Anime Los Angeles (ALA) returned for its 14th year for those in SoCal! This event is best for those who cringe and shrink away from the crowded mayhem of Anime Expo but still wish to celebrate all things related to the anime fandom!
The convention was held, once again, at the Ontario Convention Center. Toeing the border of still being labeled as a Los Angeles convention, the venue afforded attendees fresh air and view of nearby snow capped mountains. Every space around the center was allocated for the tented artist alley, food trucks and wind blown cosplay gatherings.
ALA Experience Summary
This was my second year experiencing ALA as a representative of Fangirl Nation. Last year was a struggle to maintain any memory of recording the event as there was so much to do and enjoy. This year was not difference in terms of activity and entertainment however; due to time constraints, I was only able to observe the convention for one day which did not afford me time to conduct industry interviews. This was a shame as there was a huge presence from the Cowboy Bebop voice actor cast. Disappointments aside, I took control of my whits and was determined to discover what could be done in one day! It seems quite a bit…quite a bit can be accomplished.
After attending for two years, ALA has definitely become a solid, anticipated convention to begin the year. The atmosphere of the convention is a community of anime fans that are a loyal to a lot of things. The brief glimpse of flipping through the program book showed guests from special effects teams to cosplay gatherings to Kpop dance battles; there were even a variety of fashion shows! This convention offers entertainment which spans a spectrum of anime fandoms.
One of the best indicators for trending anime is a stroll down the artist alley. A big difference this year was the complete separation of the artist alley in a large tent outside the dealers’ hall. Even though it was an odd choice, as the main exhibit hall had plenty of space to accommodate both, areas were still crowded to walk though! Perhaps they were hoping for more walking space…?
Enamel pins are still the trendiest and most prolific item to collect. There were plenty of prints depicting Yaoi situations with a hearty mix of Final Fantasy XV fan art, Yuri On Ice and chibi variations of almost everything. A couple new things were: miniature versions of the long pillows featuring sexy poses of characters and acrylic character stands. Most of the characters were unrecognizable to me but I was surprised to find an even appearance of the K-pop Idol groups & BTS among prints and figurines.
Although I was at an anime convention, most of my day centered around K-pop. I began the day with learning the choreography of SNSD “Genie” from the amateur dance squad, Sugoi Squad. This squad was later competing in the K-pop Dance battle that night (which I also attended). There was something so hilarious and fun about dancing to K-pop along with other members in cosplay.
By the way, these anime attendees had some fierce dance moves!
ALA Fashion & K-Pop
In the middle of the convention, I enjoyed the fashion show featuring designers: Darling Army, Wagashi, Majesti Designs, Girl With One Eye Fashion, Ronova, Boba Bunny x Beyond the Boundary, Bunny Over the Moon, House of Ryura Designs, and ACDC Rag. Each of the designers were completely different in aesthetic and presentation. The headliner of the show, ACDC Rag, was a visual parade of harajuku street fashion that I immediately wanted to covet. The small speech that the designer behind ACDC Rag made it even more me really brought it home what ALA is all about: no boundaries.
Finishing the day off with cheering the contestants for the K-pop Dance Battle was glorious. Every single dance and group member was passionate. They were just an inspiration to watch! It was so exhilarating to see so many different people coming together for the love of dance and K-pop.
So…even though the bulk of my day at an anime convention was spent on K-pop related stuff, it was still part of the heart and culture of Anime Los Angeles. There are no boundaries or limitations on what you enjoy. ALA provides that space and chance to showcase the blending fandoms.