SAVANNAH NUNEZ WRITES — Anime geeks, video game fanatics, cosplay creators and the like flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center once again to celebrate the 26th Anime Expo this past July. The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation produces the annual event which features panel discussions, live concerts and viewings, cosplay events and more. Anime Expo is the largest anime and manga convention in North America and recorded a guest count of over 115,000 attendees, a 15% increase from the previous year.

Anime Expo presented well known voice actors, including Ayako Kawasumi who voiced Saber from the anime series “Fate/Stay Night,” and musicians like Taku Takahashi, a popular DJ from Japan. There were more than 150 guests, performers, voice actors and creators that attended the event, hosted panels and performed for live events, attracting people from all over the country and even abroad to attend.

Like each year, one of the highlights of the four-day festivity were the cosplays. Walking around the convention center alongside your favorite anime or video game character is an experience only conventions such as Anime Expo can give. Famous cosplayers such as Kinpatsu Cosplay, a well-known cosplayer from Gauteng, South Africa, joined the cosplay frenzy, premiering her Alexstrasza from World of War Craft to con-goers and fans.

Kinpatsu Cosplay – Photo by Martin Wong

Besides the cosplayers, concerts and panels, there were also the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley, where most attendees spent their time and money.The two halls are basically an anime lover’s paradise – filled with anime figurines, clothing items and other types of merchandise. The Exhibit hall alone featured 450 booths.

As video games, cosplay, anime and Japanese culture gain more of a spotlight in the U.S., we can expect another increase in attendees for 2018. This means that SPJA will need to find more efficient ways to handle the large crowds. While Anime Expo was fun and exciting, the event lacked in organization. However, with event badges being mailed to guests for Anime Expo 2018, SPJA seems to have proactively tackled this year’s issue of long wait lines while picking up your Anime Expo badge.

Overall, Anime Expo 2017 was far from a disappointment and there are high expectations for another weekend of anime and cosplay gatherings July 4 – 8 of 2018. You can buy you ticket now at Anime Expo’s official website.