It’s been an entire week since Anime Los Angeles (ALA) happened, and I’m finally able to turn this post around! To tie into my last post about this convention, most of my thoughts have been swirling around the idea that the bigger-name cons like Anime Expo and Comic-Con have led to the under-appreciation of smaller cons like ALA; and if San Diego will be anything like ALA’s homey vibes, Anime Conji as well. Overall, I was happy to have experienced such a smaller con, and it proved one very important aspect of being part of this kind of subculture: con size really doesn’t matter!
Despite housing roughly only a third or so of the amount of artist-alley artists, vendors, guests of honor, and attendees compared to an event like Anime Expo, con-goers were still able to experience all there is to love about anime conventions: cosplay gatherings, photo opportunities, AMV viewing, independent artist recognition, masquerade, games, aisles of goods for sale, and late-night festivities that’ll keep you bantering and bickering with your friends of the dozens of inside jokes that were created throughout the day.
Highlight #1: Cosplay Gatherings. Despite a stupidly cold day that neither Allison, Angi, Vince, nor I were prepared for, the gatherings outside by the pool offered a good display of costume and show popularity. I decided to stick around Allison and Angi and support the Full Metal Alchemist gathering, which definitely had their fair share of quirky characters (Hughes and your various cosplay variants, I’m looking at you). Another notable group was the K-ON! gathering, which featured one of the best violin hobbyists I’ve ever seen at these types of events. Name the K-ON song you wanted to hear, you’d hear it.
The only laughable, but completely understandable, part of the group was that none of the instruments were playable, or at the very least hooked up to a single amp. Hey, if Haruhi can learn a few chords just to get by for her school festival, you’d think a few cosplayers can at least learn four simple chords to one of the K-ON! songs to keep up with violin-dono., especially if you have enough instruments around to start a band properly.
Highlight #2: Vendors/Artists Alley. This has to be highly subjective amongst con-goers because you can either appreciate the small vendor list or despise how you can sweep the vendor floor in a little under five minutes. I was only ever used to Anime Expo-sized halls, so ALA’s vendor hall seemed nonsensically small, but it was easy to handle. I felt like I’d seen just enough to catch my eye (the BRS and Ritsu nenoroids in particular) yet still leave the con without my wallet crying for mercy to be refilled.
As for the Artists Alley, there were definitely a few eye-catches. Minor All Stars had a very entertaining set of graphics depicting cartooned ninjas, drunken hamsters, and Nintendo mascots that I found very refreshing and worthy of wall framing; they can even customize your shirt to the specific color and graphic positioning you want. tumalium.bros had some fantastic artwork, namely a Left 4 Dead piece by Ryan, that caught my attention immediately. The one downside? PRICE. I understand that these artists need to make a decent profit to continue doing what they do, but come on, $30 for a small 3-piece Clannad-esque dango set for the same price as a slightly larger size single-dango plush? You have to be kidding me.
Highlight #3: Crowd control. Seriously, for such a smaller venue, the crowds were not all that bad. We still had our fair share of random and unfavorable scents lingering the halls, but most of that was offset by the chilly weather outside. As for the layout of the con itself, I’m glad they had clearly marked signs for what was going on and where you needed to be and when. Even some of the smaller rooms like our adventure into the AMV room to whisper our own obnoxiously straightforward commentary proved to be loads of fun (Nickelback x Thundercats – WOOAH).
Highlight #4: Masquerade. Best thing about the show? The awesome dating-sim skit where the male lead runs into nearly every single female character trope you can possibly think up (tsundere, athlete star, librarian, and..stalker?) without even trying and winds up “putting it in” at the wrong time with the wrong person. Worst part of the show? Not having the right lens to capture any of this on my memory card.
In conclusion, if you haven’t been to some of these smaller convention-types, do yourself a favor and break out of your comfortable bubble and go to one! If I could do one thing different, I’d have made time to at least make it out to the AMV contest on Friday, but at least Saturday provided enough entertainment for our group to wander and enjoy the entire day. If there’s also one more thing I learned about an event like this, it’s that I never knew Pokemon was still a force to be reckoned with. At this point, I haven’t done research behind the whole Pokemon-turned-human-form phenomena, but I’m sure there’s a good reason behind its popularity to this day. Or at least I hope there is.
Special thanks, once again, goes to Allison, Angi, and Vince for making this con a great first-look experience for me. I’m definitely looking forward to Anime Conji and Anime Expo now more than ever!