Animé Los Angeles 2012: The Changing Face of the Anime Convention Community
See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's slideshow, "Anime Los Angeles 2012."
I've been to Animé Los Angeles five times now. For my first three years, I visited ALA as a regular attendee (unlike many other conventions, they don't offer press passes). But, for the past two years, I've attended as a panelist. For ALA 8, which took place last weekend at the LAX Marriott, I organized the panel, "Shibuya-Kei and Japanese Indie Music," featuring Tune in Tokyo DJs Greg Hignight and Del Martin, as well as musician Tommy Pedrini (Cats on Mars).
There's a reason why I keep going back to ALA and why I seem to get more involved with it each year. ALA manages to stay under the radar of many in the convention world, perhaps because of the lack of press passes, but it is growing steadily. The convention program notes that the first ALA, back in 2005, had 616 members. These days, ALA draws more than 3,000 members.
But, ALA isn't just growing in size. It's members are maturing too.
"It was more personal, that's what I like about it," he says of the convention. "It felt like you knew everybody."
Now, at 24, the L.A. area musician continues to attend the convention, but his interests have changed.
"I used to go to the dealer's hall and spend tons of money," he says. "I used to be into Gundam models."
These days, he goes mostly to see friends and check out the late-night hotel room parties.
Though it's not quite Dragon*Con, ALA has become a party con in its own right. For most of Saturday, the pool area looked more like a rave with dance music blasting from at least one hotel room. (Shockingly, I didn't hear any dubstep.) At night, after the youngsters and their chaperones left, the hotel came alive as people shouted out the room numbers of the best parties. Certainly, there are those who come to ALA just for the parties. There were plenty of people at the hotel who went without badges, meaning that they couldn't actually check out the show floor or any of the panels and official events.