By Morgan Rhodes ’19 & Amanda Chavez ’19
Since attending our first Anime Expo in the summer of 2014, we have had no trouble feeling the warmth and love the “geek” community offers. As a result, we have been regulars at this event every year since. So, what exactly is Anime Expo?
Anime Expo, or AX, is a large-scale event which draws guests from all over America to the Los Angeles Convention Center to celebrate their favorite characters and TV shows. Similar to events like Comicon, AX offers panel presentations, merchandise, and cosplay – the chance for people to creatively dress up as their favorite anime or manga characters. Visiting crowded booths to see artwork and gawking at the amazing display of costumes are among the highlights of this event. So, why then, are such events like AX brushed off as “just a nerd thing”?
There’s a sense that the term “anime” has lost its esteem among the mainstream and has been relegated to this “just a nerd thing” category. The misconception of anime, in general, is that it’s for so called “nerds” and “geeks.” Therefore, all those who would attend Anime Expo must be nerdy teens and adults, mainly men, who have watched anime since their younger days. This is incorrect. Don’t let the overall name of anime fool you.
Anime Expo is more than just anime. It is a culture. People of different ages and backgrounds come together to play video games, show off their own handmade costumes, buy merch, meet artists, including the actual voice actors of anime shows, and check out new technology like the latest Wacom drawing tablets.
At AX, you do associate yourself with people that some would consider as geeks, nerds and even losers. However, we don’t agree with this terminology. Perhaps the reason why anime is looked down upon could be due to the cultural barriers of the Japanese language and art style as opposed to Western pop culture. Anime has similarly linked generations of creative and passionate people together, especially in terms of this convention. Anime Expo allows people to recognize that they share a similarity with people who are just like them. It reminds people that they aren’t as different as others stereotype them to be.
It is also not surprising to see families attending the event together. They bond by cosplaying as their favorite characters from a specific show. From young to old, Anime Expo brings all walks of life together, and people seem to enjoy themselves. There are also booths featuring impressive artwork that give vendors a chance to make money and get more exposure for their work. Overall, it allows people to have fun with their passions and to share that passion with others. Anime Expo is more of a place for an artistic, creative experience than a place where these so called “nerds” and “geeks” come to just hang out. We both feel that more people should be open to the experience of Anime Expo and what it really represents.
Graphic by Rebecca Chen ’22