With the New Year comes the start of con season. One of the best ways to start the New Year is by taking a visit to the lovely Los Angeles to catch ALA (Anime Los Angeles). Held at the LAX Marriott, its location was not only convenient, but impressive. It has a reputation, and even a nickname of being the “pool con.” The gorgeous pool has a river where you can take pictures of some of the best cosplayers in the scene.
Anime Los Angeles is a convention where you feel at home. The con takes every effort in listening to attendees’ ideas and even criticisms to add/remove items that will make the con more enjoyable for you. As you walk into the convention there are several largely printed signs accompanied with humor to help you navigate around the hotel. If layout gets a bit confusing, there are volunteers to help you find your way.
Beanbag chairs line the walls of the halls where you can relax. You are encouraged to hang out while talking to new people you have never met. Even the con chair Chaz sets up a couch near the information booth where you can chat with him about your experience at the convention. He loves listening to new ideas and even answers any questions you may have.
ALA definitely had the regular programming you would expect such as the Masquerade, Maid Cafes, game rooms, Manga room, panels and even more. They really catered to attendees of all ages, even creating a parent’s lounge for parents of attendees 14 or younger to come and hang out in when their children are at the con. This encourages them to be more involved and let them meet other parents who may share the same interests or may have been dragged into the convention life. There are snacks provided to help hold them over when their kids just don’t want to leave a tournament quite yet. There is a con suite for all the attendees to help make sure they stay nourished. The con suite is opened from early in the morning to very late at night, giving you a place to grab a small helping of various foods. There were an array of sandwiches all the way to chips and soda. The staff kept you entertained leading in singalongs to give you a show.
Photos taken by Cherise Kellogg of Geek News Network. All rights reserved.
One of the top things that made this convention a bit different is ribbons. You can receive ribbons that hang off of your badge to symbolize your status in the convention, all the way to showing you are a specific fan. So many attendees became involved in ribbon collecting that they were searching for more time to collect them even in the last hours of the convention. At the end, there were some attendees who had 20 ribbons all the way to over 100 ribbons that were rolled and banded to keep them together. Some ribbons were earned by just answering trivia in the gamer room while others had you try something like a new card game that you may have never tried before. By handing out these ribbons, it gave attendees who may need a little incentive to remind them of why they got into conventions in the first place. When was the last time you really took time to check out the manga room and take a breather for just a few minutes? Not to mention some of the silly ones where you had to walk down the hall and pretend you were a zombie. It served as incentive to make people interact, to trade and really talk to someone you might have never talked to before. Creating friendships and even discovering people who share the same interest as you just by looking at your ribbons. This alone added an additional layer of depth and interest to the convention, ensuring that there was never a dull moment.
So if you are looking for a convention that makes you feel at home and brings back that magic that really made you want to attend conventions in the first place, then check out ALA. Capping at 4000 attendees, they are dedicated to keeping the convention small enough to make you feel like you are a family. There is something to do at all times of day, with panels going as late as 2am, which really helps keep everyone involved. Don’t forget to pre-register, because passes will not be available at the door. It is only thirty dollars until May 1st, and it is definitely worth the investment.