I’ve looked forward to the time spent at Anime Expo for the past several years. Local, bursting with excellent cosplay, devoting attention to the ever-growing genre of anime, and filled with so many things for me to buy, AX is a perfect way to spend the Fourth of July weekend. Located at the Los Angeles Convention Center, this con gives attendees a sprawling layout and a plethora of dining and hotel accommodations within walking distance.  Anime Expo was one of the earliest cons I began attending, back when I was too nervous to talk to anyone about how much I loved anime or even make the attempt to cosplay, but it definitely had a heavy hand in changing those mindsets.

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The crowd gathers to await the opening of the hall at Anime Expo 2014

Last year’s AX had definite ups and downs, leaving many fans upset and overheated before the convention even started and others sweating it out in lines that stretched into five hour+ waits. The convention has grown dramatically in popularity over the past few years, drawing in records numbers of attendees and several big vendors and entertainment groups. As such, the unexpected crowds may have overwhelmed the capabilities of the 2014 AX operation. Faulty systems led to a big slowdown that hurt those who had preregistered most of all, since their information was most impacted by the malfunctioning systems. Long lines, poorly trained volunteers, and overcrowded halls left many an attendee with a sour taste. Those behind the convention released a very detailed letter addressing the problems faced by both the showrunners and attendees and outlining their plan of action to avoid all of these issues in 2015. So, while. some hiccups are inevitable for every con, Anime Expo was swift to address (and admit to!) the problems and make a grand attempt to fix it. As such, we’re definitely looking forward to Anime Expo 2015!

IMG_20140704_150506I managed to escape the unbelievable wait times last year, since press registration is handled at a different station, but I had several friends who did end up in the ever-winding lines. On-site registration boasted a much shorter line as well, and I encountered a handful of attendees that chose to eat the cost of their pre-purchased badge and purchase an entirely new one, saving them at least 4 hours of standing in line.

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The cherry blossom patch was just one of the scenes available for photographs

Despite the line setbacks and the heat, Anime Expo 2014 had a lot of good things going. The Entertainment Hall opened up to a spacious “Photo-Op Area”, providing a wide selection of scenery for cosplayers to pose in, on, and around. Photographers could conduct photoshoots from the comfort of this well air-conditioned pavilion and cosplayers could pose in more detailed and easily accessible settings that actually pertained to their character.

The dealer hall was spacious and well-stocked, boasting official products and harder to find collectibles. Interested in gaming? Stations set up on the floor allow attendees to demo the newest upcoming games, or provide a place to sync up with other users (you definitely don’t want to forget your DS!). The Artist Alley expansion was a popular and welcome one, as well. Artist’s Alley has become a wonderful opportunity for artists of all sorts to interact directly with fans and show off what they’re capable of. For attendees, Artist’s Alley is a chance to discover new artists to fall in love with. We all fall victim to shopping sprees within the sprawling lanes of Artist’s Alley–there’s just too much talent!

20140705_182724Anime Expo’s Panel Predictions

The Summer Anime line-up begins broadcasting shortly after this year’s Anime Expo, so there will no doubt be copious amounts of simulcast announcements made during the industry panels from the big broadcasters like Funimation and Crunchyroll. If you’ve been following the recently nonstop anime creation and casting announcements and are hoping to start organizing your summer viewing schedule, these industry panels are must sees.

Here are some of the lovely folks behind Funimation announcing the next season’s releases. Last year’s exciting news included the One Piece movie cast announcement, streaming confirmations for Barakamon, Black Butler Book of Circus, and Psycho Pass Season 2 (which I finally caught up on….just last week…), and a handful of other home video release rights. We can expect a whole new slew of announcements at this year’s event.

Sailor Moon Crystal/English Cast Anouncements 2014

Last year was a huge year for the beloved classic Sailor Moon. Many fans, myself included, grew up watching Sailor Moon before we even knew what anime was. Several big events took place at AX, including the original English cast reunion panel, complete with catchphrase recitation and a group singalong. Fans queued up for the Original Cast panel in droves, waiting several hours to see their favorite actors and actresses reminisce.

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Also announced at 2014’s AX was the new English dub cast. This dub promised to go back to the original anime, reversing some of the changes they made when translating the anime for American audiences. There was no shortage of excitement for Sailor Moon fans.

signing42014 brought an onslaught of Sailor Moon news and merchandise, while 2013 was a year to highlight Blue Exorcist. When big things are coming, franchises tend to make a big showing at Anime Expo. The DVD/Blu-Ray release and the launch of the English dub drove Blue Exorcist’s presence, which included signings and a very rambunctious panel with the English cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cast and cosplayers from fbFan favorites like Kyle Hebert, Jonny Yong Bosch, and Wendee Lee were on hand to do renditions, crack jokes, and have an overall excellent time. Relative newcomers, including the voice for the main character Rin Okumura, Bryce Papenbrook, and voice actress Stephanie Sheh, wowed the audience with their talents, and both have been prevalent among some of the big dubs the past few seasons. Bryce Papenbrook recently played Eren Jaeger of Attack on Titan, Kirito from Sword Art Online, and Makoto Naegi of Dangan Ronpa: The Animation. Stephanie Sheh was part of the 2014 Sailor Moon celebration, taking the role of Usagi herself.

There are many things to love about Anime Expo, and this year’s line-up is already highly anticipated. From favorite voice actors to musical acts to artists and gaming, there’s something for any anime fan. Be sure to browse the ever-growing guest list and subscribe to AX updates! We can’t wait to see what gets announced next.

Writer. Cosplayer. Binge Netflix Watcher. Anime Dweeb. Book Enthusiast. Harbours inappropriately strong feelings about Shakespeare and William Blake. Once lost a whole day theorizing about Game of Thrones. The most motivated procrastinator she knows. Sometimes it works out in her favor. Mostly just causes widespread panic. It’s all good though, because she never forgets her towel.

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