Anime Expo is a sprawling Los Angeles event that is mostly known for the elaborate costuming that many of its patrons will display -- but that action doesn't stop with the fantastic pageantry of the attendees. There's plenty more to see and do at Anime Expo.
There are round-the-clock anime viewing rooms, 18 different tracks of programming and a convention floor stuffed with surprises. The Anime Expo is so large that it fills the entire Los Angeles Convention Center. And this year the expo is expanding beyond, spilling into the JW Marriott for film screenings in its 900-seat rooms. But that's not all; on top of the screenings and premieres, there's also a collection of nightly concerts and performances hosted in the Microsoft Theater and Club Nokia.
So what are the can't-miss programs from this year's Anime Expo? We asked Marc Perez, the chief executive officer of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (the organization that puts on Anime Expo) to help us find the big draws at this year's celebration.
First on his list is the music. "Come to Anime Expo for the music," Perez says. "Whether it be Momoiro Clover Z and KISS or IA and Wagakkiband or Yoko Takahashi."
The not-so-surprising second suggestion? Cosplay. "Even if you're not a cosplayer, it is an awesome thing to see the originality and the colors and the creativity that people bring together," Perez says. If you're a fan of a certain character or cosplay group, be sure to check the attendee-run cosplay calendar on the Anime Expo site for cosplay meetups and photo ops.
Next on our must-do list: premieres and video collaborations. So many series and films premiere at Anime Expo, and Perez claims they are all outstanding. Anime Expo also has a karaoke facility with more than 7,000 anime, J-pop and video game-centric songs. There are open mike times as well as competitions.
And don't forget the massive exhibit hall. "There's every kind of exhibitor, every kind of toy that you could hope for," Perez says. Bang! Zoom!'s has a booth where you can test your chops at voice acting. There's an entire arcade available. And yes, Anime Expo has change machines available for all joystick jockeys.
But Perez's personal favorite are the workshops. "We have some really great workshop people that we bring in from martial arts to origami to drawing your own anime or manga," Perez says. "There's something for everyone!"