From beginning to end, Anime Expo has proven once again why it’s the biggest and best destination anime convention in the United States, if not the world!
The four day celebration of all things anime, manga, and the endless facets of Japanese culture apparently drew, according to their press release, more than 350,000 attendees from more than 78 countries to the downtown Los Angeles convention center. That’s some impressive numbers, unlike anything I’ve seen for a downtown LA convention (and I’ve been to a lot of them). But those numbers are just scratching the surface. Here’s a bit more from their official press release from yesterday:
The Exhibit, Entertainment and Kentia Halls featured more than 350 Exhibitors and in excess of 500 artists covering 205,000 sq ft. AX 2019 offered an extensive array of activities which featured 900+ hours of programming and 50+ hours of AX live streamed content reaching fans in 73 countries.
To ensure that AX ran smoothly for all attendees, exhibitors, and guests, more than 1,600 volunteers collectively put in nearly 60,000 hours throughout the week.
I’ve been going to Anime Expo for 10 years and this is beyond anything I’ve experienced before. I don’t know how 350,000 people fit into the convention center, but I can attest that it was more packed than ever before with wall to wall gundam, artists, j-pop and k-pop stars, gaming, and, of course, more cosplayers than you could shake a giant sword at. Here’s just a glimpse of what you would have seen on the exhibition hall floors and halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center last week.
But Anime Expo is more than the incredible talents of the cosplayers. The show was packed with a variety of programming tracks that included popular and rare anime series and film screenings, panels with creators and artists who make their way to the U.S. just for this show, and concerts galore, either from top Japanese pop stars or anime-driven performances the fans themselves! Then there’s the many big anime premieres from such major hits as Pokemon, My Hero Academia, and more. Here’s just a sampling of what U.S. fans got to see first at Anime Expo:
The U.S. premiere of “Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution”
The season 4 premiere of “My Hero Academia” presented by Funimation
Crunchyroll and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park teases their new “World’s On Fire” music video
Aniplex hosted the U.S. premiere of “Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl”
Closing Ceremony sneak peek trailer reveal of “Gibiate”
It was unfortunate I didn’t get a chance to take in a concert this year, as it’s always a unique experience. They’re often mesmerizing and something completely unlike what we’re used to in the western world and within our pop music scene. But I did get to step into the massive and seemingly always expanding artist alley. There’s just too much good stuff on display and the fans there know it. It was difficult to move down the aisles in Kentia Hall to see everything. It’s the kind of area that needs a good two days of the show to fully appreciate, because you’ll almost always miss something the first time through.
Honestly, it would take 4 more days to describe everything that went on at Anime Expo 2019, so I’ll say this: you have to see it for yourself. If you’re an anime fan looking for a unique experience or some rare foreign-made collectible to add to your treasure trove, it’s time you made plans for Anime Expo 2020. And if you like to cosplay at other conventions, it’s time you brought your A-game to easily one of the biggest cosplay-driven shows in the United States. You’ll see costumes and characters you’ve never seen before and some you’ll never see again. Anime Expo is the perfect storm of uniquely creative, top-level craftsmanship, and often just plain weird cosplay.
And that’s only a fraction of the cosplay on display throughout the week. It’s impossible to try to catch everyone who cosplays on camera, but it’s fun trying!
Anime Expo returns July 2-5, 2020 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Be ready for tickets to go on sale soon – August 16, 2019!