[Anime Impulse OC ’23] Deja Vu

This was our first time back at an Anime Impulse event since 2020. Anime Impulse Orange County first began in 2022 at the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds. After plenty of complaints about the heat and the outdoor venue, it made sense to make the move to the Anaheim Convention Center. A few of us who experienced Anime Expo during the Anaheim Convention Center years (1998-1999, 2003 – 2006) were curious to attend a weekend everything anime event again at the Anaheim Convention Center. We were very excited for this event.


I ended up bringing Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi for Saturday and Haman Karn from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. I decided to go old school among the sea of Genshin and Honkai cosplayers. I did get recognized correctly 3-4 times during the weekend for Miaka and Haman.

Anime Impulse would be sharing space with Sneaker Expo and K-Play Fest. Previously at the Pomona location, these different events would be placed in different venues and halls to separate the different shows. However, all of these events were crammed in one hall. You had three different stages dedicated to each of the shows. Each stage would have a dance party, concert, or a panel, There was no where to sit down for these panels. They were open spaces for standing room only.

One hall meant only one entrance to the venue. While you could mingle or nap at the lobby zone of the Anaheim Convention Center, there was only one entrance for all three events. All attendees of all three events had to stand in line to get their bags checked and get their barcode scanned. Some attendees didn’t get the barcode. To flag an Anime Impulse staffer was impossible. Mostly Anaheim Convention Center staff was in the main lobby. I had to flag a volunteer who had to flag a staff member to see what was going on with my press credentials. A customer service booth manned by AI staff should have been at the front to discuss barcode issues.

We were advised to email the info@ email, but I received no response during the weekend. I was told that this email was being checked. However, the AI OC staff member was able to let me through and allowed me to have my hand stamped. There are no badges for this convention; attendees (and press like myself) had to have a hand stamp for re-entry. The stamp could be easily washed out if you were to wash your hands.

Programming wise, Anime Impulse had local artists and vendors. I felt the majority of the $40 weekend event was made of voice actor meet and greets and browsing through the vendor hall. I didn’t really shop around the anime section, but the K-Play Fest area drew me in more. I admit that I’m more of a casual K-pop enjoyer; I like listening to the music on Spotify while I drive. However, I did end up taking home some Dreamcatcher and K/DA fan inspired merchandise.

I learned more about the K-Pop fandom by casually strolling along the K-Play Fest section. While I love meeting voice actors, it wasn’t in my budget for selfies and autographs. I saw the fan made bracelets showing off various K-pop groups. There was a lot of people trading K-pop portraiture cards. They were also selling tiny frames to display your favorite K-pop portraiture cards. I loved seeing custom patches and custom art of various groups. I ended up getting a few pins for my favorites. Again, I’m more on the casual side. I may bust “Butter” at karaoke though.

Food at the Anaheim Convention Center is pricey. On Day 2, it cost me $30 for a simple bowl of garlic noodles and mediocre strawberry lemonade. On Day 1, I asked security if water was allowed, he said that water was permissible. On Day 2, I saw a ton of water bottles being confiscated. I never had this issue with the Anaheim Convention Center bringing outside food. They did have a Japanese and Korean food section inside, but most attendees who had these said they were just okay.

I didn’t check out any of the Vtuber concerts; it’s not quite my fandom. I do appreciate the arcade, but it had to be closed off during the concert. I did enjoy a few performances at the Anime Impulse stage. Yet, I wished the con would invest in chairs for these panels and concerts. It’s not very accessible friendly. By the end of the day, my feet were killing me.

I saw that Anime Impulse was planning shows in Arizona and Washington in 2024. After speaking to my colleagues, we agreed that Anime Impulse needs to improve their California event programming. After about an hour or two of walking around the venue, I felt I saw what I needed to see of Anime Impulse. The line is also a problem, there needs to be more than one entrance to get in. I heard there were cosplay guests, but I didn’t see them nor they had any panels. There was not even a cosplay contest either! I would have loved to have seen the Genshin voice actor panels, but my old self needs to have a seat. I wasn’t planning on standing around for that.

Overall, I’m not sure if I can recommend Anime Impulse Orange County. At least the Pomona event had tasty food that was not highway robbery. The Anaheim Convention Center is an amazing venue if you know how to use it right. I do like the variety of voice actors present. I did like learning more about K-pop fandom. The random dance stage on Day 2 was a lot of fun and I was introduced to more K-pop groups to check out. I just wished there were more things to do with the con. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time with friends and getting out of the house, but to be a solid anime convention, it has a long way to go.

Written by Dame Aznable
IG: @damescarletaznable
Twitter: @dameaznable
TikTok: @damescarletaznable


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