Anime Expo 2008

Los Angeles, California, USA. July 3 – July 6, 2008.
Reporter(s): Kuroi

Anime Expo
. There really isn’t any way to describe the biggest anime convention outside of Japan to someone who hasn’t been there before. No matter how prepared you think you are, unless you’ve been smack-dab in the center of the organized chaos affectionately referred to as AX, you’ll be blown away. The 16th Anime Expo completely took over the Los Angeles Convention Center from July 3rd to the 6th. This was AX’s first year swarming the LACC, with around 42,000 attendees in various attires taking over the streets of LA from Day 0 until Day 4.Anime Expo has always been off the charts in terms of the caliber of its guests, and this year was by no means an exception. Japan’s “It-Girl”, Shoko Nakagawa, the singer of the Gurren Lagannopening, as well as talented cosplayer and blogger; Toshihiko Seki, an extremely talented seiyuu;Masamitsu Hidaka, the director of such small titles as Pokemon and Gundam; and many other guests with resumes a mile long were merely the Guests of Honor. The industry and series-specific panels also had popular English voice actors — Yuri Lowenthal made an appearance at the Atlus panel, and Vic Mignogna was seen wandering the halls more than once.Last year’s AX was a nightmare for everyone involved; the Long Beach Convention Center was the venue for the very first Anime Expo, but it became glaringly obvious that the con had outgrown its roots. I am happy to report, however, that this year’s AX was very well organized in terms of logistics and lines. The registration staff implemented a new system for registration, which seemed to work very well. The only logistical problem that came to my attention was trying to get to Artist’s Alley within the first hour the Dealer’s Room was open. As always, the line for the Dealer’s Room stretched endlessly before it even opened, so well into an hour after it did, people were still streaming in, splitting the South Lobby into half, effectively cutting off Artist’s Alley from the entrance. However, once this line dissipated, the South Lobby became a great place to snap shots of cosplayers and just mingle with people. I’m also happy to report that you could enter and exit the Dealer’s Room through the same doors, eliminating the maze of confusion surrounding the exit to last year’s Dealer’s Room. The other problem was finding cosplay gathering sites, as the staircases used for the gatherings were on the backside of the convention center away from mainstream foot traffic. Luckily, this problem is easily solved: keep the con at the same site, and eventually the returnees will be able to point any newcomers to the gatherings with ease.As Anime Expo is the largest anime convention outside of Japan, the Main Events are not to be taken lightly. The staples of AX — the AMV Contest, AX Idol, and the Masquerade — were joined by a concert by Jyuukai on Friday and by Shokotan on Saturday. The Main Events took place in the famed Nokia Theater, an amazing venue, and although I was disappointed by how far back press seating was for the events (during the Masquerade, many of us opted for taking pictures of the projected video rather than try to zoom in with low lighting), I enjoyed the ones I attended immensely. I had never been to the AMV Contest before, but it was definitely my favorite of the three main events. The Masquerade wasn’t quite up to par with the standard that had been previously set (sadly, this seems to have been the case across the board for cons this year), but as a friend and I hypothesized, the talented people from previous years have been asked to be judges at some con or another, so there is a new generation of cosplayers who have yet to grow into their full potential, making future masquerades something to look forward to.To be honest, if you had asked me or any of my friends to describe the con at the time, our reply would’ve been an enthusiastic “EPIC!” no matter how much our feet hurt, how tired we were, or how much our heads ached. From the guests, to the Dealer’s Room, to the overly energetic people, to the panels, (one of the video panels was the premiere of the new L movie, which had just released on DVD in Japan a week earlier, just to give an example of how well connected the AX staff is), to the wonderful attendees, Anime Expo definitely did not disappoint.