Anime Expo 2018: Everything You Need To Know About AX And Its 100,000 Fans Heading To DTLA

Anime Expo masquerade
Cosplayers perform in the masquerade at Anime Expo 2013. (Photo courtesy Anime Expo)

Anime is hugely influential on American filmmaking, but the genre itself still retains more of a cult vibe. Well, more than 100,000 of those disciples will be converging on downtown Los Angeles later this week for Anime Expo 2018 (including the 1,700 volunteers it takes to make it possible).

It's an event that rivals Comic-Con in scale, with a much tighter focus. It kicks off with pre-show activities on the evening of the Fourth of July, before four full days of anime mania at the L.A. Convention Center.

It's lovingly known as AX for short, much like San Diego Comic-Con is SDCC. And also like Comic-Con, it's organized by a non-profit, which lets the event be a lot more about showing you cool stuff than just selling you cool stuff — though there's plenty of that too.

Ready for your power levels to go over 9,000? Let's do this!

What Is There To Do At Anime Expo?

You probably at least have some idea of what anime is (a style of Japanese animation), but may still have some questions about what exactly to expect. To help with that, Anime Expo put together this video recapping 2017's event:

It's a Mecca for anime fans, allowing them to be with other likeminded enthusiasts in person for a festival full of panels, concerts, gaming, art, and even premieres of brand new anime.

Cosplay is a huge part of Anime Expo, perhaps even moreso than your standard fan convention. Whether you want to rock some Goku or some classic Sailor Moon, take a peek at the AX cosplay scene here:

It's so central to the Anime Expo experience that the festival's How To Attend guide includes it specifically as a step in planning ahead, helping you to avoid any last-minute cosplay fail tears. They also have "Cosplay Senpai" — experienced cosplayers who help advise others, as well as promoting positivity and acceptance.

What Are The Must-Sees?

  • After spending your first day exploring, you can settle in with an evening welcome ceremony that includes performances from special guests.
  • With cosplay being such an AX go-to, you'll want to check out their epic masquerade. You'll see cosplayers embodying their characters, putting on a show for your entertainment.
  • They throw some epic concerts, with J-pop, J-rock, and more J-genres trying to blow your minds and get your heart pumping. On the downside, the headliners require that you buy an extra ticket on top of your existing Anime Expo badge — but they also have local bands for your enjoyment on the Community Stage and in their 21+ lounge.
  • If you want to sit down and laugh, you can check out the Late Comedy Showdown. They take comedy and turn it a bit cutthroat, setting comedians against each other in a Dragonball Z-like battle for your chortles.
  • Also going to the event's competitive nature is the Anime Music Video (AMV) Competition, with the best fan-made videos selected to blow your mind.
  • Being an anime fan also includes an appreciation of Japanese culture, so one of the key events is the fashion show. Check out what's trending across the Pacific.

How Do I Get Me Some Anime Expo?

Unlike Comic-Con, it's not an instant sellout — at least not this year. You can still pick up tickets online here.

And if this sounds amazing but you can't make speed lines down to the convention center, don't worry — there's an official livestream of key panels set to run through the entire event.


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