This is my second Anime Pasadena. While I have been blogging about anime conventions for the past 20 years, I consider this my “give back” con. It’s true that Anime Pasadena is a smaller con, but it means well to fans, especially those who have been burnt out by larger events. People come to Anime Pasadena as early as 8AM, filling up most parking spots to be the first in line to get an autograph from a voice actor, or to pick up their badges. Cars with anime vinyl decals pass through Green Street, parents dropping of their kids right at the intersection. Doors open at 10AM to hundreds of fans lined up in downtown Pasadena.
I have attended Anime Pasadena 2022 and it’s sibling event, Anime Las Vegas 2023 earlier in the year. These cons pretty much run the same. If you been to one, you know what you are going to get in terms of programming. Huge dealers and vendor hall, a hall dedicated to celebrity and voice actor autographs, a beautiful civic auditorium for voice cast Q&A, and Dragon Hall Z – home to live performances and the maid cafe.
One of the new things that Anime Pasadena brought in was the arcade. People could play rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution and Para Para Paradise at no cost. I didn’t have time to check this out, plus my costumes had limited mobility. Yet, I was happy that this was finally at Anime Pasadena. There were barely any lines for these machines.
I went to the maid cafe, hosted by Dreamland, again this year with my cosplay buddy, MVious Cosplay. We were cosplaying as Misato and Shinji from Evangelion. My friend got the last reservation for Saturday. This year, you were given an hour to enjoy a drink (milk tea or a premium parfait), treats, and a performance by the maids. I loved how the pastel pink maids had their own accessories to individualize their uniforms. Our maid had Tokyo Disney’s Stella Lou on her apron. Performances included one of the maids singing a cover of “Stay With Me.” My friend and I couldn’t help but sing along to this citypop classic.
I didn’t check out much of the panels; I do admit much of the fan panels tend to be a repeat from previous Anime Pasadena and Anime Las Vegas. Yet, I was happy to be on the Diversity in Media and Cosplay Myths. We had a great turnout for both. Our panel room was held in the Gold Room of the civic auditorium and it was just lovely. I had post-panel conversations with fellow attendees about queerness and fandom. I feel these panels are essential because they highlight community. However, I would have loved it if Anime Pasadena would have done a screening of the final episode of Attack on Titan (with maybe some of the guest voice actors reacting?) given that it did drop on Saturday.
One of my favorite events was checking out kaigai idol (or overseas idol) performances at Dragon Hall Z. I’m glad Anime Pasadena brought in more local idol performance groups. To me, seeing idols perform on stage exuded more anime vibes bonding than hearing past top 40 music randomly set to anime clips on screen. Irodori Idols gave us covers of Muse from Love Live, the OG first series. Most of the audience knew the chants, call outs, and lyrics. I was singing “Cutie Panther” at the top of my lungs. Aquarius also brought in Tagalog idol music. I was also introduced to new kaigai groups such as Bubble Pop Experience and Strawberry Sunday – hope to see them perform more lives!
Cosplayers and cosplay photographers love this location. The Pasadena Civic Center is a hop, skip, and a jump away. Also, the civic auditorium just has some beautiful backgrounds. People were shooting from the morning until the evening hours. I did see people set up colored filters for more dramatic lighting. Some people even admitted they didn’t buy a badge for the con, but decided to shoot anyway because the area is so open.
This was also where cosplay meet ups were held. MVious and I attempted to host the Neon Genesis Evangelion meetup. We had three Shinji’s, one Misato, and one Rei. However, it’s typically the shounen series that get the most turnout – and Genshin.
The vibes of this con was a fun one. Random DJ’s decided to set up in front of the civic auditorium. It just became the main hangout zone for cosplayers. The dealers hall had a lot of decals, anime themed clothing, and prints for sale. For a small con, the vendor hall needed a good hour or two explore. I tend to prefer exploring this artist alley over Anime Expo’s.
No autographs for me this year, but I was close to getting a Fujiko Mine figure signed by Michelle Ruff. Yet, the autograph hall was always busy and there were always lines.
Overall, Anime Pasadena is a good value con, especially if you’re a fan of voice actors. I always rate this as a family friendly con, one to take the whole family too. Prices are generally affordable if you purchase tickets early on. There’s a decent amount of vendors to check out. There’s even a kids cosplay contest (that I helped judge!)! Things generally end at 6PM. Yet for older fans of the childless millennial pedigree, the party doesn’t stop at 6PM. Shenanigans from random dancing, TikTok videos, cosplay shoots, or just catching up with friends happen at the civic center.
Anime Pasadena takes the crown for best value anime convention of Southern California.