Anime Expo continues to be a huge draw for the industry, content creators and fans of anime, manga and Japanese culture in general. Reportedly the four-day event attracted 110,000 unique attendees and 350,000 total turnstile visits last year. This year, too, packed exhibit halls, meeting rooms and theaters with countless representatives and consumers eager to share their enjoyment of these popular mediums.
Besides shelves, tabletops and boxes of anime and manga, exhibitors offered attendees a range of goods such as action figures, plushies, bobbleheads, models, video games, music, arts and crafts, cosplay garments, Japanese fashion, T-shirts and caps, and accessories, not to mention the opportunity to obtain merchandise exclusive to the expo. They also provided performances, photo ops, playable video games, contests and more.
Exhibitors this year included Aksys Games, ATLUS, Bandai Namco, Crunchyroll, Cygames, Funimation, Gungho Online, Kinokuniya Bookstore, Lab Zero Games, NIS America, Toei Animation and VIZ Media, among many, many more both large and small. Booths ranged from large exhibits with banners/signage, video screens, statues, art, etc., including interactive displays, to single booths displaying tons of product.
If looking for artwork, the show floor and Artist Alley had more than enough for even avid collectors. The latter is in Kentia Hall, which is basically parking area A. The many long aisles are filled with artist booths and attendees can spend a long time walking up and down while appreciating the wide variety and consistently quality artistry on display. All mediums and crafts are well represented, with unique takes on popular characters and franchises.
Entertainment of course went beyond the exhibit hall to include the Welcome & Closing Ceremonies, traditional cosplay Masquerade (and World Cosplay Summit USA Finals), a Japanese fashion show, Late Comedy Showdown, Cosplay Chess, AMV (Anime Music Video) Showdown, Butler/Maid Cafes, anime premieres/screenings, Community Stage, concerts, the burlesque and cabaret After Hours, Lounge 21, Manga Lounge, karaoke and AX Dance.
Every day was full of insightful, compelling and/or entertaining content in the form of panel discussions on a variety of topics. What caught my eye were Diversity in Manga, Warner Bros. Japan Anime Lineup, Aksys Games, Square Enix Announcements, Gundam 40th Anniversary Panel, Japanese Game Creativity With New Game From CyberConnect2, Introduction to Shinto by Shinto Priest, and Play Anime! With Bandai Namco.
Last but not least was what attendees brought to the expo in the form of cosplay costumes. Year in and year out visitors and Masquerade contestants dazzle with impressive gear made from scratch to pay homage to their favorite anime or manga characters. They show a range of skill but all show off the attendees' love for the mediums. See below and in the Photography section of this website for examples.
The expo has grown by leaps and bounds, and not only in attendance. The breadth of exhibitors and especially artists is truly impressive. One day is scarcely enough time to even scrape the surface of this huge expo. I did overhear attendees complain about Thursday admission, but my experience was not too restrictive and, once inside, I felt it went reasonably well despite the huge throngs. If a fan of anime or manga, it's worth a visit.
More Anime Expo coverage can be found here: Anime Expo 2019: Square Enix Announces New Manga & Books.
More photos from Anime Expo can be found in the Photography section.
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