Anime Expo is a gigantic event held every year at the Los Angeles convention center. Much like similar conventions thousands gather to enjoy in merchandise, comradery , and cosplay… lots and lots of cosplay.
This was my first year experiencing the event, and my goal within this article is to give you, the reader, a look at both the pros and cons of attending this event. Full disclosure, I was attending this event as a member of the press, so keep in mind your experience will vary in some areas.
First off, with the good.
Your favorite anime is there, I promise. The sheer amount of representation is astounding. While big hitters such as Dragon Ball, My Hero Academia, One Piece, etc. are there in larger quantities, there is tons of merchandise and panels regarding more niche anime that you will be looking for. Not to mention if not in the main hall, artist ally has plenty of artwork and collectibles from local artists to supplement you even more.
The convention as a whole is structured simply enough. Within the two main halls there was a plethora of panels to attend to sit down enjoy discussions with your favorite creators.
The experience of meeting the people behind your favorite anime creators is simply amazing. Since most of these individuals live overseas, Anime Expo is simply one of the only places you will ever get this experience.
While one hall was devoted to entertainment such as games, picture booths, and immersive experiences, the other was mainly for merchandise and promotional material.
(BNA – as presented by the Studio Trigger Panel)
Which leads me to the bad.
The convention is a gigantic spending spree. If you are aware of that, there shouldn’t really be an issue. But if you’re short of cash, panels aren’t your thing, and you don’t enjoy cosplay… I can’t see this convention appealing to you at all. Even if you do love the anime, the novelty runs out after a few short hours of the “ooh and ah” factor.
I also wish to bring up the lack of management and professionalism at this expo. While lines are to be expected, and delays are understandable. It seemed that the convention was chock full of them. Lines to get in the convention had a general wait time of over an hour from asking around. What caused this? Well, the lack of a cohesive point of entry, and the absurd amount of attendees would be a simple enough explanation. Over 100,000 people attended this convention and compared to my other experiences such as E3 (that is held in the same convention center) which had only about 60,000. That’s almost half of the attendees and that convention to me is well run even with larger display booths and more companies being represented.
In one instance I was simply turned away from a certain panel (even with my press badge) due to the employees monitoring the line just didn’t know where to seat press. I was 15 minutes early to the panel, so it does baffle me as to why at least we couldn’t seat with regular attendees.
I fully recognize that this convention is geared to let as many people in as possible, and some of my misgivings were simply due to my press status. There was an express line for press and premium pass holders, which made up a lot for the wait times.
Overall the convention is a lot of fun. This was my first Anime Expo, and from what I was told, these problems I mentioned usually aren’t present.
When all is said and done, if you are a lover of anime, have some disposable income, and enjoy meeting creators of your favorite shows, I strongly recommend attending this convention in the future.