written by Kelly Melon (@meloncosplay)
So, this was my first time attending Anime Expo, located in Los Angeles, California. One of the top 3 biggest Anime conventions held in the states and with 81k registrations sold, it surely did live up to it's reputation. Up until recently, Sakura-Con was my biggest con that I frequented and I have to admit that I compare my experiences there to all other conventions I attend. Now, where do I even begin? First of all, this convention is held for 4 days and for as long as I've known it is always during Independence Day weekend. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the last day due to exhaustion. I'm from the Northwest and am definitely not used to very hot weather, especially cosplaying in it.
Day 0, also known as pre-reg day was overwhelming to say the least. It was hot, there was a lot of traffic and apparently the line to pick up badges was extremely long. The line looped in a zig zag form around the front, to the side of the building and then down 2-3 blocks on the street. Never in my life have I experienced something like this and was very unhappy. Our wait time was roughly 3 hours but I know others waited 5-7 hours in the hot sun just to get their badge. In my opinion, this whole situation could have been dealt with better but that's a whole new article in itself. Once I was able to relax and flip through the schedule, my first thought was, "Whoa, this place is huge." The exhibition hall alone had me baffled and for once, I had so many panels I wanted to attend! It took me some time to understand the map of the convention layout but after some trial and error, I figured out where things were.
Day 1, I spent most of my time roaming around and trying to get the feel for things. The highlight of my day/night was attending Anipiano, which was a piano concert featuring Theishter. He is know for doing piano covers of songs from Anime series'. I am a big fan of the piano and even more so when they feature Anime songs! The concert was very entertaining with special guests, Raj Ramayya (award-winning singer/songwriter/composer/lyricist), voice actress Christine Maria Cabanos with Ten Year, and the up-and- coming band, Above Seclusion. We were taken back reminiscing about the Cowboy Bebop days to Melancholy of Haruhi and then to the present, Attack on Titan. The music was wonderful and absolutely beautiful. It was definitely a treat to experience this in person.
Day 2, the special Kill la Kill event and Sword Art Online: GGO premiere! Unfortunately, I did not make it to the SAO premiere due to the KLK event. There just was not enough time in between to jump from one event to the next. Needless to say, the KLK event was spectacular on it's own and I am so happy to have attended. We were given some high tech glowsticks that they can control the color from backstage and also was in sync with the concert. Cool, right? I thought so. The special guests were very much entertaining and to hear Ryuko Matoi’s voice actress Ami Koshimizu and Satsuki Kiryuin’s voice actress Ryoka Yuzuki live surely gave me feelz. Scriptwriter Kazuki Nakashima, Character Designer and Chief Animation Director SUSHIO, and Producer Yousuke Toba were also present and all of them together was amusing. After talking with the KLK guests, Eir Aoi performed and the place just liven up. Can you just imagine how much feelz overcome you hearing all these songs performed right in front of you? Yeah.
On day 2, I bumped into so many cool people and saw really awesome cosplays. Basically for a few hours, my friends and I hung out in the same area and just derped around. There was an entertainment hall that included various arcade games and theme rooms where you could take photos in. Everyone was having fun and just being silly for the most part but there was also some serious photoshoots going on as well. It would be nice to always have access to these setups for photoshoots, maybe all other cons will start doing this too? One can dream.
As to be expected, you couldn't really move on day 3. It was packed and I am in awe at the cosplayers who had armor and props to maneuver in the craziness. Normally, this day would be my last day of con which meant time to relax so I was pretty dead. I missed all the panels I had planned to attend and in the end just decided to hang out in the halls and admire people.
My thoughts on Anime Expo is a mixture of happiness and disappointment honestly. Starting with the good, I feel that the attendees are so nice and easier to approach. The exhibition hall and artist alley were huge and I'm happy with the amount/variety of panels. Now the bad or not-so-good, first of all the registration line. With the amount of attendees, either get more printers and let people wait INSIDE or have the option to mail out badges. I'm sure they can figure out something better than making people wait outside in the sun burning for hours on end. Lining up for panels was ridiculous, again with so many people, they shouldn't allow anyone to line up 2 hours before a panel. People were basically giving up their whole day for one panel and in the end, denied access. That is definitely not cool. Of course, this probably doesn't apply to everyone but it is something worth looking into. Lastly, it's not really a bad but the all the arcade games were not free to play. I only bring this up because of my experience at Sakura-con where all the games provided were free to play. It's just a friendly suggestion ^_^
Overly, would I recommend AX to others? Yes, I think it's a good con to attend at least once. Will I return? Possibly. It mostly depends on how they handle registration in the future. Did I have fun? Of course I did! I'm glad I finally got to attend. My advice for any con you decide to go to, regardless of whatever hype others feed you, just don't expect the world. Nothing is ever perfect and schedules change frequently. Every con is ran different so we just all need to keep an open mind when attending. This is something I've only truly grasp this year with attending a few different conventions. I hope to experience more cons in the future and maybe, I'll see you there!
Kelly is a friend of LG and has know PRINCE longer than he seems to remember at times. She's a cosplay darling and definitely someone to keep your eye on. Check out her Facebook page and send a like her way.