Downtown Los Angeles is not our favorite place to travel to. It was no surprise that parking filled up in the main convention center by 10AM. Even panelists and presenters were running late to their event because of the lack of parking. Cars lined up on Figueroa and Pico be it looking for a spot or dropping off cosplayers in front of South Hall. Beggars could not be choosers, parking ranged from $30 to $60 per day. Downtown LA is always a nightmare scenario.
Exploring and people watching at LA Comic Con is always something. We first started out at West Hall which featured video games and anime. We affectionately called this section “Weeb Hall.” Our colleague, Gekinetic, entered a Street Fighter 6 tournament and got his butt handed to him. We stopped by the Gundam mobile van to shop for gunpla; Jared the Greek went home with a high grade Epyon. In this Gundam area, you could also learn how to build gunpla. We saw many tiny human newytpes lined up for this.
Coincidentally, the Gundam mobile shop was next door to the marines. It seemed quite appropriate, but out of place at the same time. Weeb Hall had several military recruiting booths – Coast Guard, Army, Navy, etc. While we get that recruitment is down, it felt that these booths could have been taken up by NIS or other anime themed vendors. Unless the US Navy would like to have a partnership with Azur Lane or the US Army partnering up with Goddess of Victory, that would be another story.
South Hall was where it was at. The lobby had cosplayers and photographers snapping photos. In contrast to Anime Expo, you could breathe in South Hall. There was enough space for folks to take group photos and get single photos. We even had a Spiderman group do random dances in the middle of South Hall lobby and started a Post Malone sing-a-long. South Hall is where LA Comic Con official sanctioned cosplay gatherings occurred. The Star Wars one on Saturday was pretty massive!
South Hall also had the large vendor hall. Artist alley, the main stage, and various nerdy and geeky vendors sold here. There was not much in terms of interactive booths. I really missed the likes of the Hot Topic Nightmare Before Christmas booth from last year, but this was still a good place to buy holiday presents for loved ones. I spent more time in artist alley looking for unique this and that’s for friends and family. I also appreciated the variety of fandom – fantasy tabletop, anime, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Disney, and more – sold at LA Comic Con. I didn’t appear that one fandom was outdoing the other. I also appreciated the food themed vendors such as Whimsy that gave us our chocolate fix at the end of the con.
I was able to attend professional development themed panels during LA Comic Con. If you are a content creator in the publishing field, panels are a great way to meet likeminded folks and to build your network. I attended the Asian American and Filipino American representation panels with the intention to meet new people and to re-connect with connections made at San Diego Comic Con. The Asian American panel had the founder of Rotten Tomatoes cosplaying as Loid Forger from Spy x Family and an author, Abigail Hing Wei of the Loveboat, Taipei series. I ended up buying a copy of it because Asian American teenage shenanigans intrigue me.
The con had a handful of interesting panels – I wished I could have caught them all. I really wanted to check out the Psychology of Spy x Family as hosted by actual licensed mental health professionals. I did make a new friend at the con, Veronica, and she was hosting Cosplaying Strong Women. I decided to come out and support her and her crew. The panel was talking about bringing your favorite lady characters to life and discussing the politics of character design.
The convention is lighter than the Behemoth that is Anime Expo, but there were points where it did get crowded wherein our crowd anxiety and claustrophobia started to flare up. Anywhere near the entrance of the photo ops zone became a chokehold at certain points. Anytime the Hot Topic stage ended a program, there is a mass exodus of people trying to leave and scatter around the vendor hall. It was so bad, that I started singing to the trailer music to Migration (aka Duck Hunt: The Movie), to try to tune out the crowd.
The vibe of the convention was pretty friendly. I did appreciate seeing families cosplaying together. It did surprise me that I saw not one, but two tween cosplayers dressed up as Griffith from Berserk. Not one fandom was dominating over the other. When it comes to fandom, I did see a ton of One Piece, Dragonball, Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney represented at this event. I ended up cosplaying from 2023 movies that were the highest grossing movies lead by women.
Overall, LA Comic Con is one of those “must see” and “must go” events if you identify as a nerd in the Greater Los Angeles area. There’s a lot to explore in both South Hall and West Hall. There’s a lot of amazing cosplayers to get photos of (and with). I also appreciated the availability of places and spaces to sit down if we needed to catch a break. Otherwise, I do recommend checking out LA Comic Con if you’re from the area.