This year was my first time attending Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I happened to attend as both a writer for Strawberry Scented Burnout, and as a writer/photographer for SoBiTV Magazine. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend Saturday, July 6, so I’m sure there were a lot of costumes and events that I missed during the entire Anime Expo. Apparently in it’s 22nd year (my favorite number, by the way), Anime Expo is the “#1 convention for Anime and Japanese culture in North America.” Not knowing what to expect, my eyes and ears were wide open, ready to absorb everything the convention had to offer. I did, however, know that this convention was going be smaller than the San Diego Comic Con, and larger than San Diego’s Anime Conji.
Upon arriving at Anime Expo, I was bombarded with a multitude of people practically at the doors of the Los Angeles Convention Center. I saw cosplayers in their intricate costumes. I heard constant clicks from photographers and their expensive cameras. I felt the heat in the main foyer of the convention center as the summer weather of Los Angeles county was trickling in through the front doors, being worsened by the great amount of people standing around or taking pictures.
Once I entered the fortunately air conditioned Exhibit Hall, I was filled with a sense of comfort. It was an all too familiar setting, as it resembled the San Diego Comic Con. Vendors were sprawled out throughout the space, selling figurines, animes, mangas, etc. Many booths were for popular Japanese brands that I am not all too knowledgeable on. While walking around the Exhibit Hall I couldn’t help but feel a readiness for the upcoming San Diego Comic Con that was to occur a few weeks after Anime Expo. The herds of people walking up and down the aisles, not usually giving way for others, even for those in wheelchairs or strollers. It was a madhouse. One that every veteran convention attendee should be familiar with.
After venturing through the Exhibit Hall, I managed to make a stop in the Entertainment Hall, aka Gaming Hall. It was a massive area filled with computer screens, video game consoles, tabletop games, and arcade games. In addition to all the gaming toys were large backdrops for cosplayers and photographers. I found the backdrops to be quite amusing, even the bedroom backdrop (even if that sort of weirded me out a little). Although, the cherry blossom setup was very pleasing to the eye. I wish I took more pictures there, but my eyes kept roving around and making me want to walk everywhere and not remain static for too long.
One aspect of the Anime Expo that I wish I had been able to watch and explore was the Fashion Show. I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese fashion, especially after visiting a friend in Japan years ago. Japanese fashion involves so many different layers. I love how they mix and match and take the simplest articles of clothing and mix it with other articles to make this grandiose fashion statement. Maybe I’ll get a chance next year to check it out.
Overall, I had a great experience at Anime Expo. I was delighted at the sight of all the costumes/cosplay at the convention. As many people have pointed out, Anime Expo is what the San Diego Comic Con used to be. The only difference between the two now is that Hollywood has infiltrated one but not the other. In my eyes, it’s good and bad. Good that Anime Expo has been able to hold onto it’s intimate setting, but bad that it has not been given the opportunity to expand and reach out to a wider audience. I have a feeling that with time, Hollywood will eventually make a presence at Anime Expo. So enjoy it while you can, for a few years from now it might become as famous and celebrity-packed as the San Diego Comic Con.