The 24th Annual Anime Expo was held over the July 4th weekend, from July 2-5. Over 300 exhibitors drew an attendance of over 90,500 fans, an increase of 12% from 2014 (overall turnstile attendance exceeded 260,700). This year’s show was the biggest in AX history, taking up every inch of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Here are some highlights from AX:
• Gudetama and Rilakkuma – Two lazy character mascots.
– Sanrio’s newest character mascots, Gudetama, a very unmotivated egg yolk had a booth with merchandise and photo ops.
– Rilakkuma has been around for years and their booth showcased a lot of the merchandise that has been produced over those years by San-X. New items were available for purchase and Rilakkuma made appearances on a mini stage.
• Anime and Manga – These have been slowly gaining more popularity once again.
– Sailor Moon has received a boost in popularity once again with the new series Sailor Moon Crystal and episodes streaming on Hulu and Cruchyroll. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ movie had it’s premiere, along with the first showing of the English dub of Fate/stay night (Unlimited Blade Works).
– TokyoPop has relaunching with plans to resume manga publication in 2016.
• Mobile Gaming – A couple of these are ones that I already have on my phone and play, like Chain Chronicle and Puzzle & Dragons.
– Puzzle & Dragons (GungHo Online Entertainment America), one of the most popular of them. They had time battle competitions, Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition for the 3DS.
– Chain Chronicle (gumi Inc.), a line defense RPG game. This game takes a bit more time to play due to the number of characters and items enhancements.
– Summoners War (Com2uS Corp.), probably one of the best games I tried at this booth, where you summon monsters and upgrade them for battle. They handed out free game codes that included bonus items for this and other games.
– Drift Girls (TOAST/NHN Entertainment Corp.), a racing/dating sim game that skews a bit toward a mature game audience.
• Platform Games – Capcom and Bandai Namco Games showed off some upcoming games.
– Capcom had playable game stations with the upcoming Street Fighter V.
– Bandai Namco Games launched J-Stars Victory VS at AX that same week. Also playable stations featuring J-Stars Victory VS and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, plus upcoming games: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 and Sword Art Online: Lost Song. Trailers for Dragon Ball Z: Butoden and Saint Seiya: Soldiers’ Soul played on monitors in the booth.
• Romance Apps – An area that seems to be growing with female audiences in manga and gaming.
– The Voltage themed their booth after one of their title games, My Forged Wedding. Attendees could visit the booth and get pictures taken, in a wedding scenario, with male cosplay actors from the game.
– Shall We Date? (NTT Solmare Corp.) booth themed theirs like a Japanese room with photo area and survey stations for giveaways.
• Artists Alley – This area expanded a little bit more and still just as crowded. I didn’t spend too much time in this area because walking through the crowd was a bit much.
– Sorbet Jungle (www.sorbetjungle.com) had these really cute plush of a Croconana, which I should have picked up before they sold out. Thousandskies (thousandskies.com) had some really cute prints and dog pillows.
• Weapons – I’ve seen bladed weapons, like swords, sold at conventions before. But these air soft guns are just a little too realistic.
• Arcade – This area is always fun to hang around to take a break. All kinds of arcade-style rhythm games, console gaming.
– There was even an area with old school console games like Atari, Colecovision, Super Nintendo, etc.
• Photo Area – Always a big hit with the cosplayers.
– All kinds of detailed backdrop scenes for photo ops. Classroom, forest, graveyard, bedroom, Japanese cherry blossom forest and more. There was even free 360-degree motion capture station QLQL.
Someday I will have to check out one of the concerts they have during Anime Expo. Previous years they have had Morning Musume, Hatsune Miku and Porno Graffitti, which I would have liked to have seen. This year they had Momoiro Clover Z with special guests KISS and Wagakkiband. I’m not too familiar with these groups, with the exception of KISS.
Another thing I will have to figure out is the popularity of the alpaca plush. Not sure how that all started, but I thought I heard it was from an anime. Lots of other plush characters have been really popular too, like the foxes.
I really had to budget myself while at Anime Expo, since SDCC was the weekend right after, this year. Really needed the funds for SDCC exclusives. It was tough but I did it. Only made a few purchases like a couple of plush Doreamon and Attack on Titan Pop figure.
AX has signed a long-term contract with the Los Angeles Convention Center for the next five years, where it will remain in Los Angeles until 2020. So, if you were not able to make it out to this year’s Anime Expo you have plenty of chances. Passes for AX 2016 is on sale now. For more info. and updates visit www.anime-expo.org.