Saturday, February 11, 2017

Anime Los Angeles 2017: Tally's Review

Anime Los Angeles is one of California's best conventions, starting January 26th for day zero, if anyone counts day zero, and ending the 29th. The previous year, ALA had a new chairman. Mr. Alec Orrock worked under the chairman, until 2016 when the (former) chairman stepped down. With the convention moving from Los Angeles two years ago to Ontario, California, convention attendees had hoped for a new direction for the convention, and while last year's convention had a few issues, those issues were fixed this year. Though, there may have been some behind the scenes issues that were fixed temporarily, but I will not go into that.

The guide book, compared to last year, is much thicker. More informative, in fact. Artists, most likely convention staff/volunteers and attendees, drew art that was strategically placed on the pages of the guide book. This is a good move to promote artists.

By informative, the guide book has schedules for all events in the convention. From registration to panels and even gatherings, it makes sense why each year the book becomes bigger and bigger. This year was no exception. In fact, the information was even added to the downloadable app, a big help to those who didn't want to carry the guide book around.

Special guests this year included Brian Beacock, Richard Epcar, Darrel Guilbeau, Lauren Landa, Mela Lee, Erica Lindbeck, Erza Weisz, Christina Vee and others listed in the guide. Those listed are just a few to mention. The guest list was impressive, from voice actors to those who work in the industry.

In fact, I was able to meet a few of the special guests, Erza Weisz and Darrel Guilbeau. Erza Weisz is known for his role as Kaname Kuran in the Vampire Knight/Vampire Knight: Guilty dub, but he has taken on more roles recently. Darrel Guilbeau is most known for his role as Mikado in Durarara!!, as well as Hakuryuu Ren in Magi-The Labyrinth of Magic and Amaimon in Blue Exorcist.

The few panels I did observe were magnificent. Day one, Darrel Guilbeau had a panel called "Durarara!! with Darrel Guilbeau" in panel room CCP2 (Ballroom B). Unfortunately, my friend and I made it a little late to the panel. However, let me just say that this panel was amazing. There were theory talks about Durarara's character and resident troll, Izaya Orihara. In fact, those who contributed to the discussion received tickets. Near the end of the panel, prizes were given out. Mostly random things, like a 2017 Chinese calendar and My Little Pony stickers. Just random things picked up here or there, or even Daiso. It was entertaining to see what he pulled out from under the table on the stage. In fact, I won the calendar.

The second panel I went to was on day two in CCP3 (Ballroom C). This was called "The Truth, hosted by Erza Weisz". It was an 18+ panel I cannot go into detail about. The title of this threw those who went off. The description was "One topic will be selected, and all performers must tell- the truth based on the subject- nothing is taboo, nothing is off limits!". That is all I can say, but just know what was said was very personal stuff that cannot be repeated. Voice actors joined Erza Weisz, like Darrel Guilbeau, Lauren Landa, Mela Lee and Erica Lindbeck. There was one more, but I cannot recall the actor's name. Lauren Landa left early, about an hour in. During this panel, however, I did manage to sit next to Kyle Hebert.

Me (dressed as Senri Shiki from Vampire Knight) with Erza Weisz

Me with Darrel Guilbeau

Last day, there was a small emergency. An ambulance showed up in the afternoon. I have not heard as to what the situation was that caused the paramedics to show up, but it could be one of three guesses. Over-heated, dehydration or an injury that convention volunteers and staff could not handle on their own. However, it was handled in a timely fashion. Con attendees seemed to understand the dire situation, though most were curious, like myself.

Overall, the convention was a success. It was more organized than last year, which is saying something. The convention was well organized. Staff and volunteers were very helpful and respectful to the attendees. There were badge checkers at the main doors, for safety reasons. They were more lax this year, if that's says anything. Pictures adorned the walls of cosplayers from last year. The dealer's hall and artist alley were together, just like the previous year. However, this made it much easier to get around, with wider aisle ways. So, more room for people to look around and possibly purchase items or art from the booths.

Karaoke was in the Radisson, right across the street from the convention center. Popular songs this year were from "Hamilton". Lazy Town's song "We are number one" was played multiple times, and sung outside of karaoke.

Anime Los Angeles is a growing convention now, especially with a new location. It has room to grow. The volunteers are informative and respectful, helping attendees and enjoying the times they work. Work is work, but if it doing something they enjoy, it makes it worth wild even more.
The feeling I get from this con is that it will be successful, but I fear it will be the new Anime Expo. For those who don't know what I mean, let me elaborate. What I mean is that it will become more industrialized, more for industry, not the fans. This is nothing new with certain conventions nowadays. Anime Expo is one of them, unfortunately.

I pray this isn't the situation in the future. Anime Los Angeles is a good convention to start the year off, and many people, such as myself, adore it.

Still, this convention is one worth going to. Especially for first timers. Being a smaller con, it is a starting point. On the way to con, day zero, a friend and I were walking to con from her hotel. We were stopped by someone. The man asked us what event was going on and once we explained what it was, he told us his daughter was into anime. He told us she might like this convention so we told him the gist of the convention. Family friendly, unless the panel or event says otherwise. We were told he would talk to his daughter that night and see if she was interested in going to the convention.

Unfortunately, we didn't follow up with him, but I'm pretty sure he took his daughter to con the next day.

ALA only seems to be getting better. All around, it was another good year. May it stay this way.

Until next review. 

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