[Anime Expo ’19] Kickstart My Heart

Anime Expo 2019 came and went. The largest anime convention in North America is infamous for its long lines, summer heat, and crowds. We all must suffer for our fandom. Anime Expo is unlike any other anime convention in the United States. While it is the largest and most attended, it also has the largest industry presence. It’s already an immediate go to for fans of idols and servants. There’s always a Love Live concert and the Fate team is always ever so present. This draws folks from around the world to come to downtown Los Angeles. For most locals, this is their one excuse to even step foot in downtown Los Angeles!

This was our first time in a while we had a hotel at the con. We stayed at the Millennium Biltmore hotel. It’s considered one of the further hotels. However, shuttle service ran often and ran the best routes that got us to the LA Convention Center in good time. You can also take a $5 Lyft to the convention center, but keep in mind, that LA surcharge during peak hours will make you wish you would take the shuttle. Plan accordingly if you have a concert or event to attend. The lodgings here were fine. It was nice to stay a historic downtown hotel known for the first Academy Awards and Black Dahlia. No, did not see anything spooky. However, like most downtown LA hotels, there’s not much in terms of late night grub in the area. The bar stops serving food after a certain time. We were given the option of take out, but we were completely starving and needed something fast. Plan accordingly and have some spare burritos for your hotel fridge! Otherwise, we did enjoy the continental breakfast in the morning. Something about cosplayers starting their day in a 1930s style parlor seems very regal.

My suggestion to make the most of your four day AX badge is to do the following:

  1. Dedicate a dealers hall day

The dealers hall is huge and there’s a lot to do. There’s even stamp rallies, scavenger hunts, exclusive event merch, etc. This hall gets crowded fast and it might be wise to spend a day when you’re not attending panels or concerts to shop. I’ve been to cons from coast to coast. Some of these dealers only make Anime Expo their next stop. Prioritize those booths first. If you can find them at your local con, you can always get that figure at another event.

2. Attend a concert

This is a premium offering from Anime Expo. However, it’s very rare that some of these groups make an appearance at Anime Expo. Last year, I attended Kawaii Fest Live. For $65, I got decent seats for various anime idol acts. There’s something about the energy of an idol concert that is different from a Lady Gaga concert. It’s something not to be missed!

3. Wander around the west hall

West hall has their exhibits from various upcoming and current anime. They change things up every year. We had the Nendroid museum this year, a Fate kigu show (with special guest, Saber’s voice actress!), My Hero Academia and Sailor Moon photo ops, and a selfie museum zone. I also really seeing seeing entries from past World Cosplay Summit. It gave J and I some inspiration what to create should we ever decide to compete.

4. Watch a premiere

While we were cut for time to see Gundam NT, we did see the Fujiko’s Lie premiere. Anime Expo is known for showing premiers of anime series and anime feature lengths. Sometimes the premiere would be before the show is even released in Japan! Of course, you won’t leave empty handed. We got a fan from the Fujiko’s Lie premiere. We were also interviewed by TMS productions for their promotional material. We also won trivia questions and won a t-shirt!

5. Attend a cosplay meet up

Whether you are a casual photographer with an iPhone or a hardcore cosplayer, attending a series themed cosplay meet up (or cosplay gathering) can be a lot of fun. You’ll get fans from a series all in one place to be free to burst out inside jokes, fandom memes, and more. You’ll find your people here.

Anime Expo can be a very daunting con. It’s hard for me to recommend it to everyone. The ideal would be to get the Anime Expo Premiere pass to make sure you hit all the events you want to hit without suffering in line. I do appreciate staff giving out water bottles to folks waiting in line. I recommend to non-locals to at least give Anime Expo a go at least once to see if it’s for you and make a vacation out of it. Anime Expo has plenty of reasons for people to attend when it comes to fandom. However, if it’s worth the price and standing in line, your mileage may vary.

This year’s Anime Expo was indeed chaotic with the crowds. I did like this year’s content. A lot of it – Azur Lane, Fate, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Bandori – etc made me proud to wear my veteran weeb medal. However, if you are attending Anime Expo, preparedness is going to be your best ally. Snacks, bottled water, hearty and healthy rations, etc can save you. If you do plan to cosplay and stay at a hotel, it would be best that your photoshoots are at your hotel. The convention grounds of the LA Convention Center aren’t too photoshoot friendly. Most downtown LA hotels are beautiful! Our hotel bleeds Old Hollywood glamour! If you do plan to cosplay at Anime Expo, keep it casual and light. Because of crowds, it can be cumbersome.

Anime Expo is still a significant part of weeb fandom. However, if you do attend, the Anime Expo mobile app is a god send.

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

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