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Anime Expo and the Nationwide Attraction

Anime expo crowd

Anime expo is one of the world’s largest anime conventions. It takes place once a year and is held at the LA convention center in downtown Los Angeles.

One of the interesting things about this convention is the sheer scale of audiences that it attracts. I do not and have not worked behind the scenes of how Anime Expo works but here are some of my speculations on the reasons why this convention is as big as it is.

Anime expo is based on Japanese culture. Japanese culture is enormous across the United States and around the world, ranging from video games, manga, anime, television dramas, and even fashion and music. Almost every aspect of Japanese culture has found its way into American culture.final fantasy cosplay

Anime and manga contains multiple types of genres ranging from action, romances, adult, and have even included certain video games as well. The sheer range of different genres of stories that anime and manga contains is one of the reasons why it is so popular. It is simple to read and watch at anyone’s leisure and there are hundreds of different stories.

Audience and content

The thing about anime and manga is that it can be broken down into dozens of different genres.Japanese writers and artists can be extremely creative and every story can be very unique. Since the genres that they write come in a huge variety of themes, this allows consumption of media that is interesting for people of all ages, young and adult.

Anime fans, video game fans, cosplay fans, there are also tons of things to do here that cater to everyone’s interests.

Arts and crafts

Anime and manga are both forms of art, which is also a reason that it appeals to so many people, regardless of their age and can build on nostalgia for older audiences.

Artists will try to mimic the artwork and create their own versions. Writers will attempt to write fanfictions or their own manga and sometimes branch off into drawing their own artwork. Animators will try to create AMV’s of their favorite series and showcase their animation skills. People who enjoy creating small memorabilia and keychains can also craft their own toys and gadgets of their favorite characters. The range of content that can be created from a single anime or manga series is absolutely endless and is limited to each person’s imagination.

kill la kill cosplayCosplay

People who enjoy wearing costumes of their favorite characters during times other than Halloween can have the chance to show off their best designs. Whether it is an intricate, handmade design or one that was put together in two minutes, many cosplayers come to the event solely for showcasing their designs. There are many professional and amateur photographers that attend and many professional cosplayers will try expose their work to as many of these photographers as they can in hopes to go viral.

Cosplayers usually also have fun here by joining the organized specifically themed meetups. These meetups tend to be massive depending on the theme and are a huge attraction for those who want to see a large group of their favorite characters together.

Exhibition halls

The exhibition halls in the convention center allows many vendors and artists to sell their products and artwork. The exhibition hall is massive and is one of the biggest attractions at Anime Expo. The audiences that travel from all over the United States come to the exhibition hall and will sometimes purchase as much merchandise as they can since it is an event they can only attend once a year of this scale.

People fly across the country to participate in this event.

aerialLA-new-2

Taking place in the heart of downtown LA, the Anime Expo convention attracts all the local anime fans in the populous city as well as tourists all over the world. The event also takes place during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which allows a flexibility in time to be able to plan and show up to the four day event. Being located in LA, people who fly in from across the country  will be able to use the weekend as a mini vacation to visit the sunny city.

The area is it also surrounded by many hotels and famous restaurants in the area, allowing for many local businesses to be able to benefit from the event as well. Special promotions on nearby hotels will also be available when you purchase event tickets and also include free shuttle service to the convention center. Some of these famous hotels are Luxe City Center Hotel, JW Marriott, Residence Inn, Westin Bonaventure, and Courtyard LA Live

Promotion

Being a four day event, Anime Expo has taken the initiative to start its promotions not too long after their prior event has ended. Sales on four day passes begin as early as November during the Black Friday sales. These passes go on sale in the $50 range for a four day pass. This is a very valuable promotion since attendees who decide to wait until the last minute to purchase passes could pay up to 40% more.

Promotions for the event also start very early because the organization knows that people will be flying from all over the country to attend the event. By promoting early, this allows all the non-local attendees and vendors to plan their trips by booking their flights early as well as reserving hotel space.

EcoSystem

Putting it all together, Anime Expo takes a simple concept of a convention for anime and manga enthusiasts and have successfully created a massive ecosystem that combines many similar niches to their industry. Western style comics such as Marvel and DC characters can sometimes make cameo appearances at the convention. Video game characters that have artwork that have similar drawing styles also appear. A noteworthy mention is League of Legends, which in the last few years, have attained huge popularity in this audience group.

Anime expo has come a long way from its early years. The way that it can bring in audiences from outside the Anime world is exactly how innovation in the new marketing world works. Amazon started off selling books and is now a massive retail, fulfillment and logistics center. Anime Expo has essentially achieved the same for its industry and I do not expect it to slow down anytime soon. It is not driven solely on anime and manga itself but it feeds off of the interests of their target audiences.

Do you agree with any of my points? Why do you think Anime Expo is as large as it is?

-Gary

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New Beginnings and Regaining Old Habits

A new year is here with an endless amount of opportunities ahead of us. Here is the time to create your New Year’s resolutions and hopefully you can achieve them. If you are like me, I create a lot of goals for myself but have a hard time achieving them. The biggest issue that many of us have is that we are so fixated on the end result that if we don’t see changes right away, we give up immediately. Other issues is creating an unreasonable goal where you set yourself up for failure and disappointment anyway.

The way I go about it is that I break down my end goal into smaller, achievable goals that can give me the motivation and sense of accomplishment to continue going. If you play video games, you cannot just jump to the final boss and expect to win. It doesn’t work that way, and life doesn’t either. Instead, you have different checkpoints and objectives you must achieve before you are given the opportunity to fight the final boss. Life works the same way, you cannot just workout really hard and expect a six pack within a week. You need to break it down, day by day, starting with a good diet to supplement your workout routine.

Here are some of my goals for the New Year. I have already begun working on them in December and plan to continue these habits throughout the new year.

dumbells exercise

Working out – Minimum 3-5 days a week, maximum 1 hour session.

The reason I am putting this as a maximum 1 hour sessions is because when I also want to focus on other things with my limited hours. 1 hour is what works for me and is enough to keep me in shape and mentally sane (I get anxious when I stop working out for too long). It may be different for you.

KindleReading –  At least 20-50 pages a day.

This is one of the biggest challenges for our current generation. Being a millennial myself, I have a short attention span and essentially stopped reading books after grade school. This is going to change. Reading 20-30 pages a day adds up very quickly and you can finish 1 to 2 books a month if you keep a steady pace. This is one of those breaking down your habits little by little that I mentioned earlier.

Wordpress Blogging

Blogging – At least 2-3 posts a week.

Being a fairly addicted gamer for the majority of my life, a lot of the hobbies I used to enjoy were put on the backlot and essentially disappeared. I was distracted by playing games and watching tons of television dramas. This year I picked up blogging as a hobby that I can express the things I enjoy doing and share it with others who have similar interests.

What are your goals for the new year? Comment below!

– Gary

Credits:

  1. http://newyearsevepartyplaces.com/north-america/united-states/los-angeles/
  2. http://websitemojo.net/blogging-for-business/


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Another Noob Photographer

Canon Rebel T5

Everyone has an outlet to release their creativity. Whether it is drawing, painting, digital art, to making music, expressing yourself is a way to keep yourselves sane in this busy world.

Recently, there has been a huge boom in social media over the last few years while also popularizing taking pictures. Everyone loves pictures. We communicate through it in Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and many other outlets. It is simple and it is easy. It is a fun and easy way to store those special moments and show off all the cool places you have been to, especially if you live in Los Angeles.

Lately, I have had a peak interest in photography. I have been already had experience in using my company’s digital SLR in taking product images for our website but had never got to picking up a camera for myself. With the holiday season starting, I saw an opportunity for a good deal on a camera and decided to take the plunge and got myself a Canon EOS Rebel T5 with an 18-55mm lense.

I’m still getting used to taking more photos in dynamic environments rather than a small photo shooting area where the lighting is always the same but some of the things I am trying to perfect are adjusting the ISO, aperture and exposure levels to take better pictures. Here is what I learned so far.

ISO – The ISO setting on your camera is the sensitivity to light. Lower ISO’s are less sensitive to light and higher ISO’s will make your camera more sensitive to the light coming in.

In other words, for darker settings, you want a higher ISO to increase the light sensitivity. Lower ISO’s are favorable in well lit settings since you do not need as much light. A high ISO in a bright room will make your photograph washed out so you will need to adjust accordingly to get a better image.

Aperture – The aperture in your camera is the amount of light that goes into your lense. It is a small hole in your lense where the size can be adjusted through the F-number setting. In this case, the smaller the F-number, the bigger the hole, and vice versa. How does this affect your image? A smaller aperture will make the focus of your image sharper, while blurring out the background. a higher aperture setting will make the entire image clearer.

Exposure – Exposure, or shutter speed, is how long your camera is exposed to light before you take the snapshot. A higher shutter speed will instantly take that image for you, allowing you to capture those special moments before they get away. A slower shutter speed will take into account the motion that occurs in your object. This is how you create those motion blurs of light in freeways at night, or smoky light trails from fire.

These are just the basics I have learned. If I have explained it incorrect or something is wrong, let me know! Photography is a fun hobby and living in Los Angeles, there are so many events and things to do, that having a decent digital camera is always a good thing to carry around. It is not as convenient to carry as a smartphone but you have much more control of how your picture comes out with on a digital SLR.

Here are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken so far! These were taken at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. My shots are still a work in process but I can see this becoming a long term hobby!

micro plants

micro plants2Accord


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Dir En Grey – The Mayan 2015

I listen to a large variety of Music, ranging from KPOP and EDM to death metal. Why? I love music and appreciate all the different genres musicians create. In high school, I had discovered a Japanese band that went by the name of Dir En Grey. The first song and music video I heard from them was called “The Final.” This song contains a very mellow tone and combines both clean and screaming vocals. After hearing this song and a few of their other tracks, Dir En Grey instantly became one of my favorite bands.

Fast forward to the present, I recently got a chance to see my favorite band in action. On November 5, 2015 they were at the Mayan theatre located next to Belasco. The Mayan is a beautiful theatre with tribal themes to the architecture that spans throughout the walls and ceiling. It is small venue but it is enough allow the band to thrive and do what they do best– instill thrill and excitement.

The show began around 9:10pm where the band, one by one, walked onto the stage. The crowd lit up as the members brisked over to their respective instruments. The last member to come out was the lead vocalist, Kyo. Draped in white robes and black scarf, Kyo emitted a demonic and evil presence to all those around him.

Dir En Grey - The Mayan 2015

The crowd erupted into a ferocious cheer.

Many who have been to a Dir En Grey show say their performances are dynamic, full of energy and emotion. The high range of Kyo’s voice is legendary in the genre. His screams can become deafening sharp and his singing can become bone chilling. You can tell that Kyo gets deep into every song and portrays it through his emotional storytelling.

Dir En Grey starts off their performance with “and Zero,” a melodic instrumental that sets off an anticipation to the rest of their songs. “Behind a vacant image” continues the mellow mood but that all changes once Kyo begins his act. Kyo’s voice starts off slow but quickly explodes into shrieking wail. With the pounding of Shinya’s drums and the thunderous bass of Toshiya backing Kyo’s voice, the audience has been sent to a hypnotizing, headbanging trance.

The performance slows down at end of “Saku” where it is followed up with the beginning of one of the band’s most powerful songs, “TOUSEI.” Dir En Grey has strayed from writing mellow, ballad songs but “TOUSEI” brings to the act a mixture of emotions where the audience cannot help but feel the grief and despair in Kyo’s voice.

Dir En Grey continues the set with one of their single’s tracks “VINUSHKA,” which picks the pace back up to what it was before. A 10 minute storytelling filled with screeching, growling and low humming of Kyo’s vocals, the crowd is alive again and continues for the rest of the set.

As someone who has been listening to Dir En Grey since their Withering to Death album, I was very satisfied with what I saw and heard. They have come a long way since their Visual Kei days but their changes are unlike other bands where their changes feel more like a necessity in the story’s they try to tell. While they did not play as many of their old songs as I would have liked, they played enough of their bread and butter tracks that still built in to the nostalgia factor.

Setlist:

  1. and Zero
  2. Behind a vacant image
  3. Sustain the untruth
  4. OBSCURE
  5. HAGESHISA TO, KONO MUNE NO NAKA DE KARAMITSUITA SHAKUNETSU NO YAMI
  6. Merciless Cult
  7. -Saku-
  8. TOUSEI
  9. VINUSHKA
  10. Cause of fickleness
  11. Revelation of mankind
  12. UROKO
  13. THE FINAL

Encore:

  1. The IIID EMPIRE
  2. C
  3. UN DEUX


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Knott’s Scary Farm

As someone who has avoided scary things like the plague, 2015 was a year of facing new challenges with scary stuff being one of them. I watched a few scary movies and they were indeed, quite frightening. After a few movies, I realized that I wanted to test myself. Let’s go to a haunted house!

So once it was decided to go to a haunted house. I needed to decide which haunted house I wanted to go to. I did not want to go to a crazy one that will give me a heart attack but I also did not want to go to one that was too tame. Eventually it was decided to go to Knott’s Scary Farm.

As I was about to get through the ticket booths, there was a lady dressed as a witch, scaring people. Being my first time, I was pretty creeped out by what I saw. Once I went in, there were many people in costumes sneaking up and scaring people. Some of costumes were themed after the Seven Sins and some of them actually looked pretty cool.

I, being a coward, spent the first 20-30 minutes on a lookout for anyone trying to sneak up on me. Every actor walked right passed me and did not bother trying to scare me. I felt kind of disappointed. I was there to be scared but I was simply too alert to have any fun in the open.

Once the gates opened to allow people into the haunted house’s, first thing I did was go grab the Special OPS: Infected tickets. These tickets gave me a scheduled time to show up to play a live action shooting game against zombies.

After I got my tickets, it was time to go to the haunted mazes. Since I did not write this post right after the event, my memory is a little bit foggy so I will just list the ones I found most entertaining.

The Dead of Winter – This maze is based on the movie Frozen and features a hall of mirrors you that you need to walk through. This was definitely one of my favorite mazes from Knott’s Scary Farm. While it was not that frightening, the mirrors open up a lot of possibilities for a very frightening experience. Some things I would try to improve would be to incorporate more ideas involving the mirrors and make the maze a lot longer.

My Bloody Clementine – Long lines, long lines, long lines. Unless you go early, there huge lines everywhere at Knott’s Scary Farm. Fortunately after all that standing around, you can finally relax your feet a little. My Bloody Clementine features a train ride through underground mines where demons and spirits lurk. As you expect, during the train ride, you will see a lot of ghouls and unsightly beings prowling around. Things will pop out from the walls as you go through and surprise you if you are not paying attention.

Special Ops-Infected-Patient Zero – This one was not really a maze but it was fun nonetheless. This is a video style game where your commander tells the audience to separate into different groups before embarking in a survival game with laser rifles. You run through the maze with the goal of reaching checkpoints and finding Patient Zero; in which you win the game. The game is not too difficult but gives you a nice thrill of re-enacting a video game style survival game. You can still get hurt and die if you allow the zombies to get too close to you but you can kill them through head shots. I am not quite sure if you can lose the game since a few of our members died in the run but we still won. There is a checkpoint where you are given an artifact that you need to bring to the end of the course. That may be what decides the outcome of the game. Overall it was a fun attraction and would recommend to anyone that wants to play an entertaining game of zombie survival.

Ghost Town Streets – This was not a maze but it might as well be. The entire street becomes engulfed in a fog of smoke and you will not be able to see much past a few feet. This part was actually really entertaining since it is so difficult to see what is going to sneak up on you.

Overall, I think Knott’s Scary Farm is a fun attraction to go to with both family and friends. It is PG enough where parents can take their kids and will not severely traumatized them for life. If you have never been to a haunted maze, I think that going here would be a very nice beginner’s experience. If you are used to horror attractions and watch a lot of scary movies, this would probably feel like child’s play.