Anime Expo returns for its 19th year in LA

Costumes in downtown Los Angeles and in the middle of the summer can only mean one thing -- Anime Expo is back in town. The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation will host the nineteenth annual Anime Expo next week, from July 1 - 4, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of fans of Japanese animation will gather at the convention to celebrate gaming, animation, and costumes.

This year's special guests include Masakazu Morita (BLEACH), Yui Horie (Love Hina, Fruits Basket), and Katsuyuki Konishi. Aside from voice actors, several famous animators will also be in attendance, and as always, the convention will host two concerts for well-known musical artists like MELL and AKB48.

The expo will also have its usual activities and events as previous years. The Masquerade, an array of performances and skits by those in costume, will be held on Saturday, the third day of the convention. Day 3 will also host "AX Idol," a spin of the popular television program. If that isn't enough to satisfy the anime enthusiast, there is also the anime music video contest on Thursday, Day 1.

Hundreds of anime fans will be there to join in the festivities -- including members of Santa Monica College's own Society for the Study of the Modern Japanese Visual Culture. Hugo Minott, president of the Society, will attend the expo for his fifth year, and expects to see at least twenty-five other members at the convention.

"You can literally stand in line for an event, meet new friends that way, and hang out for the entire convention," Minott said. "The people that go to AX really do make the convention fun and a place that you can constantly look forward to going to every year after the first."

Minott unfortunately won't be cosplaying this year (a term used among japanese animation fans for dressing up in costume), but he encourages first-timers to the con to take pictures of the cosplayers.

More advice from Minott: "Have fun, relax and although there is a lot of stuff to do, for the most part, whatever you do, you'll have a good time."

Passes for Anime Expo range from $35 to $75 until July 1, when it'll be $45 - $85. The Los Angeles Convention Center is located on Figueroa and Pico Boulevard.