuttle service to the con or con hotel.
After a quick bag check at the front entrance, once inside there was a table with rows of CRX program/panel guides for pick-up, but I made my way down the hallway. I was surprised that there were little to no lines for badges as pick-up was fast and efficient in just shy of a few minutes, which was probably due to the fact that CRX mailed badges to those who registered early before July 25th.
Despite being a small industry con, it was spacious! Thousands of attendees, yet smaller areas still didn’t feel crowded enough to slow you down. One major issue about the convention space was the shared event space with Magwest as the hall connecting the Hyatt and con center was filled with Magwest staff and blocked off due to CRX’s bag check. Signs directed attendees where to find the con entrance from the Hyatt, but despite that issue, majority of the rooms and areas were able to accommodate every crowd size. With the exceptions of some overflowing panels and one narrow area of the Artist Alley.
Exhibitor Hall felt compact, which is good, as attendees could go through the entire hall in a few minutes and immediately plan and make their purchases with ease. Even with high con traffic, lines felt short for merchant booths, including official merchant booths, thanks to high staff numbers. CRX’s Exhibitor Hall had everything: interactive staff/merchants, booths handing out free swag/services, cardboard cutout displays and giant inflatables, music playing throughout the hall, photo ops with CRX’s mascot, constant showcasing at industry booths, and plenty of room to easily maneuver around the hall.
Attendee satisfaction was priority #1 and CRX staff were perfect in being friendly, courteous, and interactive with the public. A CRX staff member spoke with me that Crunchyroll made sure their staff were well-trained and equipped to handle any situation at the con. It was noticeable as one of my experiences was waiting in line for a major anime screening and staff were quick to direct attendees where to line up and when to admit us into the event room.
Con security were present all around, and were calm and collect in their duties. I always had fun running into the same security in one day for bag checks, but it seemed as though they enjoyed seeing the variety of anime fans, and no bad vibes were given off from any security from my experience.
Despite its size, CRX had a plethora of industry panels! Major rooms for industry-focused panels such as Inside Looks from companies/studios, guest of honor, previews of upcoming projects, and all other rooms were dedicated to official guests, how to/101’s, CRX’s version of TED talks, and etc. Every panel I’ve attended have been informative and entertaining, and giveaways were abundant in industry panels. Thanks to the compacted con space, it never felt like an adventure traversing from panel to panel.
Autograph sessions were another major draw to CRX, as sessions were implemented through a limited ticket system for single or group guest autographs that helped to create set lines, but some attendees felt they had a problem with this system due to the long wait times getting a ticket which resulted in being unable to obtain all their tickets due to the two ticket limit per pick-up.
I was generally surprised on the turnout of cosplayers from varying skill levels attending the convention. Ranging from highly detailed “Fate Grand Order” cosplayers with giant props to an attendee carrying around a whiteboard with the question “Was anime a mistake?” Granted, you’re not going to expect multiple giant grandiose cosplay showcased in the con lobby due to the con space, but the cosplayers still managed to bring their A-game for such a small industry con.
With Crunchyroll stationed in SF, it made sense for the con to be established in the bay area for easy planning and coordination. The Santa Clara Convention Center not only resides in a tech area, but is located near two major attractions, Levi Stadium and Great America, which means the con is easily accessible for commuters using VTA’s light rail and bus systems. Also, traffic was minimal all weekend. A complaint about the location is food accessibility within walking distance as food places were within one mile from the con, but CRX was aware of this and hired food trucks that were located outside the con center for convenience.
With all CRX events over by 10pm each night, CRX attendees could go and enjoy concerts performed in Magwest’s concert room at the Hyatt, but for off-site enjoyment within walking distance, there isn’t much to do in terms of late night entertainment in a non-busy tech area. To be honest, I’ve gotten a full night’s enjoyment socializing around the Hyatt’s hotel bar and having a Magwest badge to check out their freeplay gaming room and late night panels.
“Surprised,” is the single word used to describe how I felt about the event. The compacted space, ease of accessibility, and the quick and organized manner of events. CRX brought their best effort to the table and out came success. Word of mouth spread fast by the enjoyment of the attendees throughout social media. Both CRX and Magwest did a fine job with the perks each badge gave to their attendees to check out both events to an extent, but I believe each con, especially CRX, can prosper on their own in the future after the success of their first years.