Sauntering into Anime Expo 2016
by Eric Farrales
I’m what you would call a casual convention attendee and usually, the Anime-oriented ones that are based in Northern California are enough to sate my thirst. A few well known NorCal events that I have been throughout the years were Fanime in San Jose, Animation on Display in Santa Clara and J-Pop Summit in San Francisco. Just recently, I decided to make the trip to one such convention in Southern California known as Anime Expo in Los Angeles. One of the reasons was to step out of the NorCal convention life that I was so used to and experience another version in a different city outside of the Bay Area. So I bought my ticket for Anime Expo and the MegaBus and met up with my friends whom I got lucky to room with at the last minute.
I arrived in Los Angeles by bus on Day 0 at midnight which gave me enough time to settle and get ready for the exciting weekend as Anime Expo didn’t start until the next day. On Day 1, I could already give out a good number of differences from the other conventions. One thing I have to say that Anime Expo does a good job with obtaining badges. The process for was much faster and organized despite the long length of the line, which had turned into a snake at one point. It just took me about 10 minutes to get my badge from where I was on the outside.
(or lack thereof)
I got to Kenita Hall but that’s where things got rocky. It was the main circular area where cosplayers were usually gathered around. This hot spot was also where almost everyone lined up in the morning to get into the Exhibit Hall, led by an escalator. Naturally, I would pick the line that was the shortest, hoping that I would get in early and get a good spot to get into the Exhibit Hall, but I was wrong. As I entered, it became a huge cluster of people and no formation of any line leading into the Exhibit Hall. It was chaotic. Despite the craziness, it didn’t take too long until I finally squeezed inside and set forth to check off the items on my list such as acquiring autographed prints from my favorite cosplayers and merchandise which I bought either on impulse or because I couldn’t find them anywhere else. After making my purchases, I decided to do some exploring, as this was my first time in the area, and taking photos of the venue as well as meeting well-known cosplayers.
Artisans and Autographs!
The Artist Alley, which was located on the bottom floor, was similar to Fanime but much larger and more condensed with heat due to large quantities of people. The alley also had the Guest Autographs, which you needed a ticket for, unlike in Northern California when one could just line up at the autograph signing. I didn’t get a chance despite some of my favorite Japanese voice actors being present, since I was already pre-occupied with scouting and getting used to the con itself. I have heard from my friends and acquaintances who were able, it is not always guaranteed to get the desired autograph since it is limited to a number of attendees and it wasn’t specified how many they allowed. Also, many attendees camped outside overnight to increase their chances of getting their desired signing.
Anime Expo as a whole is enormous in terms of size and attendees. The venue is divided into two buildings; one building contains the South Hall which leads into the Kenita Hall where the Exhibit hall, Artist Alley, registration and food court are all located and the second building, which is connected by an overpass, contains the West Hall which leads to the Main Events and Entertainment Hall. Onwards to the Main Events and Entertainment Hall!
Jamming and cosplaying
The Main Event area held music concerts and lasted on Saturday and Sunday nights. Each concert had a theme such as “Love Live!”, “One Punch Matsuri,” “Japan Super Live,” and “Japan Band Battle” which was divided into two parts. There were a great number of artists and bands in the lineup. Many notable ones such as FLOW, JAM Project, OLDCODEX, T.M. Revolution, Teddyloid, Lia, Aqours and Eir Aoi showed up.
Cosplay photosets and cosplay senpai were located in the Entertainment Hall. To briefly explain, cosplay photosets consisted of cosplayers standing in front of a background while in character and providing a good spot for photographers to get clear and detailed photos. The cosplay senpai area was where the well-known cosplayers were located and they signed prints and spoke to their fans about said hobby. They also held conversations as a way to interact with fans. Some of the internet-famous in this area were VAMPY BIT ME, Stella Chuu, WindoftheStars, and Steff Von Schweetz. I would say this was one of my favorite areas of Anime Expo since it gave me an opportunity to interact with more experienced cosplayers and to motivate myself as I’ve decided to partake in it.
Til’ Next Time
I got up early everyday to get in the Exhibit Hall as well as explore, and took as many pictures as I could muster around Anime Expo. I do wish I could have done other events such as attending the concerts and Guest Autographs. Next year, my familiarity will allow me to fully immerse myself in the experience and trip. This was one weekend that I will never forget. Check out the gallery below!