The world premiere of the English dub of One Piece Episode 1000 at Anime Expo 2023 encountered significant logistical issues, leading to frustration among attendees. Held at the GRAMMY Museum, located a block and a half away from the Los Angeles Convention Center, the event faced problems related to venue capacity, accessibility, and communication.
The line to enter the Rooftop Terrace event space, where the premiere took place, stretched back to the convention campus. Attendees received little guidance from GRAMMY Museum security or local law enforcement, causing congestion on sidewalks and making it difficult to navigate the area. Additionally, accommodations for differently abled individuals were lacking, leaving those with mobility issues exposed to the sun and unable to move comfortably in crowded space.
Despite these challenges, the event itself offered a unique opportunity for One Piece fans. It featured various One Piece-related activations and took place in a visually stunning venue. Attendees had a chance to witness the production process of the beloved anime.
However, many fans in the queue had expected the premiere to be held in a larger theater venue capable of accommodating several hundred people, or even the entire museum rented exclusively for the event. In reality, only the Rooftop Terrace was utilized, and its standing capacity of 400 people was significantly reduced due to the event stage, activation tables, and VIP areas. This resulted in only around 100 fans being able to attend the premiere. With doors opening at 6 pm PT and the episode starting at 9 pm PT, there was no opportunity for cycling out attendees, leaving many who had waited in line for hours unable to enter. Some lucky individuals received copies of storyboards from the special episode 1000 opening sequence as a consolation.
Even VIPs faced difficulties entering the Rooftop Terrace due to confusion with the side entrance and lack of proper communication between museum security and the event organizers. Attendees, including general admissions, had to wait outside past the event’s scheduled start time without access to the museum’s main entrance.
For those who managed to enter the terrace, the view of downtown Los Angeles and the array of One Piece paraphernalia provided a visually appealing experience. Free starter decks for the One Piece card game were distributed, along with tutorial sessions and dedicated playing areas. Demo stations for the One Piece Odyssey video game, a photo station featuring a statue of Shanks and Luffy, and a swag giveaway table added to the event’s excitement.
However, the lack of seating meant that attendees had to sit on the concrete-tiled floor during the panel featuring One Piece anime series director Yasunori Koyama, animation director Kenji Yokoyama, and production manager Tetsuji Akahori. Against the backdrop of downtown Los Angeles, the guests shared their thoughts on One Piece and their involvement in the anime.
During the panel, Yokoyama showcased his artistic skills by live drawing Luffy, which would later be raffled off. He revealed that Sanji was an easy character for him to draw, while Nami and Robin’s intricate designs presented more of a challenge due to their detailed features. When asked about his favorite character to draw, he enthusiastically replied, “Brook!”
Akahori emphasized the importance of effective collaboration within a large team and the ability to speak Japanese when aspiring to work on an anime like One Piece. Koyama mentioned that the transition in the special episode 1000 opening sequence from a 4:3 to a 16:9 aspect ratio was a late addition that enhanced the representation of time passing.
The premiere of the English dub of One Piece Episode 1000 had a more low-key atmosphere akin to a watch party rather than an extravagant premiere. Attendees expressed joy at being able to watch the episode alongside fellow One Piece fans. However, those who gained entry to the event still voiced frustration over the limited space, lack of seating, and inadequate communication. Those who were unable to attend speculated that hosting the premiere at an off-site location could have accommodated more attendees, and suggested that ticketing or reservation systems could have helped mitigate these issues.