The Anime Expo is the most well-known anime conventions in California, with a constantly-growing number of participants since its formation in 1992. Organized by the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation, the convention originally began in San José and relocated to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1994. It has been there ever since, becoming a popular destination for otakus, or fans who indulge in their love for anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese Comics) during the Fourth of July weekend. The renowned series Sailor Moon, an anime and manga about a group of teenage girls who transform into superheroes called sailor scouts and fight against evil forces, took over this year’s convention.
Since the re-release of Sailor Moon, with new voice dubbing, came out in July 2014, many people have been bringing the fandom (community) surrounding the show back to life; the Anime Expo reveled in its revived popularity. The two-hour Sailor Moon panel took place on July 1st in the main hall. The whole cast came, with the introduction of new actors who will be voicing the outer sailor scouts. Additionally, the panel showed a clip of the newest Sailor Moon spin-off, Sailor Moon Crystal, which includes new animation that follows closer to the manga. The panel was followed by pictures, autographs from the cast, and an evening premiere of the first two episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal.
Although Sailor Moon was the highlight of the convention, the convention offered a wide variety of events. Panels included tributes to other fandoms, such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and meetings with famous YouTubers, such as Dodger of Press Heart To Continue. Visitors also had to the opportunity to watch the annual fashion show, participate in a karaoke competition, and relax in Lounge 21 for drinks and music. One of the conventions most popular events was the Maid Café, inspired by the maid cafés of Akihabara, where maids serve visitors tea and treats, followed by an adorable song-and-dance performance. Anime Expo has even recently added a male-equivalent show called the Butler Café.
Unlike other conventions that only offer an exhibit hall, Anime Expo also offers an entertainment hall, where visitors can play video games, enter card tournaments, and take cosplay photos with different scenery, including a classroom, a haunted house, and cherry blossom forest.
Due to the changes in ticketing, such as charging industry members and no longer selling exhibit hall-only passes, many chose to “ghost” the convention, roaming the outer halls of the center and participating in the photo gatherings of different fandoms, or having their own photo shoot with professional photographers. Since the Los Angeles Convention Center tends to be packed with people, cosplayers often go above and beyond, choosing to design their costumes for maximum realism and creativity, rather than mobility.
Despite some of the changes in ticketing, Anime Expo this year was immense, with packed rooms, halls, and panels. Every year, anime fans have something new to look forward to at the Expo. This convention is definitely an experience all anime geeks should take advantage of, especially if they are otakus.