Anime Expo 2017 Recap

 
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There are many things that I grew out of over the years (thankfully), but anime isn’t one of them. If anything, I’m even more immersed in it now thanks to a combination of my brother’s newfound interest in anime, recommendations from friends, and a growing list of covers to learn on the piano. Except for Attack on Titan, I didn’t watch anime between my third year of high school and months after graduating from university, so I’ve basically been playing this never-ending game of catch-up.

As you can guess, I was beyond excited to attend Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center this year. I’ve been an on and off attendee for nearly a decade, but this was my brother’s first year at AX – the first of many, according to him. While I have been to AX plenty of times before, this has to be one of the best years yet. It takes an immense amount of work and dedication to organize the largest Japanese animation convention in North America, but the SPJA team, staff, and volunteers pulled it off.

 
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Ignoring the LA traffic and atrocious parking situation ($45 for one-day parking – no thanks), everything went smoothly. We opted for the one-day pass on Sunday. We figured that we could avoid the long line to pick up the badges since most people would’ve picked theirs up by Saturday. And that was an incredibly good call; Saturday’s badge pickup line took hours, while we got ours within 15 minutes. Less time waiting in line, more time enjoying the convention!

 
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Since we only had one day and an overwhelming number of events, we decided to take it easy this year and focus our time and energy towards navigating the massive Exhibit Hall with all the vendors and industry booths. You can find just about everything there, from novelty apparel and Gundam models to ocarinas and katanas (sealed for safety, of course). We weren’t too eager to buy any merchandise, although, my brother was dangerously close to getting a keyblade from Kingdom Hearts. To be honest, we were pretty satisfied with just wandering around. The industry booths were lively, the cosplays were impressive, and some of the merch was fun to look at – especially this one:

 
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I may have been calm on the outside, but I was a jaw-drop away from exploding out of pure excitement.  I expected to see lots of crazy things at Anime Expo this year, but a functioning Dominator from Psycho-Pass with almost all the bells and whistles completely blew my mind! If you haven’t seen Psycho-Pass, my brother and I highly recommend the series (minus the second season) if you love action, psychological thrillers, and sci-fi. Maybe you’ll like it enough to snag one of these bad boys – for a low and discounted price of $670… with tax.

 

Found the video on my phone, y'all! :D

 

We didn’t spend much at the Exhibit Hall because we were saving up for what is easily my favorite part about conventions: the Artist Alley. Since I skipped AX last year, this was my first time seeing it held in Kentia Hall instead of the Exhibit Hall. Despite a larger venue and more spacious aisles, I’ve never had more issues navigating the Artist Alley. Before, I was able to give each artist’s booth the attention they deserved, but it was so packed that I had to settle for skimming at a distance and forcing my way through huge crowds to reach a booth that caught my eye.

I’m sure this had a lot to do with our limited time, so we’ll absolutely get a four-day pass next year. I guess it worked out since I wasn’t tempted to buy from every other artist, but I can’t help but feel like I missed out on some gems. Still, we managed to get plenty of prints. In fact, I’m sure a majority of our budget that day went towards prints. And that brings me to a quick little AX 2017 haul!

Anime Expo Haul

Prints. Prints. And more prints.

 
 

I’m always torn between leaving my walls nearly bare like the Instagram-style minimalists my fellow 20-somethings strive to be and covering over half of my room with art prints. Maybe I’ll find the perfect balance one day but, for now, I’m unabashedly leaning towards the latter. With the exception of that one person who was blatantly stealing and taking credit for other artists’ works, everyone’s so immensely talented! I missed a lot of my favorite artists this year, but I’ll definitely return in 2018 with more time and more money.

Copic Markers and Fineliners.

 
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Okay, I lied. We did end up buying things in the Exhibit Hall. If there’s one booth that I’ll splurge a little at, it’s the Copic booth. The market price of Copic markers is hard to swallow but, thankfully, this vendor sells them at a discounted price. I bought a handful of markers, along with some multi-liners in colors other than black. As expected, everything was top-notch. And because it was the vendor’s 30th anniversary, everything was put in a lovely bag!

Anime Merchandise

For the most part, we didn’t spend too much at the Exhibit Hall because, let’s face it, we don’t really need anything there. Once in a while, however, we’ll come across something to buy just for laughs. I didn’t get anything, but my brother ended up with a plush of Megumin from Konosuba – a stupidly hilarious series, strongly recommend. 

 
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Teeny Tiny Ocarina

With tens of thousands of attendees at any given moment, saying that it’s loud is an understatement.  Despite that, finding the ocarina booth was a breeze because the melodic sound just cuts through the crowd like a hot knife through butter. Since my brother and I were already invested in improving with our respective instruments, we didn’t want to dive into the best ocarina money could buy just yet. Instead, we went for something small and cute, but can still pack a mighty punch. In hindsight, I think it might’ve been better to buy a larger ocarina since it’s easier to play and produce a richer sound with. But the tiny one will do for now.

Freebies

I feel like freebies at AX improve with each passing year. Yeah, I had to give out my spam email on multiple occasions, but if that meant getting a decent poster or a good quality fan, I’ll give you all the spam emails I’ve got. The industry booths were also generous, especially if you’re a subscriber. For example, we got a ginormous Kabaneri bag among other things when we checked into the Crunchyroll area! I have no real use for it now, but it was more than enough to hold all of our purchases that day.

It’s amazing to see how much the anime community has grown since the first Anime Expo. Are some anime still trash? Yup. For sure. But I’ve missed out on many mind-blowingly good series over the years. Needless to say, I’ve been catching up, and my love for anime is here to stay.

So thanks, Anime Expo. Your crowds may make me feel anxious, and the parking prices may be an eyesore, but I’m willing to overlook those for great cosplay, great events, great shopping, and an all-around great time. Can’t wait to attend future conventions!