|The Famous AX Banner|
Los Angeles Convention Center
June 29th, - July 2nd, 2012
On a special weekend, anime and manga fans take over the city of Los Angeles for Anime Expo, the biggest anime convention in North America. Regardless of age, sex, income, religion, country of origin, thousands of anime and manga fans migrate to Los Angeles to celebrate a common passion. For the year 2012 the convention was celebrating its 21st year at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year is also a special year, the Summer Olympics is taking place in London. Due to it being an Olympic year, the X-Games moved the summer X-games up a month to run the same weekend as Anime Expo. With two massive events with vastly different demographics taking over a small area, this Anime Expo would be a very different experience. Here are my experiences for my ninth Anime Expo as a cosplay photographer and as convention executive.
|Kat, I did 4 Anime Expo|
2012 shoots with her.
The first day of Anime Expo ran smoothly, I proceeded to do my first photo shoots in isolated areas inside and outside of south hall. Due to X-Games isolating the West Hall, the convention attendees crowded the convention center more. It was so crowded that it felt more like Saturday than a Friday of the convention. The crowded atmosphere really showed itself in the Exhibit Hall, which was difficult to maneuver. Convention security did a good job since I had my badge checked multiple times as I walked inside and outside the convention center. There were not many X-Games attendees walking around the convention center area. The programming was interesting, but due to personal scheduling issues I could not attend many of the panels I wanted to attend. One of the new places in Anime Expo was Lounge 21. It was a room on the third floor that had live music and offered various drinks. This new lounge was a welcome new addition to the convention since it does acknowledge that the attendees for Anime Expo are getting older. The first day of the convention was fast-paced and it made me wish I had more free time to let it all sink in.
|Awesome Sailor Moon cosplay!|
|The AX Fashion Show|
|One of my favorite con photos|
One of the great concerns of people going to Anime Expo was how X-Games affected Anime Expo. From my perspective, X-Games affect Anime Expo a few ways. The first was that the convention center itself was more crowded than normal since the West Hall area was pretty much closed off. Having the events of X-Games also meant that walking back and forth between LA Live and the Los Angeles Convention Center would take longer than it normally does. Secondly, one of the big issues I had was the conduct of X-Games attendees. I had several issues where X-Games attendees rudely interrupted my photoshoots without asking permission. There was also another issue of them shouting out catcalls to the more scantily clad cosplayers. The rude conduct bothered me, thankfully it didn't impact the high morale of the cosplayers I was doing photoshoots with. Having two events also packed the food areas in LA Live, it was difficult getting a seat in ESPN Zone and other food locations. Ultimately, aside from traffic issues and some rudeness, I did not observe any major issues.
The quality of the cosplay this year was great, people continually are stepping up and improving their skills. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with many friends that I haven't seen since Anime Conji or Anime Los Angeles. My friend Katrina continues her dominance as the cosplayer with the most photoshoots with me at con, having one shoot a day for her cosplay. That is ultimately what makes events like Anime Expo successful, it provides a venue to make friends and to hang out with old friends. It exposed me to new experiences while showing me why I love the hobby so much. The wonderful staff of Anime Expo made everything run as well as can be. While this is my ninth Anime Expo, it shows me that the convention continues to surprise me. See you guys in Anime Expo 2013!
Kris Zoleta started working in Anime Expo as a staffer in Manga Library. He worked in Staff Service in Anime Expo 2006 and became the manager of Manga Lounge from Anime Expo 2007-2010. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the 501(c)(6) non-profit behind Anime Expo and is one of the most recognized cosplay photographers in the West Coast.