Friday, November 18, 2011

Anime/Comic Book Conventions 2011 - A year in review

Anime Expo 2011, look at all the people
I have been attending anime conventions for a long time, since I started attending anime conventions my convention cycle would pretty much start and end with Anime Expo. Ever since I got on the SPJA Board of Directors and delved more heavily into cosplay photography my convention cycle has started to become bigger and bigger each year. It now starts in January with Anime Los Angeles, and it ends in November with Pacific Media Expo. In the year 2011, I have been in more conventions than I have ever been in the past with Anime Los Angeles, Anime Conji, Anime Expo, Comikaze, and Pacific Media Expo. Here is a look back on the year in review for Anime and Comic Book Conventions.

Anime Los Angeles - LAX Mariott (Con Report)
Went: Saturday, January 8th, 2011
Attendance: 3,598 unique attendees

Looking back at Anime Los Angeles 2011, there are a few things that come to mind that I think of when I think of the convention. Anime Los Angeles has cemented itself as one of my favorite conventions in Southern California because of its incredible attendee and staff energy. Like with all my non-Anime Expo cons, I attended this con for one day, but should I ever expand to attending a non-AX convention for multiple days, ALA is one of my first choices. What is great about this con is that cosplayers migrated to one area, so it is easy to take pictures and meet people. ALA is a convention that is known for its strong customer focus and because of that the convention keeps on growing larger and larger. Major props to Chaz for running a great con year after year. Anime Los Angeles overall is a wonderful convention, and my 2011 experience was amazing.

Anime Conji - Town and Country Resort Hotel (Con Report)
Went: Saturday, March 26th, 2011
Attendance: 1,600 unique attendees

The year 2011 marked the second year of Anime Conji, and my first year attending the convention. When I think of Anime Conji, the thing that comes to mind is that the convention area, the Town and Country Resort Hotel is quite possibly one of the best cons to ever do a photoshoot in. Anime Conji marked the first time I started really going out and checking out other cons. Aside from the great backgrounds and amazing settings, I believe that the con ran fairly well for its second year. It takes a while for a convention to start getting its stride, and I look forward to see where Anime Conji goes in the future.

Anime Expo - Los Angeles Convention Center (Day 1)(Day 2)(Day 3)(Day 4)
Went: Thursday - Wednesday, June 30th - July 5th, 2011
Attendance: 47,800 unique attendees

Anime Expo, to me it is the con that started it all, it was because of my amazing Anime Expo experiences that I started attending cons more. It is the con that introduced me to cosplay photography, being a great manager, staffing a convention, making friends with the cosplay community, and becoming a fan of a variety of jpop stars (including virtual diva Hatsune Miku). Anime Expo 2011 marks my eighth year attending Anime Expo and my seventh year working in the organization. This marked my first year going to Anime Expo as a Board Director, and it was a blast. I had to strike a delicate balance of doing my duties as Board Director that includes networking, interviewing people, and helping staff during busy times and my hobby as a cosplay photographer that includes hallway shoots, hanging out with cosplayer friends, and doing extensive photoshoots.

To me Anime Expo 2011 was a banner year because our attendance broke records all over, which was a shock because there was a convention going on the same time at another location. As a Board Director, it was very fun going around and listening to members, staff, guests, press, and industry and taking their feedback to the daily board meetings to tell my fellow directors what we can look into for the future. I attended the concert with Kalafina, which was the concert I was looking to. Thanks to Anime Expo, I also became a fan of Hatsune Miku thanks to the amazing Mikunopolis concert. If you ever see me play a Project Diva game or have a Miku plushie, thank Anime Expo for turning me into a die-hard Miku fan. Anime Expo 2011 also marked the first year I heavily went into doing photoshoots during an anime convention, and it was a blast. I had so much fun just going around the convention center and scouting out locations. Anime Expo also gave me one of my favorite photshoots that I have had the pleasure of doing. Of all the Anime Expo's I have been to, this AX ranks up there as one of my favorite experiences of all time. I had so many amazing memories of this con, and going to this con always inspires me to improve myself as a photographer and as the Board Director behind Anime Expo.

Comikaze - Los Angeles Convention Center (Con Report)
Went: Saturday, November 5th, 2011
Attendance: 30,000 unique attendees

Comikaze is actually my first comic book convention ever, I have been invited to Comic-Con International many times as industry, but I have yet to go because it has been hard trying to get my other friends to come along. I really didn't know what to expect, and I was very pleased with the convention. For their first year I felt that they did an awesome job. The large attendance also put a big grin on my face because I really didn't expect to see so many people. The Los Angeles Convention Center is one of my favorite convention centers in the United States thanks to it housing Anime Expo for the longest time, and going there again felt like going home. I tried meeting up with the CEO of Comikaze, but she was so busy running around. I completely understand how she feels because I pretty much do the same thing during Anime Expo. It is a miracle that people still can manage to get a hold of me during that convention.

Pacific Media Expo - LAX Hilton (Con Report)
Went: Saturday, November 12th, 2011
Attendance: 2,000+ unique attendees

I have attended Pacific Media Expo in 2007 and 2010, so this marks my third year at PMX. I enjoyed this con more than I have in the past, thanks to the familiar location, great staff, and the great attendee turnout this year. Pacific Media Expo 2011 is a con where I made many "firsts." It was the first time I broke 200 shoots, it was the first time I had a photoshoot longer than an hour, it was the first time I did a photoshoot with cosplay from my favorite manga artist of all time, and it was the first time I did 20 photoshoots in a single day of a convention (for reference, I did 30+ shoots in Anime Expo over the course of 5 DAYS). This is the best Pacific Media Expo yet, and it is my personal favorite PMX that I have been to.

In Conclusion...
This year has been a banner year for anime conventions and comic book conventions. This was my first year going to 5 conventions (up from 3 conventions in 2010) and it showed me that I love going to conventions more than ever. It was great going to a convention, taking pictures and handing out business cards. The look on a cosplayer's face whenever I give them my card with the words "I am on the Board of Directors for the convention behind Anime Expo" always elicits a smile. Going to these cons representing Anime Expo while being a cosplay photographer is one of the best parts of the job. 2011 was a great year for cons, and 2012 will be even better.

2 comments:

animejunkie said...

Awesome post; looking forward to an awesome 2012 on the con circuit as well ^_^

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, I loved Anime Expo this year. You guys did an awesome job with the conveniton.