Greetings one and all! After spending some time recouping and recharging my batteries from the chaos of the last few days, this writer has returned with a retrospective on his most recent trek to the long time beloved annual phenomenon that is the Anime Expo. Last week the streets of South Figoura and Pico were a blocked compression of concrete, steel and precession of human bodies, as hundreds (if not thousands) flocked to – not just one – but two local events at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Through a series of circumstances and the will of powers that be, this year’s AX ended up being held on the same week as another large scale event, the X Games. A curious account, for as a long time attendee and fan AX, this writer would be remiss if he didn’t note first and foremost that this circumstance resulted in quite a few…new experiences. With only so much space to be divided amongst thousands of people, the key word looming over this year’s gathering next to ‘fun’ was ‘cramped’.
But first a very brief recap of the AX basics and background: AX was formed and first organized by the non-profit Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, and held its first official meeting in 1992. Held every 4th of July weekend, AX has gradually become one of the most popular and fastest growing conventions in the country. Notable for its array of panels, press releases, public screenings, guest signings, contests, bustling merch hall, the pulsating nightlife and tunes its dances, and concerts featuring various pop and rock music acts from overseas, AX has gathered thousands to their venues, and has only shown signs of exponential growth since its creation. It has been held in venues located in San Jose, Anaheim, New York, as well as Tokyo, and since its inception has garnered a devoted fanbase and sizable credibility the world over as being one of the largest, as well as most elaborate conventions of its kind.
Now that the basics are covered, we delve into the meat of it. Let it just be said plainly; the presence of the X Games made for a stark difference in the overall feel of the expo, and quite a few unexpected changes to the venue on both a physical and emotional level. While ‘hostile’ or ‘oppressive’ would be an unfair choice of words, one could definitely feel a heavy fog of culture clash between the otaku and extreme sports factions. No, ‘congested’ would be the best word, for the streets were beyond packed with people. Elaborate cosplay outfits merged with hordes of skateboarders and BMX fanatics crowding the same streets made for a definite change in the LA scenery, and gave rise to an interesting and curious view to some, and an outright bizarre setting for others.