While most people were having barbecues and waiting for fireworks on July 4th, I was attending the Anime Expo at the L.A. Convention Center. What is Anime Expo, you ask? Well, it’s a 4-day event, the largest convention of its kind in the U.S. To quote the website (www.anime-expo.org), “Popular large events include the Masquerade, Anime Music Video Contest, Concerts, Battle of the Bands, and the AX Fashion Show. Anime Expo is a 24-hour convention that offers late-night dances, all night video programming, tabletop gaming rooms, and open-mic Karaoke in the late evening/early morning hours. Many of the attendees cosplay while attending the convention, and there are many gatherings for fans of different anime and manga series.”
It’s very similar to the San Diego Comic-Con, but the focus is clearly on anime, manga, and gaming. This isn’t my first go-around with this particular convention, but the experience is never the same twice. Since I only went for one day, I stayed in the Exhibit Hall, which is where you’ll find booths selling everything you can think of: anime, manga, t-shirts, music, and other merchandise, lots of it. Walking around are people dressed in all kinds of cosplay characters from anime, manga, games, even a superhero or two. The costumes were very impressive, many handmade by the people themselves. (They do allow photographs, but please, always ask permission first.)
In the very front of the hall were big-name companies, like Funimation, VIZ Media, and Dark Horse Comics. On one side of the hall were well-known creators, writers, artists, and even voice actors, signing autographs. At one large booth, people were given the chance to try their hand at voice acting, reading lines for a scene from an anime. For those with more time, there were also workshops, panels, and even showings of popular anime, including Fruits Basket, Black Butler, and Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (one of my favorites).
While the expo was certainly enjoyable, I should give fair warning. It does get crowded and hot. It took two and half hours just to get in and that was the pre-registration line. If you wish to brave the weather, be sure to bring water and an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. I was wearing plenty of sunscreen and light clothing and I still came off with a nice sunburn on my head. That said, I still had a good time. I left with some new shirts (Yes!) and a book bag. Some booths even had freebies.
There's lots to see and do at the Anime Expo. Registration has already started for next year’s event. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
**photographs borrowed, not mine!