This past July 4 weekend, the annual Anime Expo convention was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Here's five things about Anime Expo that you might not have known if you haven't heard of the convention or if you haven't attended one like it yet.
1. The convention hosts over 115,000 people.
The capacity for the convention center is 80,000 people, and in 2016, Anime Expo filled the convention center halls with about 100,000 people. This year, they definitely exceeded 100,000 attendees -- 115,726 to be exact, according to the official Anime Expo website -- since the line to pick up badges wrapped around the entirety of the Los Angeles Convention Center block, with people cutting into the middle of the line and some attendees forced to wait over five hours to pick up their badges.
In comparison, San Diego Comic Con hosts upwards of 130,000 attendees spread out over fourteen different venues.
2. Anime Expo doesn't just feature anime-related programming and guests.
Exhibitors at Anime Expo include large game production companies such as Aksys Games, Blizzard Entertainment, and Atlus. This year, Counter Logic Gaming, an American esports organization, also made an appearance as part of the Exhibit Hall. Anime Expo's list of exhibitors also frequently includes Japanese fashion labels, among other exhibitors selling merchandise at the convention.
The programming schedule is also as diverse. Alongside panels featuring voice actors for popular anime shows like "Sailor Moon" are dozens of panels showcasing video game industry guests, musicians, academics, and even professional cosplayers.
3. About every other Anime Expo attendee comes dressed in cosplay.
If you don't know what cosplaying is, according to the Merriam-Webster website, it is the practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction.
Anime Expo hosts one of the largest cosplay competitions in the country, and there are dozens of cosplay gatherings held at Anime Expo to allow cosplayers to congregate. It's no surprise, then, that so many attendees at Anime Expo show up in cosplay. It's not just part of the convention programming, but part of the fun!
4. Anime Expo isn't organized only for children and teenagers.
Although many Anime Expo attendees are children and teenagers, so many Anime Expo attendees are adults that the convention programming includes both 18+ and 21+ events, like the Neon District nighttime EDM concert event that premiered at this year's convention. Think "heavy-and-fast-beats-meets-convention-goers".
5. Most importantly, Anime Expo is an inclusive space.
Logistical difficulties on the side of the organizers aside, the convention staff generally makes a good effort to make the convention accessible and inclusive.
The attendees are often equally as welcoming. After all, how can you judge anyone when you're wearing furry cat ears and a shirt with a cartoon girl printed on it?
When it comes to conventions like Anime Expo, the unspoken consensus on any ridiculous -- unharmful -- behavior is that, no matter how strange, "we're all in this together".