Andrew (Ctrl Alt Kill) and I attended our first Anime Expo in 1999. Back then, I was into collecting anime dolls and Sailor Moon products. Andrew just wanted more Pokemon cards. We were with our parents perusing through the dealer’s room not knowing that ten years later, we would still be doing the same thing. Back then, I was becoming a high school Sophomore, now I am working towards my Master’s degree. Time goes by fast.

Friends have come and gone. Social groups change. I went from voice actors to cosplayers to Asian Ball Joint Doll people and back again. If anything, the convention experience brings us closer and allows us to bond over common interests and love of fandom. To this day, I remain loyal and protective of my friends.

After the convention, I talked to Bart (Team Misaki) and we both concluded that Anime Expo's ealier guest of honor line up (Gackt in 2007, CLAMP in 2006) will never be topped. Even Otakon 2009 has an all star guest of honor line up that made the West Coast fan base green with envy (Kikuko Inoue, Noboru Ishiguro, etc). Had I really cared for J-music groups like Morning Musume and Mois Dix Mois, maybe I would have attended their concerts. Great for fans of J-pop and J-rock, but last I checked, this was Anime Expo. Let's get more movers and shakers in the anime industry. Anime Expo 2009 did have interesting panels, but most of the good ones were crammed into the last day.

I am glad that Cosplay Chess is being considered as an official event for next year. While there were many rave reviews of the event, here’s hoping this will be a continued Anime Expo tradition – as well as one step closer to Anime Expo regaining a fan friendly atmosphere. With Kenji Ono out of the picture, many cosplayers have a sigh of relief competing back in masquerade. Anime Expo’s Masquerade Ballroom Dance could use some improvements – bring back DJ Miko, have a spacious room for ballroom lessons, etc. I liked the Westin location, but with the Ritz Carlton and J W Marriott opening next year, we can hope these facilities can accommodate more Anime Expo late night programming.

It was not so much of an inconvenience going from the convention center to the Westin, it was more so if I wanted to return to my hotel before midnight. I’d have to go from the Westin to the convention center and then from the convention center, take route 3. I am glad that the Westin did offer convenient shuttle service, but I wish it was consistent for route 3. As mentioned before, hopefully utilizing space at the new Ritz Carlton and JW Marriot can easily solve this. I felt Anime Expo 2009 was too spread out this year. Trust me, I have been to Long Beach in 2001, 2002, and 2007. It made Long Beach look like a cakewalk.

The wristband policy grinded my gears. My roommates were not fans of this either. Though cosplayers can display the wristband on their badge, my main issue was paying an extra $20 to participate in the events in the Westin. Considering Anime Expo already charges $60 at the door, this would total to $80. Comic Con costs $75 and offers free shuttle service. All Anime Expo events should be included in the price of general registration, or this may be a sign that Anime Expo should round up new industry sponsors to lower the cost.

I am still getting used to the Los Angeles Convention Center. The area is not so bad, but I have witnessed accounts of homeless people sneaking into the convention center and crashing gatherings. At the Baccano! gathering, we had a wandering homeless person. I had to get protect everyone’s gear because I feared a purse may get stolen. I still miss the Anaheim location – better view of the fireworks, but all good things must come to and end, right?

As far as eateries go, there was always the Anime Los Angeles con suite to rely on munchies and a snack. I liked having food at the ESPN Sports Zone. It was a relaxing environment compared to the hustle and bustle of convention life. Cosmopolitans make everything better.

I never had a problem with security. If anything I thought they were to lazy to do anything. They could have prevented homeless people coming into the convention center. However, I do have to thank security for letting one of our press team in during after hours. I never had a problem with staff, but the real question was, I couldn’t find any available staff on site if I had a question or wanted to report kids shooting airsoft pellets outside. I had to resort contacting security.

In addition to making room for improvement, I highly suggest a competent writing team and attention to production value for Anime Expo Backstage. I will admit, the flash animation of the Anime Expo mascots were pretty cute, but the clips featuring Little Tokyo left little to write home about. Take a look at "Buses to LT." Bart Boy (Team Misaki) pointed out that they provide no information what bus route to take to Little Tokyo or how much is the fare. The biggest offender was "LT & AX" where both reporters failed to mention the significance of the Onizuka memorial, yet the Challenger memorial ("blasting off") was used as punch line material. Have we forgotten our history? Considering this is significant to Japanese American culture, I would have assumed that Anime Expo would have been sensitive about this topic.

I am likely to attend next year granted that I am in the area. I would like to do more panels and I would like to see a better guest of honor line up. My piece of advice to Anime Expo would be to find a balance between being a fan friendly convention and an industry convention. Having a fan friendly environment would give the show better PR and may draw some former attendees back. Anime Expo needs industry to survive – keep bringing those industry guests back. In short, Anime Expo was good, but not great as it could have been.

Anime Expo still has potential for bringing it back to the fans, but a balance of industry and fandom is the best solution to get back on track.

Thank you to Julia for the hotel room at the Omni Los Angeles. Thank you to Stan for the carpool and thanks to Andrew for the carpool back to Torrance. Thanks to my friends for cosplay partnerships in “cast only” and in twinning it up. Thanks to Anime Expo Press for making the process easy without any hassle. Despite Anime Expo’s flaws, I thank the SPJA for having another decent Anime Expo. Most importantly, I would like to thank my press team for another awesome Anime Expo and for all their hard work. Here's to more years covering anime conventions!

Ten years attending anime conventions, I really felt I have grown up seeing the evolution of the largest anime convention in the world. Of course, many people keep coming back to see friends near and far. As the four of us clinked our spoons before diving into the banana split, I realized how much of going to anime conventions has impacted my life and interpersonal relationships - the falling outs, the drama, the joy, the shenanigans, the lulz, the friendships that will last a lifetime, I realized the most exciting, challenging relationship of them all is the one you have with yourself.

If you wish to contact me, I can be reached at v @ I can also be found on Facebook, Livejournal, and Twitter.

And if you find someone to love the “you” you love…well, that’s just fabulous.

Pictures are copyright by Scarlet Rhapsody. If I took your picture, feel free to use it on your site or cosplay gallery. While you're here, do sign the guestbook. This site was brought to you by the font Forte Script. Many thanks to Chaz Boston Baden for the image resizing and watermarking program.