I have been attending AX (Anime Expo) for about 6 years. The expo has come a long way. The sheer diversity alone had me shocked. I’m used to seeing young and old fans at the convention, but to see families attending the expo is quite refreshing. Anime Expo’s attendance had really made me realize how big its fan base had become. It seems like every year the anime crowd gets younger… or maybe im just getting older.
One of the main things I didn’t like about AX, is the fact that it’s held at the LA Convention Center. I’m sure you’re thinking it’s grown so much so this venue suits it perfectly. I’d much rather have AX held at the Anaheim Convention Center or some other family friendly place. Why? Everything was accessible; hotel, restaurants that were reasonlable priced; parking. I felt like everything was closer and one can party from one area to another all 4 days. AX feels a bit watered down due to the fact that the sponsoring hotels aren’t as close to the actual convention.
This years cosplayers really stepped up their game. 99% of all the cosplayers put a lot of effort into their characters. More people are starting to take the art of cosplaying seriously. Half of my days were spent just socializing with all the different attendees. The passion that people have for anime is a lot like the passion that Trekkies have. Cosplayers came in every shape and size and age group. I saw a lot more girls and guys dressed in lolita and what impressed me was the fact that some guys were better lolitas than the girls. Some ideas were so creative; combining elements of different anime shows.
A long day of walking and talking made me hungry. I enjoyed the vast variety of food trucks. There were so many selections so close to the convention center with just about anything you can hope for. These weren’t your average “Roach Coaches” but well decorated carriages of delectable fare. I ate Filipino Food, ( Pancit Bihon and lumpia) and it was delicious.
Programming was also on my list for this year. I had attended a few panels. I didn’t see Viz around so I looked for some other source of anime goodness. The arcade was another spot that programming always did well in and was the next spot on my list. Finding the arcade was a bit difficult, almost like an easter egg hunt. I finally arrived at the arcade andd I thought to myself “WOW! what happened to all the games, and the well maintained Japanese arcade cabs”. I only saw a few Bemani games and the usual Capcom fighting games. The selection and condition of the arcade cabinets were not as good as I remembered them. I decided to play some Street Fighter 4, and was impressed with the level of competition from some of the female gamers. Through some investigative reports I found out that a lot of the games that were scheduled to be brought into the arcade were canceled due to Microsoft renting the Arcade room for use almost immediately after AX. Also the former provider of the Arcade’s cabinets closed down and the cabs provided were from a different supplier. There was also a console room that I wanted to check out. The console room is also a great place to test your gaming skills against other AX attendees. My friends ntered a bunch of the fighting game tourneys that were available. They had controllers available or you could have brought your own custom stick.
Here were some of the fighting games that were listed and schedule for tourney play.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3
Smash Brothers Brawl
Tatsunoko v. Capcom
Super Street Fighter 4
An exciting event that happened this year was the talk of a bomb threat. What had happened was that an unclaimed package was found around the West Hall of the convention center. AX made every effort to see if someone had lost this item but it remained unclaimed. The LAPD was called and they cleared the West Hall side of the convention center and treated this package as a bomb. This cancelled all programming and any special events that were scheduled during this time. I had been privy to witness a small crowd gathering outside of South Hall. The convention staff and the LAPD were quite effective and it was determined that this was a false alarm!
Some of the must see things and highlights of AX especially this year were the AMV’s (Anime Music Videos) and the live concerts. I heard this year AMV’s were the best AMV’s AX as ever had. The AMV’s always took place the opening night of AX and they were a real treat to watch. If you’re into J-rock or J-pop, then you must attend some of the live concerts.
The Atmosphere of AX was one that will have attendees coming back for more. I’ve been to a lot of conventions, but AX still keeps me looking forward to coming back each year. AX is the only convention where I can say that I feel like we’re all connected.
Why is AX for you? Well, here are my final thoughts. If you’re looking for an out of this world experience, you should attend. If you’re looking to create some friendships, you should attend. If you like Anime, you should attend. If you’re a guy and you’re looking for your Anime princess or vice versa you should attend. AX had everything… If you’re a hardcore Anime Fan, they have tons of panels to keep you informed on whats going on in the world of Anime. If you’re a gamer and want to experience playing games with new people;either the arcade and console room will keep you happy. If you want to relax, just watch some Anime in the video rooms. If you like Role Playing, there were tons of cosplayers that love to role play.
Last but not least, if you’re looking to buy something from your favorite anime, or love J-music, you will find items that you won’t find any where else. (well you can also try Comic Con International in San Diego if you can get in) If you are interested in anything i’ve mentioned above, whether it be for one day or all four days, you must attend the Anime Expo.