The rebirth of Anime Expo has come!

Anime Expo has had its fair share of ups and downs, but the latter had repeatedly outdone the former. Since its rapid growth in 2011 lines got longer, prices got higher, and staff became sloppier. Attendees were passing out from heat exhaustion and taken to the hospital as a result of poor organization and the ongoing heat. Since then AX had become infamous for its lines and decreasing reputation, earning itself a less than favorable nickname: “Line Con”. While humorous, it did the event no favors, the name spreading about the horrors of being ripped off, and the event unenjoyable.

Last year was arguably the peak of the Los Angeles convention’s misgivings. Attendees waited in line for hours on end to get into the convention center, essentially wasting the entire day outside. This was especially worse for one-day attendees, as most of them weren’t able to make it to events or even the Exhibit Hall. This caused many people who were looking forward to the convention to exit the premises. It was also forbidden to sell food and water outside the building. This did not help the anxious attendees in the burning heat. However, with the heavy criticism of the 2017 convention, and refunds being issued, it was time for a change.

I have been a part of the cosplay community since late 2009 and started attending Anime Expo in 2015. Even I was able to watch the convention go downhill. I considered this to be my last Anime Expo, should I be disappointed again; but to my pleasant surprise, it exceeded my expectations.

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I should mention that while the event is getting back up on its feet, there’s still a ways to go. For example, some attendees have reported there being an inaccurate cap amount for certain events. The premiere of My Hero Academia being one of them. I purchased a ticket to the Maid Cafe, of which I was late for by a single minute. Despite the short span of time, I wasn’t allowed in despite having spent $30 on my ticket. Luckily I was allowed to go inside to buy merchandise once the event ended. The pros, however, outweighed the cons.

This year there was quite a variety of new things to try, such as the Fate/Grand Order VR game in which attendees were given the first look and option to play the Demo. No official date has been set for release, but if you wish to go on a date with your favorite waifu and be protected by her, this was something worth the time! Popular Japanese artists such as Ezaki Bisuko, who is the creator of Menhera-chan, a popular character and comic series in Japan. Fans were given the opportunity to interact with him and pay $20 for an exclusive self-portrait!

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Other booths included Hiroto Kuramasu, a popular cosplayer sponsoring Cybird’s Otome Ikemen Series. Fangirls (and boys) were given the option to be hugged or pushed against the wall (kabedon, 壁ドン)  by him at certain times during the day if they didn’t want to be seen by a large audience, there was always picture time and autographs available later on in the day.

The staff and volunteers were mostly made up of cosplay and convention veterans, who were just as interested in the convention as other attendees. Because of this, communication was fast and smooth, allowing the lines to flow quickly and make for an enjoyable experience. They were properly trained and the right amount of insurance was put in place. To add the icing on the cake, the Artist Alley was air conditioned! Not only that, but vendors were able to sell cold beverages and food outside the convention, with the occasional knight in shining armor handing out water bottles. Props to him for saving my life when I was cooking in the heat as Nero Saber.

If Anime Expo continues to improve, perhaps it can reach the glory that it once had. I have already bought my ticket for next year and I encourage those who have retired from the convention, to return.

Please see link down below for registration information.

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About The Author

Associate Author/Anime and Cosplay Extraordinaire

Brianna Barboza is a college student, currently majoring in Arts and Technology. Having played video games and watched anime at a young age, she works towards pursuing her passion. Her ultimate goal is to work in Japan as a creative director.

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