This past 4th of July weekend I finally attended my very first Anime Expo over in Los Angeles. Anime Expo is considered the largest anime/manga convention in North America. It could very well be the largest of its kind outside of Japan itself. I’ve attended one other anime/manga convention and that was Anime Boston in 2008. While both are pretty much the same in terms of content and activities the two conventions are like apples and oranges.
Anime Boston is pretty much a regional event for the New England region with attendance numbers ranging between 15,000 to 17,000 people for the whole event. Anime Expo is not regional but a national event with attendance numbers topping around 45,000 to maybe as high as 50,000 people. Anime Expo also seem to be able to achieve in scheduling more of the Japanese talent from Japan to be Guests of Honors. While Anime Boston will get one or two Japanese GoHs it seems to be the norm for Anime Expo to schedule between 5-8 in addition to several Japanese musical acts and groups.
This year at AX2010 the Guests of Honors ranged from anime directors and animators like Rei Hiroe (Black Lagoon), Shinichi “Nabeshin” Watanabe (Excel Saga, Nerima Daikon Brothers), Tomohiko Ishii (Sky Crawlers, Eden of the East) and Satoru Nakamura (Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Moribito) to seiyuu (voice actors) like Yuu Asakawa, Eri Kitamura, Saki Aibu and Yui Horie. The amount of such guests makes for a busy schedule and even in the four days I spent through all of AX2010 I wasn’t able to see each and every one of them. So, it ended up with myself and fellow site writer pantsukudasai56 to choose the ones we wanted to see the most. Our final choices ended up being Shinichi Watanabe (who I thought had the best guest of honor panel for how much he bullshit with the crowd really let loose), Yuu Asakawa and Yui Horie.
AX2010 also meant attending some anime/manga-related panels whether it was industry ones where specific power players in the industry showed what they had to release in the near-future to panels which showed the future of the industry. One particular panel which I really enjoyed was the Hobby Japan panel which was that companies first foray into the US to announce their plans to expand their products to North America starting with their very own anime/figure property the ecchi-heavy series Queen’s Blade. The 1/8 scale figures they showed both in their panel and in their dealer booth has become my new obsession. I need to own them all! As you can see in the pictures I took of the figures who wouldn’t want to own them all.
The highlight of my AX2010 experience as attending the free concert for Megumi Nakajima and May’n. Two Japanese singers and seiyuu in their own right. Their concert was a duo performance and sang in Japanese. It didn’t matter if one knew what they were singing about. The energy in the Nokia Theater where it was held was palpable and infectious. But that wasn’t even the highlight of the concert. The highlight happened in the very last 30 or so minutes when the secret guest performer stepped on-stage to play the grand piano that had been left in the middle of the stage for some reason. I am talking about legendary Japanese musician and composer Yoko Kanno. Her music has been a major part in influencing my love for anime from the early 90′s onward. After seeing her live and in-person the rest of my AX2010 could’ve been a disaster and it will still have been worth it.
The other half of my time at AX2010 was spent walking the dealers’ exhibition hall were stores and companies of all types had set up their booths to promote their wares and/or sell anime/manga-related items of all types. This was the room where thousands of dollars were easily spent by people within an hour of setting foot in. It was a shame I didn’t have such thousands or I would’ve needed to hire one of the cosplayers (or three) to lug my purchases around and back to my hotel room. I was able to purchase a few choice items. Even got fellow site writer Lisa Marie a couple of items I know she found to be adorable and cute.
When I and my buddy weren’t perusing the dealer’s tables I was on the look out for cosplayers (costume players) who did a great job with their costumes and who I deemed worthy of taking their pictures. I didn’t get all the best ones I saw since they were always on the move but as you can see by clicking on the thumbnails below the ones I was able to take pictures of did a great job. I fully intend to join their ranks when I attend my next con whether it be Anime Boston 2011 or Anime Expo 2011.
Now that I’ve gotten my first Anime Expo out of the way I can see why so many people love going back year after year after year since it began. It didn’t matter if one was a pre-teen just getting into the anime/manga scene or people in their 50′s who’ve been into it since the days of Speed Racer and Astroboy. The event catered to hardcore and newbie fans alike and while there were some obnoxious individuals who sometimes got on my nerves by and large they were all nice and fun to be around. Anime Expo 2010 has definitely been the highlight of my 2010 year, so far.
Highlights of AX2010
- Seeing Yoko Kanno performing live and in-person
- Attending GoH panel for Shinichi “Nabeshin” Watanabe
- Attending GoH panel for Yuu Asakawa and getting autograph after
- Attending Hobby Japan industry panel (Queen’s Blade!)
- Attending and sitting through insane 2.5 hours of Manga Gamer’s bishoujo panel
Lowlights of AX2010
- The autograph line for Yui Horie/Eri Kitamura line debacle
- Several dumbass, retards in the JList bishoujo panel who kept shouting “Boobies!”
- More than a few people who kept trying to push stupid expo memes
- Not being able to spend as much as I wanted at the dealers exhibition hall
- The overly pricey eating places in and around Anime Expo and hotel staying in