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Anime Los Angeles 2022

Fun in the California sun (and fog?)
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Animé Los Angeles is an anime and Japanese culture convention currently based in Long Beach, California. After taking a break in 2021 due to COVID, it returned in fine form for 2022. Attendance was good and the weather wasn't too bad either. So how did this year's convention stack up to the 2020 con?

Table of Contents

A Change of Venue

Anime Los Angeles, or ALA, was previously held at the Ontario Convention Center in 2020. Ontario is quite a bit further inland so it's warmer and sunnier than Long Beach. Long Beach is situated right along the coast and that comes with the coastal fog and overcast skies. Still, when the sun broke through it was nice and warm. January in much of America is cold and snowy, so it's a nice change for anyone flying in from out of state. Although neither Long Beach nor Ontario are technically in Los Angeles, the name of the convention is still appropriate since it did officially begin in Los Angeles. Conventions often move around to different venues as they grow and change. As I mentioned in my article about the 2020 event, the convention is somewhat nomadic. I suppose it had grown a little too large for the Ontario location and the next best place was the Long Beach Convention Center. The move is welcome since the new location is quite nice.
Attendees wait in line on a foggy, overcast, and slightly rainy morning.
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Attendees wait in line on a foggy, overcast, and slightly rainy morning.

The line for registration grew fairly long on Saturday morning.
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The line for registration grew fairly long on Saturday morning.

The Long Beach Convention Center is nestled in a retail shopping and dining destination, so there are plenty of places to eat and stay. There are regional attractions such as the historic Queen Mary ocean liner and the Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as the usual beach and water activities. All of these things are within walking distance of the convention center.
An overview of the convention center with the historic Queen Mary ocean liner in the background.
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An overview of the convention center with the historic Queen Mary ocean liner in the background.

Attendees fill the boardwalk and wait in line at the food trucks.
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Attendees fill the boardwalk and wait in line at the food trucks.

Along the exterior of the convention center is a long boardwalk that's great for hanging out and taking photos. There were food trucks lined up feeding hungry attendees all weekend as well as a pop-up COVID testing site. The interior of the convention center is well lit thanks to an end-to-end glass wall and light wall colors. Nearby is a really neat pathway called the Rainbow Bridge which has some nice landscaping and sweeping LED lights. Adjacent to the convention center is the Hyatt Regency hotel which offered discounted rates as part of the convention's room block.
An end-to-end glass wall lets in a lot of natural light.
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An end-to-end glass wall lets in a lot of natural light.

Light colored walls make the atmosphere feel bright and clean.
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Light colored walls make the atmosphere feel bright and clean.

The Hyatt Regency hotel is part of the Anime Los Angeles room block and is located right next to the convention center.
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The Hyatt Regency hotel is part of the Anime Los Angeles room block and is located right next to the convention center.

The Rainbow Bridge features a sweeping metal structure and modern landscaping.
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The Rainbow Bridge features a sweeping metal structure and modern landscaping.

At night the Rainbow Bridge glows different colors with LED lights in changing patterns.
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At night the Rainbow Bridge glows different colors with LED lights in changing patterns.

While not as large as the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Long Beach venue is plenty large enough for the current size of ALA. There was space to walk around without feeling too crowded and the large exhibit room had a lot of open floor space. I can imagine ALA moving to another venue as it continues to grow, but for now it's right-sized. The vendor hall and artist alley occupied one of the larger exhibit halls. It had a good number of booths with your average fare of anime merchandise. The adjacent exhibit hall had table top and e-gaming, a small concert stage, and anime themed Itasha cars.
The vendor hall and artist alley filled one large hall.
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The vendor hall and artist alley filled one large hall.

A small concert stage advertising a fellow anime event called Anifest.
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A small concert stage advertising a fellow anime event called Anifest.

Anime themed Itasha cars were on display in another hall.
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Anime themed Itasha cars were on display in another hall.

What Stands Out?

If you attend a lot of anime conventions you probably can list the events and activities that they all have in common. Panels, contests, concerts, a vendor hall and artist alley, gaming, etc. They can all start to blend together. Sometimes the only things that set them apart are the venue and cosplayers. Having attended anime conventions since 2008, I've learned that those are exactly the things that stand out to me. If you think about well-loved and well-attended conventions like Katsucon, you immediately think about the Gaylord National and all of the amazing cosplayers you saw there. For Dragon Con it's the Marriott Marquis and the crazy mashup cosplays. A convention like Anime Los Angeles doesn't quite have that distinction since it moves around to different venues. The Long Beach Convention Center is nice, but I only shot inside at carefully selected locations and used additional lighting. The boardwalk and Rainbow Bridge locations were my preferred shooting locations. The convention center is positioned so that the setting sun falls on the entire boardwalk side of the building, allowing for beautiful golden hour shots. Since I wasn't acting as press in an official manner for ALA I don't feel too bad for not checking out any of the panels or events. A quick glance at the nicely produced booklet shows events like an idol showcase, formal ball, AMV Contest, fashion show, Kpop battle, and Cosplay Deviants. The AMV contest stood out when I watched it at the 2020 event, but I didn't think to watch it this time. If there's one thing that stands out about ALA it's the ribbon game. This is one of a few of conventions where people make a concerted effort to design ribbons that are shared in various ways. Sometimes you have to play a game or answer a question to get one. Most of the time you have to randomly ask someone if they have a ribbon to give out because they don't just advertise it. That's part of the game. If you get a ribbon you attach it to your badge with the pre-applied double stick tape. I've seen trains of ribbons grow to great lengths by avid collectors.
This was a game to win a badge ribbon. If you voted on three different days, you won a ribbon.
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This was a game to win a badge ribbon. If you voted on three different days, you won a ribbon.

A long train of badge ribbons from the 2020 event.
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A long train of badge ribbons from the 2020 event.

ALA has a whole system around the ribbon game including a Ribbon Station where you can earn, repair, and even create ribbons on the spot. By participating in daily ribbon activities you can earn a special achievement ribbon as a reward.
Photos submitted by cosplayers and photographers were displayed all around the convention center.
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Photos submitted by cosplayers and photographers were displayed all around the convention center.

All around the convention center were poster sized photos of cosplayers. This was a program put together by ALA to offer cosplayers and photographers a chance to show off their work. This was a nice gesture and it really did decorate the convention center in a nice way. More information about this program can be found here. Aside from these special programs, ALA carries good memories for me. I've met many photographers at this particular convention and that's one of the best things about it - the opportunity to meet people with common interests. I'm sure you've also made friends at conventions like this and have memories that will last forever.

Effects of the Bug

You could say that Anime Los Angeles faired the pandemic relatively well. Since it's held in January the 2020 event happened without any issues. I distinctly remember that there wasn't even a hint of concern about COVID at that time. Just two months later we would enter fear mode and go into shutdown. There was no ALA in January of 2021. It's interesting to look back at the timeline of events to see how the situation around COVID was constantly changing. I was able to attend six convention in 2021, starting with ColossalCon in June. At that time things were starting to go back to normal. Mask requirements were dropping and we thought that perhaps we were coming out of the pandemic. By August masks were required again and the Omicron variant was starting to show up. I attended conventions through the fall and into December without any issues. Had ALA been held later in 2021 and if it wasn't in California, perhaps it wouldn't have missed a year. Missing one year isn't that bad though. Events like Sakura-Con in Seattle have missed two years.
ALA was serious about masks.
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ALA was serious about masks.

Mask and vaccines requirements for ALA 2022.
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Mask and vaccines requirements for ALA 2022.

On site COVID-19 testing was available.
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On site COVID-19 testing was available.

For the 2022 event ALA required masks and vaccines or a negative test within 72 hours. This was common for events at that time since the Omicron variant was so contagious and some people were very afraid of contracting COVID. The City of Los Angeles had in place a vaccine passport mandate which meant you couldn't eat at a restaurant unless you were vaccinated. Thankfully that wasn't the case in Long Beach. Attendees complied with wearing masks while indoors and many even wore them outdoors. Here we are just a few months later and mask mandates are dropping once again. The Omicron variant is still contagious, but it's not as deadly as other variants and case numbers are dropping. While I'm hopeful we will finally move back to normal, I know that things could still go sideways. I thought this same thing in June of 2020 and look what happened.

Getting There and Cost

If you are from the greater LA area the cost to attend Anime Los Angeles is minimal. It's just the price of registration, gas to drive there (public transit is also an option), parking, food, and whatever you feel like spending in the vendor hall and artist alley. You can easily attend for under $200 and maybe even under $100 if you're very frugal. If you are traveling from further away you're in luck. There are many airports in the region including LAX and the nearby Long Beach airport (LGB). Flights are plentiful and generally affordable. Hotels aren't too expensive and you have plenty of choices for food. If you're on the fence about going, consider what else there is to do in January 😄🥶. The warm-ish weather is enough of a reason to attend. My cost to attend was on par with or slightly more expensive than other conventions that I attend. As with most things these days, inflation is making it more expensive to attend conventions. I split a room with some fellow photographers and found some decently priced flights. I did spend a bit more for meals with friends, but that's money well spent. Keep in mind that this is a four day convention.
Cost
Flights $507.38
Transportation $27.11
Hotel $283.47
Meals $257.58
Registration $60.00
$1125.54

The Cosplayers

Anime Los Angeles draws a lot of great cosplayers. The West coast crowd is a little different than in other parts of the country. I see people at this convention who I don't see at cons in the midwest or eastern US. At the current size of ALA, I found it easy to have casual conversations and take the time to walk to a shooting location. There was plenty of space to shoot, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday when attendance was lower. Thanks to everyone who took the time to shoot with me.
Good Smile Company Racing
@2dmimi Super Sonico
@uwuamy Hatsune Miku
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Good Smile Company Racing @2dmimi Super Sonico @uwuamy Hatsune Miku

@undead_bedhead Nanami Kento from Jujutsu Kaizen
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@undead_bedhead Nanami Kento from Jujutsu Kaizen

Final Fantasy
@manaknight Cloud Strife
@taiyolux.cos Tifa
@prince.noir.bunny Yuffie Kisaragi
@roc_cosplay Vincent
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Final Fantasy @manaknight Cloud Strife @taiyolux.cos Tifa @prince.noir.bunny Yuffie Kisaragi @roc_cosplay Vincent

@katkwo4 Mona from Genshin Impact
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@katkwo4 Mona from Genshin Impact

@_chibi.bibi_ Taihou from Azur Lane
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@_chibi.bibi_ Taihou from Azur Lane

@nnnezumi Snow Bunny Miku
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@nnnezumi Snow Bunny Miku

@izz_cos Miraculous Ladybug
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@izz_cos Miraculous Ladybug

Zone-00
@eliot.cosplay Benten
@ferny_cosplay Mayoko Okino
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Zone-00 @eliot.cosplay Benten @ferny_cosplay Mayoko Okino

League of Legends
@boi.koy Jinx
@yokohama.xo Mel Medarda
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League of Legends @boi.koy Jinx @yokohama.xo Mel Medarda

@krissyvictoryy Samus
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@baka.kel Saturo Gojo from Jujutsu Kaizen
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@baka.kel Saturo Gojo from Jujutsu Kaizen

@steffvonschweetz_ Bon Clay from One Piece
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@steffvonschweetz_ Bon Clay from One Piece

@_jaegerb_ Zero Two from Darling in the Franxx
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@_jaegerb_ Zero Two from Darling in the Franxx

@amanda.toast Destiny from Takt op.destiny
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@amanda.toast Destiny from Takt op.destiny

@roxystuck Junko from Enoshima Danganronpa
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@roxystuck Junko from Enoshima Danganronpa

@thegirlwithagreatsmile Giratina Pokemon x Monster Hunter
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@thegirlwithagreatsmile Giratina Pokemon x Monster Hunter

@kirajelly
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@baka.kel Hange from Attack on Titan
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@baka.kel Hange from Attack on Titan

@radiojelly Yamato from One Piece
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@radiojelly Yamato from One Piece

@krissyvictoryy Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop
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@krissyvictoryy Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop

@thegirlwithagreatsmile Morumotto original character
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@thegirlwithagreatsmile Morumotto original character

@crypto.cosplay White Blood Cells from Cells at Work
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@crypto.cosplay White Blood Cells from Cells at Work

@dazed_senpai Jinx from League of Legends
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@dazed_senpai Jinx from League of Legends

How to Train Your Dragon
@little_blue_bird_cosplay Dark Fury
@queencailcosplay Light Fury
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How to Train Your Dragon @little_blue_bird_cosplay Dark Fury @queencailcosplay Light Fury

K/Da
@pixilatedpocky Evelyn
@emirichuu Ahri
@pastryfiend Akali
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K/Da @pixilatedpocky Evelyn @emirichuu Ahri @pastryfiend Akali

@cosplaysammy Joker
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@puddingknights Kulve Taroth from Monster Hunter
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@puddingknights Kulve Taroth from Monster Hunter

@konekoanni Sheryl Nome from Macros Frontier
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@konekoanni Sheryl Nome from Macros Frontier

@manaknight Aqua from Kingdom Hearts
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@manaknight Aqua from Kingdom Hearts

@melonsodastitches Nanami Kento from Jujutsu Kaizen
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@melonsodastitches Nanami Kento from Jujutsu Kaizen

@nikkimoxxi Misato from Neon Genesis Evangelion
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@nikkimoxxi Misato from Neon Genesis Evangelion

Howl's Moving Castle
@micaleen_rodgers Howl
@sarrahnadecosplay Sophie Hatter
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Howl's Moving Castle @micaleen_rodgers Howl @sarrahnadecosplay Sophie Hatter

@glitterlancing Margaretha Zelle from Identity V
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@glitterlancing Margaretha Zelle from Identity V

@pasteljellies Chica from Five Nights at Freddy's
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@pasteljellies Chica from Five Nights at Freddy's

Final Fantasy
@helloiambird Dragoon
@coffeecupclaire
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Final Fantasy @helloiambird Dragoon @coffeecupclaire

@roseygcosplay Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle
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@roseygcosplay Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle

@thegirlwithagreatsmile Gigantimax Pikachu
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@thegirlwithagreatsmile Gigantimax Pikachu

@ren._.cos Fawkes from My Hero Academia
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@ren._.cos Fawkes from My Hero Academia

@sesame.cos Velkana from Monster Hunter World
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@sesame.cos Velkana from Monster Hunter World

@_ichigosunset Berry Shirayuki from Tokyo Mew Mew
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@_ichigosunset Berry Shirayuki from Tokyo Mew Mew

@tao.cosplay Catra from She-ra
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@tao.cosplay Catra from She-ra

@steakpresident Noelle from Genshin Impact
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@steakpresident Noelle from Genshin Impact

@gingerquest_cosplay Nurse Joy from Pokemon
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@gingerquest_cosplay Nurse Joy from Pokemon

Five Nights at Freddy's
@carnivalrhythms Glamrock Freddy
@sadisticallydiverse Gregory
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Five Nights at Freddy's @carnivalrhythms Glamrock Freddy @sadisticallydiverse Gregory

@pinkkutan Iris Wilson from The Great Ace Attorney
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@pinkkutan Iris Wilson from The Great Ace Attorney

@radiojelly Amy Rose from Sonic
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@radiojelly Amy Rose from Sonic

@princesswrencosplay Asuka Langley Sohryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion
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@princesswrencosplay Asuka Langley Sohryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion

@socal_rad_cosplay Cruella
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@sarrahnadecosplay Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle
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@sarrahnadecosplay Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle

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