According to the official website, the tickets have been sold out, "making this our biggest event ever", and “all onsite and online registration for AX 2014 is now closed.” (Source: anime-export.org)
Extremely long lines of fans, or otaku (Japanese for 'fanboy' usually referring to fans of anime and manga), were seen wrapping all around the LA Convention Center building this past Saturday, and there appears to be little doubt that this year's Anime Expo has been the biggest one so far.
The LA Convention Center lobby appeared to be filled to capacity, making it difficult for many to move around. Tons of fans, many in loud costumes and sailor suits, filled the lobbies, exhibit halls, screenings, and panels. As a result, security guards checked for people's badges at the entrance of the lobby as opposed to just at the entrance of the Exhibit Hall.
This year, Anime Expo also opened up an Entertainment Hall, which showcased video games and LAN parties, as well as autograph sessions and photo opportunities with various backgrounds.
"Anime Expo has been huge this year. I think the crowd must've doubled or tripled compared to last year. This is steadily becoming as big as San Diego Comic Con, even in a negative sense." said one of the attendees waiting at a Big Daddy's BBQ food truck line.
Some of the complaints about San Diego Comic Con, the biggest Comic Book Convention in the U.S., has been the fact that it has been constantly overcrowded and that the tickets have always sold out. As anime and manga move closer and closer to the mainstream, this could be something one may just have to accept.
"On Thursday, there was an incident when this girl nearly got trampled over as tons of people rushed in to get into Sword Art Online," said Wally, one of three friends who came from San Jose to attend the event. "It was insane. I had to take her to the First Aid office to make sure she was okay. It could've been a lot worse."
"People can get pretty passionate about their stuff--especially, for the limited giveaways," said Bruce, one of the three friends. " I think such incidents could've been avoided had things were organized a bit better, or if there were better communication among people and the staff.
As Anime Expo continues to grow, organizing such a huge event, staffed by mostly all volunteers, may increasingly be a difficult one.
Admittedly, one of the more colorful elements that separate Anime Expo from Comic Con is the variety (or extreme variety) of intricately designed costumes of cosplayers (as opposed to the common "superhero" spandex). Cosplayers, short for "costume players," often consist of fans who make their own costumes and accessories to match the characters they are emulating.
"There have been a lot of amazing cosplays this year. They did a great job," added Wally.
Some of these fans have moved on to do cosplay professionally such as Tara and Doremi of Korea's Spiral Cats team, who are scheduled to appear live on a panel on Sunday. Often called Korea's Queen of Cosplay, Tara has used cosplay to advertise for Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and various popular video games.
For more information about Anime Expo, various Guests of Honor, and live panels, check out their official website.
For those who may have a hard time finding parking, public transportation is recommended. LA Convention Center is a block away from Metrorail's Red Line.