Anime Expo (or AX for short) is the largest convention of animation and manga from Japan held in the US. You can say it’s like the Comic-Con of Japanese pop culture. It started in the Northern California and later moved down to the Southern California in 1991, where it has resided since. It has been held in numerous locations, notably Anaheim, Long Beach, and currently in Los Angeles. The convention is held annually in 4-day event during the summer of July with number of smaller relative counterparts held all across America, and boasts of tens of thousands of attendees who are anime and manga enthusiasts. The convention hosts myriads of activities and events related to manga and anime such as seminars, product demos, panel discussions with special guests, and contests. The most notable is the Costume Masquerade, where attendees dressed as their favorite characters parade in their creations and compete for prizes. It is also a gathering ground for vendors selling anime-related merchandises, artists both amateur and professional who want to showcase and sell their works, and companies that seek to promote their products like video games and films.
I used to be into anime and manga, but so many years have passed since I’ve abandoned it for other interests, and I’ve always wanted to check out the convention, mostly for the folks from all walks of life dressed in colorful costumes. I’ve realized that so much have changed and there are new animes that I’ve not heard of, and saw how old I’ve become. There were few familiar sites here and there but it seems the magic I used to harbor for anime has long sailed away. Nevertheless I wanted to take a stroll and observe, and probably won’t hang around for seminars or Q&A sessions with special guests and celebrities (I don’t really know them anyway). The admission closes at 6 pm but the events inside can go on past midnight. And also because this is the 10th anniversary of the Expo (in addition to being a Fourth of July weekend and an opening day) things are going to be especially crowded. But I saved myself the headache of LA traffic and parking nightmares by taking the mighty Metro.
From the Metro station on Pico is a brief walk to the LA Convention Center. This is the view of the South Hall entrance, and you can already see the crowd amassing at the entrance.
I preordered my one-day badge in May (which saved me $15 off the admission at the door) but I still had to wait in line to pick it up at the front. It took a while to find the end of the line, as you can see here, and this is only the fraction of it. Thank God for the white awning.
The line moved in zigzags like for a line at a Disneyland ride. I’m like almost halfway there…
And it’s still going. I have to say it was a good 1-hour wait. Like a stop-and-go traffic on the 405 freeway. At least the shade saved me and hundreds of others the agony of sunburn.
Finally I make it inside the main hall to pick up the badge, then have to go outside again through a different entrance for the bag check (luckily this time they just gave us a free pass). It was about a little past 12 and already the whole building was boiling.
There were plenty of photo opps left and right with large statues like this dinosaur, as well as with the costumed staff and fans.
There were bizarre, and then there was this bizarre. Obviously its a nod to that popular MINECRAFT games. It’s a wonder the guy can actually move inside this stack of cardboards.
Here is inside the exhibit hall.
Some familiar sights, like this classic Dragon Ball Z , which still to this day has a devoted cult following of astronomical proportions. Sorry I realized lot of the pictures came out pretty blurry.
Some tidbits of the items up for grabs for cool bucks. It’s not just limited to anime, it turns out.
As cool as this is, sorry it’s not for sale.
I’m sure ever since the WALKING DEAD the sales of samurai swords (the favorite weapon of the series character Michonne) has skyrocketed. There are even replica swords from the insanely poular GAME OF THRONES series. (On side note, the swords are quasi-real, made of stainless steel; I’m not sure how sharp they are if you can actually cut someone in half).
Something about ear cleaning. Don’t know how it’s supposed to work, and I didn’t care for it to try.
Here is one of numerous video game demonstrations throughout the convention floor. This one features the use of VR Gear.
Another photo opp with a giant spider woman. Ech, I hate spiders.
Most of the time I’d just get shots of the costumed peeps from the sideline, but few times I did manage to get the courage to ask nicely some people for a photo shoot.
Right below the exhibit hall is the Kenitia Hall that holds the Artist Alley. Here you get to meet some artists, both professional and amateur, showing off their creations. To be honest, they weren’t all that impressive.
Now you best look twice before asking one of these ladies out for a date. ^_^
After about an hour I take a brisk walk across to the West Hall shown here.
Here in the Entertainment Hall there are some setups of arcade games where you can burn some of your hard-earned quarters.
Ah, this brings back old memories. If I tried to jump on this thing now I’d probably have a heart attack.
For the car junkies.
Bang-Zoom! Entertainment is a talent agency for voice actors in movies, cartoons, and anime. Here they are having a mini-audition for aspiring voice actors. I didn’t need to sit through it, I could hear it throughout the hall as I’m exploring other sites. Some are tear-jerkers (and it’s not in a good way).
Here is a section where anyone can test their artistic skills.
I left a few scribble of my own. It ain’t pretty, but that’s because I totally jumped in on a whim, without any idea what I wanted to draw beforehand.
There is a section called the Cosplay Photo Booth where attendees can take pictures on one of various backgrounds like the ones shown here.
Yes accidents do happen, to the costumes that is. That is why there is a dedicated section with supplies included to allow attendees to makes some necessary repairs to their wearable creations. In addition there are programs offered for those who are interested in taking part of the costuming madness as well. Turns out some have made a profitable career out of dressing up. Who knew.
The crowd just don’t know when to stop do they.
It was amusing to watch these two jiggling around.
And there it is, my quick scan through of Anime Expo. I don’t have Fitbit so I don’t know how many miles I’ve walked that day, but I will say my legs were awful sore for few days. Only takeaway here was the memories and brief nostalgic trip down my childhood. If I could go back ten years and had some friends I’d try out the cosplaying business, and actually stay through all four days to get the full-on experience. Though they always say its never too late, I think I’m pretty much over anime thing to get back on it.
If any of you would consider taking part of this experience in the future you can visit this website and stay up to date on their future events.