Monday, July 4, 2016

ConMan: Anime Expo '16 Sunday

July is always a solid month for me. Independence Day gives a three day weekend, Anime Expo takes place downtown, it's my birthday and then San Diego Comic-Con, so always something to do. Anime Expo aka AX, has signed to stay in Los Angeles for five years and this is was our third year attending. Lines and crowds were crazy on Friday and Saturday so I'm glad we opted to check out the show on Sunday. A quick Uber to the Los Angeles Convention Center and fast badge pick up line later, we were walking the lobby. Oh but first, an aside. My con backpack is lined with various buttons with Captain America, Arnold as Sgt. Rock, Pacific Rim, Predator and one with Kurt Russell from Used Cars that a guy offered to buy off me at SDCC a few years ago. Anyways, after putting our programs in my bag and slinging it over my shoulder, I notice something is missing, my Used Cars button was gone! This was from a one of a kind event years ago at The Arclight so I was super bummed as we retraced our steps to no avail. It's just a trinket but it was not a great start to the day. Once inside the packed exhibit floor I looked down and wondered what was on my leg, lo and behold, my button had fallen off my bag but somehow ended up catching on the magnet of my money clip inside my shorts pocket, pin point facing out and all! The lady and I high fived as my Kurt Russell, Tango & Cash style charm continued!

The exhibition floor was full of vendors offering all the anime inspired toys, models, prints and more. A local seller had shirts about Ship where you'd flip up the bottom to see your favorite characters in near kiss. Lots of stuffed animals around, especially sloths. Funko, Lootcrate, Crunchy Roll, Bandai, Capcom and more had large sections of the floor as did Toei animation with cool Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z history exhibits. Zootopia cosplay was the latest craze while I've never seen so much cross play or people walking with their heads down looking at their phone. Of all the shows I've been to, I can't think of another where I politely shoved or moved so many people out of my way who were just randomly standing in an aisle or not watching where they were going. Artist alley had been moved downstairs to Kentia hall and it was as huge as it was packed. I had to yell for people to keep walking because again, goers were literally stopping in the middle of the aisle. If you want to stop and look at something, walk over to the table, don't stand in the middle of the walkway, ya dig? Table top and card gaming was downstairs as well but the AC was not pumping so we did a round and headed back upstairs.

We trekked over to West Hall where Cosplay sets, the arcade and pachinko machines were set up. Our Uber driver later told us about his ten years in Japan and how people would lose their mortgages at the crazy gambling machines that seem like a mix of slots and pinball with a TV show playing at the same time. In another new addition, there was a history of AX set up showing timelines of locations, milestones and attendance. There were also programs, shirts and the like from past shows which was pretty cool. We also ran into our friends at Concon, a new app for all your convention needs, check it out! After several hours of walking around, it was time for lunch as we headed to the dependable Yard House at L.A. Live where we found a seat at the bar immediately. We headed back to the show, checking out cosplay gatherings out front where hundreds descended for group shots. After that it was over to the randomly crowded for a Sunday but it was a holiday so, EightyTwo for dranks and catching up with friends. I've never been a huge fan of Street Fighter: Championship Edition and it really wasn't my day as I was defeated the two times I stepped up. Final Fight was a little more forgiving as I jabbed, crossed and spun kick as Guy through several levels of Metro City.

It's great to see Anime Expo continue to expand and I'm pumped to see what next year has in store. It was another fun time and ample warm up for SDCC. For 2017 we'll see about taking a stay-cation like WonderCon and get a room to stay in the heart of the animated action. Until then, I'll be catching up on Attack on Titan, One Piece, Free!, Gundam, Beserk, Naruto...I must say, the prospect of being able to download information is one aspect of the future I'm looking forward to so I can be caught up on all of these series.

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