Friday, July 4, 2008

Anime Expo

Since 2005, Chris and I have attended Anime Expo, the largest Japanese managa, anime, video games, and culture convention on the west coast. We almost didn't go this year, but the decision was made Monday night to go with Carl and Giana.

While Chris and I didn't dress in costume this year, I did put something together for Giana to wear - a White Mage costume inspired by the Final Fantasy video game series.

We all carpooled out to LA yesterday for the first day, which is an ordeal in and of itself. Giana slept the whole way up, waking up just as we were parking. So after picking up our badges, we started exploring.

My favorite thing about the convention is always the costumes! And as a photographer, I tend to show my appreciation for everyone's hard work by trying to keep a visual record of all the most amazing costumes I encounter which is later posted on in my gallery.

This year was different though: with the exception of a nice Disgaea cosplayer, all my photographs were of Giana experiencing the convention. There were several reasons for this: for one, it was her first convention ever, and she was so cute in her costume! Another was that we were there for less than five hours, and while I did see a lot of people in costume, most of them were the cookie-cutter ones that you can buy on Ebay that, while nice, didn't excite me. I expect Saturday, the day of the Masquerade competition and one of the biggest days of attendence, to have a lot more interesting cosplays.

We visited the Nippon Ichi booth, which is the game company that my husband has done some temp work for this summer, testing the new Rhapsody game. They're one of his favorite game companies, and we stop by their booth every year. This year Chris completed his stuffed Priny collection (the penguin-type creatures in the picture to the left) and picked up the latest art book.

After much wandering, I found a place that sold the exact kitty ears hat that I wanted - black hat with pink ears - and I traded out my hair clips for the hat. When Chris told me that he didn't want to cosplay for this convention, I said that if that was the case I was getting a kitty ears hat... and it did feel very odd to be in street clothes for the first time at a convention. The hat helped a lot.

Giana seemed overwhelmed by all the people at first, but once we had lunch, she just wanted to go and see and poke everything... this included hugging (and trying to take) the Pikkachu stuffed animal that a cosplayer was carying, and feeling the furry texture on another cosplayer's vest. Everyone was very nice about it, willing to pick up the water bottle she threw down and waving at her when she walked over to their group to say hi.

I think that as much as I've enjoyed Anime Expo in the past, the convention has grown way too big for me to really enjoy. Smaller conventions tend to have a more cohesive feel to them, and at those I actually attend panels and participate in some of the events... while at AX the place is so big its hard to find anything or anyone, and to participate in anything tends to involve huge lines with long waits. (This was the first year we've just walked in and picked up our badges without an hour+ wait in line, so it was a very nice year for registration). Of course, no small convention can compete with AX's dealer's hall - 100+ booths selling everything is a pretty amazing selection!

And one of the things it has inspired me to do is to get back to working on the costumes I'd let slide...

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