Anime Expo 2015, held over four days, ended last weekend with a record attendance.
More than 90,500 anime aficionados packed into all corners of the L.A. Convention Center and the nearby Marriott Hotel, where overflow events and screenings were held.
The anime, manga and Japanese pop culture convention was described this year as the “most successful event yet,” by Marc Perez, chief executive officer of SPJA (the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation). The SPJA is the nonprofit organization that manages the popular event, and promotes Japanese culture and the arts related to Japanese animation.
The packed expo, which has grown steadily each year, is the largest anime event in North America and is now being compared to ComicCon. However, the core of Anime Expo is the expression of affection for anime by the sea of fans who create extraordinary costumes, and pose for photos and “cosplay.”
The expo first began in 1991 at the University of California Berkeley by a group of people who loved anime. It became an annual event that brought together members of the industry with fans of the Japanese pop culture.
Now with the help of a strong team of 1,600 volunteers, a small city is built for a four-day weekend where people connect with each other and the anime “story.” Attendees preferred late night anime events held on the 4th of July instead of watching downtown fireworks. They opted for late night screenings that can run into the wee hours of the morning, along with dancing, tabletop and electronic gaming and open mic karaoke.
The industry is promoted with wall-to-wall screenings; artists’ panels, concerts, and fashion shows; entertainment industry guests including producers, directors, animators and other content creators of feature films; television and video games, and a comedy competition. One packed workshop was filled with hopeful young writers who listened to speakers describe methods to create successful fan fiction, and dish out advice to build a thick skin — especially when posting work online.
This year’s event also attracted unexpected participants including special guest appearances by Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley of KISS, and Japan’s # 1 pop music singing sensation, Momoiro Clover Z.
“We wish to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work and amazing dedication to the promotion of Japanese culture,” said Perez who said next year’s event will celebrate it’s 25th anniversary.
“From registration improvements to entertainment programming, we produced the best AX yet. And we invite all of our fans to return next year for AX 2016 — which will be our biggest celebration ever.”