「Anime Los Angeles 2017」
After its second year at the Ontario Convention Center (Ontario, California), how did this year’s ALA or Anime Los Angeles go?
After experiencing all that the venue and the surrounding area had to offer last year, I’m glad to see that not much has changed. While natives to California may still have some reservations about the convention moving into the Inland Empire, there’s definitely some nice benefits to having the convention in a much larger space that’s further out from the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles. From the (literally) fresher air to wide open spaces for relaxing or photography with food places and food trucks sprinkled in-between, it makes you really wonder what made the previous venue so special (it was the coziness, but that’s probably mixed in with nostalgia as well). Toss in the overall relaxed vibe that the convention exudes plus how friendly both the staff and the con-goers are and you have one hell of a convention that feels big but doesn’t feel cold.
If I had one complaint this year though, it sucked that the resting area and balcony on the side opposite of registration was closed. I remember that area being a great meeting area for finding people as well as getting some nice aerial shots of people in cosplay. Luckily it looks like it was just closed for construction and hopefully they’ll be open next year.
Just like last year there were ample places for you to stay for this convention. Ranging from $100 to $140 per night before taxes, there were hotels available to fit just about anyone’s needs. And while I unfortunately had to stay offsite for this year’s Anime Los Angeles, I did get around a bit and spent time in the Radisson, Holiday Inn, Double Tree, Azure, and Comfort Suites — none of which were disappointing and were all actually pretty nice (yes, even the Radisson was a bit better this year). If anything, I’d probably recommend shooting for the Comfort Suites if you were looking for a nice room and couldn’t land something at the Azure.
If you’re trying to be as close to the convention as possible though, the awards still go to the Radisson and Doubletree with the Azure following right behind. That said, everything else is within a 10 minute walk so you can’t really go wrong with any of them (except the Sheraton which because of streetlights which adds a few minutes to your travel time).
Parking is also easy to find even with so many people going to the convention. Unless you’re not staying at a hotel. God speed if you don’t know the secret areas to park in.
The Convention Itself
As I’ve said in all my previous posts about this convention, Anime Los Angeles is the convention you want to go to if you’re looking to have a fun time with a great group of people. Unlike another big convention that’s held somewhat nearby in July, what this one lacks in “industry” it makes up with character. From its staff to the participants, everything seems to have a sense of life oozing out of it. What’s nice though is over the years the convention has been slowly growing and since the move to the larger venue, the Dealer’s Hall and Artist Alley have become quite the spectacle. With over four rows of each for you to go through plus the random little things sticking out on the side it’s definitely not something I’d scoff at. Also, the air conditioning was working and it felt really refreshing to go into the place (I’m looking at your Anime Expo 2016).
When it comes to panels everything is roughly the same as before — if you find something that piques your interest you should be fine but don’t expect anything crazy or from “the industry”. Luckily, there was a lot more diversity this year and I even ended up attending a panel (which says something since I rarely do that, haha)!
Now, the part you’re probably all waiting for — how was the attendance? Overall, I think this year’s ALA felt a lot more packed than last year’s (which is a good thing). And while Friday and Sunday were a bit sparse on people, I wouldn’t say that the convention itself was “empty”. That said, Saturday’s attendance numbers were probably insane since I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people all packed both inside and outside the convention center.
The Press Room Staffers
Quick shout out to the two people who I saw a bunch when I was working in the press room. I wish I wrote down your names, but you (one was a polite girl and the other was a taller guy) two are the true heroes.
Also, thanks again for providing water since it was tough to get a hold of any outside since my luck was horrible and I seemed to always catch the water coolers empty.
Overall Impressions and Looking Ahead
Even after accounting for the growing pains that I’m sure the convention is feeling, it felt like the staff and people in charge learned a lot from their first year and improved on a lot. The people at the convention itself were great and I’ll probably never get over just how nice everyone is. The Dealers Hall and the Artist Alley look like they’re thriving and I’m glad the area they’re in is nice and cool. The options for where to stay are on point and the surrounding area provides ample choices for food and drink within a reasonable walking distance.
Overall, I think this year’s convention was honestly super fun and successful and I can’t wait to see how things go from here!
P.S. If you were there, maybe you saw me as Luffy (OG Luffy) trudging around with my camera haha.