Thursday, July 9, 2015

Before / During / After the Anime Expo

Since Anime Expo usually coincides with the July 4th weekend, it's been years since I've been able to go due to other holiday plans with friends & family (let's just say the last AX I went to was before its current home at the LA Convention Center.) But since this year's long weekend was relatively free of events, I snatched up a ticket and braced myself for a day of serious anime & manga nerding out.  Yes, I only got a one-day pass as opposed to the standard four-day weekender; I figured after a many years hiatus I'm better off easing myself back into this.
Grand Central Market Breakfast
To properly nourish myself before the Friday expo, I headed to Grand Central Market, where I skipped the weekend silliness of Eggslut and opted for lox on an everything bagel at Wexler's Deli with an iced almond-macadamia milk latte from G&B coffee. And it made for a divine breakfast - the translucent, silky pieces of salmon were perfectly highlighted, but not upstaged, by the lightly-pickled onions, puckery bits of capers and the perfect amount of cream cheese. Likewise, my latte was just sweet enough to show off the nut milks' natural flavors.

After the satisfying meal, I did a little urbanhike tos the convention center, where throngs of fans were already waiting for the doors to open. Just like the AX I remembered from years past... but larger.
Anime Expo collage
Some other AX observations from this old-school otaku:

1. The event is a lot more corporate than I remembered; I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since bigger events require more sponsorships and partnerships to support. But yeah, everywhere you turn there's a gonna be a logo or promo booth in your face.

2. AX represents a lot more than just anime & manga, given the diversity of events throughout the expo. Some made sense, like Japanese culture panels and video games (oh yeah, I really loved the Street Fighter V beta test), but there's also tabletop games, comedy workshops and Magic: The Gathering tournaments.

3. Now that anime watching is more readily accessible w all the streaming sites available (compared to the ancient days of copying & mailing fansubbed VHS tapes), the non-premier anime screening rooms are more like rest stops for attendees between other events as opposed to must-watch for newly subbed/dubbed series. But it's still a good op to check out some series I might not have given a second glance on a streaming menu. And now adding Corpse Princess and Hikaru no Go to my queue of to-watches.

4. My preferred spot of respite - the manga lounge. So nice to read all I want to in a quiet setting, alas others have caught on later in the day -- leading to a half-hour line to get in.

5. The lines & events being full an hour ahead of time. Unless you have a Premier Fan pass, then shorter lines. Thankfully, I didn't have any must-attend sessions on my schedule.
Anime Expo cosplayers
6. And of course, the cosplaying — which is getting ever more elaborate (they even have a weapons booth to check & label safe weapons). Yes, I saw a lot of selfies but that actually didn't bother me much, since those existed long before the smartphone.

7. The explosion of AMVs (Anime Music Videos) — in both quantity and quality. There's a whole room devoted to it & a competition too.

As for the food at AX... I don't know because I didn't try. Even though there is a food truck invasion at a nearby parking lot, the lines looked pretty ridiculous throughout the hot summer day. I instead opted for an early dinner at Broken Spanish, which started off with …
Green Garden cocktail @ Broken Spanish
a refreshing Green Garden w Tequila Arette blanco, lemon, ginger & their green juice mix. I loved the detox-retox concept of this cocktail ~ very LA.
Broken Spanish Food & Drinks
This was followed up with a light supper of their lamb neck & king oyster tamale, which was comforting and elegant at the same time, and an amazing mango panna cotta with habanero caramel and cayenne meringues. The sweet-sour-spicy combination of this dessert was made even better by the cocktail made w Bourbon, Ancho Reyes liqueur & tamarind, which echoed those same flavors.

After the meal, I went back to attend a few more events & some screenings, then took the long Metro ride home (where I encountered & chatted with more AX'ers, including the Link in the above photo.) Overall, it was nice to re-embrace my inner otaku and re-ignite my spark to watch & read more in the coming months.

Wexler's Deli
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

G&B Coffee
317 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(626) 716-0705

Broken Spanish
1050 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 749-1460

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