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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.

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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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Spicy Greatness in Alhambra, CA

One of the things that I do not eat enough of is spicy food. Maybe it is because I am secretly a wimp when it comes to food that burns my tongue and my entire mouth,  but I do enjoy it from time to time. In order to keep my spicy tolerance from depleting to zero, I decided to try out a restaurant located on the west side of San Gabriel Valley, in the city of Alhambra, a little place called Szechuan Impression.

Szechuan Impression Building

Pay attention as you are driving down Valley Boulevard, because this small little shop might be overlooked if you are not aware of it’s existence. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, the building itself is a relatively modern design with outdoor seating available. This provides a nice attraction for younger customers who can enjoy a fresh outdoor experience.

The interior also emits a modern minimal atmosphere which feels similar to a cafe. With faux leather seats on the side walls and simple tables spread throughout the restaurant, it provides for a nice family dinner or a Sunday afternoon lunch.

The service is not terrible but it is what you can expect from a Chinese restaurant. The waiters and waitresses will not make too much small talk with you but you can be sure that they will get what you need as quickly as possible. Water constantly refilled and promptly served food is what you can expect as you dine.

Their menu consists of primarily spicy foods, as that is what the Szechuan province in China is known for. During this dining, I ordered some of their most popular menu items which include the Impressive Bean Jelly, Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar and the Steamed Taro Chicken Pot.

Impressive Bean JellyImpressive Bean Jelly

This cold noodle is one of the best cold noodle’s I have had. The jelly noodles are an amazing mixture of cold and spicy which makes you wanting more. It is not too spicy but enough where you can still feel a kick to your taste buds. The cold noodle helps counteract the spices and makes it a must try experience if this is your first time at the restaurant.

 

 

Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar

Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar Picture

Another popular item on the menu, this dessert adds a very unique twist to the classic rice cakes. As if fried food is not addicting enough, they have added a black sugar sauce to these rice cakes which can make the entire plate disappear within minutes. The texture contains a thin layer of crunchiness which quickly turns into mouth watering, soft interior similar to that of mochi.

 

Steamed Taro Chicken Pot

Steamed Taro with Chicken PotFor the entree, I ordered a Steamed Taro Chicken Pot, which is, like the name suggests, a giant hot-pot with chicken and steamed taro. I opted for medium spiciness, which in all honestly, felt much spicier than it was. As I was eating, I could find what I assume are the seeds from the peppers they added to make the spicy soup. This was hot, not going to lie. My mouth began to feel a bit numb and I could not imagine how much spicier the higher levels would be. The cut up taro and the chicken were delicious and when eaten with a bowl of rice, helps tone down the spice a little bit.

As I mentioned before, I do not eat too much spicy foods but this was still a good impression. My mouth was not burning to death, but I did have a few drops of sweat. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was pleasant and the restaurant does everything it can do that sets it apart from many traditional Chinese restaurants. It will be great for families and can still draw in the younger, hipper crowds.

Do you like spicy foods? Share your experiences!

-Gary

Credits:

  1. http://gastronomyblog.com/2014/08/26/szechuan-impression/


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The Rain Room at LACMA

Rain Room

LACMA: The Rain Room

The famous Rain Room has arrival in LA and is located in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, abbreviated LACMA. The concept of the Rain Room is a dark filled room with water raining down from the ceiling.

You are telling yourself, “So what?”. Take a step into the rain, and you will quickly realize that you are not getting wet. Take a few more steps. You are now in the middle of the rain but you are still not drenched in water.

This is the main attraction of this room. There are sensors that can detect when you step into the rain and will keep the rain from hitting you as you slowly walk through the platform. I emphasize slowly because if you decide to run through at full speed, the sensors will not react quickly enough and you are not going to be happy about the results.

The Rain Room is a fun attraction to see but the downside is that it is a little pricey if that is the only thing you are there for. Do not be surprised when you find out that you are only allowed to walk through and enjoy the room for daunting 5 minutes. While it is a little bit short, it is still enough time for you exercise all your creativity and take cool silhouette shots from the large light in the back corner of the room. 

Rain Room tickets cost $15 plus another $15 general admission fee, making it a total of $30. To top it off, if you choose to park in the garage, that is another $12.

The Urban Lights LACMA

In order to make your trip worth it, be sure to check out all the art galleries in the surrounding area, especially if you have never been to LACMA before. Another attraction is the famous Urban Lights right next to the ticket booth which has been featured in a lot of pop culture movies. There is a lot of other interesting arts in the the different buildings and it will be a fun way to spend the next few hours of your day!

Interested in the Rain Room? Tickets are limited and I believe will be going away early next year. Click the link below for more information!

LACMA: The Rain Room

5905 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles CA 90036

-Gary


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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.

 


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Anime Expo 2015

AX_2015_League_of_Legends_Cosplay
July 2015 was the third Anime Expo event in a row I’ve been to. Having fun and spending time with friends and family make the event so much more enjoyable. However, for everyone out there who is deciding to attend the event in the future, here are some tips on how to prepare and save some money.

1. Buy Your Tickets Early

    Tickets to the convention usually go on sale around Black Friday and are usually around half price at the time. I really screwed up this year and couldn’t decide if I wanted to go until the very last-minute. Instead of paying $50 for a 4-day pass, I ended up paying around $85.

2. Parking/Hotel

    Another money-saving tactic is planning out how you’re going to get there.
          For Locals – I recommend going early and trying to find street parking if possible behind the convention center. Cheaper to suck it up and walk a few blocks than pay $20 for parking everyday.
          Non-Locals – If you are flying in, I would see if you have any friends that live in the area and try to live there for a few days rather than book a hotel. If that’s not possible, the event is usually partnered with a number of nearby hotels where you can get free shuttle service to the event and event discounts. You will need to book these early since space is limited and thousands of attendees will also be trying to find living spaces.

3. Food/Water/Power

          Don’t die people. Prepare your meals accordingly. There are food trucks and nearby restaurants in LA Live for you to get your meals. Lines can be long and tiring so keeping a bag full of snacks to munch on will keep you from starving.
         Bringing water is a no-brainer. You will be sitting in the blazing summer all day and if you don’t keep yourself hydrated, you’re in for a real bad time.
          Those long lines where you are starving and burning sun mean you are probably going to be spending a good portion of that time on your electronic devices. Having a power bank handy will save a lot of headache. It’s not going to be fun when you get that ‘15% battery remaining’ notification and realize that you don’t have a power bank or charger handy with you.

4. Plan out your Panels/Events

          You aren’t going to have time for every single event during the expo. Keep an eye out on the schedule release and look at it as soon as you can. Pick out all the events that you want to go to and set a buffer time for waiting and getting in line. Planning ahead will ensure that you make the most of your time the 4 days you are there.
I plan to go continue attending Anime Expo in the future and these are some of the ways that I plan to save my cash. Unless you have a lot of expendable income laying around, plan ahead people.