[Anime Expo 2018] Tea in the Sahara

The hottest Anime Expo yet – literally! Downtown Los Angeles suffered a major heatwave in the 100’s throughout Anime Expo’s peak days. Anime Expo is the world’s largest anime con rivaling that of San Diego Comic Con’s numbers. We saw 110,000 unique attendees at Anime Expo this year. It did feel crowded in most large, open areas of Anime Expo. However, I was attending panels and browsing the dealers hall for most of the time just trying not be caught up with the crowd. The images that surfaced online are very telling of the crowds of Anime Expo – sardined in, not much room to breathe – a sea of people traffic.

I would put Anime Expo in the category of wherein fandom meets industry. People like to label Anime Expo as a trade show, but because it’s open to the public and it does retain a lot of fan elements, it’s still a convention at the end of the day. I do like that panels are industry focused and do talk about upcoming series and releases. This year, it was a good time to be a fan of the Fate series and Boku No Hero Academia. Both had a large industry presence at Anime Expo this year with fandom that followed having days of cosplay and fandom meetups.

Anime Expo’s strongest addition was AniWorld Matsuri. Since this concert series became part of Anime Expo culture, these have worked their way to be Anime Expo’s hottest ticket. This year, we had m-flo, Cinderella Girls, Shoko Nakagawa, AKB48, Yuki Kajura, Aimer, and of course, Aqours in their solo concert event. I wish I had seen Aqours this year in their concert; I’ve heard nothing but good things! However, getting to Los Angeles on 4th of July is complicated. However, I was able to score a ticket for Japan Kawaii Live, the other idol concert! It was my first time using light pens with multiple colors. It’s a different experience than just being in the audience experiencing the music – you become part of the music and the audience and performers are one. It’s hard to convey in text, but there’s a community feeling when you’re cheering on for your idols. My color game is still beginner level though.

I wasn’t too impressed with Artist Alley, but it’s very dependent on what artists are present. I think the Annex has potential; it just feels like it’s still in the development stages. I can see vendors like Rorona and the Lolita collective having booths here. It looked like there was a stage for live drawing, but we weren’t able to check that out. I did like the dealers hall and the app was very useful when I wanted to find dealers who were present rather than having to memorize a map in my head. I had a good time. I just felt bummed on the last day because I missed out on some great deals on rubber stamps of my favorite idols. Otherwise, I did like seeing Aniplex’s Fate merch (though I didn’t have enough patience to wait for them to open during their random times). 

Overall, I really like this year’s Anime Expo. The heat prevented me from seeing a few concerts I wanted to check out on the day of. Heat drains my energy and there were days where we called it a night before sundown. I think next year, we’ll grab a hotel for easy access to food and naps. The older we get, the more getting a hotel in the area makes sense. I enjoyed AniWorld Matsuri the best. I hope Anime Expo continues their relationship with them. It can only keep getting better. Because I’ve been supporting Anime Expo for almost 20 years now, I see no time to stop soon. This is a con we will continue to support. It’s a pain to get to downtown Los Angeles and park (public transit options aren’t the safest in Los Angeles), but we always end up finding things we like and enjoy at Anime Expo.

Written by Eri Kagami
IG: @erikagamisews
Twitter: @erikagamisews

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