My one Tohou claim to fame is lending my voice to a Tohou fandub that references 80’s pop culture over a decade ago. Since then, I don’t quite have a lot of knowledge of Tohou games or the lore, but I decided to check out Tohou Fest in Torrance, CA on April 29, 2023. I was invited to attend as a board member of Animarketplace. It was also not too far and I could use any excuse to visit Torrance.
I was quite familiar with the Torrance Cultural Arts Center for the past few decades having grown up in the area. The cultural center thrives upon the growing Japanese American population. The event space is perfect for a niche event like Tohou Fest. Many Tohou fans showed up on Saturday to celebrate the popular bullet hell video game series.
Tohou Fest is a brand new event hosted by Animarketplace. Divorced from the event’s toxic predecessor, this brand new Tohou Fest truly served the SoCal Tohou fan community. Swap meets, free to play arcades, artist market, fan panels, cosplay photoshoots, and a performance stage allowed fans to live their best Tohou life with fellow fans. Tohou is a pretty niche fandom within the anime community. I did mention I had some familiarity with it, but I’m not quite immersed into it.
I did check out Maid Academy Cafe’s performance. The Orange County based maid cafe group performed several songs from the popular Tohou series. Additionally, they had a “Guess the Bad Apple Silhouette!” inviting audience participation.
One of the best things about the Torrance Cultural Arts Center is the Japanese garden. Tohou Fest was not afraid to use it. There were many a cosplay photoshoot held at the Japanese garden. it does get quite narrow in a few areas and may not be accessibility friendly, However, it is a peaceful area to de-stimulate from the “yippee’s” and moe-themed tunes from the event DJ.
I did appreciate the presence of food trucks. It didn’t take too long to get something from Okamoto Kitchen. The lines weren’t completely bad. There were a few benches in the main courtyard to enjoy a meal.
The free to play arcade was pretty busy! You had Love Live, Para Para, and console versions of Tohou. I wanted to sit down and try out Tohou for the first time, but it was a busy arcade!
Of course, there were a ton of cosplayers representing Tohou at the event.
Overall, I do like the Torrance Cultural Arts Center as an event space for something niche like Tohou Fest. The overall vibes were very friendly. While I’m not too deep into the fandom, save for the fandub I was in, people were generally kind to each other. I liked the overall feel of the event. It also helped that parking was free and easy to find. I hope events that cater to niche fandoms consider the Torrance Cultural Center!
Shoutout to Lucas Chang of Animarketplace for hosting an amazing event! I certainly hope the fans had a great time!