Anime Los Angeles (ALA), Ontario CA
When I’m not blogging or eating, I attend nerd conventions. This past year and a half I’ve been running a booth at conventions for a nerdy t-shirt company which has allowed me to attend conventions all over the world. The experience is limited (because I’m stuck at a booth) but It’s fascinating to see how each convention is different. Anime Los Angeles (or ALA) happens in January and I can’t think of a better convention to start with.
Anime Los Angeles
ALA is unlike most of the conventions that I have attended. It’s considered a relatively small by most standards with about 10,000 attendees (Anime Expo had 107,658 attendees in 2017) but it has a “big” feel to it. A lot of that “big” feel is attributed to it’s location at the Ontario Convention Center. There isn’t much to do outside of the convention so the crowds tend to stay concentrated in the area. The crowd tends to be early 20’s with only a small amount of children and parents. This combination of proximity and age makes ALA a party heavy convention, so expect some late night rowdiness.
One of the things that make conventions great is the quality of panels. A lot of convention attendance is drawn directly from guest spots at panels. ALA has a lot of interesting panels and things included in the cost of admission. Whether you are looking for new games to play, anime to watch, or autographs to get ALA has a lot to offer. Anime conventions also tend to be more open to adult (18+) entertainment, so there are late night panels for those who are inclined.
Cosplay is a huge part of any good convention and is one of my favorite parts of attending; The amount of creativity and ingenuity that goes into it is astounding. Whether you are wearing something to threw together the night before or an outfit that took you all year to assemble, you are in good company with most cosplayers. I’ve found that Anime Los Angeles’ cosplay community is very open, so embrace your creative side. If you decide to dress as one of your favorite anime/manga character, expect to take pictures with lots of like minded people.
Another advantage of hotels being so close to the convention center is that you don’t have to carry all your gear very far. There is an added level of entertainment for some of us as well, more specifically when walking around outside the exhibit hall: you get to see people who don’t know what’s going on react to cosplayers.
One thing that has become a tradition of sorts for me is to go to the Denny’s or Spire’s restaurants nearby and people watch. The elderly and children are the most interesting because of the way they react to people wearing costumes; it’s immensely amusing for people watchers.
Still having trouble meeting people in your fandom? one of the best ways to find like minded fans through the many scheduled cosplay gatherings or fan panels. Nothing makes you friends faster than shared obsessions!
The Ribbons of ALA
One of the most unique aspects of Anime Los Angeles’ culture is the passing out of ribbons. Attendees create a stack of custom ribbons with sayings or pictures on them; They then give the ribbons out to other attendees, usually after performing a specific task. I saw someone doing a choreographed dance for a ribbon while others posed in awkward photos for them; the tasks vary from person to person and it all seems to be in good fun. The ribbons have become a key aspect to a lot of people’s weekends at ALA, with some making their collection the highest priority. What I find remarkable is that this is something that took off because of attendees, it’s another small facet that makes ALA so unique.
Another great aspect of these conventions tend to be more open to embracing alternative lifestyles; of course it has it’s problems, but for the most part you can find a welcoming core of people. For those who are inclined toward social activism, Anime Los Angeles provides some interesting panels such as their “POC Cosplayers Happy Hour Safe Space” or “Cosplaying with care: Appreciation vs. Appropriation.” both hosted by group, Chocolate Covered Cosplay (C3). But you don’t have to go to panels to find a safe space; reaching out to the ALA community has always been a great experience for me and I believe it can be for you too.
I always look forward to ALA because it feels like a a massive show without it being one. The panels it provides are eclectic enough that you can find anything to suit your interest and the community is very inviting. The biggest conventions can feel a little impersonal at times, where ALA feels like a big party with friends and acquaintances. It’s the perfect introduction into convention life for any young adult and interesting enough to keep veteran convention attendees.
Thanks again for all of those I talked to about this convention and thank you for letting me take pictures of you! I included links to their instagram accounts, please support them!
Special thanks to @SwordFire19 for some of her photos.
See you on the Con Floor!