The moment you step into Anime Expo, you see a unique and massive community of over 110,000 people that come alive- all united by their love of anime. Throughout the Los Angeles Convention Center, you see people dressed elaborate costumes and cosplay surrounded by photographers and attendees who are amazed by their costumes. To these attendees, it feels as if their favorite anime character has come to life right before their very eyes.
We were also able to speak to one of the musical performers at Anime Expo, named Yuyu Yukari. She was dressed at Mei Reiden from Honkai Impact 3rd , which is a video action game. She was standing in front of a large 3-D art installation with her friends who were all dressed up as characters from the video game. These are the same friends that told her she had to come to Anime Expo, otherwise she would be missing out. She told us that this was her first Anime Expo.
We asked her: “What are your reasons for coming to Anime Expo?”
“I came to be with my friends. I also came because I have a performance where I get to dance!”
As a professional dancer, this was a huge opportunity for Yuyu and her friends. Besides dancing, you could also see that she really liked getting her picture taken. Yuyu and her friends were having their pictures taken for at least an hour. They had some of the most popular costumes at the expo.
One group of cosplayers and performers came all the way from Vancouver, Canada who calls themselves Seishun Youth Academy. Their mission is to bring Japanese culture into Canada and
spread the message of friendship wherever they go. They sing original sons in English and Japanese and even got a chance to perform at Anime Expo!
One attendee dressed as Dr. Faust from the anime, Guilty Gear, says that this is his 7th year at Anime Expo. He glowed with excitement as we approached him to take pictures. Since this was his 7th Anime Expo, I asked him what kept bringing him back.
“The attention, I love the attention,” he immediately replied.
His costume was very large and detailed. Like many attendees, his costume was custom made and took months of preparation. This is not something you can just find at Party City. He’s not the only one who loves the attention. There are hundreds of people near one of the entrances that live for the attention. If someone asks for a picture, they are always ready to strike a pose. Here, at Anime Expo, the cosplayers are the stars. People follow them with cameras and ask them questions. It’s a place where cosplayers can shine and embody someone that they truly admire.
Other than the cosplayers, people from all over the world come for the major premieres, fashion shows, concerts, and many other exciting events. From the time the doors open until closing, there is literally always something to do. One event that I got to see was the international debut of Yoshihiro Ike: Anime Soundtrack World. Yoshihiro was welcomed to Anime Expo as a guest of honor. He is known worldwide as an extremely talented Japanese composer that makes music for video games, animes, and television shows. There were over 50 musicians that played to world recognized melodies composed by Yoshihiro from famous animes and video games. One of his most recognized works is the music from AIBOU: Tokyo Detective Duo, which is a well-received Japanese animated detective show that has been for 19 years. Attendees watched his performance in awe as they listened to Yoshihiro’s very first performance for his soundtrack. For everyone in the auditorium, it was a very special and beautiful performance.
One of the busiest and popular parts of Anime Expo was the Exhibit Hall. Here, attendees are able to buy Anime Expo exclusive merchandise including video games, music, cosplay and costumes, manga (comics), accessories, and much more from booths. You will often see attendees crowding around the booths trying to get the latest and most popular gear.
Anime Expo is also a place where artists shine. Inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, the set up a place called the Artist Alley where over 500 artists show off their anime-inspired work. Anime Expo claims that this is the largest amount of amateur and semi-professional artists in any convention center. Artists were able to showcase and sale their work to attendees.
Anime Expo is also a place where attendees can dance, sing, and just have a good time. Many attendees like to go to karaoke, where they sing the theme songs of their favorite anime shows. One of the fan favorites is the Pokémon theme song, the whole crowd joins in sing along. Attendees are also able to get tickets to the Anime Expo Masquerade. At the Masquerade, there are cosplayers and performances. There is even a competition for the best dressed and the best performance, and the winner gets an enormous cash prize. The most fan inclusive event has to be the Anime Music Video (AMV) Competition that contains a compilation of fan sent video submissions. This has been a long-standing Anime Expo tradition, in which anyone can submit a video. The fan video with the most entertaining music video is chosen by a judge and the audience and crowned the winner.