I haven’t attended Anime Pasadena, but I have attended a few cons at the Pasadena Convention Center. While the area is beautiful, generally safe, and easy to get around, the past few cons I attended here were not very well run. Since then, I’ve been apprehensive about attending a convention at the Pasadena Convention Center. Cursed, maybe? Let’s take a look and find out.
I was invited to judge both the kids and adult cosplay contest at Anime Pasadena. This would be my first outing to Anime Pasadena. I would have attended this local Socal event previously, but there would always be an event conflict or it would be back to back with an event. Anime Pasadena is two day event in the middle of November. The weather was cool; great for layered cosplays!
When I first arrived, the giant Pikachu inflatable caught my eye. I was already impressed by the building theming – the entertainment hall was called “Dragon Hall Z.” This is where you could find live entertainment. I got to listen to Tempermental and 30 Fallouts to Romance. I don’t normally seek out live performances, but I happen to stumble upon them while exploring around the convention. I did enjoy listening to both. Tempermental had a style and vibe that was comparable to Paramore. I do like my femme angry rock music! 30 Fallouts to Romance was an emo coverband that rocked their Sailor Moon shirts!
While I was in Dragon Hall Z, I was able to score reservations for the maid cafe. The maid cafe was ran by Dreamland. The pink and cherry blossom vibes drew me in. I ended up having my lunch here – curry rice, lemonade, and white mousse cake. We also had live performances from the maid squad dancing to tunes that screamed “Kawaii!” The maids also “blessed” each part of the meal with a dose of “moe moe kyun” once new food arrived at my table. I really liked going to this cafe for lunch. I may have rolled this con solo, and having the maids around didn’t feel like I was having my lunch alone.
I also perused through the massive dealers hall that took up one building. Between PMX and ax chibi, this was easily the biggest dealers hall between the three Fall anime cons. I wasn’t expecting to spend much, but a booth had Twisted Wonderland merch, and I had to get a thing…or two. The dealers hall was a mix of anime vendors and artists. I did see a few repeats from ax chibi and PMX. It was also easy to navigate and aisles weren’t too narrow. While it could get crowded and busy, you didn’t feel sardined in.
I also wandered through the two autograph sections. I liked how each section was divided into the different anime fandoms each voice actor was billed for. Death Note and Naruto shared space in one hall. Demon Slayer, Kingdom Hearts, Dragonball, etc took up an entirely different hall. I liked how these were organized and how the lines were set up. I only had one voice actor in mind I wanted to meet, Brad Swaile. He was billed as Light from Death Note, but I know him best as Quatre in Gundam Wing. He signed a copy of Quatre painting he made. It is now framed and hanging on my wall. Thank you for being a part of my fujoshi tween years, Brad!
I also liked how the steps of the performing arts building was a neat set up for cosplay meet ups. I happened to check out the Twisted Wonderland, Demon Slayer, and Genshin meet ups. I didn’t cosplay to them, I just took photos as I stumbled across them.
I also went to to the anime lounge – this was where you can sing karaoke tunes to your hearts content! The last two fall cons didn’t have a karaoke room during the day, this fulfilled my need to sing on stage to complete strangers. As Yohane, I sang “Dance Macabre” by Ghost and “Show and Tell” by Al Wilson. I stuck around to support the kids that were going on stage. This even had a ball pit right in front of the stage!
Cosplay photography wise, both Kids Can Cosplay and the convention had free photo booths at the main entrance where badge pickup was located. These photographers had mini studios set up. You would line up, provide a few poses, and your photos would be available on their respective social media’s. The convention photographer’s booth was also raising money for the American Diabetes Association. His booth was a lot of fun – he was blasting 80’s metal throughout the weekend. I had no complaints.
Outdoor photography was mixed. I was glad I knew maybe two photographers who were shooting at this event. I do love the Pasadena Convention Center area and it really does lend as a backdrop for Central Europe for a cosplay like Yor Forger or with the right lighting and angles, something our favorite fallen angel, Yohane summoning her little demons. Yet, there was an air of elitism from cosplay photographers that were there to only pay attention to popular cosplayers. As Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” (However, shoutout to the Faye Valentine cosplayer who complimented me – you’re also hawt AF too!)
Speaking of cosplay…let’s talk about the cosplay scene at Anime Pasadena! I loved that this convention was very family friendly. I saw parents bring their kids and they were all dressed up. I saw so many kids dressed from Demon Slayer, Chainsaw Man, and Naruto. I’m not surprised that both Naruto and Demon Slayer cosplays were popular at this convention given that the voice actors were here. Of course, it goes without saying that Genshin cosplays were in full swing; I was originally going to wear either Ningguang or Lisa on Sunday for the meet up. Other popular fandoms seen included Chainsaw Man, Dragonball, etc.
I judged both cosplay contests at the end of each day. Cosplay contests are simple here at Anime Pasadena. Basically you would need to sign up at the Kids Can Cosplay booth (tip: sign ups fill up fast!). The adult contest took place on Saturday evening. We had about 40 or so entries go up on stage. Our resident Kel Mitchell MC’ed both shows. Contestants would walk up on stage and do a pose and then leave the stage. Judges would scan for craftsmanship, effort, and the energy they brought on stage. The kids contest took place on Sunday evening – we even had a guest judge with us, Logan Winter, a well known 7 year old cosplayer. I loved everyone’s entries and I admire anyone who decides to challenge themselves by having the confidence to go up on stage!
Nightlife was still a thing after the doors had closed at Anime Pasadena. I didn’t attend any after parties ( gotta get up early !). Yet, you would still find photoshoots still running into the evening hours. You also had a group of attendees dancing to salsa outside of the convention center. It’s evident that the community loves Anime Pasadena and didn’t want the day to end after the dealers halls had closed. That’s what I still love about this community.
I named this report after Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” It was a rough week leading up to Anime Pasadena after the anime community had lost their own, Kevin Lilard (Fansview). He was a cosplay photographer in the 90s and 00’s. While he may have retired, his work has continue to inspire me to keep blogging about conventions. I wished I had an opportunity to have a quick memorial speech about him at the cosplay contest, but I feel that continuing my work here as a blogger will keep his memory and legacy alive. We had also lost Jason David Frank of Power Rangers fame on Sunday morning – you could feel the somber mood at the convention center as people were getting confirmation of the news of his passing. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a depressive episode on Sunday trying to cope with loss, but I had to move forward. In spite of the cruel nature of the world (and how this fandom can be), because of inspirational people like Kevin Lilard, I’m still standing (yeah, yeah, yeah).
Overall, Anime Pasadena was a ride. I had held off on Anime Pasadena for years due to conflicts in schedule, but I’m glad I finally gave it chance. I’d likely return next year depending on the time. I would have to say out of PMX, ax chibi, and Anime Pasadena, AP wins the fall crown. Anime Pasadena had an amazing crowd, an A-tier line up of guests, time to relax and hang out with friends, beautiful photo locations, and so much more. This is an amazing value for what you pay. I would definitely love to come back as a judge for both contests! I love encouraging and meeting this new generation of cosplayers and what they will bring to the scene.
And of course, many thanks to Kids Can Cosplay for allowing me to have this opportunity. My plans for Sin City Anime didn’t work out, and this opportunity provided itself. Thank you for valuing my years of experience cosplaying and competing in cosplay.
And remember, it’s Dame Scarlet Aznable, as in there’s nothing like a dame.
And watch more Gundam, please.