Anime Expo 2012
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Convention Center
June 29th – July 2nd
It has been two years since I’ve last set foot in the Los Angeles Convention Center for the annual Anime Expo Convention. The familiar sight of the convention center gave me a nostalgic sensation as I’ve quickly shifted my eyes around to be faced with a… giant Hotwheels loop!? Pinching myself to ensure that I wasn’t dreaming, I quickly looked around and found an explanation for this mythical sight– the X-Games.
For many, an Anime and Extreme sports hybrid convention would be heaven. However, I assure you that this wasn’t the case.
Trying to mix a group of 50,000 AX attendees with another 50,000 (Guestimate) X-games attendees is like trying to fit a bowling ball into a soda can– it just won’t work. The surroundings of the convention center are normally wide open spaces, which have given me no problems in 2010. However, with the presence of the X-games, one of the vital streets was walled off to allow motorcycle races for their event. Now, why would anyone need to walk out of the convention center you ask? The most simple answer to that would be: food. The convention center itself provides mediocre fast food at inflated prices (as expected of convention centers). However, in order to get to “food that fills you up for a decent price”, some walking is involved. In order to do this walking, you would need to squeeze your way through the blocked off intersections. No matter where you go, you cannot avoid the squeeze lines!
Day 0 – Thursday
I decided to go pick up my badge on Thursday, around 3:30 PM. At this time, none of the lines were particularly long. Nothing was opened around this time and there wasn’t much to do. I spent most of my day just roaming around, trying to get a feel for the Convention Center and the area around. One thing that I’ve noticed was that the Arcade this year was in one of the large convention rooms as opposed to the concourse in 2010. It was sharing the area with tabletop and console gaming. Lots of space and a ton of selection for those craving some live multiplayer action.
Day 1 – Friday
Friday was an amazing day. I arrived at the convention certain at 9 AM and saw many cosplayers roaming around the lobby. The streets were not walled off yet, which would provide the most relief I would have that weekend. By noon, the entire lobby was swarming with attendees and cosplayers snapping photos of everything around. However, as great as I’m making it sound, I was actually quite disappointed that I’ve missed the LiSA press conference earlier in the morning due to a little bit of public transportation confusion. Panels on this day were in my opinion, non existent as nothing on the schedule piqued my interest. However, I did end up going to the following panels:
Rightstuf and Nozomi
Day 2 – Saturday
Saturday was a really confusing day for many Aksys fans. The AX schedule listed Aksys as a Monday panel as opposed to a Saturday panel. However, the Aksys website and booth said that their panel was at 9 AM Saturday morning. Therefore, when my party reached the panel, it was quite literally empty. I’ve personally never seen such a low turnout at an Aksys panel. About 35% of the seats were filled up and 100% of the attendees looking confused. The Aksys staff were very surprised by the low turnout as well. The main attraction of the panel was “Virtue’s Last Reward”, which is a sequel to “999″ for the Nintendo DS.
NIS Anime panel was a different type of monstrosity though. The panel had an amazingly long line, although not the longest I’ve seen. It was a complete full house, with a wait list for those unfortunate enough to rush to the nearest fast food joint 10 minutes before the panel started. They went over a lot of their new titles “Natsume’s Book of Friends”, “Bunny Drop”, “Ghastly Prince Enma”, and “Ano Hana: The Flower We Saw That Day”. For more information on these titles, feel free to give NIS Anime a visit. The Q&A was rather disappointing as most of the questions asked were better saved for their games panel.
Day 3 – Sunday
The day that I was look forwards to the most. I was extremely excited over the NIS Games panel as they’re one of my favorite developers/publishers. The panel was late in the afternoon, which was the perfect time to relax after a day of con trotting.
NIS re-announced three new in-house titles and shed a little more information onto them. The titles were “Legasista” (PS3), “Mugen Souls” (PS3), and “The Witch and the Hundred Knights” (PS3). The president of NIS, Sohei Niikawa was present and broadcasted some videos as well as held a Q&A session. Siliconera’s Spencer was present as well, announcing “Character Chowdown”, a Japanese language learning game developed in partnership with NIS America.
Highlights of the Q&A
Q: Are you planning on making Disgaea 5?
A: Yes, Disgaea 5 is already in the works.
Q: When will Asagi get her own game.
A: Who thinks Asagi should get her own game? (In which the audience replies with cheers, and a “Give her a game but don’t put her in it!”)
Day 4 – Monday
This was the last day of the convention. As much as people wished it weren’t, that fact is undeniable. The last day of the convention is great for those who are willing to stay and wait for all the shopping prices to go down. Other than that, snap your last pictures and memories of cosplayers and then maybe attend the closing ceremony. I didn’t have that liberty as I needed to catch a flight, but it was definitely a fun convention to be at. I am looking forwards to next year!
I am going to close off with my recommended restaurants.
Denny’s – Open 24 hours and a short walk from the convention center.
Daikokuya – If you’re ever craving some of the best ramen the US can offer, look no further. A short trip to Little Tokyo would yield many rewards.
Panini Cafe – An Italian restaurant a short walk from the convention center. Provides indoor and outdoor seating and tons of food for a decent price. Right across from Ralph’s market if anybody is craving for snacks.
Food truck parking lot – My personal savior for this convention. Food trucks were parked outside a night club’s lot, across from the front entrance of the convention center during the daytime and was providing food for the X-Games (I believe). However, they may also show up next year for Anime Expo! Tons of different food trucks, including the renowned Lobsta Truck. Give this place a whirl if you don’t want to walk too far.
Thanks for reading!