For the first time in six years, I’ll be missing this years Anime Expo, known as AX, in Los Angeles. Though I’d never been all that invested in anime, I made a point to go every year, wanting to see artists I follow on social media or catch up on new and upcoming video games. It has much more to do than that, but that’s what I’ve always gone for.
AX was first inaugurated around 26 years ago, as the United States was diving into the “anime craze”. It was organized by the non-profit Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SJPA), and it appears every year during early July. It is also the largest anime convention in North America, with over 100,000 people attending last year.
So what goes on at AX? Well, lots of things. Because of how large the convention is, AX has the luxury of being able to bring pop culture icons and anime artists out from Japan to visit for panels, or to promote their company on the main floor. The main floor is for “official” companies, ones who can promote new games (Monster Hunter), or promote their anime company (Funimation, Bushiroad), or their culture brand (Rilakkuma). You can also buy cosplay related items such as wigs, weapons, and costumes (although they run a bit pricey).
On the floor below the main floor, there’s what’s known as Artist’s Alley. Formerly in the back of the main floor, the alley has grown so much that they had to move it down to its own space. Here is where you can find artists selling anything from prints to stationery, either original or based off a certain anime/game. Here you can find artists you like or follow, or discover new art. Be prepared to spend a lot.
There is a gaming section too, but on the other side of the convention center. There is both the gaming room and a place to take pictures in cosplay, along with all the panels. In the game room, you can play virtual Japanese games, board games, or card games. There’s plenty to do, the only issue being that playing any popular games requires waiting for an uncertain amount of time.
There’s plenty of things to do at this convention, and its worth buying a four day pass (when its much cheaper, that is). Although I won’t be able to go this year, I know it will be bigger than ever.