Anime LA 2011

Anime LA once again impressed me with its youthful energy and amazing displays of Cosplay greatness. With my limited experience of anime conventions, I have just assumed that this is what they are like. But several times in the recent past, I’ve heard folks single it out as a great place to Cosplay and as a convention with a particularly good atmosphere and community feeling.

That’s one of the reasons I have mixed feelings about the growth it’s been experiencing. On the one hand, everyone wants to see a convention do well, and Chaz & Co. deserve every bit of praise for the wonderful event they put on. But, of course, one gets nervous at how doubling in size might affect the cozy feel of any convention, particularly one with so many kids whose first con experience this might be. Right now, everyone knows Chaz, and most of the members seem comfortable approaching him or Tadao, to ask a question, just say hi or ask for a ribbon. Likewise, the degrees of separation between any one person and any other are fairly low. If you don’t know someone, chances are one of your friends does, and that helps give people ownership of the event. Still, hopefully there is still a little room for growth and the convention won’t get too large before the ideal size is determined.

One of the rumors floating around was that the growing size might cause the con to move to Anaheim. However, that appears not to be the case. Certainly ALA 2012 will still be at the LAX Marriott, and during closing ceremonies, Chaz confirmed that they do hope to remain at the same venue for as long as it will have them. Despite the profound and constant disappointment I experience with the dining options, I am terribly fond of this hotel and it has become my new San Jose Doubletree—the hotel which I spend several weekends a year having a ball with my dearest friends.

Back to the convention, this year was a mixed bag for me due to reasons completely outside of the convention itself. That said, it is always enormously fun just to sit in the lobby or ballroom level and watch people go by—the photo ops are almost endless. And watching Jason run around like a kid in a candy store getting one great shot after another is half my entertainment. As with most conventions with a high amount of costuming, everyone is ready to pose for the cameras, and in fact, the harder shot to get is a candid one of folks just hanging out.

The Masquerade was not quite up to the standards of last year. Although there were several outstanding entries, the overall level was a bit lower. And aside from the triumphant return of the Standup Ninja, few of the sketches were as funny or as well choreographed as what I remember from ALA 2010. Which sounds like a bad review, but I have to say, overall it still blew the pants off of the average mainstream con Masquerade.

As with last year, during the halftime show while the judges deliberated, we were treated to dancing Maids (and some Butlers) who are just the most adorable thing ever, and then the AMV contest winners where shown. The standout for me was once again the humorous entry, this time being set to the tune of “Boom De Ya Da,” which most of the audience sang along with. I rather liked the Cowboy Bebop entry as well. However, that may very well be because it’s a show I have actually seen and therefore constituted a small island of sanity in a vast and confusing world of incomprehensible sights and sounds.

Every year I tell myself I will attends some of the panels, and I truly meant to this year. The variety is quite broad and there were several costuming ones including ones on makeup and wigs as well as one done by the Costumer’s Guild West. Unfortunately, I failed to do so, and can only report that from what little I saw passing by, the panels seem reasonably well attended for a convention where there is so much activity in the hallways and outside where the photo ops are.

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #113, January 26, 2011