There have been many gaps in my anime viewing history. There will be bouts of time where I just cannot get enough it… and the it fizzles out completely. There is just so much on the anime horizon that it become exhaustive to keep track or even to prevent from being overwhelmed by it all. I am sucker for anything magic based so I have always been drawn to magical girl stories. Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura are easily are nostalgic favorites. Although Magica Madoka pretty much changed how I viewed magical girl animes after that. When I do find an anime I enjoy, I latch onto it like a leech. Therefore my anime knowledge is about 3% of of the anime landscape. Despite this, I had loved attending anime conventions.
Anime conventions are such a different atmosphere than comic conventions. The energy is more manic with cosplayers acting out their characters even more. There is cuteness every where. So after many years of staying away, I had decided to attend Anime Expo 2016 to get my toes back in.
In hindsight, returning to Anime Expo 2016 after many years away from the anime convention scene was not a great idea. The massive, with a capital M, crowd made it really difficult to enjoy anything. Avoiding the crowd did push me to the activities on the outskirts so it wasn’t a complete disaster. It still was not a convention that I enjoyed.
Thank goodness I braved the traffic and attended Anime Los Angeles 2017. The even was held at the Ontario Convention Center: far enough from LA to have a tourist vibe but close enough that it is still within driving distance. Just from walking from the super convenient (very decently priced) parking, I already knew this was going to be absolutely different from Anime Expo 2016.
Anime Los Angeles has been running for an impressive 14 years. This was the second year at the Ontario Convention Center. This convention center was such an ideal place for the anime convention. There were architectural nooks and crannies filled with cosplayer photographers and the cosplayers themselves. Before even entering the exhibit hall, there were so many impressive cosplayers. There was decent sized vendor room right next to main stage.There were panel rooms along the main floor and upper levels. So there were people everywhere.
The whole atmosphere uplifted my spirit. Every one was relaxed, having fun, and just letting themselves be themselves. Even a brighter plus, I was in the right world to wear my kitty cat kigurumi. I spent the whole weekend running around in my kigurumi and my life had changed for the better.
I wish I had stayed all three days. I wish I had booked a hotel so I could run over and play. It was the kind of anime convention that I had used to attended and loved attending. I had so much fun, so much fun that I completely forgot that I was there to cover the event!
If there was a con to be had, it would be the lack of variety in the artist alley. I spent the fewest time in that section because not only did I not get the reference but there wasn’t really anything different from booth to booth. Most artists were selling acrylic chibi keychains and artwork. I did notice a new addition to the artist alley and they were notepads. Notepads that were on the high end of pricing but still looked pretty amazing.
The other con was the technical glitches in the masquerade is one of my favorite portions of the convention. These cosplayer voluntarily face down a judging crowd to parade their outfits or perform a skit. I love supporting such inspiring bravery. Unfortunately, I could only endure about 15 minutes before I had to leave. The show would sometimes have the cosplayers redo because of some random issue. Or the sound was off. The crews behind the scenes were doing the best they could but the whole atmosphere of the masquerade dampen with each replay.
Ultimately I came away from the convention uplifted, inspired, and proud. There was a huge attention lavished upon the fans. Along the walls were blown posters of cosplayers. Scattered everywhere were handpainted benches. It was the program book that blew my mind. I have never loved a program book as much as I loved the one from Anime Los Angeles. Outside of the usual tidbits, there were areas for autographs from the talent and even the crew members themselves. The book was gorgeous and a delight to peruse through. I am even more surprised by the amazing talents that I got to witness. From jazz to dancers, anime fans showcased how limitless their talent can be.
It has been more than a week and I want to go back. I have found my new tradition of starting the convention season with Anime Los Angeles.
Highlights from the convention:
- Kawaii-eek ( etsy link here)
Cats are my trigger. Seeing any art with kitty butt just makes me happy. Where else but Anime Los Angeles would squeeing over a cat but enamel pin not elicit any surprise? Absolute favorite item from the vendor room!
- Corp Dance Team
They are described as a dance team that cosplays. Or is it cosplayers that dance in a team? However the distinction goes, this was an AMAZING live act. Not only did they have themed dance numbers with cosplay, there were some crazy dance choreography. The gem of the show was Ryuk dancing to the Pen-Pineapple k-pop style. So much fun and absolutely inspiring.
- Driving Recklessly with Seatbelts
Although the masquerade was a bit disappointing, it did free up some time for me to check out this band. This jazz style band covered anime and video game songs and it was so entertaining! They really need more videos!
Most of the time I was running around just soaking it all in. Check out the summary video I did of Anime Los Angeles 2017 below. I cannot wait to go back!