Ronin Expo took place on June 10, 2017 in the Japanese Cultural Center in Little Tokyo. Little Tokyo has always been the hub of Japanese pop culture in Southern California. Unofficial meet ups such as Harajuku Day and Akiba Day occur every other month where j-fashionista’s, cosplayers, etc converge and hang out. Ronin Expo is run by Danny G. You may have seen him performing stand up comedy at anime events across Southern California. This is not Danny G’s first time running an event in Little Tokyo. We did attend one of the Ninja Con’s back in 2014. More of the Japanese Cultural Center has been used for this event.
Ronin Expo can best be described as an all day anime festival of sorts. It reminded me of Otakon Matsuri; a main outdoor entertainment stage, vendors, and cosplayers just hanging out and cooling off. The Japanese Cultural Center area was cornered off for wristband holders. The main plaza, building, and Japanese gardens were used. Vendors, artists, and events took up the vendors area outside. While most of these people can be seen at Anime Expo, there was much more space and much more time to take a look at everything available. I ended up buying a Lolita style hat from one vendor. Later in the evening, the vendor area transformed into a swap meet. Southern California events don’t have many opportunities to have a live swap meet – this was great for people trying to make some extra money for Anime Expo or upcoming cons.
The main building had a few things going on. The Japanese garden had live musical performances. There were a few idol dance cover groups and bands performing with the Japanese garden as background. I don’t recall that the garden was open for photoshoots, but it was a serene background for the musical performances. There were some places where you could still get away with photos, but the main garden was closed off. This is where you also found the photobooth where you can get some purikura. Upstairs, you can also check out the gaming room where they had an idol themed rhythm game.
We did catch a few panels such as cosplaying in kimonos. This panel covered proper ways to wear kimono and how character designs in Japanese RPG’s and anime have integrated kimono styles in fantasy media. We also checked out an intro to armor panel that covered how to’s for beginners including how to utilize duck tape and craft form to make armor. Programming was lite – there was one panel room, one concerts room, and a main outdoor stage. However, the biggest draw was the cosplay show hosted by Celeste Orchard. It was not so much a cosplay contest based on craft, but more on having fun and entertaining the audience. Most of the acts were idol based including a group of wotage who went on stage and waved their glowsticks – so much so that there was an wotage dance off during halftime. It was very entertaining to see what people could do at the last minute. Sign up’s were low, but willing participants gave what they had on the fly and it was awesome.
Overall, Ronin Expo was a relaxed anime festival in Little Tokyo. It was mostly locals from the greater Los Angeles area that attended – a nice warm up before Anime Expo to see friends and hang out. Ronin Expo is more of a hang out con, but we hope to see that this con has more programming and activities for attendees. The outdoor live stage was a nice addition to the show – it kept everyone entertained. It had a very “matsuri” type of feeling that I was half expecting matsuri style games at this event. I would recommend this event to locals who enjoy coming out to Little Tokyo and have some time to kill on a Saturday.
Thank you, Danny G, for inviting us to Ronin Expo 2017’s first year. We hope to see you again in 2018!