Written by Chris Kwock (@kwock)
I decided to go to Anime Expo (AX) for the first time ever this year! I ended up going since San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) was going to be the weekend after - and that's just one round trip plane ticket and two conventions! AX is well known as "line con" and it got that nickname because last year, attendees were stuck in line for as much as 5 hrs to get their attendance badge. This year, they improved the lines by changing the badge redemption system as well as extending badge pick up hours on the first day. AX is a 4 day con (Thursday - Sunday) and their badge pick up started Wednesday night through Thursday 9pm, over 24hrs for the first day! Plus they had multiple locations to pick up your badge. So did it work? It took me all of 5 min Thursday morning at 10am to pick up my badge. Getting into the exhibitor hall was a totally different story though!
While there were no lines to get my badge, there were definitely lines for everything else! The exhibitor’s hall opened at 11am and the whole area inside the convention center to get to the room was packed...absolutely stuffed with people waiting to get in and this was just inside; outside there was a long line of people just waiting to get into the convention center. For those who have never seen the LA convention center, here’s an idea of how big it is: it is divded into two sections - South and West hall with an enclosed walk way spanning about a block that connects the two. The South hall had the exhibitors room and the West hall had the Entertainment hall which held photo sets, video games, cosplay senpais (click for full list of who this comprised of), and Cospix. AX had a lot of photo sets, about 12 in total with a very wide variety of themes. The most popular one was a bedroom set; every time I made it inside there was a line of people waiting their turn for this photo set. Cospix had a really long line the first day and always had someone in their photo booth getting high quality photos of their cosplays.
I didn’t do very much at AX other than purchase merchandise for friends, shoot cosplayers, and meeting up with people. One of the things about AX is that your badge only really gets you access to the halls and panels and possibly the the rave/dance. Everything else is ala cart; you want to attend the Masquerade? That’s extra for the ticket. Same thing for all the concerts. If you wanted to attend all the events that can’t be accessed with your badge it comes up to an estimated $200! My friend wanted to go see a late night panel and since there wasn’t much that I wanted to do at the time I agreed to accompany her. She asked the guy where the line ended and he casually told her outside by the tents, but the line was already capped an hour ago. So then she wanted to look at the dance/rave event, in which we saw the line was all the way down the hall to the entrance >.< Needless to say we both skipped it and decided to call it a night.
There were a ton of top notch cosplays. People definitely brought their A game for this. Tokyo Ghoul still seemed to be the most popular anime that I saw while walking around, which meant maybe a dozen or so Kanekis which isn’t too much considering how many people were cosplaying. There were lots of cosplay gatherings happening all throughout the weekend. The Love Live! gathering had over 100 cosplayers show up. There were a handful from stuff that I’m currently watching this season such as “Shokugeki no Souma” and “GATE.” Here's a preview of a few cosplays I shot AX weekend; you can check out my whole gallery here. Stay tuned for my top 10 picks of the weekend!
While I enjoyed seeing friends while up at AX, I’m not sure if it’s a convention that I’m going to head back to in the near future. There was just way too many people everywhere for me to comfortably handle without getting annoyed. Everywhere I went there were people. The lobby in front of the exhibit hall where everyone hung out, people. I think what made it worse was the amount of guys with cameras just standing there and taking like 10+ shots of the same cosplayer in the middle of the floor. Just take a couple and then move on so other people can get a shot too >.< I cherished the moments when I was able to go somewhere with a cosplayer to shoot at a location that wasn’t already taken. However I do recommend anyone to go at least once to experience what it was like. I did enjoy my time there, even though i spend the most time in the Exhibitor Hall buying stuff for my friends.