Nine Can't-Miss Events at Anime Expo

Anime Expo, Los Angeles’ largest celebration of Japanese pop culture, is expected to draw more than 100,000 people to the Convention Center on Thursday-Sunday, July 4-7. 

It’s time to dust off that crimson Edward Elric jacket or Goku’s iconic orange and blue karate gi. If you know what that means, then you’re likely already aware that anime experts, video game aficionados and passionate fans of Japanese pop culture will converge on Downtown Los Angeles this week for Anime Expo.

The annual event regularly draws more than 100,000 people from across the world to the Los Angeles Convention Center. This year it runs Thursday-Sunday, July 4-7. Single-day tickets are $70, with four-day passes running $120.

Anime Expo is a visual spectacle, with fans and cosplayers meeting their favorite anime creators, catching screenings, attending panel discussions, buying goods and more. Below, Los Angeles Downtown News runs down nine highlights.

Artist Alley

Every Day in Kentia Hall

One of the best parts of any anime or comic book convention is the gear that is available. Hundreds of artists, both pros and amateurs, will peddle their wares throughout the event. If you’re looking for that perfect original painting, sketch or screen print to hang in your apartment, or that hard-to-find T-shirt or hoodie, this is the place to grab it. Items run from a couple bucks for a thumbnail art piece to hundreds of dollars for that rare collectible.

After Hours Party

Every Day, 6 p.m./8:30 p.m./11 p.m. in Room 403A

You don’t have to leave the Convention Center after the regular day ends. Instead, you can catch the official After Hours parties hosted by comedian and convention veteran Steven D’Onofrio. The events will feature comedy performances, burlesque, interactive games and plenty of alcoholic drinks. It’s a 21-plus happening. There are three timeslots each night.

VIZ Media Official Panel

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. in Petree Hall

Anime juggernaut VIZ Media, responsible for big manga-to-anime transformations such as “Naruto,” “One-Punch Man” and “Sailor Moon,” will hold a panel discussion alongside Powerhouse Animation, the team behind Netflix’s popular “Castlevania” anime adaptation. Expect to hear some cutting-edge news on what’s next.

Diversity in Manga

Friday, 4 p.m. in Room 406 AB

As manga spreads across the globe, it’s becoming more important for readers of all ethnicities and genders to see themselves represented. TOKYOPOP, one of the world’s largest manga publishers, hosts a discussion on diversity in manga and what is being done to make it more inclusive.

Gundam 40th Anniversary Panel

Friday, 4:30 p.m. in Room 408 AB

“Mobile Suit Gundam,” the brand that popularized the mecha genre (think giant robots) in the U.S., is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a panel discussion. Take a look back at the ups and downs of the brand, and what Sunrise, the show’s creator and producer, has in store for the future of the legendary franchise. A raffle giveaway will conclude the panel.

Fashion Show

Friday, 12:30 p.m. in Petree Hall

Fashion is big business in Japan. Glimpse some of the upcoming trends in Japanese looks at the annual Anime Expo fashion show. More than 10 brands will show off items on the Convention Center catwalk. Some of the clothing will be for sale throughout the weekend in Kentia Hall, and there will be meet and greets with designers and guest models.

Masquerade

Saturday, 8 p.m. in Hall B

Always an Anime Expo highlight, this draws some of the most devoted and skilled cosplayers in the nation, who will compete for bragging rights and a sizeable cash prize. Teams of four will choreograph routines in which they pose, dance and sing. There are three different skill levels and winners will advance to represent the U.S. in the upcoming World Cosplay Summit (it is too a thing). Due to its popularity, tickets are required for Masquerade and run $5-$15.

How to Draw Manga and Portfolio Review

Saturday, 11:30 a.m. in 406 AB

Ever wanted to learn how to draw manga? Or do you want your work to be looked at by an expert? Stop by Room 406 AB where eigoMANGA creators will hold a tutorial on manga illustration and storytelling fundamentals.

Yoshihiro Ike: Anime Soundtrack World

Sunday, 12:30 p.m. in Hall B

One of Japan’s most prolific anime composers is holding his first concert outside of Japan. Known for crafting the soundtracks for shows including “Tiger and Bunny,” “Saint Seiya” and “Dororo,” Ike will perform a number of selections. Fifty musicians from Nashville and Los Angeles will join Ike for the afternoon, and the concert will feature a performance from koto harpist Mana Yoshinaga and shakuhachi flutist So Tanomura. Tickets start at $20.

Anime Expo runs July 4-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St. or anime-expo.org.

sean@downtownnews.com