Anime Los Angeles 2020 - The Best Convention to Start the Decade
Anime Conventions are more common than ever, especially in the State of California. The mass waves of people from all across America fly in to Anime Los Angeles to enjoy the many events anime conventions have to offer. Whether it be the large Exhibition Hall where consumers can buy the newest products to hit the market, the Masquerade where cosplayers spend months detailing their costumes to present to thousands of people, the many parties that happen throughout the weekend where people can socialize , or the always classic Karaoke room where everyone can sing to their hearts content.
The question is though, how do you differentiate yourself from the other conventions?
Anime Los Angeles finds its place with its community and the people who go to ALA. Whenever we asked anyone from the Staff, to the Cosplayers, to the Attendees, the same word was always given; "Community." After meeting so many people at ALA, what separates it apart is that, while the events, panels, and autograph signings are appreciated, people come for the little things like playing card games, going to cosplay gatherings, and trading ribbons. Actually, trading ribbons is not a little thing as half the convention revolves around Ribbon Collecting. Everyone has ribbons, and in order to receive a ribbon, people have to complete "Challenges," and those challenges are whatever the person desires. Needless to say, it creates a lot of fun, unique, and enjoyable memories.
AnimEigo had an Industry Panel where they talked about its current Kickstarter for the Anime MegaZone 23; creating an OMEGA Edition for fans to enjoy. AnimEigo has been publishing Japanese Animations for well over two decades, and they are one of the best in the industry. While that is the personal opinions of the people who work at Night At The Arcades, everyone here at NATA purchases AnimEigo box sets because they are of that high quality and respect. We had the opportunity to talk with Robert Woodhead from AnimEigo as well (Voice Recording Below; Apologies for Background Noise).
The Masquerade this year hosted some of the most amazing costumes, many of which had props of different capabilities. Possibly the most intriguing for us was the Sekiro Cosplayer who create an armed with a spring axe that he could release and retract. There was also many different dress and floral gowns showed off this year. While January is in the Winter, many Spring Festival style clothing is presented at Anime Los Angeles.
This year, we decided to check out the games section, and little did we know that the games section would take up most of our time. On the Board Game side, they had classic such as Settlers of Catan, Risk, UNO, and Munchkin. Some people bought beyblades and had a mini-beyblade tournament, and if you did not bring your own, they had plenty of parts for you to make one. Most of our employees hanged around the Poker table, and were doing well; all in the name of good fun and making frineds. On the video games side, they had a whole VR Setup, as well as a full on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament, and a whole 16-Player Matchmaking for PC gamers. At the time, they were playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
A lot of what makes Anime Los Angeles special and unique is that people are willing to set up and play almost anywhere. Anime Los Angeles has areas full of attendees, and areas where there are tables or chairs for quick setups. If you felt daring, a local smash player was offering 1 V 1's, and if you beat him, he would give you a dollar. When asked, he replied "I'm trying to get better and make some friends, this seems like a good way to do it." In the end, only a handful of people were able to beat him, one of which was our photographer Jose Barrientos.
Probably the coolest event that caught us off-guard was a mini-orchestra playing Studio Ghibli music. We had trouble finding information, and only knew about it because we were walking past the event while the doors were open. However, after hearing the pleasant violins, we stayed for a few minutes to listen to a few songs, and it was absolutely breathtaking. It is rare to hear an orchestra of any kind, and it was definitely a pace breaker during all the pandemonium going on in rooms around. However, it was definitely worth going to, and we hope the Orchestra comes back. Not a lot of people were there, and it's a shame because if more people knew about it, more people would probably have gone; Orchestra music is appreciated by many people.
Please also keep in mind, Night At The Arcades is a small company consisting of only a handful of photographers and writers. The amount of stuff to do at Anime Los Angeles was so large that we barely did even a quarter of what ALA has to offer. This includes the Anime Music Video Showcase, where people create their own AMVs, and watch it on a large convention screen with an audience to enjoy. There were the Formal Balls where attendees could dress up in Suits and Gowns, dance like aristocrats, and enjoy each others company in a manor much more well-formed. There was also the Swap Meet which none of us got to go into, and included rare items such as Kyoto Animations Anime Cels from Japan that were saved from before the studio burned down, and all proceeds went back to Japan the help Kyoto Animations.
If you ever have to opportunity to go, we strongly recommend it because it was and still will be the most fun we could ever have at a convention in the modern-age. It offers everything a convention could, brings a community that is arguably the most inviting, respects people who spends hours making costumes, and leaves people with a sense of satisfaction that the world is full of people who truly do enjoy the little things.