Every July in Los Angeles, California, Anime Expo is held to bring anime fans from all over the globe together. Announcements of upcoming projects, interviews and panels with industry veterans, and plenty of merch to buy can be found at the largest anime convention in North America. That does come with its drawbacks and has been subsequently dubbed “Linecon” due to its massive number of attendees each year and the time, probably wasted, in line.
However, there are plenty of good experiences that can be had, as well as interesting sights and sounds. We’ve compiled a few notable booths from Anime Expo that should be shared and hopefully entice you to visit yourself. Take a look at what we saw at Anime Expo 2023 over the weekend. For our coverage, Matt and Necro XIII share their experiences at the convention.
Snowbreak: Containment Zone
A new mobile game from Amazing Seasun Games features not only a mobile version but also a PC client as well. We played a demo while there and did a stamp rally that netted us some good merch. There was also a surprise appearance from the hosts, Grant and Connor of anime themed podcast, Trash Taste, to help promote the upcoming release.
Snowbreak is a third-person action RPG-style game that is set in the near future after an incident that destroys a city and introduces a new threat to humanity. It does feature full voice acting in English, customization for each character like weapon attachments, and more. We have a full hands-on preview for you to check out as well.
One Piece Card Game
Based on the popular IP from Eichiro Oda, One Piece brings a new card game that was being showcased. During the convention, there were tutorials on how to play and exclusive booster packs and starter decks. Subsequently, there were a ton of tables to learn how to play and places to buy new cards, even exclusive free promotional cards only available at Anime Expo 2023.
One Piece Card Game includes new original illustrations drawn by various artists, old panels from the manga, and scenes from the anime series. There are stages, events, characters, leaders, and DON!! cards that you can collect and implement in your decks. If you’re still new and want to learn more basics, you can download the One Piece Card Game Teaching app which is available on Google Play currently. You can also watch tutorial videos on YouTube from the official page in different languages as well to get your bearings.
One Piece x Casetify
Even more One Piece was at Anime Expo, this time in the form of a collaboration with protective case maker, Casetify. Specially branded cases for iPhone, AirPods, Airtags, and Samsung Galaxy phones, all decked out with One Piece characters, stickers, and more. One of the more unique items was the sold-out golden Transponder Snail case for AirPods Pro 1st and 2nd Generation.
The cases we saw were glossy but not overpowering to cause a strong enough glare to impair you. On AirPod Pro cases, the clips were really sturdy and seemed to be durable enough to not break after a ton of clipping and unclipping. Overall, the presentation was good enough on its own, look forward to our review once we can test them thoroughly. You can check out the designs for One Piece here if you weren’t able to purchase any during Anime Expo.
Matt’s Anime Expo
Unlike Necro who has attended Anime Expo before, this was my first time attending the convention. Now, at first, the day 1 crowd was a bit overwhelming but thankfully, it didn’t feel as bad as E3 in prior years. Despite over 100,000 people on day 1, moving through the convention was fairly simple outside of the halls. Inside the Exhibitors’ hall was a different story. This is primarily due to Bandai Namco Occupying the front booths. Guests could also head to the Dealer’s hall down in the garage to support artists.
On day 1, we decided to check out some of the booths in the Exhibitor hall. Right when you walk in the door, you are instantly surrounded by a ton of Bandai Namco products. For the convention, Bandai Namco held most of the frontmost spaces giving fans their chance to check out and interact with some of the most popular Bandai Namco franchises including Naruto, My Hero Academia, One Piece, and Sword Art Online.
Behind the Anime themed booths were a bunch of Bandai Namco shops including the Legendary Gundam Base where you could get Gundams that are only sold in Japan. Outside of the Entertainment hall booths, Bandai Namco had a presence in the Entertainment Hall with Gashapon, World of Ghibli, and Nanoblock (a Lego competitor) booths. The Ghibli booth allowed fans to see a giant Totoro while also allowing them to take a picture with the Cat Bus.
Outside of checking out everything Bandai Namco had to show us during Anime Expo 2023, there were a lot of things for attendees to check out. Most of the other exhibits and exhibitors were interesting to check out but it felt very merchant focused rather than experience-focused. Yes, the exhibitor hall is meant to sell anime merchandise, but it felt more like walking through a catalog where you can see it with your eyes, rather than something to engage with. The only thing that felt underwhelming was the 18+ section. In fact, we spent more time waiting for a wristband to get into that area than we did looking at the shops. Most of the items available were stuff you could get online pretty easily or stuff you could print out; it was very underwhelming and for the most part, felt cheap and unimaginative.
Probably one of our favorite booths within the Exhibitor Hall was the TeeTurtle booth which featured a variety of shirts and plushies that could only be purchased there. Outside of checking out the Exhibitor hall, we stopped by a variety of booths in the Entertainment hall; most notably, we spent a good bit of time at the Black Clover, NIS, IBuyPower, and HP Omen Booths.
Oddly, what made me the happiest to see was outside of both halls. Both on the entertainment and exhibitor side, guests could partake in Wild Bills Soda and try out new flavors and get exclusive mugs. At the exhibitor hall lobby, guests could also purchase Mcdonalds’ of all things. The Wild Bills booths help with giving us something to drink before and during our interviews. If you missed any of our interviews, here are the links.
Exclusive: Delicious in Dungeon Anime Expo Interview
In the Entertainment Hall, we had the opportunity to meet with NIS America and preview Disgaea 7, CRYMACHINA, and other NIS titles. We even got to see Prinny get proposed to at the NIS booth. For full, NIS America game previews, keep an eye out for Necro’s impressions, but here are just some of my quick thoughts on the two games.
With CRYMACHINA, we got to experience a demo that gave us a good understanding of what was going on. It started us at the beginning of the game and gave us a jumping-in point. The characters were beautiful and could potentially even be some gamers’ favorite girls. The combat was very polished for the demo and visually it felt different than a lot of other Sci-Fi worlds.
With Disgaea 7, we were thrown somewhere into the story and given the chance to experience an encounter. Honestly, the Disgaea 7 demo was probably one of the most confusing demos that I have ever experienced since it didn’t really have a tutorial. Once I got my bearings, it was somewhat easy to understand, but for someone who has never played the game, it was a lot to take in. Having to figure out what each unit did and maneuvering them, made combat feel rather one-sided. The game looks like it will be fun, but you definitely have to start from the beginning or early on.
Black Clover Booth
In the back of the hall was the Black Clover Mobile booth. The booth featured a Castle Turret and a platform where guests could take their picture between the Black Bulls banners or with Asta’s swords. Typically on the stage was a cosplayer dressed as one of the Black Clover characters. Once guests were done taking their pictures, they had the option to check out the Black Clover mobile game, Black Clover Mobile: Rise of the Wizard King; we will have a preview of that game within the coming days.
Computers and Peripherals
In the same hall as the World of Ghibli booth was the IBUYPOWER and the HP Omen booth. The IBUYPower booth primarily focused on showing off their beautiful RIGs, collaborations, the custom-built PCs by Blue Horse Studios, a claw machine, and the Street Fighter 6 tournament. Each day, guests could win prizes from the claw machine or from a raffle. Honestly, what we found the most impressive from this booth was the custom-built PCs that featured The Last of Us, Diablo 4, Demon Slayer, and Chainsaw Man.
Nearby the IBUYPOWER booth was the HP OMEN booth. Rather than showcasing all of HP Omen and Hyper X’s new products, HP took a different approach and created a booth for guests to find out what type of adventure they are while also providing amazing photo opportunities. Deemed the #SpiritofFun anime experience, guests would receive a wristband that they could tap different blocks in the exhibit to find their spirit animal.
Panels and Premieres
When not wandering through the Entertainment, Exhibitor, or Dealers hall, we went to some of the panels and premieres the convention had to offer. During Anime Expo we checked out the SPY X Family, JuJutsu Kaisen, and Demon Slayer panels; shockingly, these three panels filled up pretty quickly due to featuring special guests and the popularity of the shows. Sadly, we missed the Studio Bones (Cowboy Bebop) and Japan Anime Panel Record of Ragnarok panels. What was slightly disappointing about these previews was the fact that despite being listed as a Q&A panel, all of the questions were prepared.
Outside of these panels, we got to attend the premieres of Link Click and Liar Liar. If you have never heard of these anime, it would be worth checking out. For the premieres, guests got to see an episode or two of each anime before they debuted on Crunchy Roll. Link Click is the story of two special individuals that have the ability to travel to the past and change it using photographs; it is a dark and suspenseful story where the two are trying to catch a serial killer.
Liar Liar is the story of a guy who has transferred to a gaming school in order to find an old friend of his. The story takes a turn when he is challenged to a game by the school’s top student after being embarrassed by an accident. After winning the game, he finds himself as the new top student that everyone is gunning for, the only problem is that it is built off a lie.
Is it Worth Going to Anime Expo?
Looking back at our time at Anime Expo 2023, we have mixed feelings. The convention does offer a variety of activities for guests to participate in but feels like there is not enough. In a way, guests have to make their own fun. The panels, parties, and cosplays can fill the gap, but it comes down to what each guest wants from the event.
Now if any of this sounds fun to you, it is definitely worth taking the time out of your schedule to check out Anime Expo. You could be one of the guests that travel from out of state to this popular event. If you do not have the funds or time to travel to Anime Expo, look up what other conventions are around you. Most states have at least one of two conventions each year and those will give you a good taste of what to expect. Those conventions will also provide you with a chance to meet and hear from English voice actors.