Throughout my long and extensive career as a hardcore, mega nerdy, super geek, I’ve taken part in many of the usual “traditions,” from midnight releases to collecting and hoarding fandom related merch, to intense debates on absolute nonsense, but the one right of passage for the perpetually locker stuffed that I had somehow managed to avoid was attending a convention.
Until a hypothetical idea between my friends and I became real, and I wound up getting on a plane to California.
And now, I’m here at Anime Los Angeles 2015, dressing up like an idiot in public.
I’ll admit right now, my perspective throughout this whole weekend of coverage will almost certainly be less of a hardline professional and more of an awestruck first time visitor, entering a whole new landscape. Fortunately, as my friend Ryan assured me, and as I later came to find for myself, ALA (or “Anime Los Angeles” if you’re feeling formal and time wasting) is the perfect convention for a first time con goer.
The atmosphere is as vibrant and fun as the costumes everyone’s wearing, and everything comes together to give off a truly inviting feeling. I lost count of how many high fives and handshakes I got, just in the last 24 hours alone.
Upon receiving my badge, I got a complimentary bag with the program guide for ALA inside. On the second page of the guide, there’s a forward, written by the convention’s chairman, which describes everyone here as being united in fandom.
Those words, more than any others, seem to define the ALA experience; there’s lots of different fandoms on display, with artwork and costumes, and yet everyone and everything is jumbled together in harmony.
It’s like a beautiful, sweaty, weed scented metaphor for humanity’s endless capacity to love.
If it seems like I’m focusing a bit heavily on the “abstract” elements of attending a convention, well… it’s because I didn’t actually see a whole lot on my first day here. This was partially due to the hassle of getting my entire group together and ready, most of which was done entirely too late.
However, even with our tardiness, there weren’t that many noteworthy events and panels we found, at least not ones that fell close together on the schedule. The whole convention appears to have a fairly loose structure, leaving many booths and rooms open for the entire day, allowing con attendees to come and go as they wish without having to worry about strict deadlines.
Of course, that’s not to say there’s been nothing worth checking out.
Arts, Crafts, and Swag
By far, one of the biggest draws of any con is the Artist Alley, that special sanctioned area where artists can pay for booths to display, and hopefully sell their wares. Anime Los Angeles is no different, and its artist alley is absolutely packed with incredibly talented individuals; most of them offering hand drawn/painted/sketched prints of various pieces of pop culture iconography. There’s also the usual buttons and ribbons for sale, even a few very nicely designed glasses and flasks.
Out of respect for the artists behind the booths, my team and I opted not to take any pictures, but trust me, everything on display was incredibly high quality.
Less subtly classy, and more overtly commercial is the Dealer’s Hall. This is where you find the stuff that most people probably picture when they think of convention souvenirs. Lots of anime and manga, as expected, and more plush than a brony’s bedroom.
Fittingly enough, though a few items fall within and above the five-hundred dollar range, most of the stuff for sale is a deal.
Panels and Parties
But man can’t live on swag alone, especially if that man has the same combination of poor impulse control and lack of budgetary knowledge as myself.
So, with our bank accounts significantly lightened, the group needed to find something else to pass the time.
We were fortunately on time for one of the early evening panels, and that panel ended up being the highlight of the day; “So You Want to be A Voice Actor?” featuring Edward Bosco and Xander Mobus.
The latter would be best known as the announcer for a certain fighting game.
The two actors shared their knowledge of the industry; offering advice, and recounted personal stories, all while being both hilarious and incredibly profane (mostly from Mobus.)
As a huge fan of the voice acting industry, this panel was a dream to be at, and it was a huge honor to get to meet people who are working in it.
Unfortunately, that was about the end of our first day, as most of us returned to our hotel rooms and
(Editorial Note: Statement redacted due to potentially incriminating details.)
Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that the legends of wild convention party nights… are quite true.
Overall, my first day at an Anime Convention was not as full of constant “go go go” activity as I thought it’d be. As fun as it is, walking up and down the hotel, and navigating through the crowds takes a lot out of you a lot quicker than you might think, but it was deeply enjoyable, and I’m glad that I finally get to experience this most sacred of nerd pastimes.
And there are still 2 more days and nights to go…
Zach is attending ALA from January 9th-11th, and he’s in the LA area until the 12th. If you spot him wandering around, stop him and say “hi.” Or scream at him in ancient, forbidden tongues… he’ll know what it means.
Also, be sure to leave a comment down below if there’s anything in particular you want to know about regarding the convention itself or my first experience at it.