On January 28th-31st, 2016, Anime Los Angeles moved from their longtime Los Angeles home to Ontario, CA. They went from having their convention at hotel venues to taking over the Ontario Convention Center and the Radisson Ontario Airport Hotel. I had previously wanted to attend prior editions of Anime LA, but they kept getting packed to capacity. They realized that they had outgrown their venue, so they had to expand. It would be my first time attending this event. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding ALA, so I had to see what this event was all about.
I previously had visited the Ontario Convention Center when I attended So Cal Regionals a few months prior to Anime Los Angeles. I already had some fond memories at that venue and looked forward to making more.
I felt that this event was like a So Cal version of FanimeCon. The reason why I felt that way is that it’s a fan run event with very minimum support from the industry. All the panels, events, gatherings, and more were from attendees. Another reason why I felt it is like FanimeCon is because it’s an event where loitering and hanging out is the main attraction. ALA isn’t known for panels, workshops, and events where it’s worth traveling to like an AX. The next reason was that the majority of the events were at the convention center while a few of them spilled over to the Radisson. Finally, the fourth reason why it feels like a So Cal version is because it is known for the late night parties. I was unable to attend their after hours partying session due to needing rest because I had to drive, but from what I saw, it was full of hype and energy.
I absolutely loved the console gaming tournaments. I came in 1st in Dead or Alive 5 (vanilla), 3rd in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and 4th in Ultra Street Fighter IV. By doing well in these tournaments, they gave out redemption points sort of like at arcades where you win tickets. Whenever you accumulate enough points, you can redeem them for prizes. I ended up getting a few t-shirts to give to some of my friends.
The table top gaming was in my opinion, a lot more low key. It was in a smaller room, and I ended up getting knocked out of the Weiss Schwarz tournament faster than anticipated. It worked out well for me as it allowed me enter the Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament.
I had only attended one gathering, and it was the Love Live gathering as I was cosplaying as Hanayo Koizumi. It was fun meeting all the So Cal Love Live cosplayers. The character that I felt was the MVP of the gathering was another Hanayo Koizumi as an orange. You would need to watch the anime to get the reference. She was so adorable and inspired me to one day want to do that cosplay.
A concept I felt that Anime Los Angeles has over any other anime con I had attended up to that point was their ribbon collecting. It was pretty much like an achievement award for thrusting yourself into the convention action. There were so many ways to achieve ribbons. I only received ribbons for attending the Love Live gathering and winning a console gaming tournament. There were people that had ribbons that reached several yards deep.
I did enjoy my time there despite the rainy weather which caused some of the gatherings to be adjusted accordingly. I saw that everyone had a great time. One of the highlights was making new friends that I hope I’ll see at future events and reuniting with old ones to create brand new memories. There were some events where we had some hiccups, but looking back now, it is totally funny. I look forward to attending this convention in the future.
Written by: Timtastic