Anime Los Angeles is a sleepy little convention held in the LAX Marriott every year, right after all the hustle and bustle of the holidays has died down. I usually attend Anime Los Angeles for only one day, mostly to visit friends who come down from various parts of the state. This year, however, I attended a second day on behalf of TOKYOPOP in order to give away a few volumes of Hetalia to fans attending a panel.
I’ve found that Anime Los Angeles is mostly for two kinds of people: cosplayers and people who want to gawk at or take photos of cosplayers. My cosplay days being far behind me, there wasn’t much else to do at Anime Los Angeles other than hang out or attempt to peruse the tiny and very cramped dealer’s hall.
The live programming also consists of mostly cosplay workshops and a number of panels I will collectively title “Being An Old School Anime Fan”. The rest consisted of scattered how-to panels, martial arts demos and a few specific fandom panels like the Hetalia History one I attended. Bandai Entertainment did hold a panel, but after a bit of searching around on the internet, I’ve surmised that nothing big or exciting came of it. While I was there for two days, I wound up just going home at around 2 p.m. each day because there wasn’t anything of interest to do.
The only purchases I made at the con consisted of a Princess Jellyfish button commissioned from a friend in the Artist’s Alley, a mini-comic from Gina Bigg’s Red String and a cellphone charm also from Red String. This was in part due to the fact that I spent a fair amount of money on comics during the preceding week, but also because the dealer’s room was just too damn packed. This happens to be one of my biggest issues with the convention right now.
Anime Los Angeles has clearly grown in attendance, but over the past three years, it hasn’t upgraded to a larger facility. Now, it’s clearly time to change that because it’s much too hard to move down a hallway in a timely manner, in part due to all the cosplayers/photographers. Another thing that could stand to fixed is the shoddy reception inside the hotel’s convention floors. It’s affected groups of my friends and myself at this year’s con and at previous cons, so I’ve no doubt it is happening to a lot of other attendees. I realize this is the responsibility of the hotel, not the convention, but someone should start lodging complaints and a complaint will be better received by an entity that generates so much business for them instead of just one or two convention goers. Otherwise, Anime Los Angeles is kind of a great convention. They provide free snacks and beverages for attendees, put up pretty pictures of cosplayers from previous years on their walls and include fun participatory stuff like badge ribbon scavenger hunts. The con could be really great if there was a little extra breathing room and better cell phone service.
But enough complaining, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy myself at all, here are some of my con highlights:
Making Ed Sizemore Jealous –Uhhh, I mean, meeting Helen McCarthy:
Helen McCartney, anime scholar and, most recently, author of The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, was the Fan Guest of Honor. She came out all the way from London to be at Anime Los Angeles and was on a large number of panels. I wished I could have caught a few more, but some were either on Friday (a day I didn’t attend) and others were on topics like one’s first trip to Japan (I’ve had my first trip already, and a second). Still, I got a few minutes to chat with her about old school cosplay in the autograph room and I would have stayed and chatted longer if I wasn’t keeping someone waiting elsewhere. I hope she comes back to my part of the States again soon because she was also a delight on the How Technology has changed the Anime Industry and Anime Fandom Before the Internet panels I did attend.
This was the panel I attended for TOKYOPOP, not knowing what to expect from it. What I got was a witty evaluation of the in-jokes of Hetalia complete with clips from old British period dramas. Some people brush off Hetalia as a flaky introduction to history, but the truth is that there’s a lot more fact in the manga than people can easily see, something that panelist Walter Amos specializes in illuminating. Himaruya really does know his stuff and sometimes it’s not so easy to see amongst all footnotes and adorable personified countries. This panel is definitely for the history buffs in the fandom, that’s for sure, so it instantly appealed to me.
I wish I had more highlights to share, but I didn’t do much at Anime Los Angeles! It’s a very laid back convention about 99% of the time as it is.