For several years we’d been dreaming of going to Anime Expo in los Angeles. As avid anime fans we were always catching anime con’s and panels all over the country and hearing about Anime Expo as being the Mecca for all things Anime.
location: when you think Los Angeles, you think movie stars, Hollywood, millionaires and fancy restaurants. Well we did anyway. The truth is that all those things are really more happening in the suburbs and cities around Los Angeles not necessarily in los Angeles. The venue La Convention center is in downtown LA and the whole place is very cramped considering this is supposed to be one of the largest cities in America.
Lines: Before we went to AX, in conversation with other con goers we had learned that AX has the adorable nickname “Line Con”. We, having been to very large cons in the past, weren’t too worried. As seasoned con goers we had our strategies for working the most experience into the short con time frame with minimal waiting and nonsense.
AX however is a different animal, there’s a line for literally everything and literally all the time. Lines for the bathroom lines for concessions. Lines to get in and lines to get out of the building. Lines to stand places and lines to get in line for other things. Even vender booths had lines. One booth in particular that we always visit when we are at Phoenix Comicon (Now Phoenix Fan Fuzion), at AX had a line that was 90 minutes wait time. To make matters worse the had capped lines and the woman running the line wouldn’t let us into the line, she just kept plucking people out of the crowd from around us and putting them in line all while we were taking to her about being in the line. After years of vising panels and events and shopping with them we, at AX, were no longer goof enough for FAKKU!
Second class citizens: Some of the former play into this, the most infuriating and deplorable con against this con. Apparently, AX has tiered ticket. That not uncommon we have been to many cons which have specific package VIP tickets which include certain perks such as autographs, fan experience, con exclusive merch etc. Almost any con you go to has something like this anymore and unless you are there to see a specific panel or buy a particular collectable its not really a big deal.
AX however has a tier system that treats anyone with a ticket less than $400 like they should have just stayed home. Not select panels but all panels at all times have 2 lines the VIP ticket holders and the rest. The VIP lines are inside in the AC the rest wait outside in the heat. If the VIP ticket holders don’t fill the whole panel then they let how ever many seats are left be filled b6y the rest. There is a standing line of literally hundreds of people outside in the heat waiting the entire length of the panel for an opportunity that someone might leave. Basically the average joe who buys their $100 ticket is good enough to put money in to supporting the con and paying for venues guests and staff but not good enough to see any of it. Honestly, we were treated like second class citizens at AX.
Same ole venders: Getting back to the vender hall, honestly there wasn’t anything all that out of the ordinary. We were under the impression that it would be packed with all kinds of anime and Japanese/Asian culture and pop-culture venders that we would only see at a place like AX. Once again, we were disappointed to see that in fact it was about 95% comprised of the same venders we see at literally every con. All brandishing the same products we had seen time and time again. We actually went to AX directly from Amazing Las Vegas Comicon. That is a very small con held in Las Vegas where we met many of the venders we would be seeing at AX the following week. The only difference being of course we didn’t have to wait in line any of the other times wed seen the same shops.
Parking: Parking near the venue averages $30 a day and doesn’t even last all day and be ready to walk through some rough territory to get from your car to the venue itself. A very large portion of downtown is under construction and most of what’s not under construction should be. There is a large population of homeless people you might encounter on your trek and if you aren’t fond of the sent of hot urine you may opt to just Uber directly to the front door instead of driving yourself.
There you have it, one of the saddest articles I’ve ever had to write about a con experience and it was about the con I expected the most from. I mot going to guarantee you that you will have a bad time at AX, but I will say that you will likely find it not as good as you’d hoped and ultimately, like us, make the decision to not return.