Anime Expo 2014 has just concluded and WOW, what a year it was. This con has been getting bigger and bigger each year. That’s great… up until a point and that point seems to be now. Parking on Saturday was atrocious. Just getting off the freeway took almost 40 minutes. Finding parking was a chaotic free for all. Drivers ran red lights, blocked intersections, created a symphony of honking, and came pretty dang close to causing an accident. Then there was the southern California summer heat. The pre-registration line was over two hours waiting on day one. The con staff did their best to manage the lines and the wait by passing out water and setting up shade, but something seriously needs to change about the wait to get badges.
As always, the convention draws some of the best cosplayers, both local and international. But even the best of cosplayers get tired and need a break to repair their costumes. Riot stepped up as the awesome company that they are and set up a “cospitality” station in the entertainment hall. This area featured tables and chairs for cosplayers to rest, free water to rehydrate, and supplies available to repair. They had everything from pins to paint to hot glue and nail polish. It was pretty much cosplayer heaven! Better yet, the Riot was giving out skins, lanyards, and pins.
Another fun feature for cosplayers are the sets of various environments available to use for free. While the sets themselves are a great, the staff are not. The people who donate the sets are very particular about the layout. Every detail has to remain exactly how they arranged it. The staff are there to enforce this, which is fine, but the manner in which they did so was extremely rude. What would really improve this area (aside from some manners) would be clearly defined lines for people to wait in to use the sets. Often times cosplayers and their photographers will mass together and slowly shuffle forward until they reach the set. A little more organization would go a long way.
The exhibit hall features the standard paraphernalia available at most other conventions. Many of the booths sell the same items, for varying prices. If you find something cool at one booth, be sure to look around and compare prices. I saw the DC Variant sculptures at 5+ booths with more than a 30 dollar range between the prices. Also, if you are here to buy stuff, hold off on buying the expensive items until Sunday. The staff are more open to haggling and would much rather sell to you than drag the unsold merchandise back with them.