The last time I attended Anime LA was in 2017, and skipped last year's convention. This year when I attended the convention, I felt that this convention mostly satisfied everything I wanted to do. From panels, gatherings, artists alley, dealers hall, designated areas to relax, and the list goes on. All of which I did not have any issue with, nor ran into any problems at the convention itself. Anime LA was a convention that forgo the smaller intimate experience at the former location for a more general bigger convention atmosphere you see at other conventions. This year I feel they nailed the best of both worlds.
As I entered this convention with my set plan, I was able to check out mostly everything I wanted to see. The panels I sat through were mostly held at the Doubletree hotel, a five minute walk from the con. I really enjoyed my time watching panels like the My Hero Academia panel, The Hentai game show, Making Weebs Laugh, and many others. Since the rooms were small (with the exception of the My Hero Academia panel) it felt like how Anime LA used to be in the former location before moving to Ontario. Even the amv room, and cosplay repair station was also smallish to some degree, but big enough to walk around in. That intimate feeling was back, in a good way.
I got a chance to check out the bar that was set up inside the convention center. As I enter I see that there was a band setting up to play on stage, two bar set ups on both sides of the room, chairs, and couches to sit and relax. The bar's were not getting much attention as most of the people who were there were mingling with one another, and watching the Jazz band play. The Jazz band that was playing there, Murder Bar, was playing Jazz versions of popular songs like Spider Man theme song, Ducktales, Ghostbusters, and so on. It was a very chill mood, and everyone was having a great time. The singer of the band was very down to earth, as she was singing throughout the night and talking to the audience. Everyone in the room was enjoying the live music. I left before the last song they played for the night, but overall it was a nice place to sit down, and relax after a day of covering the convention.
One of the main Anime LA traditions that carried over to this year was the ribbons everyone was giving out. It was nice to see this tradition is still very strong after so many years. For me sadly, I wasn't quite into getting ribbons as everyone else this year. I did get some ribbons if I happen to come across it in my time at Anime LA, but was not as invested in previous years. I still believe this is one of the best idea Anime LA has especially if you want to burn time, but for me I wasn't really into it this year. It could just be a me thing, but it was fun seeing people do all sorts of challenges to get a ribbon to attach to their badge.
Anime LA this year felt more like the Anime LA of old at its former location before moving to Ontario. As I walked the halls of the convention center, the Doubletree, and other locations, there was a sense of glee everywhere you look among the attendees. I didn't see anybody who was angry, mad, or just not having a good time. Everyone was having fun, laughing and smiling, and it seems like on its surface everything at the con was good. I believe that part of this reason is the staff, and making Anime LA a very smooth operation that I everything I did was not any problem to do what I wanted to do.
The only time it did felt like an inconvenience are only a few gripes about my time at ALA. It was weird that ALA as expanded its layout to use the neighboring hotels to host some of the events or rooms to go and check out. This is no surprise for any season con goer veteran who have done this before with other cons (i.e. Fanime). For this convention this did make for some confusing times for myself to get from one area to the next as I tried to figure out the lay of the land even with the help of both the onsite map, and guidebook app. After saying that, it was only a minor gripe since every event and room I had to find was close by, and not a long distance walk.
The only other gripe I have with the convention was the re-entry into the convention itself. At this year's ALA you had to re-enter either two entries. Either the front of the convention center, or the back side. Both of which had security at both ends inspecting bags, but it seemed that the way security was checking bags before, they changed how they inspect bags to make the line go faster. At one point It felt like I was only stopping for a few seconds before being let in. With that aside I understand why for the extra security, and having security there did make me feel more safe then before.
Overall this convention was fun. I came in with the mindset of keeping my schedule really open to allow me to see more, and not tied down completely to my schedule I have set for myself. My only regret is not being to check out the game room, the Cosplay Deviants booth, and after party, and the My Hero gathering on day 1. Even when I felt bored or had time to burn, it was cool to people watch from the second floor as I looked down to see everyone was having fun. I honestly wouldn't mind if Anime LA stayed this way for a good long while. I didn't feel the attendance was overburden, nor empty at all. Everything to me at this Anime LA felt like a perfect balance of how a convention is usually busy, and how a convention is when it feels like its only one hundred or less. So yes I recommend anyone to attend this convention for all ages, and types. This is one of those conventions you can relax at.