We attended our first Anime convention this year called Anime Los Angeles at the Marriott Hotel, which is right down the street from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). To our surprise, this small convention was quite entertaining and very well organized. Although this convention was hosted at a hotel, the Marriott Hotel provided more than enough room for everybody and almost everything.
If you guys do not know what Anime Los Angeles is, you can check out our previous event post or their website but in short, ALA (known by fans and attendees) is a yearly Anime Convention that starts on the first weekend of January for 3 days. They have all the perks of a convention such as concerts, panels, shopping, artist alley, cosplay and more but at a smaller scale.
The hotel had two levels, the lobby on the top level and the convention on the bottom level that was split in two areas, the events, panels, concerts on one side and the gatherings and other miscellaneous events on the opposite side. In order to get from one side to the next, everyone would have to go up to the lobby area and back down. There might have been other ways to get around but we didn’t seem to find it and just followed the crowd of convention goers.
What was nice and surprising about ALA was that the convention halls were decorated with posters of regular con-goers, so many people would see themselves posted on the walls. Also there were fan girl/boy restroom plates, bean bags for the sleepy, Anime painted benches, and cold refreshing tap water in every hallway for the thirsty. Also ALA has a PARENT’S LOUNGE!.. Yes, a place for parents who feel too weirded out by all the Anime and cosplay. They can enjoy themselves in the parents lounge with free Wi-fi! What a great way to entertain the parents while the kids roam around.
The Events & Halls
Panels, events, and showing had their own designated rooms with plenty of seating. Also the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley was in two separate rooms and was fairly spaced providing enough walk areas for everybody. Not as large as some conventions but decently sized. All of the main events had enough seating for everybody and were not overcrowded like many other conventions (maybe because there were not any big known names) and you do not have crowds running from one end to the next for autographs.
ALA had the usual panels like showings, concerts, nothing really out of the ordinary except the self defense panel where you get to learn how to defend yourself against different types of weapons and attacks (Panel: Anime Martial Arts for the Real World).
The masquerade was one of the main events that we found very enjoyable and entertaining. All of the contestants of the masquerade put on an extremely awesome show for everybody.
Specials and Perks
What was special about Anime Los Angeles? For photographers and cosplayers alike, the gatherings was outside in the patio area with terrific background settings and atmosphere. In addition, the bottom floor in the front of the hotel, provided an awesome area for photography as well.
For photography, ALA provided a room with backdrop setups for cosplayers and photographers to use to do photo shoots; and anybody could use that room for photography. We thought that was pretty awesome because not many cons we know provide this.
With the patio area, there was a swimming pool AND a jacuzzi for the people that wanted to stay warm, or rather stay freezing and many did decide to take advantage of this.
In the same area, for the hungry and the dedicated attendees that tend to forget to eat, the Con Suite provided a snack/lunch area where they provided FREE drinks, snacks, sandwiches and other food items for all attendees!
Lastly, what we thought was pretty cool was that ALA provide a little game for all attendees. Everyone could go around collecting different ribbons from different people, vendors or artist by either asking, doing something, let someone do something to you or giving out a secret password. Now the only way to find out where to get the ribbons is by asking people who got them. many people had over 20 ribbons dangling from their badge (too bad I do not have a picture of this).
The Let Down
I should have mentioned the bad before hand but there was not that many that we encountered. First off, the parking was ridiculously priced at the hotel, if you parked a block down it was half the price; unfortunately, we did not see any parking validation at the hotel for the convention. Also there was limited parking at the hotel, so if you did not arrive early you would had to park a block down anyways.
Due to a slight miscommunication with the hotel coordinator the masquerade started almost two hours behind schedule because there was not enough seating and they had to bring in more chairs. Also, the masquerade did not end until close to midnight or later because the judges handed out a few hundred awards and we could not stay until the end for all the awards.
With the concerts, the audio sound was perfect but there wasn’t much lighting effects that made the concert feel like a concert. The room was way too lit and you did not get the same feel as you would at an actual concert. Maybe they should have used the main ballroom where the masquerade was. Also, there wasn’t any famous artist this year compared to last, we were hoping for big names to show up and a lot of the local names could not make it as well.
Lastly, almost forgot to mentioned the usual con-funk, (don’t know what Con funk is? Stay tune for our article!) but there was still some con funk lurking around the hallways which was pretty disturbing. I believe they need a con-funk patrol at these conventions.
Other than that, we thought Anime Los Angeles put on an awesome convention, very well organized, extremely friendly people and staff and we are definitely looking forward to attending again next and doing more converge. If you have never attended ALA, please do and for more information check out their website. Check out some of our pictures below.