AnimeExpo (hereafter refered to as AX) is (I believe) the biggest AnimE convention in the UnitedStates?, held every summer (traditionally during the 4th of July weekend). At AX, a large number of guests from Japan are brought over and participate in Q&A-type sessions. AX also has an incredibly large dealer's room, in which you can buy all sorts of interesting things at good prices. Sometimes rare things can be found there, but those usually aren't cheap (yeah, like my TokyoBabylon CD single triple -- three Japanese singles for $105! --Jess) (also saw a couple of BGC soundtracks for $125 each -- Andrew). AX also premieres some AnimE movies, and provides numerous rooms that play AnimE videos all day.
One of the other big attractions is all the CosPlayers?! People dressed up as your favorite AnimE characters. All the guys dressed up as Sakura (from CardCaptorSakura?) were pretty funny. There were a few guys dressed as SailorMoon?, too. I was glad to see a couple jrock CosPlayers? (Gackt and Toshiya) in 2000, and a whole bunch in 2001 (Kyo, Die, Fayray - if that's considered jrock, Yayoi, Kamijo, a couple Manas, Yu~ki). CosPlayers? compete in the masquerade where they do little skits, and awards are given. And interesting skit in 2000 had people dressed up as the audio-only speaker boxes from NeonGenesisEvangelion, dancing.
People also tend to pick some random object to focus on during the masquerade -- in 2000 and 2001 it was a chair. (This means: during breaks between skits, the audience started chanting, "CHAIR! CHAIR!!") ISTR this started at the ADV booth around midday Saturday, where they had people chant "chair" over and over for t-shirts. I would've done so myself, but darn it, it's ADV, and I have principles to uphold. -Andrew 2001 masquerade, IMO, was nowhere near as good as the 2000 masquerade. The FushigiYuugi? martial arts skits were pretty good, though. I was very excited to see a jrock cosplayer in the masquerade, even as part of a Magic Knight Rayearth group. I didn't think they allowed jrock cosplayers, just anime and video games . . . Anyway, there were some awesome Angel Sanctuary cosplays, impressive FinalFantasy cosplays, a really good Enishi, and some good Clover cosplays in 2001. A whole bunch of WeissKreuz? cosplayers, including all of Weiss and half of Schwartz.
Also, there's the AnimE Music Video Competition, which is very much worth seeing. There are some problems with it, such as the rampant technical difficulties that canceled them in 2002 (and if you haven't seen the anime from which clips are taken, it's often harder to "get" a video...though the good ones manage anyway; also, as a result, videos based on popular series get a disproportionately large amount of applause... (but maybe I'm just bitter because "Shiro Shonen" didn't win...)), but on the whole, the videos are all quality (at least this year, where they only showed the top 30 out of over 100 submissions).
::minutes of telephone poles and repeated scenes::
-- Excerpt from A Complete Waste of 6:35 (the 2002 comedy winner).
Any chance someone could expand some of those abbreviations? I recognize BGC, but not ADV or ISTR. ADV is an American AnimE distributor. They're the ones responsible for packaging NGE at two episodes per $20 tape and, for a while, seemingly marketing everything they distributed as hentai. ISTR is standard net-speak for "I seem to recall".
AnimeExpo also has panels run by fans for various discussion topics. I remember there was a ScoobyDoo? panel in 1999, where someone decided that any AnimE series has characters that can be fit into the ScoobyDoo? mold (the five character types: Shaggy, Scooby, Freddy, Velma, Daphne). They also always have a FanFic panel, and for the past two years they've had a Yaoi panel (which didn't get shut down at Disneyland for censorship only because nobody knew what it was about).
In 2007, AnimeExpo returned to Long Beach after 4 years in Anaheim. It was a somewhat difficult transition for staff and attendees because the facilies were spread out and at times disappointingly one way. For example, the entrance and exit for the dealer's room was located at opposite ends of the Exhibitor's Hall due to FireCode? regulations. One of the draws of this year's AX was the incredible number of concerts (S.K.I.N., OreskaBand?, and the SOSBrigadeInvasionTour? to name a few) that took advantage of the Long Beach Arena. PremierTicketing? was introduced this year, possibly in response to the demand for guaranteed seating to the S.K.I.N. concert.
In 2004, AnimeExpo was held at the Anaheim Convention Center, which was all new and shiny.
In 2002, AnimeExpo was also held in Long Beach! Didn't find any TokyoBabylon stuff at all. :( But they were selling VHS tapes super-cheap because they're going out of style, so I picked up the boxed set of Record of Lodoss War for $40. I also have Gravitation now!! It's so CUTE! You have to SEE it! Anyway, they had a jrock event this year (unfortunately run by someone who I know who is a flake). Lots of really incredible Malice Mizer cosplays. Unfortunately my pics of it didn't come out. Went to panel with the author of Kenshin! He's pretty funny.
Avani: The panel with Shoji Kawamori (Escaflowne, Macross, Earth Girl Arjuna ... ) was *really* something. E.G.A is neat: its sort of a cross between Mononoke and NGE that evidently had a lot of thought put into it.
In 2001, AnimeExpo was held in Long Beach at a bunch of hotels and the convention center. I don't know why, but they showed Batman: Mask of the Phantasm there . . . that's a good movie, and I was kind of glad to see it on the big screen. Finally saw the Escaflowne movie this year. Four days again, thousands of people (what was it they said? 10,000 or something?). I'm not aware of any major problems they had . . . there was a Jehova's Witnesses convention going on at the same time, and at one point I went up into one of the hotels near the video game room (I think some people were having a DDR competition or something) and saw that out on the balcony someone was having a wedding. That was kind of sad. Overall, I think AX2000 was much better (though maybe that's just because I found TokyoBabylon stuff in 2000).
In 2000, AnimeExpo was held at the Disneyland hotel and convention center. They had a problem with some dealer who was selling adult material to minors, and apparently AnimeExpo is no longer allowed to be at Disneyland. (No big loss IMO, as otaku generally have an aversion to Disney.) AX lasted for four days and had thousands and thousands of people attend (Yeah, I remember getting on lines that went around the building and up onto the roof of the parking structure). They showed the Utena movie and the Escaflowne movie. In addition to the FanFic panel, there was also a yaoi panel (don't know what yaoi is? See the FanFic page). The yaoi panel had great attendance, including a large number of men, which was pretty interesting.
In 1999, AnimeExpo was held at the Anaheim Hilton (it was the Hilton, right?) and Anaheim convention center. They got kicked out of the Hilton for 2000 because apparently some CosPlayers? messed up someone's wedding(?). I think it was only three days in 1999. Personally, I liked the Hilton better than Disneyland. Not as many annoying tourists and little kids.
This has nothing to do with anything, and is a shameless plug: NatalieBaan was on the FanFic panel these three years. She writes long and complicated yaoi FanFic. They're very, very good. I was really glad that I got a chance to meet her and talk to her for a while in 2000 -- she brought a soundtrack to her FanFic SakuraAndSnow to give to me! How exciting! Anyway, I highly recommend NatalieBaan's FanFic, and will now go post a link to her page on the FanFic node. --Jess
People who have attended AnimeExpo: