The two day anime show celebrate their first ever convention in downtown Las Vegas. Attendees waited in line early Saturday morning hoping to be the first to shop and get autographs from their favorite voice actors. You could see wagons of Funko Pops and figures ready to be signed. Cosplayers from Chainsaw Man, Genshin, and Naruto waiting in the warm Vegas sun with excitement. We perused through the entrance as press to get a glimpse of what was to come – a robust dealers hall and artist alley, maid cafe, two main stages of entertainment, and a karaoke stage. The event was very much contained at The Expo – think of an exhibit hall that comprises of just the convention. Once you were in the hall, you were pretty much at the con.
Anime Las Vegas ran from 10AM to 6PM on Saturday and Sunday. While one could buy a ticket for the after hours parties, if you were a local expecting more, the main show ended just in time for dinner. If you’re from out of town and wanting to also do your usual Vegas fare – shows, buffets, exploring downtown and the strip, you certainly had time without feeling like you were missing out on anything. For regular convention goers, this might be mental whiplash considering that anime conventions typically have all day programming. Anime Las Vegas is just run a little bit differently; one’s mileage may vary.
Programming wise, the highlight are the voice actor reunion panels. We caught the Chainsaw Man and My Hero Academia panels on the main stage. Fans of the show took the chairs from the table area; they weren’t fond of the lack of seats by the main stage. These two panels brought in a good amount of guests to the main stage. These reunion panels had an anime content creator, sometimes from Anime Fire, Voice actors talked about their experience behind the microphone. A few questions asked were “If your character cross overed with another anime, what anime would that be?” Most of the Chainsaw Man cast wanted to crossover with Sailor Moon.
Attendees can have meet and greets with voice actors. They could line up and either take a selfie, get in a few words, or get merch signed. Selfies and merch do cost extra; budget wisely if you are considering getting something signed. I visited Natalie van Sistine, the American voice for Yor Forger (Spy x Family) and Miorine (Gundam Witch from Mercury). Because she’s still relatively new to the scene, there was no wait for her in contrast to the Naruto voice actors. We exchanged a few words and of course, we had to selfie while I was in my Yor cosplay! The challenge was being very dainty with the signed poster.
Anime Las Vegas also had a few fan panels. There were a few that usually make it around the SoCal circuit including Ranking This and That, Anime Debates, and some that catered towards fan creations. I was asked kindly to be on the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion panel. I had no meeting with the panelists prior, so I thought this would be an interesting mix of ideas and discourse. We had a pretty interesting line up of questions. As panelists we were asked our thoughts about the Little Mermaid casting and the panelists shared their thoughts on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I also wanted to give a perspective as an anime fan at an anime con. I cited words like Japan Sinks 2020 that covers a bi-racial family and issues of nationalism. One of the ALV staff members brought up Ponyo and Spirited Away as Ghibli interpretations and adaptations of The Little Mermaid and Alice in Wonderland. This was a hearty discussion; glad to have had this talk with the panel!
The dealers hall is the main draw of the convention. Surrounded by giant inflated Godzilla’s, Pikachu’s, and Pochita’s, what brought attendees of all ages to come was also to shop around. I didn’t expect much. I did see that there were a lot of SoCal vendors and artists present at Anime Las Vegas. However, I did find a few hidden gems. One such was the official Universal Studios Japan Anya Forger ears that I had my partner wear for most of the con…because why not?
For a convention that runs for a few hours, there was a lot to do and see. If you’re really into meeting voice actors and getting things signed, this is the place to go. Even the dealers hall had merch and highlighted said merch if you needed something to sign. Anime Las Vegas is also very family friendly. We saw so many families that cosplayed together at this event. For a convention that took place in Sin City, it was a wholesome feeling seeing the togetherness of fandom between generations.
Overall, if you are local to Anime Las Vegas and are a fan of American voice actors, this is the place to go. Just know that the con ends at 6PM; so you’ll be done in time to have dinner with friends. I did see a huge influx of SoCal attendees checking this out. It’s hard for me to recommend if SoCal-ers will love this con. Likewise, if there’s specific voice actors you want to meet, this is a good place to go. Ending your day at 6PM gives you some time to do some Vegas exploration. Anime Las Vegas has more of a trade show feel than a hotel con like Sin City Anime. However, Anime Las Vegas runs like a well oiled machine. The staff did a great job entering the Las Vegas market.
And shoutout to my brothers at Cosplay Wrestling Federation for having us be a part of the show and to Tyler for inviting me to be on a diversity, equality, and inclusion panel.